July 29, 2011

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND

Maire1

We found this in Mairé, a small village near Lésigny.  Any idea what it is?

July 28, 2011

GETTING CLOSER

In our absence from Le Grand-Pressigny – between holidays – Nicole had kindly been checking our post box every few days to see if there was any sign of my carte grise.

I was thoroughly expecting a letter demanding that I take the motorcycle to somewhere to be inspected, or to have parts modified, or even refusing to register it at all for some reason.  So when Nicole emailed to say a temporary carte grise, valid for a month, had arrived, I was over the moon.

JULY 2011 - 2 084

The post office in Le Grand-Pressigny.

Not only that, it was in the envelope I had sent with my own name and address on – how good was that ??!!

However, there was also a note to say a package should have been delivered that needed signing for and was being held at the post office – but for only two weeks.  The two weeks would be up long before we were back chez nous.  The last thing I wanted was for my proper carte grise to slip from my grasp before I even set eyes on it, just because I was out of town and it was sent back to wherever it came from.  Panic mode set in.

There was a form that I could fill in authorising a third party to collect the package for me but there wouldn’t be time for Nicole to send it to me in England for me to sign it, naming her as the third party, and send it back again before time ran out.  So we devised a cunning plan by email, involving a scanned signed letter from me, for Nicole to take to the post office.

It didn’t work.  The lady on the counter that day was having none of it, insisting on me turning up in person with identification (passport and EDF bill) before handing it over.  She waved the envelope in front of Nicole and Alex, confirmed that it contained a carte grise, and snatched it back behind the desk before they could even get a sniff at it.

Nicole explained the situation, that I would not be in town for another week and the postmistress promised to keep it for me.  Somehow I didn’t think I was going to be that lucky.

But I was !!  First thing on Monday morning I handed over my passport for inspection (the EDF bill seemed to be surplus to requirements this time, according to the young man on the counter that day) and he in turn handed me my carte grise.

JULY 2011 - 2 083

A very happy person with her new carte grise.

It seemed a disappointing document for so much fuss, I thought.  The UK equivalent is in several A4 pages but this was just a small slip.  But it was MINE!!

JULY 2011 - 2 085

The next step was to get a number plate with the new registration number on it and then some insurance.

Now how difficult could that be ??

July 26, 2011

WHAT A SHAME



It's a shame to lose a singer with as much talent as Amy Winehouse. Her influence on many an aspiring young star was obvious not too many years ago - Amy look-alikes and sound-alikes were everywhere.

There was a time when I got thoroughly sick of the way the press treated her - always publishing the least flattering photos of Amy after a rough night or a fight with her boyfriend and often making her the subject of unkind jokes. What ever troubled her, I bet this didn't help.

It's a shame she didn't live long enough to consolidate her place in music history.

July 25, 2011

THERE AND BACK AGAIN

We’re back home again after another holiday in Le Grand-Pressigny.

doorknob1

A door handle in Chinon

We crammed a lot into our two weeks as usual and the carte grise story did have a happy ending – in the end!  More about that soon.

Mind you, where did summer go?  We definitely had English summer weather for our second week – wet and chilly.  We were not impressed with that!

July1

The weather did perk up by our last weekend and on the day we left we had breakfast on our little terrace in lovely sunshine !!  C’est la vie !!

There will be lots of stories and photos soon………..

July 5, 2011

MINDLESS RELAXATION

After all the frantic activity of the previous days what I needed was some mindless relaxation – something that passes the time, occupies the body and requires not too much brain activity.

So on the Thursday of our holiday, which happened to be a bank holiday for Ascension Day, Nick went fishing (again) in the morning whilst I did some baking.

holiday coooking 2

I made some cranberry blondies – a kind of brownie but with white chocolate and dried cranberries.  Even though I say it myself, they were just what the doctor ordered – sweet and indulgent.  You can read more about them here.

In the afternoon we went to the brocante at Ferrière-Larçon.

ferriere larcon5

It was a beautiful day, very warm with bright sunshine and a gentle breeze.  The brocante was a huge one, with all the usual stuff – old garden tools, broken toys, worn out shoes and ancient kitchen gadgets.  Also lots of stalls selling food that you could either eat now or take home for your larder

ferriere larcon1

These ladies had swooped early and grabbed a bargain!

ferriere larcon2jpgferriere larcon3jpgferriere larcon4

The only thing I bought was a very old Bon Maman jar – just like today’s version but with no lid – very useful for 40cents.

I bumped into Tim and Pauline, who had found a lovely old umbrella stand to buy.  It’s funny how other people always find really good stuff at a brocante or vide-grenier whilst all I ever find is a sea of rubbish.  I have come to the conclusion that you need a particular kind of x-ray vision to see through the junk to the real bargains.

They invited us round for a cuppa so we called in later and enjoyed some home-made cherry muffins with our cup of tea.

cats

Their cats were not quite so pleased to see us as they had to shuffle up on the sofa to make room for us!

All in all, the whole day was just the job, a leisurely antidote to two days of hurtling from one public office to another, grappling with the French language and trying to beat the clock.

On Thursday evening we sat for a while on our little terrace, watching the swallows swirl around us and listening to the church bells and the chatter of village life.  As the sun went down and the bats came out to play, the laughter drifting up from the village square dwindled, the slight breeze that had been with us all day died down and we were left with complete calm and quiet.  A perfect end to a perfectly relaxing day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There’s still time to treat yourself to a bargain break.

a great place to stay

Alex and Nicole have asked me to mention that they still have some availability in their lovely gites at Les Limornières for July.  They are offering a reduced rate for anyone who would like a last-minute booking.  So if you were thinking about spending some time in this beautiful area of France but weren’t sure – now’s your chance to treat yourself to a short break at bargain rates.

For further details, click here for a 4-person gite with €100 off or here for a 5-person gite with €150 euros off.

July 3, 2011

AN ENVELOPE IS NOT JUST AN ENVELOPE

After lunch on the Wednesday of our week’s holiday, Nick went fishing while I busied myself organising the paperwork we had accumulated in attempting to get my carte grise.

I had my UK registration document, the application form for a French carte grise, my EDF bill, passport and driving licence to prove I exist and have a home in France, my certificate of conformity, the quitus fiscal and my swimming certificate.  I also had a cheque made out to Trésor Publique but I had to leave it blank because no-one had been able to give me any idea how much this would cost.

envelope5

I walked down to the Office de Tourisme in the village to get photocopies of all of them.  For some I would send off the originals and keep the copies, for others I would keep the originals and send off the photocopies.

On top of that I needed two large envelopes, one to send them off in and a second with my name and address on so that something could be sent to me. 

envelope3

I went to the Maison de la Presse in the village to get the envelopes.  I searched the shop whilst the newsagent, Nellie, was busy serving other customers.  All I could find in an A4 size was some envelopes “soufflé”, in other words, expanding envelopes for a large wedge of papers.  That was fine by me but it would not do for Nellie.  When I presented them at the till, she subjected me to an inquisition on what exactly was to go in the envelopes, declared my choice no good and set about hunting for something better. 

I was put on one side whilst several other customers came and went, with lots of gossip being exchanged per person, until the perfect envelopes could be found.

I was tempted to exclaim “Rejoice, for I have found my sheep” when she appeared from under a pile of cardboard boxes with two ordinary brown A4 envelopes.  Thank goodness for that.

envelope4

Mind you, when I asked for stamps to put on them, I was treated to a lecture on postage and directed to the post office.  There was some reason why Nellie was unable to supply stamps for such an envelope but the nuances of the explanation went over my head completely.

It had taken twenty minutes to buy two envelopes and I dreaded to think how long it would take to buy stamps for them.  Getting into our post office is in itself quite a feat as you have to press the right buttons on a control panel by the door for someone to let you in.  The first time I had to do this I was completely taken aback, the crime rate in the region being so low compared to at home in the UK.  On this occasion I had barely touched the panel when there was a click telling me I could open the door.

envelope1

Apart from an old lady sat at a small table waiting for something, I was the only customer.  This was quite a relief.  French post offices give me the willies, even more so than the butcher.  The opportunities for looking a complete idiot seem to be infinite in a post office where the conversation is likely to include numbers, weights, currency and destination.  I asked for two stamps and waved my brown envelopes at the lady with a weak smile.  I somehow knew I was not going to get off lightly and was subjected to another inquisition about what was going in it and where it was going.   I thrust a random bundle of my photocopying into one of the envelopes and let her weigh it.  Better to have too much postage than too little, especially as one of them was going to contain my £150 worth of certificate of conformity.

When I got back to my little house up the hill, I put the kettle on for a reviving cup of tea and flopped into a chair on the terrace, completely exhausted.

envelope2

This whole process had taken two days of driving from Loches to Tours and back again, twice, cost two good lunches, and even taken almost an hour to get a few photocopies and a couple of envelopes.  I checked, double checked and checked again the pile of documents before I stuffed them into my non-soufflé envelope, with the additional return envelope and put it on the mantlepiece ready to drop in the post box the next day.

On Thursday I woke up early and felt relieved that our visitors had been and gone, we had done all we could to organise my carte grise and at last I could feel I was on holiday.  As I pushed the envelope into the yellow box outside the post office I breathed a sigh of relief and thought that all I could do now was wait – what ever happened next would be in the lap of the gods.  Well the Préfecture in Tours actually.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There’s still time to treat yourself to a bargain break.

a great place to stay

Alex and Nicole have asked me to mention that they still have some availability in their lovely gites at Les Limornières for July.  They are offering a reduced rate for anyone who would like a last-minute booking.  So if you were thinking about spending some time in this beautiful area of France but weren’t sure – now’s your chance to treat yourself to a short break at bargain rates.

For further details, click here for a 4-person gite with €100 off or here for a 5-person gite with €150 euros off.

July 2, 2011

A PUZZLE FOR THE WEEKEND

puzzle

Does anyone know what this is?

puzzle2

It is on a stone post at one end of this bridge.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There’s still time to treat yourself to a bargain break.

a great place to stay

Alex and Nicole have asked me to mention that they still have some availability in their lovely gites at Les Limornières for July.  They are offering a reduced rate for anyone who would like a last-minute booking.  So if you were thinking about spending some time in this beautiful area of France but weren’t sure – now’s your chance to treat yourself to a short break at bargain rates.

For further details, click here for a 4-person gite with €100 off or here for a 5-person gite with €150 euros off.