I’ve been very fortunate to meet several very nice people since moving to France.
Jo has been very helpful and she provides a wealth of insight to French living. I feel like we connect well and I always enjoy our conversations.
Colin has a good sense of humor, is very knowledgeable about renovation, and has been quite helpful in many ways including coming to my rescue when I had a plumbing emergency.
An interesting fact about the three of us is that we each own two houses in France, and for each of us our second house is directly next door to the first one we bought.
Many of the local renovation projects are being done by Brits, with some Dutch, Belgians, Germans and at least one American. A couple of my French neighbors are renovating their properties but in general the French are less enamored with the renovation process.
“Tu es folle !” – You’re crazy! – I was told as I gave one of my French friends a tour of my house. This was partly because the house is so big and he knows that I’m living here alone. But it was also because of all the work to be done.
Colin had pulled down the plastic paneling along the back wall of the kitchen so I could determine what needed to be done before the electrical work got started in May. The previous frame, providing an air space between the paneling and back wall, had dry rot and had to be removed. The sink will need to be moved into the room to access the corner to replace the frame and put in wood paneling.
Colin laughed when I told him I was going to rebuild the frame myself. But that wasn’t as bad as when I was trying to explain to another friend, in my meager French (forgetting the word for build), that I was going to do the frame myself but I wouldn’t do the plumber. Oops. (That wasn’t my only mistake.) As he was leaving he pulled my French dictionary off the mantel, set it on the counter & gave it a couple of taps.
A very nice French neighbor a couple of doors down asked if I wanted some wood for my fireplace. He needed to remove it from the barn he is renovating. I told him that I couldn’t use it because my fireplace hadn’t been cleaned (I used nettoyer for clean but he corrected me that it was ramoner for a fireplace) but that I had a friend who could use it. So I grabbed a pair of gloves and we loaded the wood into his wheelbarrow and put it into my first house.
He had seen that house before, when we first met last summer, but I think he’d forgotten the condition of the interior. He uttered a soft “oh là là” and shook his head when he looked around inside.
I had shown he and his wife around my new(er) house in February and learned a bit from their visit. They live in Paris and come down on holidays. His wife was born in Uzerche, just up the street in fact, and knew a bit about the house. I already knew that the ground floor had been a furniture shop. One room served as the workshop, atelier, where they made the furniture and the other as the showroom, magasin. Her parents had even owned some furniture made in the shop.
She had been friends with a girl whose grandmother had lived in my first house. I can’t wait to learn more but I need to up my learning curve dramatically first, unless my daughter can be here sometime while they are in town.
While looking in my attic my neighbor pointed out some handles that I had put with things I was keeping. He asked if I knew what they were and I replied no. It turns out that they are coffin handles. In addition to furniture they occasionally made coffins in the shop. Well those might come in handy someday. As I told my grandson, I’d rather molder than smolder. (But I’m hoping that permanent plug-in will occur much much later.)
Another neighbor, Mathieu, lives in the house next to my little one. Recently I met his mother when she had gone to visit him. We met again at a wine & cheese evening at La P’tite Fabrique Solidaire, a social group that I joined a few weeks ago. It was the first event that I attended after signing up; weather or schedule conflicts had kept me away from a few others. It was a pleasant evening and I enjoyed meeting some other people. They were very welcoming. Several of them spoke English so I reverted to that more often than I should have.
Now that the weather is warming I plan to get out more often. I’m looking forward to meeting more people and getting plugged in to the community.