Added on Friday 2 Jun 2006
There seems to be a sudden outbreak of pregnancies in the village of Salignac these days. For a start our youngest cat has been growing plumper in the last few weeks. Now this will have been our fault because all the females (three of them) have been on a regime of contraception pills, yes really! The reason being that at 90 euros a throw for them to be 'attended to' by the vet compared to about 5 euros for a couple of months supply of the pills.. Well, I don't really need to go on, do I? These pills are given once a fortnight however, it would seem that one cat had slipped through the net a few weeks ago. This time we will have to give any new kittens away as 6 cats are quite enough for us to cope with! In this part of the world keeping a few goats is very common, in fact one of our neighbours has 2 billy goats in her (rather) large garden just down the road from us and on the other side of the village one of my clients keeps a couple of nanny goats. It appears that sometime earlier this year the two nanny goats managed to escape for a few days and it transpired that they had gone to see the two billy goats about a kilometre away at our neighbour's house. Now what sort of homing instinct that goats have I just don't know but the end result was that when the goats were re-patriated to my client, he discovered that they were both pregnant so he now awaits the arrival of these newcomers. The ironic thing is that about that time our neighbour discovered that she was also pregnant. On this I make no comment! Is there something in the air I wonder?
For the second year running Salignac is hosting this week end a three-day beer festival. This involves the closing of most of the streets, the setting up of temporary bars, lots of music events (including an Irish pipe band) as well as a massive fair with all the usual stalls, dodgems etc in the main square. This proved to be immensely popular last year, especially as the weather was very kind, so we are hoping for good weather this year. It involves lots of events during the day and into the wee small hours with people wandering from event to event (and bar to bar of course). Many different styles of music are on offer and it adds to the vibrancy of the village at the beginning of June, almost like an awakening just before summer comes in. It certainly brings out the people, locals and visitors alike and we look forward to it.
Just for a change our problems in the last few weeks have not been connected with French Bureaucracy, this does indeed makes a pleasant change. Recently, our broadband connection to the internet was out of commission for 3 weeks and I have had to use our old dial-up computer to send and receive e-mails. I have been astonished how much that we have taken for granted the high-speed connection with ADSL when going back to the old system, so slow and clunky it seemed, but we thought that is was great before we upgraded. Such is life, as they say here in France! We have had a few plumbing problems with a leaking fuel pipe in the car. This one caused me to scratch my head a little. I had put 30 litres of petrol in the tank but when I looked at the fuel gauge the next day it was showing almost empty with the little orange light flashing away menacingly. With my rather warped mind I assumed the worst and thought that the fuel gauge was faulty, needless to say I ran out of petrol a few days later, in the countryside as well! By very good fortune we were saved by the passing by of a friend of ours few minutes later and he helped by giving me some petrol. On the way home I realised that there was a very strong smell of petrol coming from the engine and when I opened the bonnet I saw to my horror that petrol was flowing by the bucketful all over the very hot exhaust manifold. A rather dangerous situation! Fortunately I was able to repair the pipe that had split and with no more drama made our way home. A very lucky escape.
In our bathroom in the house a leaking toilet and a dripping tap has plagued me. The tap situation has more or less been solved by a new washer but the toilet leak has proved to been somewhat more complicated. Every time I apply some tape to the offending joint it seems to solve the problem but shortly afterwards it starts to leak again, I have tried this approach several times but no luck so I guess a more radical approach is going to be required, i.e. get a plumber!
Although it had nothing to do with us, our neighbours, Valerie and Arthur, returned home the other day to find their house flooded by their washing machine and all the carpets soaked, I was met by Arthur dragging out his carpets into the courtyard and suggested that I put a couple of lighting stands up and drape the carpets between the fence and stands in order to let the water drain off. As their carpets came from Turkey it all looked like a Bedouin encampment and as Arthur had recently been working in Libya I suggested that he was waiting for a visit from Colonel Gadaffi! I'm not 100 percent sure that he enjoyed my bad joke, 'though.
Aaah, the joys of French plumbing and it is no wonder that I am looking forward to the forthcoming beer festival and I'll bet that more pregnancies happen in the village after that!
Rural France? I love it.
Barry Paton © June 2006