Happy Birthday to Me

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.

5 Responses to “Happy Birthday to Me”

  1. clarissa says:

    Happy Birthday! Nothing as exciting as some shower gel from Spain! Kisses, hugs to you and Mrs. F. Enjoy the wonderful weather and keep counting centimes! xx, c

  2. Brummie says:

    you should have mentioned your birthday, Mrs D would have knocked you a card up..
    Hope to be back in November to sign paperwork.. ok for drop in?


  3. James & Allison says:

    Belated Happy Birthday Bill. I am enjoying reading the adventures of the Fergusons. It seems so long ago when we were over there and to see how the girls have grown as we have only met Suzie and Claudia. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we get another trip overseas. Love to all. Allison & James

  4. Billyboy says:

    C- You are dead right. God I know how to party.

    D – see you when you are over hopefully.

    A&J – Great to hear from you. I have been very remiss in not ring you and will rectify that immediately. Love from all here at BR.

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