First of all, thanks to all of you who expressed concern about the storm. In fact it turns out to have been far from a normal winter storm but actually a really rather severe (and hopefully abnormal) one. Although we’ve had quite a bit of rain this week it hasn’t been anything like as bad as last week’s deluge.
At the end of last week (but a bit late to make it into the weekly report) we had a fascinating day out up the Var Valley, which runs north from Nice and then round to the west. After about an hour’s drive we ended up at Entrevaux, which as the crow flies is not very far from Les Courmettes. However the rugged nature of the terrain means that all the more direct roads are meandering and difficult. The high point, if you will excuse the pun, was climbing up to the citadel which overlooks the town. It is one of the considerable number produced in the 18th century by the great builder of forts, Vaubin, whose handiwork can be seen all the way round the eastern and southern borders of France. They are brilliant castles but apparently almost none of them ever served any proper defensive purpose because military technology moved so quickly. The way that advances in armaments rendered fixed defences obsolete was unfortunately a lesson forgotten in the twentieth century by those who trusted in the Maginot Line.
What else? We had a truly welcome visit from two old friends from Swansea, John and Fran, and, despite the weather forecast, it was really rather a pleasant day. We discovered a spectacular waterfall literally at the edge of the Domaine des Courmettes and after the heavy rain it was a roaring torrent of spectacular proportions.
We are still struggling with the Internet and one or two people have presumed that this is due to the laid-back nature of the French providers. It’s actually far more complex. The telephone line runs for what must be over six km (call it five miles if you must) through dense oak woodland. What has happened is clearly seen in the photograph here which is that the branches have grown around the cable. A considerable length has been cleared but it’s not hard to see that with winter winds there is likely to be further disruption. We are hoping for a resumption of service this week but there are no guarantees.
On our day off this week we thought it a good idea to go over and check with our estate agent in Vidauban. Everything is going well with the purchase and we hope to be able to complete on 19 December. However we are letting the Dutch family stay over Christmas in order for them to have one last round of seasonal festivities there. So we hope to move on or around 30 December. The autumn colours in the area are spectacular, and we include a photo of the avenue just outside Vidauban.
One slight concern that has emerged this week is the extraordinary fluctuation in the currency markets which we have come to take for granted. So early this week a pound would have bought you nearly €1.28; by the end of the week it was closer to €1.25, which if our maths is correct is a 2½% decrease in its value. When you are transferring over £200,000 that fluctuation amounts to £5,000. Over the next couple of weeks we do need to transfer funds and it would be awfully nice to pick a good point to do so otherwise we will to take a big chunk out of our “new car fund”. So those of you that pray; please do so!