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Monday, February 26, 2007

Collateral Damage

Having initially fallen in love with the garden here at chateau Newman-Legros we soon came to realise that the shady arbour we fell for was the result of an overabundance of trees which had been left to grow overly and possibly illegally tall. Not only did we court danger with seemingly more frequent high winds but also the ground beneath saw scant light and was not other plant friendly. Of course there are also all those fallen leaves...
So, having considered getting someone in but done nothing about it - mostly because of the expense - we took up our 75 year old neighbour, François's offer of help and the loan of most of the equipment including a fearsome looking tronçonneuse- chainsaw to us. We had three targets which, at first I thought of merely trimming but then realised needed taking out completely: a tatty and ragged birch tree which was neither use not ornament being hidden behind three others its purpose expired some time ago; an unattractive conifer which did indeed serve as one half of Max's hammock support but little else, and what we think is a kind of maple. The latter was due only a slight reduction, the formers complete annihilation!
Of course we were more than glad for the help and presence of both our voisin and our semi-official lodger to up the macho load. That said it amazed me that both were so focused on their objectives that they seemed blind to anything and everything else. Theirs appeared to be a scorched earth policy ie if it is in the way ignore it for any and all examples of life be they nascent or more substantial suffered as collateral damage beneath their feet or at their hands. Despite my repeated - though not nagging mehopes - requests for care to be taken of, amongst others, my lavender and thyme, we will not see the irises in bloom this year. Tant pis! We have saved ourselves a pretty centime I suppose though I must source replacement chains for the chainsaw as a gesture of thanks to François.

About a mile away as we chopped Mr Le Pen was making his policies for his umpteenth bid for the presidency. Reading this morning on the internet I see his party would stop all benefit payments to the non-French and close the borders. Oh dear! Somehow I wonder if it isn't about time the French far right did a little clearing of their own garden as they are stuck firmly in the undergrowth with little chance of seeing the light nor of the reality in 2007.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'm in love wiz zer veecar of deeblay

Perhaps I shouldn't admit to this but it is true! And I know that anytime very soon now my heart will be broken when the series is no more. Now let me explain. French television is, to be kind, rubbish. Yes yes there are occasional masterpieces of the televisual art to be devoured greedily like the tiny and rare truffles that they are but grosso modo there is little in the way of original programming and a typical evening will centre on either a light entertainment show when the same troupe of artistes appear to flog their latest product, or a light-hearted discussion show in which the audience sits around the celebrities (often artistes there to shamelessly flog their latest product) who are "in the round" and encouraged to give their thoughts and opinions which are eagerly lapped up by the adoring publique. This is the kind of show I have taken to referring to as the "let's all sit round and clap" approach to cheaply produced TV. Did I mention that invariably these shows are as close to interminable as can be? Actually they do run for anything up to 4 hours. Yes every soirée is a telethon in France.

So, thank goodness for Dibley, a little piece of English heaven served in appropriately sized portions and guaranteed to entertain. It is not nostalgia or even nostalgia by proxy. I have no wish to live in a small, incestuous village in middle England, but it has a gentle humour and is lightly played by a cast who rub along very nicely thankyou very much.

Of course it runs on a channel we have to pay for and is not dubbed but subtitled in French. It is almost impossible to ignore the text and we find ourselves both listening and reading, checking the translation.

Update: The radiators have arrived!!!! We are expecting them to be fitted on Monday followed by the solar panel. The suspense is almost unbearable. Meanwhile back at the window company the irritating person who manages the branch continues to take us for fools and lies to us as much as he tells the truth. Apparently the replacement windows(for the ones that were lost - though of course their (window) pain was equal to ours and it was as much as we could do not to rush over to Boulevard du President Hoover and console the delicate cherubs) have been available for days but he somehow only managed to get round to informing us today as he was awaiting a cheque from us for 4000€. Perhaps he had chosen to ignore Max who had told him in no uncertain terms that they would not get another centime from us till the windows were in and we were satisfied. I feel a strong letter to their parent company coming on.....

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Stumbling home

Since my last foray into the blogging world I have been to London, and Colchester the oldest town in England or something rather like that. Now I am back. Thank you Eurostar for cancelling my return train and rescheduling me just one hour later as it has entitled me to a half price return. I adore it when that happens.

London was the kind of fun that is almost impossible to experience when you live there and have to work to pay for the privilege. Meeting up with friends, admiring the sights, taking the transport without being in a constant hurry etc. Most of the niggling things that bug me in France exist in the UK and I was reminded of them. I was equally reminded of the extortionate cost of getting anything done to your home and how unreliable such persons so employed can be. Something of a relief then as I was starting to wonder if we had been specially selected to have the merde chucked at us sans cesse.

Good news for those who might be following the progress at chateau Newman-Legros; the rest of the rads are due to be installed week commencing 12 February together with the solar panel AND the sitting room windows are apparently going to be installed on 19th. I wonder if they will be changing the glass in the future bathroom and fitting the lockable handle to the garden doors at the same time.

Lille is a little sad having waved adieu to Lille 3000 till 2009 and to the elephants which played sentry along the Rue Faidherbe. So it is with a slightly self-assured pride that our maire, Martine Aubry, announced that she had negociated the retention of four of the pachyderms. Almost a herd rather than a pride. They were supposed to be making the trek back to India where they were to take part in film projects etc. So now we have big hefalumps and littlelumps and we will be asked where they should be displayed.

The presidential campaign heats up and Sarkozy is starting to look the moer serious candidate though Ségo has yet to reveal any real policies. My guess is that this will make or break her and she may find hersefl struggling to beat off the challenge of the "third man"who, surprise surprise, may not be Le Pen but a certain François Bayrou. Still plenty of race left but Sarkozy is looking like a winner with Bayrou maybe the kingmaker.