Remember my last blog post which was posted from my rather old Dell with box on the floor with dust on it…. well it stopped working and even though we have a little notebook with which we are able to check emails and order nude peep-toe shoes from, all our contacts and documents were on this computer. Dell and various people informed us that it was rather old for a computer (4 years old) OLD??? My god in my day when they made computers they were made to last…. what is it with technology that it is built to only last until the latest upgrade comes in. For all of you who got the new Ipad 2 for Christmas, watch out Ipad 3 is on its way. Anyway the day Bruce our genius IT man came to fix our computer, the bloody thing started working literally 5 minutes before he pressed our door bell. Typical. However on his advice we have ordered a new computer and we are awaiting our brand new Dell, with the box on the floor without any dust!
Actually the computer isn’t the only thing that has gone wrong. Since the new year we have had very blocked drains and exploding toilets (more on that in a minute) no central heating, the coldest winter in 50 years, Simon nearly catching pneumonia, me having the worse cold I have ever had, Holly having various bumps and bruises, seeping sink drains, burst pipes, frost ruined plants (1000s of beautiful palms 80 or 90 years old and cacti and citrus plants were all killed by the frost we had in our coldest ever winter in 50 years) ,broken mirrors ( that doesn’t bode well does it?) more Land Rover garage appointments and a dying Chevrolet. Last week we discovered a burst tap in one of gites which had cause massive amounts of water damage in the downstairs rooms, resulting in an insurance claim to help pay for the replastering that will need to be done and the many graphic novels that are priceless that Simon has been collecting for years. At this point I discussed with the family that surely we have reached rock bottom and it can only go up from here, right? Wrong! I went to print off my boarding ticket for my flights to the UK for the following week only to discover that when I booked them (in November ) I booked them the WRONG WAY ROUND. Ryanair would gladly sort it out but it would cost well over 100 Euros which was what I ended up paying so I could catch my flight. Nothing else has happened in the last 3 days but my breath is held and I am mindful of that broken mirror.
The blocked toilets were at the beginning of February 2 days before my birthday. Simon emptied the bath one night and the downstairs loo started to gurgle and bubble and – whoosh! Out came gallons of water – we mopped up and the next day Simon tried to unblock the drains from the various points where he usually spots trouble but this time there was no budging, only a huge explosion from the downstairs loo and lets say this time the water was not so pure and there were lumps and bumps – eeuchh arrrrghhhh, so we called a local plumber and begged him to come as soon as possible. He turned up during lunch time which is pretty impressive as the French are usually very devout to their 2 hour lunch break.
His van had broken down so he borrowed his wife’s car (she is a domestic hairdresser – i.e. comes to your house). Armed with an awesome plunger he went out to the drain access point in our garden – and WITHOUT wearing gloves pulled out the rods that we had only bought that morning WITH HIS BARE HANDS and starting plunging. Lots of brown, toilet-papery splashes later he decided to come into our house. I watched him from a safe distance whilst he plunged his plunger in with zealous abandon. The result? SPLASHBACK like you have never seen before! All over the floor, the walls, HIS FACE! I was gagging and screaming from the safety our living room. Simon was doing his best to act as a buffer between the plumber and me, and had taken up a position in the hall where he was watching the goings on and shaking his head incredulously – but our plumber seemed to be in his element. He claimed that the water was ‘propre’ – clean – but I think there may have been a few billion bacteria in there that would have disagreed with him. Then he went back outside and dripped his plunger all over our hall and kitchen floor, Holly was tasked with the important role of putting newspaper on every wet drip and foot print. When he plunged again outside he heard an explosion from outside of the boundary of the garden and looking over the fence saw that a previously tarmac-ed-over manhole had exploded and there. was. shit. everywhere. He carefully put his plunger in a carrier bag went to his wife’s car and drove round the back of our house where he tried to move the blockage from out there but to no avail, so he told us to call Veolia (the water board) and with that threw the dripping plunger into the (carpeted) boot of his wife’s car (the bag had blown away). He left us with a promise to drop the bill round. We were immensely grateful for his efforts (apart from flicking excrement all over our house and himself), as he spent hours out in the first icy blasts of the arctic wind that was to batter us for weeks. I am sorry to say that I shall never call upon the services of his wife as I will never be able to trust the cleanliness of her tools after seeing what he was covered in and got in her car! Veolia arrived 7 hours later and with their mighty machine managed to find the blockage (an old metal building tool!) and cause a geyser of poo to rise out of the ground but fix the problem. We were saved. Meanwhile we probably increased the price of Bleach shares by using gallons of it EVERYWHERE.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom. I celebrated a wonderful birthday, spoilt with presents and a wonderful trip to Barcelona. Just Simon and I. We managed to do an awful lot in one day, starting with Gaudi’s Sagradia Familia
then we visited the Museum of Modern European Art – mainly to see the art of our friend Mathieu Bassez in situ
Mathieu is awesomely talented check out his work at www.bassez.eu
But the rest of the place was fantastic too.
After a fab tapas lunch we the visited the Picasso Museum – there are no photos as we were very uninspired and came out vehemently disliking his Cubist period, and now are of the opinion that it is all highly subjective pretentious crap! Unlike the stuff at the previous museum!
Our last cultural visit of the day was at another Gaudi building La Pedrera, like his stuff or not (and I don’t particularly) there is no doubting the genius of this man and his innovative ideas.
We stayed in a fabulous 4 star hotel with great views and what’s more CENTRAL HEATING!! I was actually able to dye my hair as I was now able to sit around in a room for 20 minutes without the risk of frost bite!
the following day we decided to leave gorgeous fantastic Barcelona and head home via Girona. This is another really lovely town with an old bit full of higgly piggly streets – well worth a visit.
My birthday managed to last a week, what with girl lunches and a surprise 60s themed birthday party organised by Diane in our village with about 12 of us all dressed up in 60s gear. (It wasn’t really a surprise as I did know about it) It was the best fun ever.
Holly and I left Simon to the bitter cold and burst pipes to spend a week in England. Our first stop was lunch in the Northcote road with some of the girls from the online bootcamps I have been doing and the wonderful Janey of www.fitforaprincess.co.uk fame
that first night we stayed with our lovely friends Delphine, Andrea, Josephine and Leo ( Holly and Jojo used to go to school at Belleville together)
the next day we hurried over to the other side of the Northcote Road and stayed with Amanda, Stephen, Maxwell and Marco and spent the day trying to visit the Natural History museum but put off by the queue of 1 hour 45 mins went to the V&A instead, killing time before going to see Cirque de Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall (disappointing by the way compared to when I last saw them about 10 years ago or so) after a quick noodle soup in Wagamama’s (I was really enjoying myself feasting in all this culture and then this wonderous edible feast!) the evening was finished off by the wonderful James Vincent McMorrow at the Royal Festival Hall – he is brilliant in the flesh, real make your hairs stand up male version of Adele. We got tickets as he is a signing to the record label that Stephen works for. It was a really full on day and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves (well I did, Holly wasn’t too impressed with the V and A and would have prefered to see Cher Lloyd (of X Factor fame) but there is no pleasing everyone.
The next day we visited the Tower of London
we nearly got stomped on
and I think Hitchcock may have been inspired by these we tried to lock the children up in a cell but sadly there was no key. Not sure about the relevance of these
All in all it was great fun but somehow when you see that it is surrounded by so much 21st Century modernity it is hard to get lost in medieval London . but it does make you proud to be British
Holly and I continued down to Kent to see Mum and I tried to amuse them at the Turner gallery but they weren’t impressed
Holly was more interested in trying on my wedding dress! and in the end ..so was I!
I want to get married again now ! (To the same man of course !)
Our last two days were spent with Julie and her 4 girls (Alan was in France with Simon) and much fun was had in their new home based in Sussex.
For those wishing to know how the barn renovation is coming on. Well Simon has been working very hard and even during the coldest winter in 50 years (have I mentioned how cold it was here ) which by the way was only about 2 or 3 weeks long but felt like forever, he had to keep coming into the comparable warmth of our house to defrost his fingers.
This is the front of the barn looking through to the back garden this is our new woodburner and because he is so cute
Actually the barn has progressed a lot since these photos but we shall save that for the next time. Its been so long since we posted that we wanted to make sure you are still being attentive – see you soon !