6 October 2022


The new windows are nearly all in place, 4/5 of them.  On removing the old one in the en suite bathroom upstairs the builders said it had been held in place with only two nails and a screw (or was it the other way round?).  Any road, Duck (as they would say in my part of Derbyshire) they said it's a miracle the thing stayed in for so long and didn't leak.  The one above the stairs had about four screws apparently, so a better job.

I am happy to report that the new ones are now fixed in place with a more adequate quantity of both nails and screws and, as the builder said, when Putin's bomb goes off the house might fall down but the new windows will still be attached.

We need to have the windows in place well before the fitting of the new carpet to allow a big clean up of the upstairs and painting of the walls.  Nick has already varnished most of the beams.  The carpet is being delivered tomorrow, which in itself is a miracle as when I first phoned to arrange the date there was no sign of it, it had vanished.  However, it miraculously appeared overnight and with a bit of luck the builder's big tool, which we have affectionately called the company car, will be available to lift the three huge and no doubt very heavy rolls (or is it four, I can't remember) up into the bedroom via the window at the far end of the house.  Much easier than struggling to get them up a narrow, winding staircase.  I'm sure the delivery guy will be grateful for that.  The carpet fitting is booked for the 18th and in French this is called la pose.  The carpet fitter is called le poseur.

So, with all my ducks in a row it looks like we could be on schedule to get the bedroom decorated and carpeted, the house cleaned and put to bed for the winter, mouse proof measures in place, before we have to leave on 31st October.  That's the day that Nick runs out of days, the fiasco at Eurotunnel in August having cost him one that he could have done with keeping.  (Due to the problems we have had this year I have spent more days back in the UK than him so could stay on for another week, but it's not really practical to do so.)

The builders are a great team, thoughtful and considerate than most by far, but I still feel like the house is not my own when they're in residence.  I've reached the "I'm never having anything done to the house ever again" stage of weariness.  We've also been lucky with the weather, it being fine and not too windy at the right time for the window work.  Rain is a no-no for putting in new velux windows, apparently.  I shall be mighty glad, however, when it's all done, nice as these people are, so that we can get our house back and get on with the cleaning, decorating and generally putting the house back together in a normal state.  It will be great for once to be able to leave it clean and properly closed up for the winter so that next year we don't arrive to a huge amount of mess and work before we even start.

Talking of mess, I will have a little rant about NatWest Bank.  Their bereavement website that we were obliged to use to notify them of my father's death, close his accounts and transfer the money to the executor of his will (me) is absolute rubbish.  For nearly three months they didn't inform me that one of the documents I had uploaded was not acceptable and needed to be redone - in fact their last message to me said they had everything they need to process the transfer.  

Only when I inquired using their online chat service as to where the money was did it come to light.  Then they wanted me to give feedback "so they could improve their service for customers in future".  Never mind the other sodding customers, where's the grovelling apology, the bunch of flowers, the bottle of champagne or M&S vouchers to compensate THIS customer for a huge amount of worry, extra work and aggravation?  Bereavement is hard enough to deal with without having to use a website that simply doesn't work.  I definitely have better things to do with my time than struggle with all this ****. 

Oh for the days when all you had to do was gather all the paperwork and take it into the local branch, where someone who knew what they were doing would look at it all, offer their condolences and a box of tissues and process it properly.

Whilst waiting for the second phase of the window work to start we took a day off to go to the market at La Roche-Posay and have lunch there.  It being breast cancer awareness month the market place was decorated accordingly and very jolly it all looked too.

We like LRP (as we call it) as a town and the market is a delight.  There were fewer stalls than in the summer, the tourist and seasonal trade having gone until next year; the seller of brightly coloured linen clothes had swapped them for woolly jumpers, but there was still everything you could need.

Interestingly, the cost of veg on the market stalls was pretty much the same as in the local supermarkets, although they looked much fresher.  Food has become an expensive item in France in recent years and one of the few things I miss about life in the UK is that you can still get a bag of leeks, carrots, turnips or parsnips, a cauliflower or a head of broccoli for less than £1 each or thereabouts in Tesco or Sainsburys.  (Unless they have also gone up since I was last there.)  In SuperU these leeks were 85c each in and the turnips 74c each.

There are a number of bars and restaurants in town and they all look fairly ordinary and unprepossessing but we have eaten several times at "Le Dug" and always had a good meal there.  Which goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover or a restaurant by its décor.  Tasty, well cooked food does not necessarily come only on designer plates.

Last but not least, my brother is definitely on the mend.  Most of the tubes and wires attached to his anatomy have been removed, there is no sign of the kidney machine, he breathes and eats by himself without assistance and he's regained his sense of humour; hospital food offering many opportunities for a good laugh.  However, he can still only walk a few steps so is a long way off being able to be independent at home.  Still, it's good to know the worst is well behind him.


  1. Good to hear things are looking up.

  2. So pleased to hear your brother is making progress. Glad the windows are firmly fixed. I think banks just aren't as good as they used to be. Especially when it comes to handling the affairs of deceased persons.

  3. I can't remember when I first became aware of your Derbyshire/France existence but I made a rather silly mistake. I entered you in my Blogs I Follow list as Franglais, clicking on which took me to Oh Crumbs. To which I have since made occasional visits even though la cuisine is far from being one of my major interests.

    Thank goodness you recently responded to my latest post (on Tone Deaf) about making people working in the NHS laugh. Today, idly, I clicked on the blogonym associated with your comment and was informed you did two blogs, the other being this one, A House in France. And lo, a parallel life to my own.

    For ten years (1989 - 1999) we owned a 100-year-old terrace house in Drefféac, just north of Pontchateau in Loire-Atlantique. Bought for £10,000 and sold for £15,000 when on retirement we moved from a 1930s semi in Kingston-upon-Thames to four-bedrooms detached, with integral garage, on the outskirts of Hereford.

    Previously we'd spent many a fortnight in Drefféac plus a series of long weekends while I was still working following a routine that has now become quite unaffordable. Thursday evening off to Portmouth, bed on the overnight ferry to Caen (wakened at 05.30 in an entirely civilised fashion to the strains of Mozart's flute and harp concerto), a quick dash south-westish in time for lunch at our favourite restaurant in St Gildas, 5 km north of Drefféac. Back to the UK on the Sunday hovercraft from Cherbourg because I hate spending time on ferries.

    We're still highly francophile so why did we sell? Fact is, despite all the improvements, life in the terrace house was somewhat primitive and several steps down in comfort from our new Hereford home. Later, we started renting villas in the Languedoc to which most of the family (a group of eight) could be accommodated.

    But the memories linger on, retriggered by this visit to A House in France. Notably relationships with the artisans who helped keep Drefféac in one piece. Le menuisier, M. Nicholas, he of the short sentences and the impenetrable argot, married to Madame who provided me with a sort of sous-titre service, speaking in longer sentences which were easier to grasp. The plumber, M. Chauvelet, who installed the new hot-water system and, who, seeing me fashioning dove-tail joints for a new book-shelf, nodded approvingly and - what a gesture! - LENT ME HIS POWER SAW. And the infinitely civilised macon (name forgotten) who explained France in impeccable French, making me seem more francophone than I really was.

    I could go on. Next time I'll respond to your post instead of maundering.

  4. That brought up a few memories Jean... When we moved down to Congleton and people use the term DUCK it used to send my daughter mad "I'am NOT a duck!!" I also use to work with a consultant whos favourite phrase was "His ducks aren't all in a row"
    I had no problems with Mum's NATWEST it all went fine.
    Glad Colin's improving. Safe journey back... C

    1. Websites are great when they work. In the amount of time spent photographing and uploading all the relevant documents I could have been into the branch and home again, job done. Whoever checked my file picked up the fact that one of the documents hadn't uploaded well enough but didn't tell me. Rubbish.

    2. PS I don't mind being called "duck" as it's normal for me. What I do object to is being called "you guys" by kids waiting on in restaurant chains.

  5. I hear tell the French spend more of their money on food in a good way viz. they buy quality not the cheapest stuff.

    1. Michael, my observation is that things are changing in France. Fast food outlets such as burger places and ready made pizza cabins are springing up all over the place. It's also my impression that the French are not as skinny as I always thought they were!
      Food no doubt represents a greater proportion of the household budget than it does say in the UK where it now seems to be much cheaper. Equally, there is much more availability of cheaper cuts of meat and offal in France than we find in the UK. The French love of offal is a puzzle to the British!

  6. Those pink umbrellas were such a lovely touch and a change fom the simple ribbon in a lapel.