Slim Shady

April 27th, 2009

Guess whose back, Back again.

Sorry for the protracted absence and thank you to all those who have emailed me expressing concern.

Truth is I was away then mega mega busy – I will fill you in on all the details later.

Everything is OK just hectic.


January 27th, 2009

A short post just to say thanks to everyone who has rung or emailed to see if we are ok after the storms on Staurday.

Winter storm Klaus ripped in to the region during the early hours of Saturday Morning.  Sustained winds between 160 and 190 kmph were recorded whiwh puts equates it to a category 1 – 2 hurricane.

Snow then followed whiwh did not help the clear up, but all that has gone now.We escaped lightly and everyone is OK and have no damage to speak of.  Others have not been so lucky and we are in the process of helping some of our friends to get sorted.

January 2009

January 21st, 2009

First off I would like to wish Mary my sister a Happy Birthday.

January is heavy with birthdays for us, Claudia last week and Flora this week, my sister of course and Julias sister Suzanne next week, plus young Harry N.

Lets start by being very british and saying that we had a lot of snow at the start of the month and although that cleared up it got milder it snowed again last night and Lannemezan was totally covered in about 20 minutes.  I had gone to pickup Suzie and a Spanish lorry had gone off the road not far from Bonrepos whwih meqnt we had to sit there whilst the ambulance and Ancient Guiallaume did their stuff.  I have to say they have a very good attitude re fatals here, if a driver kills himself then thats his tough shit, road openasap, no lengthy investigation, job done.  I never understood why we got the black rats out and did accident reconstructions, if the bloke is dead what can be achieved.  Of course if the driver aint dead and sombedoy else is then it is a different matter.

Today it is snowing on and off but it is due to get warmer and the snow will become rain.

Enough of the Michael Fish or Francis the vague if you are a sky fan.

Hot news re Pierre, after weeks of silence the Gendarmes came to see us with new of the fact that they are pursuing the case against him.  It seems the local examining magistrate feels that although the amount of money taken from MrsF’s card is not great it falls into the definition of an aggravated offence in that there was a flagrant breach of trust and respect to us as foster parents plus it was not a one off and her had to do so much to find and  get to Julias bag and card.  It also transpires that they have found out that there has been another phone recharged using MrsFs card , but this is not registered to Pierre, but to some bloke who lives near Pau. Now then either P has stolen another phone or he has been topping up a mates phone.  The matter has been transfered to Pau and an early arrest is anticipated.

However this morning we got a telephone call from the social worker responsible for Pierre.  Could we provide them with the receipt for the MP4 player we had bought him as it has been lost or stolen “Quelle MP4” I said and she told me it was for the creative MP4 we had then told her the story.  In fact we had bought him an MP3 with the othe family who looked after him, but it was Claudia who lost a Creative  MP4 player.   “So can you send us the recipt so that we can get him another?” She said.  I was remarkably restrained in my reponses.  You have to admire his front if nothing else.

Marine on the other hand seems to be settling in well, but I am sure it is not easy.  Good signs are that she leaves her Nintendo DS here for William and Flora to play with – We have refused to allow them to have one so they have almost by passed the imbargo, but I hide it away and her shoes are disgarded in the hallway like the others, where as on her first couple of stays they were neatly stacked away and her oom is degenerating into a typical teenage girls tip.  She has a good sense of humour and is very pleasnat easy company.  It just every now and then she disappears into a little world of her own and looks lost, sad and vulnerable  Try as we might, we are not her familly.  We have said to her we will treat her like one of ours but we do not expect her to feel the same way.  Which reminds me that she must be due a bloocking for something.

Fora had a week away last week skiing with the school.  Actually she was skiing with skis but the trip was from school.  She had a good time, great snow and being fairly advanced was in a small group of five with a teacher who is a qualified instructor so it was off piste and having it large.

MrsF has taken up country and Western dancing at the newly formed Galan Country dancing club.  I would have loved to have gone especially as there are only woman there, but alas my injuries have rpevented me going and being subjected to a couple of hours of Willy Nelson of Bucket Eye Joe or whatever he’s called.

Still trying to get the hang of this French keyboard so please excuse the typos which are even odder than normal.

Abientot pop pickers

Happy New Year

January 3rd, 2009

We would like to wish all our friends and readers a happy, safe and healthy New Year.

The main topic of conversation for most Brits here continues to be the weakening of the pound against the Euro and I have no doubt that it will continue like that for sometime.  According to the experts it looks as if France ambles towards a recession whereas the UK seems to have gone in at full speed ahead.  There is no doubt that things are tight here for the French and getting worse, but it is not quite as all consuming as it seems to be in the UK.  Yet.

I have probably said this before but for us it is not a great situation having lost about 30% of our monthly income due to the exchange rate.  If another couple bleats to me about how hard it is for them to live and bemoans the price of gin and tonic I am likely to inflict a serious injury on them.  The fact is you have to take the rough with the smooth.

I have had a change of computer – WOW I hear you say, the thing is Claudia has swopped her bees knees job with the big flat screen for my arthritic laptop because she says it is better in her room as it is smaller.   She is really after a new laptop for her Birthday which is a couple ofweeks away.  Anyway she has now found her self with an English qwerty leyboard and I have got her French azerty one.  Its not so different, but different enough for us both to produce so,e interesting aords zvery noa qnd qgqin:  It does ,qke putting qccents on our frecnh corres eqsier though:

Enough of thqt, but bear with me if some of this turns out abit weird.!

Saw the New Year in with Rocket Ron and Julie and a few other reprobates.  R&J did a fantastic Indian meal and as ever laid on a great evening and we had a really good time. Finally hit the sack at about 3am.  Suzie was not with us as she was with some friends at her boyfriends but we all kipped over and there were allegations from Flora and Claudia that I was snoring rather loudly.  There were a number of suggestions as to what may have caused this, but I hazve to say I heard none of this and so dont believe it!

It is back to school on Monday and the holidays have been relaxing and a good rest, until Sunday, when no doubt at 9pm one of the herberts will remember a piece of homework  that should have been done for first thing on Monday am.

Happy New Year from us all.

Strange Goings On

December 29th, 2008

Welcome to the strange and weird world of Billy and MrsF.

Actually it is no stranger than normally, apart from the fact that a few months ago I was invited to be somebodys friend on Facebook.  You see I am not Billy no Mates after all despite all the evidence to the contrary.

I dont do Facebook as I really cannot see the point of it, mind you MrsF cannot see the point of any of this internet malarky even though the blog was her idea!

Anyway I went to have a look and sign up to parlez with this friend only to be told that there was already a Facebook account registered to the email account I hade used in the name Bill Grave.  Who the hell is Bill Grave?  It would seem as if some cheeky swine has created a Face book account using sort of my details and my email address and possibly from my PC, but why?

Spooky hugh?

All very odd.  Anyroad up about a week ago I had gone into Lannemezan and parked the trusty Nissan Note outside the shop.  When I came out about 10  minutes later I found it unlocked and an almost brand new Motorola mobile phone- not mine on the drivers seat.  I turned it on but could not access the sim card as it was locked.

How did it get there? I dunno, I can only assume somebody got into the car by mistake.  Maybe I didn’t lock the car which is a possibility as I tend to be fairly slack about this sort of thing. Although having said that I tend to lock the Nissan and never lock the tha landrover.

The fact is that I am up by one mobile phone which works with my sim card and service provider.  As for the Face book thing well darned if I know and I have only looked at it twice and still think it is LOB.

Scooby Doo where are you?

Boxing Day

December 26th, 2008

A belated happy Christmas to eberyone.  The tripo back to blighty was a success and sorted a few things out, bought some pressies etc etc.

The new foster girl has been with us for a couple of weekends, but went to stay with her elder borther and sister on Chritsmas Eve and will be there for the next week which is great for her.  She has struck up a great relationship with Ribs and the Fish and she seems to be settling in well.  Its hard to know how to integrate somebody into your family without going over the top, but she seems to know where we are coming from, which is odd because we don’t.  Anyway she rang us on Christmas morning and insisted on speaking to everyone so I think that is a good sign.  Plus she has left stuff in her room and made a few little changes to suit herself.

The Christmas fair went well and we even made a small profit – 250 Euros which in the present climate is better than Woolworths.

The pressure on exapats both in France and Spain due to the problem with the pound against the Euro is hefty.   Soeaking personally we have lost around a third of our income.  Sadly we have not lost a third of our outgoings.  Bummer.  Still you have to take the rough with the smooth and I aklways sat something will turn up.  It will wont it?

It was a funny old Christmas.  On Christmas eve Sabine and Christophe came to dinner, but did not stay late as Christophe was working (snow plough driver) and althougfh there was no snow the temperatures were very low and he was out at 4.30am salting the roads.  Christmas day itself was pleasnat enough but to be honest the fact that Old Bid was not around was felt.  Daft really becaise she wouldn’y have been here, but the Fish put it this way “Candy canes are not quite the same, I mean they are the same canes but they taste the same and I think of Granny, but they are different because Granny didn’t send them”, Puts a whole new slant on Prousts madelines, I wonder if in years to come people will quote “Fishes Candy Canes”.

Today it snowed.  Christophe was apparently dragged from his pit by a telephone call. I had to go to the mountains today to sort out a problem for a friend and it was chucking snow down.  The old red landrover ploughed its way up and down like a sure footed trusty mountain goat.  Actually it smells like a goat at times and a more effective heater would be appreciated, but me and the lad had a boys adventure.

Lst but not least it is a year today that they put my spine back together againwith titanium plates and screws.  The best Christmas present I could ever ask for and although I mighyt moan avbout the Euro and the pound and all that bollocks, I will not forget the pain I was in or that  minute when I knew I could not move or feel my legs.  I ma very greatful to the skill of the surgeon and for the big fella for cutting me some slack.

Every day I think Billy you are one Lucky Bastard.

Oh and good looking.

My God It Am December

December 4th, 2008

Shitty death its that time of year again and this years festive preparations will begin in about four weeks time.

Now then whats been happening.  Well a small thing that had a major knock on effect was that I had a major PC problem.  This has been sort of rectumfied for the moment but my 5 year old laptop has suddenly got very slow and arthritic and sounds as if it has very bad asthma.  Even MrsF has noticed and believe me that is saying something.  However for the moment it is back up and running.  But as a resulyt of it being out action we are very behind with letters, email and a whole host fo admin that bloats modern life.

The first bit of news is that it looks like we will be getting another foster child.  Actually there maybe more than one.  She is a 16 year old girl who is one of six children.  Two of the kids have left home and one brother is 18 which leaves Marine and her two younger brothers in care.  The story is that their mum went out to the hairdressers one day a few years ago and never came home.  Just disappeared into the ether.  And no  she didn’t know the McCanns.  Anyway, dad remarried and the step mother hates the kids and wants nothing to do with them and for their part the kids feelings to her are mutual.  God knows what dad is playing at but the kids have ended up in the care of the social services.  The kids seem to get on very well with dad and dont seem to bear him any malice at all.

A few weeks ago a social worker rang us and said would we be able to have her from time to time.  This time to time actually means every weekend and all the holidays – give or take.  The reason for this is that due to budget cut backs -sounds familiar- they are shutting the small care facility they have in Lannemezan.  MrsF understood it to mean they were closing it at weekends and during holidays, but I understood they meant closing it full stop.  Either way it was not quite what we had been led to believe.  Initially there were three or for families who had agreed to see her, but by the time they got to us they ahd all pulled out and I suspect you can guess why.  I have to be honest we felt very sorry for this girl, I could not imaging what it would be like for a kid to be abandoned and then being dragged from pillar to post to try to find somebody to have her.  She is a really nice normal girl (as far as one can tell after all she has been through) and knows Suzie and Claudia from school.  Our decision to have her is easier because our brutes are still keen for us to do the fostering bit, despite the experiences of having loads of stuff nicked by that tea leaf Pierre.  It also helps that Marine comes from big family,  and as I said she knows S&C and they get on well and most importantly our lot are game to carry on.  Based on all that we have said yes.

The long and the short of it is that we have gone through a sort of gradual introduction and she will be with us for the first time this weekend.However me suspects that in order to “keep the family unit together” they well may and try to slip the two younger brothers into the equation as well.  Nothing has been said, but it just a feeling I have.  We will have to look at that closely, becasue the implications for our own kids having two more of an age where the require more attention re home work washing and just day to day things is fairly substantial.  Not sure how I would transport everyone, maybe I could put seats in the trailer!  However it looks as if Marine will be with us for Christmas.  She was here on Sunday and was talking to Suzie and Claudia and said she felt awkward about disrupting our family Christmas, but after they explained about last year and broken backs and all that she felt better – not sure why mind you.

MrsF and I have been elected on to the commitee for the equivilent of the PTA.  For the last three years we have been trying to get them to do a Christmas fair and this year they said yes.  The snag was we had four weeks to get it sorted.  So far we have rented stalls to about Eight people  who will sell stuff for the hefty sum of 5 euros a plot and are now in the process of building a Santas grotto and papier mache snowman and other whizz bang attractions.

The next thing on the agenda is advertising the event.  There has been talk of me dressing up as a bloody elf and distributing leaflets to kids and parents.  I don’t mind dressing up as an Elf, provided I can keep warm. The rest of the association feel that if I catch parents I can intimidate them into confessing and signing statements donating prizes and supporting the event.  Actually we have done everything on a budget of less than 100 Euros so we are almost half way to breaking even before the day starts.  The first leaflets will go out

It is not warm at the moment.  This morning it is 2c and damp and miserable.  We had out first snow here at Bonrepos a couple of weeks ago and  in the twenty odd years I have been coming or living here I do not recall it snowing here November.  The ski stations opened a month ahead of schedule, although we have not had the opportunity to head up there with the kids yet. There is a high avalanche risk in all French resorts at the moment and with more snow forecast for this week it may be worth just hanging for for a bit.

Sledging conditions are very good however and the Green Hornet is greased and ready for the first run of the season.

Regular readers will know that for about a year we have been locked in combat with Orange as they kept charging us twice for our internet service.  They had agree about three months ago to repay us, the trouble was they didn’t actually stump up the 240 Euros they had stolen.  We arote to them several times including two recorded deliveries and they just didn’t even acknowledge the letters, let alone respond.  I had enough and decided to employ the services of a Hussier de Justice – or debt collector.  Ten days later we have out money.

The second battle was with EDF.  To cut along story short our electrickery bills are fierce so we rang EDF and asked if tey could advise us as to how we could reduce them.  They said they had a service where this technician would do a survery of your house and advise you.  The catch was this cost 290Euros incl TVA BUT they gusraneteed you would start saving money immediatly.  We decided to take them up on this and the bloke turned up and broke the news that his job was to advise people before renovation work was done.  He could see we had new windows insulated the walls and the usual run of the mill stuff.  In short we had been mis sold his services.  We had a chat about what we might be able to do extra and he left saying that he waould make sure that we were not charged.

Like a lot of people we have a monthly standing order to EDF and in September the metre is read and we either pay the difference or get a refund.  This year we should have had a refund of around 200 Euro.  However when we got the bill there was the charge for 290 Euros for the survey.  We rang EDF who were not prepared to remove this from the bill.  My initial reaction was to stop the payment, but I didn’t.  Instead we rang the bloke who had been to see us.  He was taken aback when he heard that the visit had been put on the bill as he had had it cancelled in August.  He told us who to write to and what to write and to give his name and even gave us the cancellation reference.  We wrote  to his department in Toulouse two days after getting our annual bill which was mid September.  They did not reply until the middle of October after our second recorded delivery letter.  To cut a long story short by the 22nd November they still had not refunded the money.  Now then our payment plan starts again at the end of November.  I went to the bank and cancelled the standing order and then wrote to the place in Toulouse and EDF customer services (Recorede delivery) telling them that I had stopped and further payments and that the could invoice me bi monthly in the normal way.  I also said I wanted the 290 euros back plus the refund of 200 Euros I was due from last year plus 150 Euros compensation and that as they were obviously not going to be reasonable and do things the nice way I would keep my money in my account and would deduct the money I was owed from any future bills.

EDF customer services have not responded but to be fair the next day the people in Toulouse rang and apologised and said they had authorised the refund to our account and it would be there in 10 working days.  It was in my account the same day, which just goes to show they can do it if they want to.  However I intend to stick to my guns and will deduct the other money from the next bill.

The point is that all businesses are dishonest and once they have your money it is like getting blood out of stone getting it back.   We had the same thing in the UK with Sky and Vodaphone when we moved here and that was over 11 years ago.   Talking of thieves a friend fo ours in the UK has just been given a bill of £11,000 by the inland revenue for over payment of tax credits.  This depsite the fact that he had written to them several times telling them he though he was getting too much.  Their response has been we wnat the money NOW.

But be warned French companies are very aggressive in a subtle and almost underhand way.  As EDF, Orange, AXA, MMA and other companies take a bigger and bigger hold in the UK you can forget your notions of customer service and being able to have them over or get anything out of them.  Trying to speak to somebody “Responsible” or in the “appropriate” department  is a battle in itslef as for getting money back from them, well you just have to persist.

Last March when I saw the surgeon who did the repair on my broken back he said he was very happy about the way I had healed and was looking to remove the plate in December, in fact a date was actually fixed for the 17th. I have continued to make good progress and apart from a bit of stiffness in the left ribs – possible due to a screw between two ribs- I am on good form.  I still have stick from my other back injuries sustained in the job, but all in all I cant complain.  In fact I have gone down two sizes on my waist line and am fitter than I have been for awhile having lost 18kg since this time last year.  The only odd thing is that I have shrunk by about 5cm.  I suppose it is not that odd bearing in mind the compression to the spine and all that, but what is strange is that I have gone from being a 31″ leg man (M&S sizes) to a 29″ leg.  All my strides fall down and are baggy round the arse and the legs trail in the muck.  I look like a shaven headed friendlier version of Charlie Chaplin.

However back to the bit about my op.  When I rang the hospital for my pre op consultation I found that he has thrown in the towel and isn’t working any more.  Who did I want to see instead?  How the hell should I know, I don’t normally knock about with neurosurgeons if I can possibly help it.  Not that I have anything agiants them but I think you know where I am coming form.  Anyway I was on the spot and chose a bloke, who as it transpires is a top dog and is contracted to Stade Toulouse Rugby club and the French National side.  The touble is this bloke is one of those fellas with a big forehead and looks brainy but here is the BUT. He looks about 8.  When I went to his office I asked if his dad was in, he didn’t get it and I decided best not to alientate the bloke who is going to cut up up and ponce about with your spine so I let it go.

He looked at the x-rays and scans and then said he was not happy about taking the plate out for a whole load of reasons and that he would leave it in for at least another 12 months.  I have to say I am not too disappointed, as the idea of being cut open the week before Christmas and being laid up (as opposed to getting laid) over the festive season did not really appeal.  Although having said that if they were going to do it I dont suppose I would have had much choice.  As it is, it aint going to happen.

I suppose the other thing to mention is the economic gloom we expat Brits are having due to the weakness of the pound to the Euro.  We have seen a very significant hole in the income as all my pension originates in the UK.  Having said that every cloud has a silver lining and it means that prices in the UK have become comparable and with the economic problems there and the reduction in VAT and the cutting of prices it does mean that Father Christmas will be doing a lot of shopping at Argos next week.

As it is I have just had a phone call telling me M&S – the surveillance officers outfitters – are have a 20% discount to day.  Now this is exceptionally good news  as M&S now deliver to France.  I will pop over and buy some new vests and tousers that wont fall down or drag in the mud.

We were due to go to York for Christmas this year, but having thought I was goint to be in Hospital the week before and unable to travel we cancelled that plan.  Instead MrsF and I are heading to York for a couple of days next week.  I have some bits to attend to re Old Bids estate and I want to see my Aunty Mary who is 81 before Christmas.  It is a shame we wont be there but it obviously was not meant to be.  Mind you with the price of flights, the falling pound and the cost ofliving going up I dont know if we could have all aforded to go this year.  All academic now anyway.

Right have to go as I have a wooden reindeer to make, a grotto to build and a whole host of other festive treats.

Remberance Day

November 12th, 2008

Yesterday was remembrance Day and normally we try to go to a cemetery up in the mountains at the scene of crashed RAF bomber.  It is the highest allied cemetery in Europe and unfortunately due to the vast amount of snow it is just not accessible without a very difficult drive and walk.  So we went to the sevice in Galan and it was very moving.  The school along with the marie had researched the deaths of everyone from the Canton of Galan ( a canton is made up of several villages) and had obtianed photos of all their graves.

There were 19 from Bonrepos , which wehn you consider that the populatiuon is only 150 now must have been just about every bloke.

There were some very poigniont moments.  I was going round with Gilbert who is in his eighties -( he is our firend Sabines father) he stopped at one photo and said “Thats my Grandfather”.

One bloke from Bonrepos was married March 25th 1917 died March 30th 1917.

However there is also a rather odd fact.  As far as I knew every village in France had a war memorial with the name of who died from the village.  There is a an exception which is the village of Sabbarros which s in the Canton of Galan.  They sent 30 men who served at the front for almost the entire war and none of them got killed.  As nobody got killed there was nobody to mourn so they did not qualify for a memorial.

Blow me down if they dont send another 30 odd during world war 2 and they all survived, so if you are thinking of going to war move to Sabbarros!

Things that go parp in the night

October 31st, 2008

Due to a variety of circumstances we decided not to have a birthday bash at the time of my birthday, but to have a little get together last Saturday.  Unfortunately on Friday night I went down with food poisoning and stayed down until yesterday.  4kg lighter than before I have finally broken the 90 kilo barrier.  Where Dr Atkins failed, nature triumphed, although I cannot see it being a popular weight loss method. i now have a washboard stomach and a toilet shaped arse.  James Bond move over.

My incapaciation also meant we had to cancel out mini holiday to the mountains and over into Spain.  It was supposed to be an opportunity for the industries and dedicated language students to practice their Spanish.  If I am honest they don’t seem too perturbed, although they did want to go to the Salvador Dali museum at Roses.  Well we can reschedule that without too much drama.

Whilst I was out of action the weather stopped being nice and spring like and became cold and nasty.  It has dumped snow big time in the  mountians and maybe it was just as well we didn’t go up, because we would have taken all the wrong gear.  It has rained like no tomorrow and the temperatures went down 20 odd dgegrees (centigrade that is) ocer night from 27 to 3.  It has bucked up a b it today but it is still only about 5c.

As it is we have got Rob, Ollie and Jenny White here for few days for Halloween.  Rob and Ollie are about the same age as Suzie and went to the same Nursery in the UK as MrsF and Liz white worked together.  Claudia and Jenny are bestist friends ever and have been for as long as I can remember, even though they don’t see each other that often.  In the summer when the Whites were over on holiday, Rob and Olllie went camping with Suzie and some of her school friends in the mountian.  Despite the language barrier they all got on very well and whn there was talk about Halloween parties and fetes the French kids asked Suzie if the two boyos were able to come over. Cheap flights are not that easy to find at the moment, but eventaully we found some reasonable ones that were sort of do-able in terms of price and picking up and dropping off.  The whites live in West Yorks and it meant they had to fly out from Liverpool to Cacassonne and will fly back from Perpignan to Birmingham on Sunday night but it was pretty reasonable in terms of cost.

Tonight it is Halloween and we are having a party for the kids.  Suzie and the boys are going to a fete so she has about seven friends coming over here before hand, Claudia is content just to be with Jenny whilst Flora and Billy have another five friends each coming and sleeping over.  I have my costume which is pretty gruesome if I may say so myself – what do you mean I dont need a costume? – cheeky swines.

I picked out sexy witch outfit for MrsF on the Anne Summers website but she didn’t find the suggestion suitable for some reason.

You will be surpirese to hear that the national scandal that has rocked Brirain to its foundations has not made the news here.  I am of course talking about the Ross Brand saga. I was going to say I dont give a shit, but in view of my recent affliction that would not be entirely true.

I was intrigued to see that only a few hundrend people who actually heard the broadcast complained.  The rest of the 20 odd thousand think they should complain because of whay they read and and beacasue Sky News and the sun (all one and the same aren’t they -with no axe to grind of course) told them they should.   I am not saying what they did was right, but what Id ont understand is which dick head allowed it to be braodcast.  They say standards have slipped, but as Andrew Sachs said they haven’t slipped they have changed.  Mind you at least Ross and Brand picked on a celebrity and as for sweet innocent “Grand dughter” she has seen more prick than my dart board – allegedly. So Russell Brand shagged her – big deal, seen better shagged worse,  he might be able to get counselling and maybe even compensation.

I was very pleased that the prime minister made a speacial announcement on the matter, I was worried he may have not been concerend with such a serious incident.

But the thing is it is not new.  I remember a long time ago, and I mean before we moved to France so well over 11 years ago on Capital Radio this disc Jokey used to ring up some memebr of the public who had had some sort of altercation with neighbours or some branch of authority and wind them up. This was apparently done live and I remember one where this old woamn was told her dog was going to be impounbded and put down and she was in tears.  I dont remember anyone making sod all fuss about that.  Maybe I’ve missed something.

My message to Mr Brown is stop worrying about a bad taste prank and do soemthing about the pitiful exchgange rate between the mighty Pound (HOHOHO) and the allegedly weak and unstable Euro.

I have today written to Mr Brian Potter of the Poenix Club in Bolton to ask him to stand at the next election.  Clealr decisive leadership thats waht Britain needs.  Dont leave it to the likes of Bwown, Camermoron or whateverhisnameis from the five fingered flying worm party (Lib dems).

Before I sign off one last question if a Brit was killed in Brazil would there be all these enquiries and hearings?  We know the answer.  If the team had left the Brazilian in place and he had done the buisiness the same people aho are  baying for blood would still be baying for blood.   So they didn’t shout a warning, I think that has been covered by the SO19 officer to the Nth degree.  What the fuck do these people think this is a game of cricket, time for them to get real.

Am I becoming a grumpy old man?

Happy Birthday to Me

October 15th, 2008

Yesterday was my Birthday and MrsF and I popped over to Spain for Lunch – how very jet set and bought two new frying pans and some shower gel.  Life doesn’t get better or more exciting than that.  Then we were out again to the newly reopened restuarant in Galan.  By the time I hit the sack I had over eaten and drunk too much.  The bloody alarm went off at 6.15 this morning as normal and I was not so cheerfull, but full recovery has been made and I can now bring you all up to speed with the latest nail biting event from la Belle France.

Actually there hasn’t been any really exciting stuff.  We are still waitinf for the wankers at Orange to reply to our request for a disclosure as to which phone has been charged from MrsF’s card.  We are also waiting for them to refund the 240 Euros they took from us over the last 12 months vbecause they forgot to cancel out original Wanadoo account when we switched to ADSL.

The lack of actionb on the part of Prange does mean there has been a delay in getting the report placed with the Ancient Guillaume.  MrsF is still spitting bullets and would probablt kicke pierres teeth in given half ythe chance.  The camera is till missing by the way.

One reason I have not been posting much is that the weather has been glorious.  Nippy at night but with the temperature up around 28c during the day I have been busy outside catching up on jobs that have not been done because of my back and pelvis injuries.  The veg patch looks good and we should be back in the growing business next year, although I may well plant up some cabbages and onions to over winter.

I have drained the swimming pool and will start to strip the remnants of last years painting disaster.  For those not in the know, I had repainted the swimmingpool last year and cocked up the mix so that the epoxt rsin became poxy resin and the paint peeled off.  It looks naff, but has not stopped us using the pool.  Anyway, after I have got as much of the paint off as I can with the high pressure cleaner I will then fill it back up again from the wells and then over winter it before empting it again in the spring to repaint it.  A lengthy ball breaking process, but I don’t have much choice.  The trouble is getting in and out of the pool with no water in it is tricky for me and I need MrsF on hand to help me out.  Last week she went out to do some shopping and I was left in the empty pool for an hour or so – poor old soul, mind you, it kept me out of mischief

Suzie and Claudia are well ensconced in the gite now and their interior decorating continues.  It looks pretty funky now, but it still need a fair bit of a make over as it has been up and running for 11 years and the wear and tear had made it a bit shabby.  Plus there is the toll that the extremes of climate we have on the place.  Broken roof tiles, peeling paint and the like.  Just a question of chipping away at it.

The credit crunch is being felt here like everywhere, but not quite in the same way as in the UK or USA.  Speaking as somebody whose pension and wonger originates in the UK the fall of the pound against the Euro has been pain full.  The likes of John Major, Norman Lamont, Nigel Lawson and Ken Clarke must be feeling pretty stupid as they said that the offer of 1.72 Euros to the Pound wasn’t good enough and that if they waited they would get 2 Euros to the pound, which is why the current rate is 1.24.  Wankers.  With expert opinion like that I am not surprised that the worls economy has gone tits up.

There is not the same culture here for borrowing money as there is in the UK and the regulations are stricter and more rigorously adhered to by the banks.   If a bank lends money to somebody who cannot really afford it then the courts will side with the punter not the bank.  The dwarf Sarkosy was being tempted to relax the rules under pressure from his new mates in the USA and to follow their shinning example of how to do things, but in the light of recent events he is apparently doing a quick rethink.  Way to go Sarko.

I said about the cultural differences over borrowing money, but in France if people want something they tend to save for it and then buy it rather than borrow the money.  Plus there is not the same level of home owners here as a lot people rent. However there are good deals to be had on cars, but these are mostly done on long term lease hire, which is what we did when we got out our little Nissan.  No repair or servicing bills just a monthly payment and no worries.

As I said earlier although there is not the same level of crisis here,  there is no doubt that people are feeling the pinch and there is no doubt that the housing market is being affected.  This is partly down to the Brits, who borrowed money against their property in the UK to buy over here and are now finding it hard to repay their debts and so are being forced to sell their French holiday homes.  An French acquaintance who is an estate agent in the Charente/Dordogne area was approached by over 300 people wanting to sell their houses over August and early Septemeber.  His problem was that he hadn’t sold a house since June.  He has now ceased trading.

We had a vist last week from D the Brummie who is regulary commentor here.  He has been looking at properties for a while and despite the economic gloom and doom has finally taken the plunge and gone for a property near Nogaro.  I wish him well.  He says that if he doesn’t do it now then he would hate to look back and think “If only” and I agree.  As I have said before the experts clearly don’t know what the fuck is going on so you are as well to follow your gut reaction.  In mt case gut reaction means copious amounts of gas and wind, but you know what I mean.

Another way in which the pinch is being felt is that people are not eating out as much.  Yesterday in Spain at the supermarket where people go to buy cheaper booze and fags it was quiet, in fact I have never seen it so quiet, and at the restaurant where we had lunch there were four couples and normally  it has been packed.  Last night we were the only people at the restaurant in Galan – mind you it is a one horse town and it was Tuesday, but even so!   In short over 3,000 restaurants closed in France in the first six months of 2008 and I don’t think that trend will ease.

On to more mundane matters.  I got our water bill a few weeks ago.  525Euros! we had used just short of 500,000 litres of water.  “My goodness” I exclaimed in a light hearted way.  NOT.  The culprit was a dodgy seal on a toilet cistern in the gite, so in essence the tap had been running for about a year and of course the flying Arab had not mentioned it -duh.  A Bill enforced drought is now in place.

This moves me to another area of expense EDF.  Unlike in the UK you actually decide how much elecricity you want delivered to your house and you pay accordingly.  As we have the house and the gite and all our water is heated by electricity plus there are heaters and the washing machine and all the other contraptions that a modern household runs.  We have 15 KW of electricity delivered into our property for which we pay 31 Euros per month including VAT and then we pay for what we use.  We have two rates, daytime rate and cheap night time rate.  Over the years our consumption has gone up and up and our bills have gone up as well.  This year I cried enough!   It was costing us almost 4500 Euros per annum this was despite having low energy light bulbs, heat pumps and all these other great eco friendly devices.  Something was not right somewhere and somehting had to be done.  I perosnally feel that I have helped EDF finance their recent purchase of UK power.

Over August and September I have been keeping a daily record of our electrieckery consumption and it just did not seem quite right.  You see when everything is just ticking over we use about 500w.  Yet for some reason first thing in the morning it shows we are using 2200 w.  This was daft because everyone was in bed  thewater heaters had gone off at 6am and there was just nothing running.  I checked every circuit and could not find what the hell was using 1.7kw.  I still haven’t found out what it is or was.

I contacted EDF and said I just could not believe we were using 41,000 kw in a year.  They said they would send a bloke round to see what could be done, but it would cost 240Euros.  I was not happy at paying out motre money, but we decidedWTF,  if it was going to save money then it was worth it.

The bloke turned up and said why am I here?  I explained and he said, yes but you have new windows and it looks as if all the property has been renovated.  It has we said.  Oh, well you see my job is to discuss whats to be done before the renovations.  He was very pleasant and we explained the problem and he could not believe how much power we were using.   He went round saw the insulation, double glazed windows low energy light bulbs and all the other stuf and then said he could not understand it.  He looked at the bills and said that in 10 years with EDF he had not seen one private household use this amount of juice.

He had a quick check of the metre and said that with these new digital metres they very rarely malfunctions etc etc. In short he couldn’t help us but said he would ensure we were not charged the 240Euros.

Two things happened.  We were charged 240 Euros despite wbing told that the bill had been cancelled BUT they are allegedly going to refund this although as of yet this has not been fiorthcoming (maybe they use the same accountants as Orange).  However even more weirs is that by some strange twist of fate, our elecrtikery consumption has halved.  Now to be fair we have been  more economical but there is a limit to how much you can save.  Don’t get me wrong here folks, I am not complaining, I am just saying it seems a bit odd.  I will keep you posted.

For the animal lovers amongst you I have tor report that stumpy no nuts the cat has gone AWOL again.  Shame.  This just leave Vodka who is clealry missing her son, I wish I could say the same.  I must be getting old, never thought I would be happy not to see some pussy.