31 July 2011

Would you believe it - our second speeding ticket!  Are we boy racers then, preferring to travel at whatever speed we choose, oblivious to the danger to others?  Or, is it the recent decision by Sarkozy to remove warning signs about radar traps?  No, none of these of course.  We just weren't sure of the prevailing speed limit.There's one particular point where the A62 gives way to the A620, and the speed limit drops without much signage. Doesn't the government just love the confusion this causes, rubbing their hands with glee:  yet more revenue for their coffers.  My solution, in all countries, would be for the central road line, currently painted white everywhere, to reflect the prevailing speed limit, e.g. painted say orange for 30 kmh, blue for 50 kmh, white for 110/130 kmh on motorways, etc. This way, at any point on the road, you just need to look down at the road.  But, governments wouldn't like this of course.  They prefer to class all aberrants as 'criminals' who deliberately choose to break the law. In the meantime, nothing for it but to pay the 55 euro fine (to delay or foolishly contest it, costs 180 euros), collect a few moe points on our French licence, and incur more hoots from following lorry drivers on how slow we're driving in future!

24 July 2011

It was our wedding anniversary, so spent the day in Toulouse. Balma/Gramont metro only has one line and is the terminus, so what could go wrong?  The car park barrier, surprisingly, was open.  We love the metro:  easy maps on the walls and a voice which announces in advance each stop. Must have known we were there. 
The day started to go awry at lunchtime. Thought smoking had been banned in restaurants, but apparently not under canopies.  What is it with smokers? They think it's perfectly acceptable to light up after their meal and, infuriatingly, rest an elbow on the table and bend their arm away from their face, so a continuous stream of smoke blows into yours!  Ruined our whole meal. Next, the heel came off my shoe, and the local shops only stocked women's shoes up to size 41 (I take 42, size 7 in UK). Nothing for it then but to kick both shoes off and walk in bare feet. Luckily it wasn't raining. However, couldn't find the car park. Balma/Gramont has a multitude and it took an age to find it. Didn't help that Him indoors had drunk too much whisky during the day, so was completely out of it by then. And then....all exits from the car park said 'Exit with ticket only' and we didn't have one! 
A good anniversary?  Him indoors, recalling 44 years ago to the day, muttered 'seemed like a good idea at the time'.

17 July 2011

The loudspeakers woke us. Bleary-eyed, I looked at the clock.  8.00 already? As usual, all night our imbecile dog Bruno has been prancing around, panting away, wide awake, whilst all day he sleeps peacefully under the steps outside!  Great. But even I knew the noise wasn't Bruno this time. It seemed to be coming from the end of our chemin. That'll be the Tour de France, says Him indoors, for whom lack of sleep doesn't seem to have the same effect. So, we trawled up the road to find out what was going on.  The Gendarmes were out in force, looking ridiculously young. Promotion cars were whizzing past - Skoda Superb, VW Passat, Sky Jaguars, together with menacing, low-flying helicopters. And even commercialisation, of sorts - normally unheard of in France:  a caravan tried to sell us all things yellow, especially T-shirts emblazoned across the chest. Time was when I'd have liked one of those, but I no longer need anything to draw attention to my chest! At last, the riders whizzed past, with motorcycles and cars galore, inches from the spinning wheels, doing their utmost to crash into them.And Him indoors? He looked disappointed. None looked like his heroes of yesteryear: Tommy Godwin and Reg Harris.  Oh well, time's moved on.  Now I know why he's always saying I should get on my bike...

10 July 2011

It's now been 5 months since we put our first French house for sale, and it's feeling a little sad - it wants a new owner. Unlike English estate agent jargon, here are the facts we all want to know. You know what I mean:  cut to the chase. 
Price: reduced to 179 000 euros (includes agent fees). High-speed broadband access.
3 bedrooms. Gas CH. High-range kitchen, including integrated Bosch dishwasher, Ariston oven and Scholtes fridge-freezer, Ariston 6-burner ss gas hob.  Bathroom with power/massage shower. Land 2133m2 (half-acre), with clear views to the rear. Pool 9 x 4 m with salt filter. 2 terraces. Situation: on edge of village, walking distance to shops and nearby Aveyron river; 5mins to SNCF station. Mediterranean sunshine!  Minuses: rural location, need a car to get to larger towns and stores.

 So, what do you think? Worth the money? Would make an ideal holiday home. No reasonable offers refused - I'll even throw in a few extras......

3 July 2011

And so the adventure continues.....
We need to make regular trips to the 'pink city' of Toulouse, so decided to buy one of the new Pack Liberte tickets which allows 12m unlimited returns with reduced prices for ancients like us. Yesterday we tried it out. Problem 1 (you didn't really think everything would go smoothly, did you?): no trains!  Work on the line preparing for the new TGV service Bordeaux to Toulouse. By the time we turned up at le Gare Gaillac, no turning back, so we boarded Le Car - a surprisingly comfortable and efficient coach and joined the French holiday crowds on all roads south.  Problem 2:  I've realised I'm a machinaphobe.  Couldn't fathom the high-tech ticket machines at the Matabiau Metro and needed the inevitable 'young person' to show me how!  This, despite my super high-speed typing skills from another age and my university degree.  N'importe quoi.  The big surprise was the layout on the Metro platforms.  Closed electronic doors, which suddenly swish open in synchrony and perfect alignment with the incoming train. Reminded us of monorails at Florida airports.  So, even if he wanted to, Him indoors couldn't push me under the next train. He said it reminded him of bookmakers of old:  what've you got TouLose...