Living and Building a home in the heart of France
22nd January 2007
We gave up after 3 days of waiting for Monsieur Le Dréau to turn up, and found another stonemason, Monsieur Nicolas who sports the most amazing moustache - somewhere between Salvador Dali and Groucho Marx. The next morning he brought a mate and they set up a barrier to keep people and vehicles away from the wall and to contain any more rocks that decide to give in to gravity. A few more obligingly did. Then he supplied two quotes for the repair work - both include taking down the stones to half-way down the wall, the first quote to rebuild it all with breezeblocks with the outside surface rendered, the second quote to rebuild it with blocks inside and stone outside.
Each January the Maire invites everyone in the commune to a social gathering. He makes a short speech about what the commune achieved in the last year, what they plan to do in the coming year, and to wish everyone a happy new year. Then the main purpose of the soirée begins - the quaffing of large quantities of kir and wine, the scoffing of delicious canapés offered around by rosy-cheeked local folk, accompanied by noisy and amiable chatter. An excellent use of our local taxes, we all agree.
The first meeting we went to, we could understand about 10% of the speech, two years of French lessons later, we get about 90% - what a result.
The first quote costs about a thousand euros more than the entire barn cost when we bought it, (not counting the agent's fees). And the second quote costs almost twice the first! Youch!
On Monday, the insurance assessor came to check our policy and look at the damage. And guess what? Yup, he declared it's not covered, what a surprise. It seems that damage by storm or vandals or accident would be covered, he admitted it wasn't due to our negligence, and that the roof is good. Fortunately our AGF agent, the charming Monsieur Auneau arrived to speak for us and after some good-natured discussions, it seems that between them they might be able to sort something out... we'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile the job of repairing it is urgent, to avoid the rest of it falling down. Attempts are underway to find a cheaper alternative....
January 14th - such a lovely mild day, we had our lunch outside....
Meanwhile, a little DIY makes us feel we can achieve something: planting a new gate between the gîte and the new house, using our old friend the cement mixer.
The Maire's Greeting Meeting