We left you in suspense last week. Would we put an offer in on the house at Bagnols-en-Forêt? Well in the end we didn’t. There was a nice estate agent lady at church on Sunday who gave us the opinion that the French property market had some way to go down before it bottomed out and also said that the winding roads out of Bagnols could be icy in winter and one of our absolute priorities is good access to airports. And of course it was absolutely at the top of our price range. Interestingly, when we looked at it this week on the web we found the price had dropped €10,000 since we had visited it. If it keeps going we may think about it again. In the meantime we continue to watch the property markets and wait for someone to offer us a bargain we can’t refuse.
You may have noticed that the French cabinet resigned this week. If you had been here you probably would not have. When we mentioned it, expecting shocked opinions, all we got were some very fine Gallic shrugs and a few comments to the effect of ‘so what?’ There is a widespread recognition that there is a major economic crisis but equally, the view that no one can deal with it.
What else? Well we played boules with some people at church on Saturday (thanks John and Brenda) in the nearby town of Grasse, famous for perfume and infamous for a road system of such complexity that the satnav effectively gives a little shrug of its shoulders too. The interesting thing about the house where we played boules (we were knocked out in the first round…) was that it was over 200 years old and apparently Napoleon had stopped off for a cup of tea (or something similar) there on his epic march north across France in 1815 that ended at Waterloo.
We have both been busy this week. Chris has been looking at various possible projects including something to do with the appalling illegal bird trapping in Cyprus. Alison has been using her desktop publishing skills to produce two large posters (one French, one English) for a stall at the local town this Saturday. We are very pleased with the result but had to spend a sweltering hour and a half traipsing around Grasse trying to find a KwikPrint type shop. A satnav that wasn’t sulking would have been nice.
What else? Apart from a cold cloudy and clammy Monday the weather has been excellent. Wednesday saw a group of pastors and church representatives come up for a long picnic and discussion of closer links; Courmettes could not have been lovelier.
Nevertheless there are hints that autumn is not far away. In particular the wildlife seems to be getting frisky. One night this week Chris was woken by the sound of hooves on cobblestones, and very piglike snorts and grunts. Wild boar. From the evidence around Courmettes, you really don’t want to bother with looking after your lawn when there are boar about. There are grass patches around us that look like they have been carpet bombed. Moles seem utterly insignificant compared to wild boar hunting for roots. We’ve yet to meet one in the field but they need to be treated with respect; those thigh-high tusks are ideally placed to slice open your femoral artery.
And talking of pests, just as it was getting twilight the other evening Chris decided to go for a walk up one of the estate tracks to our favourite viewpoint. To his dismay he realised there were two off-road motorcyclists ahead, struggling to pull their bikes over one of the farmers gateways made from strands of electric fence webbing. Motorised vehicles are thoroughly banned across the estate but these lads had not just come onto the estate but driven through the marshy area which is some of the highest grade environmental sites that we have and is of international significance. There was nothing for it but for Chris to express downright annoyance in French and tell them in no uncertain terms that they had committed a major offence and should on no account to do it again. Fortunately, having been a teacher he had no problem in making them squirm. In all fairness they were grovellingly apologetic.
The computer saga continues. Chris’s main computer is still not working and one of the most promising computer repair people in the area is still away. After all, as someone pointed out, it is still technically August. A slight consolation however was a discovery that there is a room in the château with a router of its own which means that Chris’ backup computer, which struggles at any distance from the Internet, now works much better, although the Internet seems to mysteriously fade away at times. Jean-François says that Chris should install the French version of Windows; it’s apparently terribly elegant and very fast but requires three signatures including that of the mayor before you can start it, switches off at lunchtime and doesn’t work at all in August. That’s a joke…