Things in the Roof

Slept in today and woke at 8.40 – probably due to having a proper pillow at last and the excitement of watching last night’s fantastic rugby game

I hung out for a bit in the attic, ankle-deep in pigeon droppings as usual and picked up a few bits of crap among the way

There was a broken moulded tile of some sort, complete with incy wincy. I took photos – recording everything – and a piece of rusted hardware that probably needs to go back on one of the shutters at some point. We seem to be treating this place like an archaeological dig as much as a renovation. I tried to remove anything we wanted before the roof guys just sweep it all out. I also found what must be the original frame for the lantern over the stairway. I only realised what it was when I saw broken glass caught in the torchlight

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Looks like he’s got a spider on his moustache?

There was newspaper dated Tuesday 26th April 1955, stuck between rotten floorboards. I couldn’t decide the reason for the paper being stuffed down there and I don’t advocate using it as a DIY material, but it had survived over sixty years before I dragged it out. Will the house now collapse?

The church clock struck twelve and I retreated downstairs for lunch with my carrier bag of tragic treasures, like some compulsive shopper covered in cobwebs. On the way out I also recorded the final resting place of the last pigeon. It’s sad, it’s gruesome, but she probably had a good long life. I didn’t put her in my shopping bag. Charlotte will probably complain

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Sorry, have I gone too far here?

I love how France stops at lunchtime. I love that on a Sunday there is nothing to do. Nothing but potter

On the way downstairs I grabbed the few items of textiles that I had squirrelled away for washing at My Home from Home from Home this evening. I don’t know if any of the pieces are to my taste, but if I can’t find a place for them, someone else will

 

 

Things Removal Men Say

Do they have to share opinions?

The two guys delivering my much-fêted pillow also brought some other bits I’ve been hoarding in the UK. They did a good job overall, though at least one of my Fragile – this way up boxes, containing an irreplaceable wall light, arrived the wrong way up. I pointed this out to them as they unloaded the vehicle and was greeted by blank expressions. After 20 years working in relocation I see that removals men still have no sense of orientation. Hopefully my packing stood up to this abuse

They made the normal compulsory comments about the size of the house, the state of the house, are we going to turn it into gites, etc, and had a bit of a dig about ‘the French’ while they were at it. They were just trying to make polite if opinionated conversation

Among the goodies was one of a pair of leather club chairs that we can’t fit in our living room at home. I had them place it in the empty salon, where I have now successfully tested it. It rocks

Then it happened…

‘Now this’, said one of the blokes, himself a Brit living in France, ‘is a man’s room. That armchair there and a big TV on that wall, that’s all you need’ He kindly expressed through mime the approximate size of his enormous imaginary TV and indicated the wall where I should put it, between the elegant, if very shabby, French doors

I really don’t think so

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A Gentleman Calls

An elderly gentleman from Narnia, that is

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This morning I was waiting for my pillow (and a lot of other ‘stuff’) to arrive and using a wallpaper stripper to free up the left half of the front door in advance of the delivery. Just as I managed to free it and push it open, an elderly man with a shopping bag stopped in his tracks on the road outside, put down his bag and looked in

He greeted me and asked whether it was now my house, so I suggested he come in and look around. He became quite animated and said that he’d always wondered what it was like inside. He took off his gloves and left his bag in the hallway, while I gave him an abbreviated tour (first floor only), very conscious that he might not be as nimble as he looked. The house met with his approval and he told me exactly where he lived, including a direction involving a wardrobe(?), and told me to knock on his door any time and say my name, and he will provide tea or coffee, according to my preference. I’d followed what he was saying, except that I hadn’t really listened to the actual street address – I didn’t see me calling in on him anytime soon. But he wasn’t leaving anything to chance: before he left he took out his phone, gave me his name and number and had me call him there and then, answering ‘hello’ into the handset as he stood in front of me.  Clearly not an insane axe murderer, just a delightful old man on his way to the market. He kissed me on both cheeks and went on his way, just as the pillow crew turned up

While the pillow people were there I noticed Monsieur’s gloves on the radiator

Oh merde! I should have paid attention to the address. Now I had to call him, of course. Baz called to talk chickens, perfectly normal daily stuff for us. I told him about the meeting and the gloves. ‘It’s a ploy’ he said, laughing and reinforcing fears that I’d pulled

Shortly after, the gentleman called me. I told him I had found his gloves, and he said he was on his way over. When he arrived he explained again where he lived, including the bit about the wardrobe. It was only a few doors away. Would I like to see where it is?

I followed him around the corner and we climbed the stairs, turned left and passed the said wardrobe, next to which was the door to his flat, where we were greeted by a well-kept ginger cat, who took time to check me out before allowing physical contact. I didn’t go in, but could see that it is an elderly single man’s home, the walls and furniture dotted with numerous dusty notes and photos. Perhaps he has numerous cats too. Anyway, he repeated his invitation to me for coffee

So I will go and say hello, take some cake and have a chat (or un chat) for half an hour sometime this week. He’s too close to ignore, I have time on my hands and it might just make his day

P.S.   Thank you to whichever blogger/s recommended ‘All the light we cannot see’. I am about two thirds through it now and it is one of the loveliest and most beautifully written books I have ever read

My Home from Home from Home

I feel totally at home, but my home is nothing like this

I sit here on an upholstered dining chair at a wooden table in front of a television. I have my laptop, phones, magazines. I have wine, water and wasabi peas. There’s a flushing toilet. This is luxury

IMG_7903.JPGI realised as I let myself into my neighbour’s charming apartment that I have become very comfortable here. I want for nothing and his charges are very reasonable. The fact that I can get a phone signal and use his wifi means that I can even stay in touch with Baz and C

Meanwhile our own house is shrouded in scaffolding. The sight stopped me in my tracks when I arrived, even though it was planned. Inside I was surprised and impressed to see that the builders have reinstated the little Formica kitchen table and 2 chairs that we had ‘bunged’ into the garage, presumably as somewhere to sit and take a proper break

Someone on a British TV programme this week described the French way of life as ‘gentle and civilised’. I realise that ‘frustrating’ will be another adjective I’ll continue to use, but both Baz and I thought this was a perfect description. There is merit in upholding traditions and rituals, in maintaining the order that has prevailed. In the UK we have some stunning villages – there is no doubt of that – but in France the villages still largely live and breathe, many communities exist in much the same way as they have for a very long time, and older people generally seem less isolated and lonely

Perhaps I am wrong about that, but most people are deeply sociable and enjoy the company of others. I have just read Blog-sur-Aude’s post (coteetcampagne) about just the same thing – community spirit, available company, shared interests: a village bench where people sit if they choose company. These days millions of people in the UK have nowhere to meet up with others and often no daily connection with their community. A gentler and more civilised way of life would solve so many social problems

But tonight, I’ll just curl up alone with my comforts