Added on Monday 26 Sep 2005
In June this year our local telephone exchange became compatible with broadband internet connection and I asked our server to sign me up. Their offer included a free box, free phone calls, a Wi-Fi card and all necessary cables and connectors. Two weeks ago the box arrived with all the instructions (in French of course) that I needed to hook it all up. After reading all the parameters, and with some trepidation, I started to install everything onto the big computer and to start with all seemed to go fine, however, I had to spend several hours setting up the computer to look and work much the same as the old one. Eventually I had it all up and running and was immediately impressed by the amazing speed of the system and the fact that one could listen to radio, surf the web and use the telephone all at the same time. This proved a problem as I discovered when I tried to use the phone as the whole system collapsed. After several phone calls to the helpline (who were not helpful at all!) I tried to uninstall everything and try again. Several attempts later, and re-reading the destruction manual, I discovered that I needed to disconnect the anti-virus software before putting everything together again. After two days of frustration and hair tearing (not that I have so much left anyway) I managed to get it all running perfectly and am now so impressed, especially as the whole set up costs me less that my old connection! I love the fact that I can listen to the radio while I am working online.
In this column I have often talked about our local caf? but I have rarely mentioned the other bar in the village. Recently Marie-France, who is the owner, asked me if I could do some photographs and set up a web site for her, as she wants to sell the business. She has been there for 26 years and now feels that it is time to go. I know this feeling only too well as I once owned a hotel in Nairn for five years and never worked so hard in my life! Over a couple of days I did the photographs and have now started designing a simple web site. The business is a multi-faceted one comprising of a bar, tobacconist, local petrol station, betting shop and the lotto outlet, all quite an enterprise. It comes with a two-bedroom house, a huge garage with a loft and three lock up garages in the yard behind. Situated on the main road, with a small terrasse at the front, it is in immaculate condition and is being sold for a very small price compared to an equivalent in the UK. Marie-France says, somewhat surprisingly, that she would like to sell it to someone from Britain, which is the reason that I am blatantly putting it in here (if anyone is interested e-mail me for the web address with full details and price).
More on the photography front, I was asked to do some photographs for a new catalogue by Phillippe, a local photogravure and designer of jewellery. He exhibits in Paris, Nice, Avignon and all over France. His range is immense and very stylish but photographically difficult as it is all silver or gold, which causes a lot of problems with reflections and highlights. In light of this (pun intended) I have set up a mini studio in our cave where I have set up the lights and camera, although I think some of the designs should be shot being worn by a real person. Phillipe gave Fiona a present of a Celtic designed amulet, which I show here. Technically this is quite a challenge for me as it is a long time since I have done ?pack-shots?. It does keep me busy these days and as we don?t have many students at this time of year that is fine for me and it is also good to go back to still photography for a change. This is probably just as well as the other day while I was walking back home my right leg just collapsed under me for some reason and I fell onto the deck so I am now limping with a swollen knee and what feels like a pulled muscle. See this getting old bit? I don't like it.
The return (for the third time!) of my application for my new car papers from the Prefecture in Perigueux demanded that I went there in person to sort out the mistake that they had made. The complication was that some fonctionaire had put down the date of issue of my controle technique (MOT) as the date of expiry and therefore refused to issue the new papers. An hours drive through early morning mist, very reminiscent of Scotland in September, saw me getting into the office where I had to wait for an hour before confronting a real person. After a long discussion with an official eventually I was told to wait at another counter, another half hour later my papers were issued despite the fact that the photocopy of my passport was in fact out of date but they didn't seem to notice. I now have a new registration number for the car and on my return to Salignac I asked our local mechanic to make up and fit the plates for me. "Fine" he said "I'll do it tomorrow", that was 10 days ago and I still don't have my new plates and I haven't seen him since!
Rural France. I love it!
? Barry Paton. September 2005.