Abridged Too Far: Robert's Diary from
La BEHORAIS, 2002

Episode 2ème: Septembre 2002

Jeudi

5

Spent the day digging soakaways and drainage for the down pipes, no. 1; built stone wall round septic tank: that sod's never going to get lost again; arranged for English builders to come and have a look at the work I need doing came at 6.30 p.m. - Guess what? - we got on the pastis!

Vendredi

6

Don't feel to sharp this morning. My neighbour Pierre, who has come down with his wife from Paris, took me to his garage where he has 60m of very nice floor tiles which he has just given me. These would cost me over e600.
I think this is a return gift, as I gave Riggette his sister in-law the shed that adjoins her house: is a no use to me, falling down. And just another thing to repair, I told her we will sort it out when we go to the Notaire about me.
They want to pull it down next year to have a new gas boiler and its in the way for the flue. I'd much rather have the floor tiles - good on ya, Pierre.

Tony the builder came round to measure up, and go through in detail what I want, took most of the afternoon and a lot of coffee as he also felt like shit. Went into C'briant to do the weekly shop as it's a big fair tomorrow and I've been warned I won't get near the place after 8 a.m.
Have new blue plastic bath; doesn't get any more exciting than that!!

Samedi

7

Did washing in blue bath, returned Bruce's e-mail to New Zealand. Cleared a load of rubbish to the dump. Alan the builder came round with quote of e5837 for the building work, which I accepted, work will start last week Septembre.
Had a lazy day.
Went round to English friends for a bit of a party.

Dimanche

8

Spent the day checking figures and finance: as long as we hit no major problems should be o.k. and have no. 1 ready to rent for next Easter, and bathroom and toilet in no. 3.
P has spent all day inside and slept solidly for 21 hours.

Lundi

9

Started to strip paint on beams in no. 1 with wire brush in electric drill. After 4 hours had achieved 0.01%. Went to C'briant and hired sandblaster for next Mon. & Tues. - it will cost e550 with the sand but I am hoping the result will be so good I will not have to spend e2000 on plastering the ceiling. Removed ivy - poor lass - from extension walls and cut down trees too close to extension in preparation for plasterers.
P only managed 16 hours in the bed.

Mardi

10

I found I have become a true French peasant, spent all day with pitch fork in hand clearing and burning the brambles and trees I have cut down, as I kept the bonfire small Forêt de Tillay at the bottom of the garden still exists, and I am still at liberty.
As the weather has turned nice again P has returned to guarding the caravan.

Mercredi

11

There may be a corner of La Behorais that is forever England, as I woke up with a sore throat and difficulty in breathing.
I think it is Malaria, could it just be a cold?
As I am far to ill to work and the Belgique log book arrived in the post, I decided to tackle Les Authorities again. Guess what? - I am legal, import licence granted - that means that both the van and P have import licences, I don't!! - Van now insured at a horrendous e481 per year.

Also bought all the cable and bit to redo the wiring nos. 1 & 3. Did my week's shopping. Out of my e120 per week I have set myself, not much left.

It's now 7.40 p.m. and am glad nothing terrible has happened on 09.11 anniversary.

Jeudi

12

Started to first fix electrics in no. 1, working to the French non-existent code suits me well, 'scuse me why I tie up my horse and remove ma gun, pard'nr.
The shed I gave to Riggette is coming down.
Met up with builders for a few beers.

Vendredi

13

Howdy all, still wiring no. 1, found old certificate for electrics: name on it is "J.Suttle".
Shed is down and the workman has been told to cut it up for me to burn on De Dietnich-Aga - in the winter, vive les French. Front view from no. 1 is 100% better without the shed.

Samedi

14

Finished first fix wiring no.1, cleaned out no.1 ready for me to start sand-blasting Monday, have a nice big pile of wood in the pigsty ready for winter.
Although the wood looked crap it took all of the 3 phase saw to cut it - it's like steel, should burn nice and slow.

Dimanche

15

Got up late, did washing in plastic bath - can readers handle this excitement? - had a few beers at the TPU bar, lazy day.

Lundi

16

8 a.m. delivery of sand-blaster arrived at 10, got stuck in, bloody hard work but results are looking good. Had tea and finished with peaches, pears and grapes from no. 3 jardin: up yours, Tesco.

Mardi

17

Sandblasting finished am very pleased with results. Finished reading John Grisham's "The Testament", very good read - thanks Tony. Started to read 1 of 2 books by Frank McCourt given to me by my sister Margaret - also looks like they will be a good read.

Mercredi

18

Went to C'briat to the Sous Prefecture - phase 9b registration of belgique bestalwagan - at least they accepted the paperwork today, and if they are to be believed should have an en France van in 3 weeks - give or take 5cm. Mercredi is the main market day in C'briant: I came home with 4 types of cheese, ½ kilo of the biggest prawns going, 5 litre of what turns out to be good Rosé - how is the crib going - veg, wonderful bread and very little of my allowance left
p.s. forgot to mention the olives.
After having a lunch of trying all the afore mentioned items, I put on a brave face and did the housework - Hi Pam fancy a very long holiday over here? - and the washing.

Jeudi

19

Riggette is going to be away soon to Paris for most of the winter, and they will be turning off the electric, which means my supply to no. 3. I am swapping the feed over from their house to no. 1 which has a supply and meter.
This is not quite as easy as its sounds as the feed was part of an unbelievable 360 volt French style 3 phase system, so I have to rewire most of no. 3.
After a lot of bad language - not just my normal attempt at French - I manage to establish a connection between nos. 1 & 3 at 8 p.m..

Vendredi

20

Finish tidying up the Electrics.
Decide the time has come when all good electricians and me do something easy, like plumbing no.1.
Me and getting water to go through pipes have never been best of pals.
I am horrified when I go to buy plumbing materials. They have 5 different sizes of pipe instead of our domestic ½ or ¾" copper pipe which we changed to metric a few years ago to be in line with Europe -
they have taken the piss again!
I won't mention the fittings or waste pipes, but a confused Electrician bought what he thought he needed.

Samedi

21

Started plumbing no.1, didn't buy enough tube and forgot a lot of other things, I wonder if Neil Searle has an e-mail help line and if the Plumb Centre can deliver in France on a daily basis.
Did what I could which took all day, a burnt finger and shorts.

Dimanche

22

Still playing with water in as much I managed a blue plastic bath and my 2nd shave in 10 days, and to wash the sheets - no, not in the same water.
Good old John Grimwood gave me a bell at lunchtime; it was nice to hear from him.
Lazy day.

Lundi

23

Riggette informed me with a glint in her eyes that one of the geese was for the chop: this is the woman that spends hours talking to and fussing over her geese and ducks.
When she returned a few minutes later with a delighted look on her face and a dead goose over her shoulder, I made a mental note to be polite and keep Polly in today.

VW Bestalwagen would not start again this morning, has happened 3 times in the last 10 days on cold mornings, rounded up my pushing team - Pierre and his wife, and the Yugoslavian on the corner.
I notice they are not quite as amused as the last couple of times - best I do something about Bestalwagen as Winter is coming and I will be on my own soon.
Push works and I'm on my way to C'briant to buy more plumbing bits.
I manage to track down the VW garage, which has a unbelievably nice store man who does not understand what the hell I am trying to convey about glow plugs, but he comes out to the 20 year old Bestalwagen - which he pats.
If I understand him he is saying that it is one of the best VW ever made - he soon grasps what I need.
100 euro later I am walking away with 4 glow plugs, arrive home after a detour to the French stick shop have lunch and attack Besstalwagen.

If any Know-it-all Mechanic tells you it is impossible to fit glow plugs to a Bestalwagen without removing the fuel pump and injector pipes, he's talking Bollocks, bloody difficult it is, but after a long time and much profane language it is possible, I went this route as I thought if I remove the fuel pump, belt and injectors, the bin men might refuse to take the un-repairable Bestalwagen on Thursday.
When I had finished I thought I will check the 4 old glow plugs across the battery - a trick I learnt from Basil along with having a drink and falling over - only 1 out of the 4 worked, so I think I was on the right track, only a cold morning will tell!
After Bestalwagen bashing it was too late to start plumbing, so I decided to check out the De Dietrich in no. 3, my home.
After a clean and spray of WD40 - what else? - I lit it and to my astonishment it worked and behaved itself. Gave it the proper test by having an English fry-up for tea, very nice too.
I am writing this stark bollock naked drinking double extra ice GTs. As efficient as it is, just a wee hint of wood smoke, which is nice as it will mask Polly's farts.

Mardi

24

Bestalwagen started first turn of the key-YES!!
Carried on plumbing.
Wind is in a different direction today and De Dietrich is smoking more than me and barely getting warm, had to go back to gas stove in the end to cook tea.
Riggette and family came in for a drink this evening as they are off to Paris early tomorrow.

Mercredi

25

Finished Plumbing no. 1.
As I woke up this morning feeling like a half smoked kipper, I've decided to knock the Di Dietrich on the head, so have opened up chimney and have a blazing log fire going.

Jeudi

26

Pressure tested plumbing and only 1 bad soldered joint out of 63.

Open fire is good but it is not going to be possible to keep it in all night, am going to see if I can get new glass - got shattered on the journey across - for my wood burner I bought with me, only trouble is that if I can get it repaired I think it will be too small.

Vendredi

27

Treating the sandblasted beams no. 1.
Have brought a proper mask as last time I nearly killed myself with the fumes.
Allen the builder came over this afternoon to say he will be starting on Monday, and I should go over this evening for a few beers: who am I to argue?
Had a shower while I was there - first one since coming to France and it was "bloody marvellous ".

Samedi

28

Papers from Notaire arrived at long last for nos. 1&2, also letter from bureaucrats saying that the Bestalwagen details are not correct and I should contact VW France to clear this up before they can register it - I am told this sort of crap is common with French officials.

Dimanche

29

Went over to collect a wood burner that Allen is lending me for the Winter; we got it home and installed after quite a few beers in Rouge.

Lundi

30

Builder started today on no. 1, going to be a delay with the windows not finished on time by Lapeyre, but at least we have started.

It's been a quite month in La Behorais - sorry Garrison Keillor - I'm glad to say, I suppose, as I can't manage any shooting, no one will read the diary any more.

Two months gone and still as happy as a pig in shit!



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