Back to School

Well, nearly…..

This week we are having to do a compulsory course as we are self emplyed. By god it’s boring. It would be boring if it was in English but a thousand times worse because it is all in French and my language skills don’t allow any understanding at all. Luckily that doesn’t matter, ¬†you get your certificte for attending.

Actually I understood the bits on banking and insurance but only because I’ve worked in the industry. Much of the rest is irrelevant. We had an hour and half today on the requirements for your staff, yet nobody in the room runs, or will run, a company, because we are all self-employed.

But this is France and that is how they do things.

It also cost us a total of 420 euros each for the pleasure.

Harvest

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As one can imagine, in the south of France, the big harvest that is underway is that of the grapes for wine making. It is highly likely that, given a photogenic opportunity, something on the subject will appear in the near future. It is not only the grapes that are coming into their own now though. Fig trees are starting to ripen their fruit, and for those of us for whom the fact that the fruit doesn’t appear as an actual biscuit comes as a surprise, what to do with kilo’s of green figs is the order of the day. Green fig jam or green fig chutney appear to be the massive favourites. If anyone has a tastier or more interesting suggestion we’d be most interested.

France vs UK

Two things today which pointed out the difference between the two countries.

1) A sign at the roadside offered 5kg of garlic for 13 euros. That must be one hell of a sack and quite a lot even for the French to get through.

2) One of our owners ordered a pool robot to be delivered to us. We had a card through the door about 10 days ago to say the postman had left it at our village post office. We went and it wasn’t there. We checked at Limoux Sorting Office and it wasn’t there either. Today there was a knock at the door and the postman who originally tried to deliver it and managed to lose it had come round to apologise profusely for his mistake. We still don’t know where the robot is but when was the last time The Post Office in the UK made your postman call and apologise for losing a parcel?

Piscines

Tricky blighter, your swimming pool. They’ll ‘ave you as soon as look at you! Give ’em a fluid ounce and they’ll take a gallon! They could just all decide to co-operate and be blue, but no. With 17 to look after I feel like one of the guys on the old variety programmes or circuses who could spin plates. Except at least they all span the same way. With pools some go green, some cloudy, some foamy, some lose water, some lose pump power. They react badly to rain, sun, and probably every other weather condition.

The only thing that makes them worthwhile to look after is that they are bloody good little earners!

No Peace for the Wicked

Things I have learnt so far;

However good the intentions, there is little time for blogging. (or anything else).

In the seven weeks we have been here I have lost over a stone. It’s astonishing what a bit of hard work and high temperatures can do.

It is possible not to want to eat pain au chocolat every morning. A significant contribution to the weight loss. Actually, eating a pastry breakfast once a week is about all I fancy. Not like me at all.

The French don’t do chocolate bars like in the UK. They import Bounty, Snickers, Twix, Lion Bars but that is about it. So I haven’t had a chocolate bar since I got here.

You can buy half litre cans of Diet Coke! Bliss.

Nat West Isleworth branch are beyond belief. After 7 weeks they still haven’t written a letter required by my French bankers despite requests by myself, their help line, their complaints department. Next stop, the County Court. Let’s see what happens if they ignore the judge.

Swimming pool maintenance is relatively easy and rather lucrative.

There’s nowt so strange as folk. Particularly some of our guests and owners!

If all else fails, the wine is cheap and plentiful.

Formal Announcment

It is with great happiness that Her Majesty the Queen announces the Marj & Dave have been safely delivered of the internet. Laptop and Desktop computers are resting and are doing fine. It is expected that the first posts will be seen as they leave the keyboard in the next 24 hours.

Crowds of well-wishers have gathered round their screens for the first signs of photos.

God bless it and all who surf on it.

Wildlife

Before I get on to wildlife, there is a rumour we may have the internet by the morning. #moreexcitedthanicansay.

Anyway, wildlife.It has taken but a couple of weeks to realise that I need to toughen up with the animal world if I’m going to survive in the country. So far in the skimmers of the swimming pools I look after I have been confronted with dead mice, dead salamander(s), dead frogs, live frogs, and as of today, a live snake.

Oh, and I got my first ticket off The Gendarmes today for holding my mobile phone whilst driving. I played the Stupid Englishman card, which to be fair meant just acting normally, and ended up with a 90 euro fine. They don’t bother with points if it’s a UK licence as it’s more trouble than it’s worth in paperwork for them. It was all very civil and ended with a handshake and reciprocal wishes that we should each have a nice day. Considering I have no paperwork yet that shows where I live, no paperwork for the van, and they didn’t know whether my licence covered van driving, they were remarkably trusting. Can’t help feeling in London I’d have been banged up and the van crushed within 20 minutes!