EEC 11, 8th April 2005

I'm have some trouble finding Internet connections. Many people seem to use a Wanadoo wireless system, this seems to come with an automatic password system enabled and I can't access. Actually Jerome, who I stayed with for a few days, uses a Wanadoo wireless system, and even though he gave me the original installation disks, and all his passwords, I still could not access the internet through his system. I couldn't access Barbara's either. It's entirely feasible that these programs will only run if the native language of your computer is French. Like I said, I like the style of the French!

Here's a few pictures from yesterday, I forgot to include them. More water.

An old bridge, and a village.

I did write that it was closed..............

And here is St Girons.

Here is somewhere else. Actually, it is St Liziere, near St Girons.

Back to today. I called by a spot in I found earlier, in St Gaudens, where I had a fast and easy internet connection. I then headed off to the Marie in St Michel (only open Tuesday afternoons) to get information about the permissions needed to build a garage. Below 20 m2 I don't need to apply for a permit de construire. But thinking of the amount of stuff I need to put in a garage, not even counting cars, I think I need a double garage. That will be about 40m2. I carried away a complex armful of application forms. I think they would be complex even if I could understand them.

I called in to see the seller of the house, and his parents, my neighbours to be, to ask if they maybe knew a builder, to build my garage, they invited me for coffee. I've realised that a garage of this size is probably to much for me to tackle alone. They are asking around for a builder. There is not a builder in the village and I would rather find a recommended builder. I went back to the Marie to make sure where I could put the outside wall of the garage. Seems I can put the wall either exactly on the boundary, or at least 3 metres from the boundary. Nothing in between. Typical French system. Black or white, there's no grey in between. In the UK you can build a wall, for a house or garage, any distance over 50 cms from the boundary.

Unfortunately my neighbours, a very pleasant couple, won't be my neighbours for long. He is 69, and going to retire next year, their house is too big, with 6 bedrooms, so they will be looking for something smaller.

I bought a new gas cylinder during the day, and tried the new gas rings at dinner. Wonderful. It boiled water in about no time. At least 4 times faster than my previous big cooker. It's lower in height, I can put it on the table. Maybe now I can assemble the base unit I bought a while ago, to hold the cooker and a hand basin. Of course, I notice I have already lost a plastic foot from the cooker........

I expect I'll get this van more or less right by the time I move into the house. No problem, I'm expecting to spend a few months getting the house right, then if there's time this year I can recommence my exploration. I haven't yet been to Prague, Warsaw, Vienna, or Berlin.......... Next year I want to be back in the USA.

As soon as I get the camping car right I'll have to take out the furniture it so I can use it again as a van to carry my things down from Poitiers. There's only about a dozen screws holding everything in place. Then I guess I have to revert to minibus with 12 seats, but all these fold flat, so it is easily convertible from minibus to van. That's another dozen screws to assemble the minibus. Then I'm able to hang on the trailer with my big balloon for when Eleanor arrives, in case she wants to take all her friends for a flight. If there's just Eleanor, I fold up the rear seats, and put a small balloon in the back of the van, without the trailer, with this setup there are 5 seats, the regular 3 in front, and 2 folding seats behind.

I'm back in my regular spot below Mirande. I think I'm disappointing a couple. Last Tuesday a car arrived behind me, saw my van, and reversed back out. It's a long way, almost 100 metres, in the dark. Same thing happened today, Tuesday. Don't know why they didn't just drive past, there's lots of places to stop further on. Like a 4 WD car did earlier, followed by a girl in a small car. Bit later the 4wd came back, followed by the small car. There is another end to this lane, but it's not so remote. I waved at the girl when she went past, but she didn't wave back.

I assembled my new furniture that I bought a while back, now that I have my new gas rings, it all works fine. I found the missing foot to the gas rings. Seems like the height of sophistication to be cooking at a sensible height, rather than from the floor.

I now have a surfeit of storage boxes, now that the new furniture is in use. I have 6 in use, and another 5 just stacked up. What happened, I saw boxes at an incredibly low price so I bought some. Then I saw some at an even lower price and bought more. They when I saw some lower still I thought, they are giving them away and bought even more. One of my problems is, I can't resist a bargain.

There's not a lot of photos right now. The reason is the scenery is not majestic, or impressive, or incredibly beautiful. It is just gentle, rolling on, every view different, but with similar rolling hills and valleys. I love it. I can - and do - just sit for hours beside my van in my temporary parking spot on that little road south of Mirande, overlooking the little valley, with the small airport just opposite.

I was thinking a touch more about the French language. You know you go to see the doctor and he says, say ninety-nine? In French that is quatre vingt dix neuf. Plenty for the doctor to work on. But it means, literally, 4 (quatre) times 20 (vingt) plus 10 (dix) plus 9 (neuf). How can a country counting like this, saying for 99, 4x20plus10plus9, be one of the top 5 industrial countries in the world? Until just a few weeks ago it was illegal to work more than 35 hours per week. The minimum annual legal holiday is 30 days, that's 5 weeks. There seem to be strikes all the time, and moreover, it seems the population generally agrees with the strikers. It is impossible that this country should work. But it does!

Since I have chosen to live here, since it is my most favourite place, I reckon I can have a go at some of it's idiosyncrasies..........

Best regards

David Barker

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