Friday, 25 January 2008

A Bit of Me Time

Not much done here at the house today other than the basic animal husbandry. With my kitchen unit due to be in the store in a couple of weeks I though it was about time to find the other bits and pieces I will need such as tiles, sink, taps etc.

French shops are different. Not just the fact that they close for two hours over lunch and sometimes one day a week in addition to Sundays, but they are usually franchises too. This leads to price differences between what you first think are branches of the same shop but also means that you never know whether they will carry the item you want.

They also may offer an item but not carry it in stock. This is usually the case with things such as tiles. When I find the tiles I want, it’s almost certain that I won’t be able to pick them up then but will have to wait at least a week or two for them to be ordered. It’s one of those ‘slower pace of life’ things that you have to get used to living out here.

So this morning Ann and I went off to Agen to visit a couple of stores in the ‘big town’. First stop was Castorama who have a large store on the outskirts of Agen. After an hour wandering round I did purchase some stuff but not much of what was on my list, which was rather disappointing even though it is sale time here in France. The government controls the sales here and say when the sale season starts and when it ends.

Then off to another shop, Lapeyre, where again there was nothing I wanted but they do have some very useful catalogues. I can now sit at home and find the name in French of the bits I want to buy, a very useful thing to do although over the last year my mime, acting and sketching abilities have been advanced and honed.

On the way home we stopped for lunch at one of the roadside cafes. The meal was one of the simple set menus, 11€50, and was delicious as they usually are. I had leek and Camembert flan as starter, a piece of grilled fish (no idea what type) with vegetable to follow and finished off with isles flotant (floating islands). All in all a very nice ‘me day’.

I’m really hoping the water will be back on stream (no pun intended) tomorrow. I have a large pile of washing up to do as I’ve been eking out the water I have so I don’t have to trouble my neighbour too often. It only rained a little, 2mm, one night since the pump broke. Mind you that 2mm over the front half of the roof filled a small dustbin that’s kept the alpacas in water. The efficiency of the roof collection was really highlighted by me leaving two large boxes out to collect water. The rain barely covered the bottom of them.

Once I have water I can switch on the heating again as I can re-fill the radiators. The habitable rooms and the radiators are currently all on the ground floor but when the heating was plumbed in the pipe work was run round just below the ceiling (and they are almost 3 meters high). This results in any air in the system collecting in the pipes and you can’t bleed it out using the radiators. Without the pressurised water going into the system and eventually displacing the air it reached the point where I could hear just small amounts of water falling down the pipes into the radiators so I though it prudent to shut the system down to protect the boiler.

That was fine while the night temperature was staying about 6 to 8 C. We’re promised a frost tonight and possibly into next week so my bedroom is currently about 11 C, which is beginning to border on cold. Still the weather is better than this time last year when it was –6 to –10 C and snowing. I didn’t have any heating then either!

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