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Insulated – but not against bureaucrats!

September 1, 2012

Off we go again; Geoff arrives to finish the bedrooms, he’s a great guy but I  wish he’d wear his glasses more often as there’s quite a bit of tidying up to do and paint touch up around the edges – however, he does save us a ton of physical work which is becoming increasingly beneficial.  David came and repaired the leak from the new WC that Marc fitted downstairs – we finally have three working – he also fixed a couple of minor problems we had with the new bath drain which had mysteriously broken at some point during the redecoration.

Marc is proving to be a bit pig-headed and will not listen to any complaints about the wardrobe doors, insisting that we got what we chose. I have decided not to argue and to part company with him in the least painful manner. He will get paid as & when he shows up here to collect his remaining tools, sad ending. Having said that, a couple of text messages exchanged with Sylvie indicate that it could all be down to a huge misunderstanding and may be salvageable – we’ll see.

We had to apply for new UK passports and this is a pain when you live overseas, at least now it is, I don’t recall it being an issue when we did it 10 years ago in the USA. You cannot do it by sending the application to the UK office, you have to go through the local embassy and they add a huge courier fee for sending the stuff to & from the UK office. Then the application requires the counter signature of a professional person who has known you for two years and is a resident of France – can’t do that, we’ve only been here a year. So there is a telephone helpline in the UK but they require a credit card because the helpline isn’t free – their system won’t take the credit card number because my ‘phone is VOIP. I finally get some answers and our doctor agrees to counter sign the application and identify the photographs. He has to do this in English so I translated the instructions for him. Even so, it needed his passport number and he didn’t know it offhand but he agreed to email it to me. He finally did on Monday and the applications got sent off on Tuesday. We know they received them because they posted the fees on our bank account – a total of €345.00 !!!

I finally got word from the fosse guys, apparently there are two problems – one the guy from Permeasol has done NOTHING for two weeks and second they have been using the wrong email addresses to communicate so no-one knew this. To add insult to injury, the guy from SPANC has now put a deadline on this and it’s him we are all waiting for!

I have to work on clearing the attic for the insulation guys who arrive next week so I start off by putting up all the light fittings, shower and shower curtain rails, extra tile etc in the newly decorated bathroom and bedrooms. This gets rid of a load of boxes and associated tools. The weather is nice but threatening to turn wet again so I decide I need to spend Wednesday afternoon trying to cut the grass. This proved a real challenge, the mower works OK after I managed to maneuver it into the garden around the fosse project but I had to drive very slowly as the grass was really long and I had to empty the grass catcher frequently – took well over two and a half hours! Somehow I have managed to get a cold and sore throat so on Thursday I took it easy as did June because her arthritis is taking a long time to respond to treatment, however I did manage to get some weed killer down before the rains came. Still no fosse news!

Friday we started on the big clear-up, so I decided we should complete all the upstairs construction and move the tools down into the basement. I really wish I could find a competent electrician to help me to put internet, satellite and phone cables into the living room, however no-one seems in the slightest bit interested.

We were supposed to meet an English couple (Peter & Jenny) at the new creperie for dinner on Saturday but my cold was worse and decided we could not inflict this on anyone. Hopefully there will be another opportunity as they own a holiday home close by – we met quite by chance looking for a restaurant. We spent the rest of the weekend cleaning up and relaxing – but this weather is weird. It has turned really cool at nights and dropped below 20C during the day – we have even had to put the heating on for a few evenings

Monday is a big shopping day, I collect my new glasses which are much improved plus we visit the carpet shop as I had no response after sending them detailed plans and measurements. The guy I saw was on vacation for a week and now they say they have to move our date back to Sept 20th which is very bad news. They promise to reassess this and get the devis to me on Tuesday. We finish up with a pleasant lunch in the local creperie. This place is just great, best crepes for miles around and not expensive. A call to the fosse guys reveals that Permeasol are still dragging their heels and haven’t signed off on the modified plan but have promised to do so by Wednesday – why they can’t sign it today is beyond me. I also hear that Marc is coming by to collect his belongings and cheque.

Tuesday the insulation guys arrive in force at about 8:15 and invade the attic and the roof. All the work in the attic has to be done inside of course but everything else is achieved by removing a few slates and creating access. One guy handles the roofing, one guy runs the pump, one is in the attic and the last man is the construction carpenter fixing framing. They drag all the old insulation out of the roof void through their trap and bag it all up – there’s tons of it. In the meantime the other guy gets on with laying insulation on the attic floor (two layers) then covering it with tongue & groove plywood flooring. Then they set about putting up a plastic vapour barrier inside the slates. This is an incredible amount of work for what was a simple(!) insulation job. They are very hard workers and very pleasant with it but the noise of the pump, nail guns, drills and staplers is a bit wearing. They finish at 5:00pm and did a great job in cleaning up – very professional.

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The devis for the carpet arrives and is only slightly higher than the original guesstimate in the shop so that is sent off, good news being they have confirmed Sept 12th as the day for the carpet laying.  Back on track!

Malcolm arrives on Wednesday as usual – much weeding and pruning to do as I don’t have time and June can’t do much physical stuff right now. Still when we get the inside done maybe we can spend more time outside – just in time for winter! I finally decide that although the cold is pretty much done I’m coughing quite badly so take a trip to see the doctor. I get the usual thorough examination and he prescribes a cough syrup and an anti-biotic. The anti-biotic should have been labeled “depth charge” – nearly as bad as being in India! I call the doctor and he tells me not to take any more (duh!) and it’s OK to use Immodium (the box said no). This is good news as we have managed to make a lunch date with Peter & Jenny for Thursday at the creperie we first met. They are really great people and we had an enjoyable lunch followed by an invite to their house for coffee. They have a reasonable size longere about 6km away in a small hamlet which they use as a holiday home about 7 weeks a year. Peter is heading off to the UK on Saturday so we’ll probably invite Jenny over for coffee, tea or something while he is away for the next three weeks. Marc did collect his stuff, finished the grouting on the patio and collected his cheque – all was sweetness and light, very confusing!

The fosse saga continues, or rather doesn’t, the guy from Permeasol promises faithfully to send in the paperwork at the end of the day on Tuesday – he doesn’t. Chasing him up on Wednesday reveals he has actually done it but now it requires another signature! By late Friday afternoon we have heard nothing more other than they claim to have sent it all off signed but no-one has received it. Not helped by having to go back to the doctor for another chat as I’m getting some suspected side effects from the cough syrup. Again I get the full check up and investigations because I’m feeling very weird indeed. Another prescription and a strict diet for a few days – I’ll be glad when this is all sorted out.

Anyway, it’s the weekend, Belgian GP and we are under no pressure to do anything in a hurry – we’ll take it easy and recuperate for a while.

Late breaking news – apparently the forms for the fosse are all OK and approved BUT they have to be signed by the ‘President’ of SPANC and he’s on holiday. He will be back on Monday and will sign and post the approval, then we can it inspected and get it finished; fingers crossed!

David & June

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2012 16:35

    OMG – what an busy life you lead. But, things look to be improving with the fosse. Love getting these updates. I haven’t updated my blog since June. Soon, maybe. We have been waiting months for a devis to finish the master bed and bath, finally received it but the contractor is on hols next week…. nothing is easy here, we do miss the US for that. We have had only that one day of rain weeks ago, everything is so dry and the grass has turned to straw. I have to hand water everything each day. However, the nights are cooling and autumn is on its way. Bonne chance and keep writing….Jo

    • September 1, 2012 16:40

      So interesting reading your weather comments in particular, we considered that area but decided the climate was too extreme from winter to summer. Here I feel more like Norway where they have a white winter followed by the green winter 😉
      You should write more, your experiences with French lifestyle are interesting
      A bientot


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