We had a pleasant if busy visit to the UK in the middle of January to see family. Particular high points were the next generation: John, Celia, Simeon and Joseph in Birmingham; Mark, Alice, Thomas and Phoebe in London. The timing for the trip was to allow us to be present for Phoebe’s baptism at the All Souls’ Clubhouse Church: fun and a real blessing!
We returned from a cold, grey and wet London to a no less cold but definitely sunnier and drier Provence. Our return was marked by a dramatic power cut late Thursday evening The power in the main part of the house went off, but bizarrely some circuits at separate ends of the house (happily including the kitchen) were operational. Fortunately too, given that the outside temperature was around -5°C, we were able to keep warm with our wood-burning fire. It’s events like this of course which make living in a new country challenging. Our growing list of tradesmen and artisans that we know and trust did not include a callout electrician.
On Friday morning we contacted someone from the Yellow Pages who promised to turn up in the morning, but for some he reason never arrived. We then did the most useful thing you can do, which is ask around the neighbours for recommendations. One of the names suggested turned out to be an extremely helpful electrician from a nearby town who was able to fit in a visit in the evening. He prodded and poked and said “you have a three-phase electrical system (news to us) and the problem is in your external fuse box”. He then called EDF (Électricité de France) who immediately sent someone out to put in a new fuse. They arrived twenty minutes later and gently (there’s 400 volts flying around in these three-phase circuits apparently) replaced a fuse the size of a little finger. And behold, there was light and power. Moral: get to know your neighbours.
In the meantime Alison had gone on to the annual ceremony of Voeux de Maire where the mayor gives the community good wishes for the New Year, which was extremely well attended. In Taradeau there seems to be a tradition of offering good wishes in different languages after the main speech has finished, and she was pleasantly surprised when the mayor (who we’ve now got to know through working up on the oppidum) summoned her by name to do so in English. Gratifying, but are we now Taradeau’s token Brits?
Incidentally no one on this side of the channel seems at all impressed by the new clarity from ‘Mrs Mayhem’. There has been use of the French equivalent of “not being able to have your cake and eat it”: “On ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre – You can’t have butter and the money for the butter.” Perhaps the best comment has been this cartoon from Belgium: