vendredi 22 août 2014

Extorting money with menaces

  I'm sorry to have to say that I have been the victim of a greedy but plausible criminal in the last few weeks. This menacing personage demanded my money, which he said he needed urgently to pay off his debts, pay for his medical treatment and for his cost of living, non of which had been incurred at my urging. He threatened me that if I didn't pay over 700Eur to this fund he would lock me up or take even more money.
  In fact, as you may have guessed, this extortionist is the French government. All my income arises in England, and is duly taxed at source by another demanding person but that's another story.. We do have a double-taxation agreement between our countries to ensure people only pay one lot of tax. However, the ingenious but dishonest French have decided to ignore this, and take 'Social Charges' (not tax no, perish the thought) on part of my income arising from letting our former home in Plymouth. This money, they say, will be used to pay off the National debt, repay some of the overspend on medical costs and on general social costs. I feel that the French National Debt is not my business, and my health cost is passed on to the English National Health  so this is sheer extortion akin to a hold-up. I am thinking of ways and means to avoid this daylight robbery. Has anyone any ideas?
  Bye for now,Going to sit and fume...

dimanche 3 août 2014

A Sunsoaked Village in the Limousin

Last Thursday we visited a charming small French town of about 1200 residents, quite typical of many French country towns. It has a couple of cafés, bars, a dentist, two small garages, even a blacksmith. It has a charming little church, with stained glass windows and a sunny grass square in the middle. It also has the distinction of a narrow-gauge tramway to the county town.
   Some time ago, the Authorities in charge of this little burg decided to hold a census and assembled all the inhabitants, men women and children in the grassy town square. The citizens duly assembled, no doubt laughing and joking, were counted and then the men were divided into three groups in separate buildings, while the ladies and their children were gathered in the church. Then at a given signal, all were cut down with machine-gun, rifle and hand grenades fire. Petrol from the garages was used to set fire to all the houses and the church. Only a handful of the citizens escaped....
  You can see what remains of this little place in the following photos.

  Yes, I expect you've guessed, this village is the town of Oradour sur Glane, over 600 of the citizens were murdered by the Nazis seventy years ago. The town was never rebuilt on its previous site, which has been preserved to remind posterity of the dreadful deeds carried out by the SS 'Das Reich' on unarmed civilians in reprisal for an ambush by the Resistance. I defy anyone to visit the site and remain un-moved, I had tears in my eyes several times and we still seemed to smell smoke in the air after seventy years have passed.  A sobering thought is that things have not changed much, some of the scenes in Gaza look very familiar, whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation out there.

Bye for now, trying to wash away memory with a cup of tea......

This little girl's pram still remains in front of the Church altar

jeudi 24 juillet 2014

Are the Indians all stupid, or what?

For weeks now, the fixed phone rings about twice a day and the following conversation begins ' Good morning, do you speak English' (bear in mind this is a French phone) 'yes'. My name is ....... And I am speaking from the Windows office. I am sorry to say that we have detected that your computer has a virus' ( my computer is an Apple.) no doubt he would continue to offer to fix it if I provided my access code and Bank details but at this point I am rude to him or put the phone down.
Even if you imagine that I am one of the few innocents on line that have never heard of this hoary old scam, it would be truly incredible if I fell for it more than once, let alone dozens of times!

 So, two points spring to mind. Why ring French phones, if you can't speak French, it must limit your audience severely, even if you confine yourself to English-sounding names. And why ever continue to ring when you have had no takers for weeks.
  I can  only envisage that there exists a scam in India/ Pakistan where for a few Rupees ignorant  and credulous peasants are sold a sure-fire scheme to fleece the capitalists and these scammers are themselves victims? Or is my title question apposite?

  Bye for now, got to answer the phone....

jeudi 17 juillet 2014

I Love My Lawnmower

   Here it is, a portrait of my love. I know that in your eyes, it may appear somewhat dingy and worn but it has several redeeming features-- it cuts grass, it collects it in its grass box and above all, IT IS  EASY TO START !
  We have been using a petrol mower for a couple of years, cheaply acquired and reconditioned by a local firm, and very good  it has been, too. But it must be said, it has never been easy to start and this year  needing more and more desperate pulls on the starter cord, and often refusing altogether. My routine ended up by giving it a few pulls to see if it was in the mood and if so immediately cutting the grass while it was going. I didn't dare to stop the motor to empty the grass box, clearing the mower with a stick to avoid the still rotating blades... Not ideal from a safety standpoint
   We had reverted to using the electric Flymow but besides the problem of avoiding the long flex, there was no grass box and cuttings would invade the house on our feet for a couple of days after each cut. We asked our friends Alan and Elaine at the Field Emporium to keep a look out for a cheap mower and Alan phone recently to say he had one taken in with odds and ends which we could have. It was a bit battered but, hey, it cuts grass, has a box to collect the cuttings and starts first pull! What more could one ask? I would like to be able to recommend its make but there is no discernible maker's name on it.

     Bye for now, drinking Panaché aftercutting the cour, it's baking hot today!

mardi 15 juillet 2014

Laika--Suspected virgin Birth

   This morning, I had to ring to make an appointment at the vets for two of the dogs. Jill's appt was for her annual  rabies jab for which we have just had a reminder, but Laika's problem was a suspected pregnancy! The other evening Kim noticed that her mammaries were swollen as if she was soon to give birth. Nothing particularly strange about that, you might say, a female dog on heat is endowed with a Machiavellian cunning when it comes to arranging a rendezvous with a male. However, Laika is never walked off the leash as she is such a game-chaser. I was beginning to imagine a new star overhead ( Sirius, the Dog Star perhaps ) or a horde of canine angels coming down. However, Francois, or vet was able to reassure us that she was NOT in an interesting condition and that there was no need to change her name to Mary. We heaved a sigh of relief.
  Jilly's jab went ok, and we bought two new flea collars, as the Frontline Spot-ons seem to be less efficacious than they were. A satisfactory, if expensive visit...

   Bye for now, dinner calls

lundi 14 juillet 2014

A busy day at table!

Yesterday, Sunday, was a busy day for Noah and Mrs Noah! We went to Church at Matha as usual, but arrived rather late due to lack of organisation in the morning. Our friends Christine and Clive Charlton have had the inspiration of holding a shared lunch at their spacious house throughout July for everyone in the congregation who wish to attend. All bring a dish or two to share and any not so equipped are welcome to come as there is invariably too much on the table. This weekly party has helped everyone to get to know each other better, chatting around the table, although the weather has not been suitable for dining al fresco.
  However, this Sundays little feast coincided with Loubille's celebration of the storming of the Bastille, the French national day. You may remark that the 14th is the day in question...however for reasons of extracting the maximum of pleasure from the occasion Loubille celebrates it with a dinner at the Salle de Fête on thé 13th. This enables the population  to attend the fetes of our main town, Chef Bouton, or our neighbouring villages on the 14th, thus getting two meals in, clever, eh?
  However, this eccentricity led to us having two copious meals on the same day, both well supplied with beverages, so this morning we are feeling a little liverish... Still, all in all, a very happy Sunday!

 Bye for now, coffee calls!

samedi 12 juillet 2014

It's our birthday!

ReYes, fifteen years ago we were in   France to sign the Acte de Vente  which made us the proud owners of this house in La Mort Limouzin. We had been here in April to carry out the preliminaries, but we had arrived in our VW camper to sign re the act of sale and pay the purchase price at the Notaire's.

When we arrived back at the house with the enormous iron keys to open the shutters and the front door, we decided straightaway to spend the night in our new home before returning to the UK next day as I had no leave left.There were no services connected, but we had water in the camper's tank and a Tilley lamp for light. We carried up the cushions from the van to form a bed on the floor of the bedroom and spent the night in our sleeping bags. We had taken siezin of a piece of France!
Of course, the house has changed a lot since then, but we both remember the feeling of pride which filled us that night.

Bye for now, lunch calls