Monday, 19 May 2014

All around the houses

I have yet to find a phrase in French to express 'all around the houses.'

A very nice man in the office of the Greffe de la Tribunal la la la la la used the phrase 'vous avez baladé' which touches on it but doesn't quite capture the frustration and futility.

Let me explain. I need to declare my earnings from last year. To do this, I must register my activité and get the ball rolling. Once I have done this, someone will send me my Siret or Siren number (no idea what the difference is but I don't think it matters) which I can then put on my declaration des revenus and all shall be well.

Simple, providing you can find the right place to register.

So far we have been to five different offices, all in different towns at least 30 - 40 minutes drive from home (in opposite directions). At each encounter, we have been met with much scratching of heads. Finally, we found a helpful young lady in the Centre de Impôts in St Brieuc who directed us to the nice man I mentioned above.

He, it turned out, is not the right person either but he did at least have the right form for us to fill in and furnished us with the address of the office we should deliver it to. In St Malo. A brief look at a map will tell you that St Brieuc and St Malo are approximately 100 km apart.

You can see why I am searching for a French equivalent to 'all around the houses'.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


We have acquired a donkey.

I have long hankered after one but never thought I would ever actually own one.

Lolita comes to us with a bit of a sad history from a family who can no longer keep her due to ill health.

She is utterly lovely and I am in awe of her.

She's way stronger than me and could break my toe just by stepping on it. She has huge teeth and a proclivity for nibbling pockets and sleeves, presumably in search of edible morsels, but you never know.

As I was leaving, she followed me up the field and gave me a hearty nudge on the bottom. I am taking it as a gesture of friendship. I have learnt from the screeds of information I gathered on the internet these last few weeks, that donkeys communicate with each through nudges and shoves.

I hope we learn to be friends very soon. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, 2 May 2014

New Life

I am beginning to grow things.

As mentioned in earlier posts, gardening is not my forte, but I yearn for things to be burgeoning around me and to be instrumental in their blossoming.

To whit, I bought some dirt cheap mini hothouses from Lidl (in effect a plastic lid over an average seed tray) and have planted some seeds.

I don't have any suitable windowsills, so they are sitting on the worktop, next to the kitchen sink. It is inconvenient for them to be right under my elbow as I wash up, but it does mean I can't forget them.

For a week or so I have been gently watering them and mopping away the condensation. The basil have thrust into the light with vigour, waving intense green leaflets at me and bending this way and that towards the sunshine.

The chillies are more reticent. But yesterday I spied a tiny white frond, still curled into the soil, arching its back into the daylight.

I feel peculiarly maternal towards it. I have examined it several times in the intervening twenty four hours and am delighted to report that the tiny green specs of the first leaves are just visible. It is so exciting.

Elsewhere, other things are obliging me by growing. A while back I planted some tulip bulbs I found at the back of the cupboard. I have watched them impatiently as they labouriously pushed up their long green leaves. Its taken them weeks and I was giving up hope of ever seeing an actual bloom. Everyone else's tulips are just about over, having given a marvellous display in the spring sunshine. Mine are pillywally. The two or three flowers that are just now unfurling look drained of colour. It probably as a result of having spent many seasons at the back of a cupboard.

All this makes me grow bold and I have purchased more bulbs from Lidl. I have put a few tubers in the ground, although I have forgotten what and where they are. I am working on the theory that they will surprise me when they arrive. The strawberry plants I bought from a nice lady on the market are thriving despite the fact that the cat has upended them on more than one occasion. I am guessing that cat poo is a good fertiliser as they are showing signs of fruit already. Not too sure I shall want to eat it though.