EEC 22, 23rd August 2005

Well when I got round to checking my telephone recorder I found a message from the Marie asking me to call around to collect my permis de construire for my garage. Since I only listened to the message Wednesday and the Marie is only open Tuesday afternoons I called in at the office in Mirande, they were able to give me a copy, unsigned of course, the original is signed by the mayor, I'll collect that next Tuesday. But it was enough to confirm that I had the permission, and specified the restrictions - the walls must be coloured either stone, cream, sand, or ochre, and certainly not white, the tiles must be red and not pink or black.

I would have called my roof tiles pink but since I want to put the same colour on the garage, so that they match the house, I guess I'll have to
think of them as not really pink but light red.

Thursday Jean Pierre Clement called by. I didn't mention before, he called by earlier when I was limping with my strained tendon 2 weeks ago, I made a technical check on his basket and tanks so he could get complete certification on a new Kubicek envelope and burner he was buying. His tanks had needed a pressure test, this he had done locally in Bordeaux, but they had not been able to refit his pressure relief valves, so we did this. While we did this his wife and parents waited, they were on their way to a Jazz concert in Marciac. Actually his father Pierre-Louis was also a balloon pilot, he wrote a book about the history of hot air balloons some 20 years ago, and they gave me signed copy of one of the very few English language versions of the book. Nice.

I collected the door on Friday morning, when I got it home I noticed the frame was slightly split, so I took it back. I was given the choice of waiting 2 weeks for a replacement or accepting 40 Euros credit so I took the credit and kept the door. When I got back home again and studied it further I noticed the aluminium base to the frame was bent, also I could not open the door. To non building experts I'll mention that when you buy a door like this, you buy a door complete with frame.

I took advice from Andre and then phoned Jean Paul, calling "help!". Eventually we managed to open the door, is seemed the frame was moving, I guess it must have been badly dropped at some stage to cause this and the other damage.

Friday evening Jean Pierre, another Jean Pierre, this one the nephew of my neighbour Andre, called by. He has a construction firm, he lives close by, and amongst his large machines has a small digger suitable to dig the foundations for the garage. He could do it he said, but not until the end of August, his workers were all on holiday, and he himself was still working urgently on a big building locally.

So I went out and bought a van load of sand. I'll fill in the time, after I've installed the new door, by starting on rendering the house walls. After a bit of encouragement I received a quote from the local specialist for the roof, 7,500 Euros. Maybe I'll do the building work myself, quoted at 9,000 Euros from a separate company, then get Christian to do the roof.

Eleanor and Johann came Sunday, brought the car back, we had a barbeque, then I took them to Toulouse to catch a flight back to Paris.

Monday was a fete day. I wondered how to fit the door. Tuesday was not a fete day, but otherwise much the same, wondering how to fit the door, although I did call by the garage and found the boss was away until Thursday. I forgot to call at the marie to collect my permis de construire. Wednesday I continued wondering how to fix the door. With the double glazing and everything else the door weighs a ton, as I suppose it should considering how much it cost. In amongst the wondering I went out and bought some ties that might help me fix it to the existing wall.

Little cat went out late, she hasn't yet learned how to push to open doors to get back in, I heard her at 6 am and let her in, from then on she laid on the bed purring constantly until I got up about 8.30.

So it's Thursday already. It's my birthday today! Wey hey! So I took time off from wondering how to fit the door and spent time sorting through nuts and bolts and screws in a cupboard in my workshop. That was after I'd been to the garage. Since it's a diesel, my car has a pre heater before it starts. The preheater had stopped working whilst on holiday with Eleanor so it was almost impossible to start the engine so since today was cloudy and coolish I warmed the engine with a hair dryer. Tuesday when I last started it I opened up the bonnet (hood that is to American English speakers) and let the sun shine on the engine to warm it. When I get the engine going I notice that when you put the car into reverse, the generator light comes on. When you take it out of reverse, the pre heater light comes on for a second or so. Weird. Or as the several French I have explained it to, including the garage boss, bizarre.

Did I mention that when I got the car back from Eleanor, Johann told me he had broken the key in the lock of the rear entry door? The garage will try to fix that too. As well as the puncture. When Eleanor phoned this morning to say happy birthday, (that was nice), she said, I don't think you'll want to lend me the car again...................but I probably will.

Andre, his wife Odele, also their son Patrick, and later Jean-Paul, called by for a birthday drink.

Friday I knocked holes in the wall to allow space to cement in the ties for the door frame. Saturday I attached the ties to the door frame.

It's not quite normal around here but we had a thunderstorm, with hailstones. This one is 1.5 cms diameter.

Of course, I've been doing a few other things too. Re checking the ground measurements for the foundations for the garage. Cutting the grass, going over the lawn with a rake, to scarify it taking cut grass away from the dead areas, and trying, again, to wash the walls in the living room. Not to mention relaxing - being retired I am on permanent holiday - and checking out the TV for StarTrek and Stargate, they are on for about 6 hours per day, but almost all are repeats and I seen most, but not all, of them.

Monday I got my car back from the garage. They've fixed the problem with the diesel preheating not working, it was some loose wires, they've managed to get the broken key out of the back door, and fitted a new tyre on the spare to replace the punctured one. Now I just need to replace the front wing, get a new headlight, take the minor ding out of the front of the bonnet and replace the missing wheel embellisher! And of course, get a duplicate key to replace the broken one.

Tuesday I called in at the Marie to collect my signed permit de construire. Sign on the door, closed today. It's only open one day a week! I went back and started building a concrete pillar to support the new door. Little cat hung around all the time, watching. She's not so thin now but still frightened of everyone and everything.

Best regards

David Barker
Mirande, France

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