Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Deed Is Done

We knew it was going to happen, but it still came as a sad surprise on Thursday when we were travelling in the car to the post office (an unenviable task at the best of times) and we were greeted in Chazelle by men with screwdrivers putting a road name on the wall of a house. They told us that they were on their way and would be at La Tuilerie any minute.

Cees walked home despondently and I went on to the post office with a heavy heart as I knew I would have no time to say goodbye to our beautiful plain concrete gate post.

The men turned up and proceeded to measure and drill and screw and now it is official, we have been “Numbered”.

By the way, please note it took four men to put the number 10 on our gatepost: one to hold, one to drill, one to watch and one to take photos.

Despite my reservations though, they have done a nice job and it does look quite smart I suppose.

Click here for 10 Route de Chazeux Website. Doesn’t have the same ring about it as La Tuilerie, does it ?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Again : a call for help

This is a copy of Cees' blog, if any of you feel like helping please let us know, a big thank you in advance!

Just like last year we received a number of bingo (or loto) cards from the Amicale de Cormatin, which we were asked to sell. The proceeds of these cards are used to finance the yearly dinner for the aged of Cormatin (April) and for Christmas presents for all kids in Cormatin between 0 and 10 years old.

At the beginning of 2011 I placed a call for help in my blog, begging my readers to donate something to this fund raising event. I got quite a few positive reactions, and we managed to sell our 40 cards quickly to some expats and friends around here, to some guests who stayed previously on the campsite or in the gites and to friends and family abroad (the second prize fell on one of our cards!)

Because over time we have gathered some more friends and acquaintances among the French population of Cormatin, we made the rounds in Cormatin and environs, and we managed to sell all our 40 cards in no time. No call for help on my blog or on Facebook required, or so it seemed...

Until Sue spoke to some less pro-active Amicale members; they had been “unable to sell any cards at all”, and on top of that they possessed a box with more than 60 unsold cards! She will be on the road this afternoon, to try to persuade the shopkeepers in Cormatin to flog off some more cards. At the same time I will try to interest some of my readers in again buying some cards off us through my blog and through Facebook. Who says that social networks are useless?

I ask those who are willing to invest some of their hard earned money for this good cause, to send an e-mail to this address, specifying the number of cards requested à € 2 (or £ 1.70) a card.

The potential benefactor will receive our bank details; continentals my (Dutch) BIC and IBAN numbers, islanders who want to pay in sterling will receive Sue’s account number and sort code.

On Saturday 28 January half the population of Cormatin will play bingo on your behalf for 3 prizes well worth the money:

1. a Techwood 32 “ flatscreen TV-set (PAL & SECAM)

2. a Life’s Good home cinema

3. a ham

None of these goods will go off shortly!

I hope this call for help will have the same effect as last year; all contributors receive a well meant “thank you very much” in advance.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Do a Good Deed Every Day

On the way back from shopping on a Tuesday, we normally stop at a friend’s weekend home and put their dustbin in their garden to stop it blowing away or filling up with rain, nothing special, it is not exactly a “good deed” as they look after Fifi very often when we are away and I wouldn’t ordinarily mention it, other than this simple act triggered off a rather unfortunate event. Had we not stopped at their house, then we would not have been stopped by a car with two gentlemen of North African extraction in it as we were pulling away from that house, and then we would never have been asked for directions.

The gentlemen in question explained that they were dreadfully lost, and did we know where “Parlayplay..” was? Ummm, not really. To be honest, thinking back on what happened, it is not a good idea for two foreigners with heavy foreign accents to ask two other foreigners with heavy foreign accents, for directions to anywhere, but that is of course said with hindsight. At that particular moment, I thought I knew what they had said. "Paray-le-Monial?" I asked with my perfect English accent, “Oui” they replied in chorus - phew got that one sorted.

Paray-le-Monial is 60 km from here, it is a lovely place with a superb Basilica and if you can ever get to a concert in there, it is well worth it as the acoustics are magnificent, even just a wander around the town is worth the effort, and for pilgrims it is a “must visit” destination, but I suspect that these chaps had a more mundane appointment than that, so another 60 km was not exactly what they were looking for. Breaking the news to them allowed me to use one of my favourite and very evocative expressions: “Oo la la” I said.

I just love this phrase, it says so much. A plumber arrives and sees a leak, “Oo la la”; an electrician arrives and sees some burned out wiring “Oo la la”; a builder arrives and sees a crack “Oo la la”; it says it all - “disaster!” The gentlemen in the car fully understood the severity of the situation and their faces dropped. We explained how far it was and then we told them how to get there and despite the extra distance, they left with smiles, a wave and a big “merci”.

Driving home, I suggested to Cees that these guys must be really, really lost to end up on our little road en-route from département 42 to Paray-le-Monial - where is département 42 by the way? After unloading the shopping, I checked a map of France. Our département (71, Saône-et-Loire) borders three départements on the south side, 01 (Ain) and 69 (Rhône) near us which I knew, then it borders 42 (Loire) further to the west, which I obviously didn’t know. Interestingly, the closest large town over the border from 42 when travelling into 71 is actually Paray-le-Monial, so these chappies would have already driven through the town once that day to get to Chazelle. I then had a little doubt in my mind, maybe they weren’t looking for Paray-le-Monial after all. Maybe they were looking for Prayes (5km down our little road) or Bray (3km down our little road)?

Whoops ! There goes my good deed for the day.

Ah well, my heart was in the right place, but next time I’ll just stick to dustbins or maybe give up being a Brownie altogether - the uniform doesn’t fit me anymore anyway.

La Tuilerie Website

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The World Continues to Change !

Things are looking different around here. The Christmas decorations (all except the pretty lights) have been removed from Cormatin, the three kings have been and gone, which we celebrated with the traditional Galette des Rois Friday evening. But it is more than that, much, much more than that.

There have been some curious goings on in Cormatin and Chazelle this last week. Things that had never been seen here before have been appearing, unwelcome, insidious things, gnawing away at the very essence of French rural communities. Then, finally on Thursday we saw the men who were behind this act of vandalism. Monsieur G, Monsieur M and Monsieur V. armed with drills, cordless electric screwdrivers, a long stick and a step ladder, were defacing the centuries old properties of Cormatin.

With a jolly “Bonjour, Bonne Année et surtout Bon Santé” and two kisses each, we were proudly told they had done 60 houses already that day and that our house too would be defaced fairly shortly, they are heading our way !

Back in March this year I explained the joys of French addresses, but now that Spitting Image puppet, apology for a president, has finally got his way, the axe has finally fallen and we are all being reduced to numbers. No more need for the complex descriptions to make sure people find your house, just give the road name and number and you’ll get there – very sad indeed.

Having said that, I am not sure that calling us 10 Route de Chazeux will help anyone find us. We are one kilometre from the village where you will find numbers 1 – 9, 11, 13 and 15 and then 200 metres down a tiny farm track off the road itself. Do we really think this is progress ? I think we’ll stick with La Tuilerie, at least everyone knows where that is - even GPS systems.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The World Has Changed !

Yes, it is 2012 and the world as we know it in South Burgundy has changed.

OK I’ll grant you, the first change we noticed just before the new year but it was just an omen for great things to come. We found PARSNIPS in the Intermarché, not one or two, not manky looking apologies for a vegetable (which have been available every so often in the past) but nice juicy-looking, just-the-right-size parsnips.

I can see you are all very under-whelmed by my news, but today, today the 3rd of January, for the FIRST TIME EVER ANYWHERE WE HAVE EVER BEEN IN FRANCE, we have found red chillies !! Yeh !

Hold on, hold on, don’t get too excited we thought, these could just be sneaky wimpy little chilli-like things that just lead to dreadful disappointment, which has happened before. So we put just one, ever so carefully, in a plastic bag took and it to the checkout. Hoping that this would indeed be a fiery little soul. Before we reached the car Cees was so excited he couldn’t wait any longer and so he ate it. It is a real chilli and a pretty hot one at that. Hooray !

Buoyed up with excitement we went to see how the Nativity scene in Taizé is getting on. The wise men are still on their way, but one of them must have heard about the chillies in the Intermarché, because his umbrella has exploded and he has half fallen off his camel in surprise.

All we need now is for Barclaycard to get my credit card working again and I will truly be able to say “the world has changed”.

Happy New Year to everyone !
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