After the esoteric nature of last week’s blog, I promise no more quantum physics. Life returned to the more mundane with occasional bursts of excitement.

This week I have spent most of my time in the stable with a paint brush or roller in hand. There is over 50 square metres of ceiling and more wall space to cover so I decided to start by painting the new toilet, created in the corner of the stable. Things did not start too well as I was busy painting and of course had removed the door handle to enable easier painting. What I omitted to do was to keep the handle inside the toilet with me. A bit too much pressure on the door and click, it shut effectively locking me in the toilet. After some struggles with the door and much swearing I realised that the door could not be opened from within unless I had a handle. Fortunately I had my mobile phone with me so I tried to phone Mrs Parish and realised from the sounds from outside that she was outdoors chopping logs. I tried ringing her mobile but clearly that was not with her so I tried repeatedly phoning the land line in the hope that Mrs Parish would hear and come to my rescue. After about 15 minutes she finally got to the phone and, after what I thought was a bit too much hesitation, came to let me out.

The toilet has now been finished and the handle restored. I then went on to tackle the mammoth ceiling and wall job which took me all week. One advantage was that I set up my IPod and CD player so was able to get through a lot of music including of course a Bob Dylan fest; my Rolling stones collection as well as some Motown, Bob Marley and Howlin’ Wolf and my blues CD interspersed with Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. It’s amazing how it helps the concentration. I was also grateful for my new trestles which make painting high ceilings and walls so much easier. Anyway I have now finished the main painting of the walls and ceiling and it is looking really good. There is still loads more work to do but I feel I am making good progress.

One thing that I have noticed is that paint in France is very expensive and the quality varies considerably. There are those who say that all French paint is bad but I have found that buying decent quality does make a difference. We had to put on a layer of sous couche (undercoat) pronounced soo coosh unless you have a broad Glasgow accent, our brilliant electrician, Frank who hails from Scotland calls it soos cooch, which we think is a much better way of describing it. The undercoat was to seal the new plaster so we bought some cheap stuff and it was pretty rubbish but did the job. The matt emulsion we put on top was expensive but advertised itself as monocouche (one coat) and it certainly worked and was really easy to put on and looks very good. We also found some B&Q value paint from England in our storage stable. It is what you would expect of “value” paint!! So really not much difference in quality between France and England but a bit of a difference in price.

During the week I had a noisy interruption to my stable solitude when I heard this very loud clucking and squawking. I thought at first it was Giselle’s geese and that maybe a fox had got into their run. So I rushed out of the stable and realised the noise was coming from our lean to next the house and so it must be Henny Penny. I ran over thinking something dreadful was happening to meet Henny strutting around making a dreadful noise but looking very proud of herself. I looked around and realised that she had laid an egg!! Given her great age this is a very rare occurrence and as far as we know this was the first egg in the five months we have been here. She is such a grand old lady and rules the roost around here keeping the cats in order despite being stalked by the kittens. She cast her beady eye on them and they behave. She has this habit of coming up to our glass doors and looking and giving a hard stare, particularly when she thinks she should be given a treat. So for tonight I gave up all thought of that extra roast potato as if I had eaten I would have wilted under her stare, she would know I had eaten her roastie! So this is my life, ruled by the animals!!

And of course I am ruled by French bureaucracy. Last week, I reported that we had sent off all our papers to try at last to secure our car registration in France. For the best part of 5 months we have been trailing back and forward and finding all sorts of things we did not know we would need. We thought we had now got all the documents we needed. And in fact we did have all the documents we required. The problem was that because the documents had been back and forward so many times the fee for registration had gone up from 1st January so we got all the documents back with the cheque to be told we now needed to pay the new amount. So we have sent them back again. In France the post office must be making a huge profit just on official documents!! So our breath remains baited and Mrs Parish has had to be restrained from  a full scale assault of the Mayenne Prefect’s Office.

A further great excitement this week has been the purchase of a new TV. The one we brought from England is a bit small as we now have such a huge living room, we needed binoculars to see properly. So after much subtle complaining and a lot of squinting I managed to persuade Mrs Parish that we really did need a new TV and that it was essential that we had it installed in time for the first round of matches in the Six Nations Rugby. So off we went to Hyper U in Mayenne. This is the big version of the Super U where we do our weekly shopping in Gorron. In Mayenne Hyper U sells literally everything and even has a separate building for electrical goods. The supermarket is so big it gives you a headache trying to shop there. In the electrical store we were confronted by a huge wall of TVs of differing sizes and French TVs are measured in pouces. So I was prepared to bid for the optimum number of pouces. A very nice young salesperson came and explained lots of technical things which Mrs Parish seemed to understand and to get into great discussion about. I just wanted to know, would it be good to watch the rugby and could someone over 60 operate it without a degree in electronics. Amazingly the TV is incredibly easy to work and we (I say we, but I mean Mrs Parish) set it up with the French TV box our sky box and the DVD without any problems at all with HDMI cables (I have only just got used to scart leads, and then only tenuously). Anyway as long as I can work out which zapper works which and fortunately they are all different the TV automatically adjusts to the right picture. On our old TV it could take me up to half an hour to work out how to watch a DVD!!!

So all was in good order to enable me to watch the rugby this week. And what a good weekend it was. The victory of Ireland over Wales enabled me to taunt my Welsh friend Steve unmercifully (he deserved it after winning the grand slam last year. We even had a phone chat at half time when he still believed that Wales would make a comeback. Usually when I talk to Steve he is in a pub full of very loud Welsh rugby fans. England beat the Scots and then France lost to Italy so that will give me bragging rights over the French neighbours.

The main thing was that the TV produced excellent pictures of an optimum size to enable full appreciation of the results.

The new TV means I can access the DVD without supervision and so have been watching the Black adder DVD I got for Christmas and can now watch the DVD about Cider sent over from England by Etienne the Moleslayer.

So, all in all an interesting week in which I stayed in one dimension, courtesy of the toilet door and I made significant progress on my retirement project to create a games room and wine cellar where I can while away my time. Henny Penny got to lay an egg and best of all I got a new TV!!

A prochaine semaine