June 2011

We had to vacate our temporary apartment in the 6th, which we renovated several years ago and which is owned by two of our friends.  They had some paying guests coming and then their daughters were to stay for a weekend.  We took a week to visit friends in the south.  Sally lives near Sancerre. Peter and Caroline have a 13 meter canal cruising boat.  We are to meet them in Dijon for a week on the canals.

on the canal

Sally was married to Paul when we met her.  After we sold our boat in France in 2002 they bought a house in a very small town, just five houses.  After a while he left her for Rosalind, the  French woman next door.  This woman in turn left her husband and moved in with Paul in a house that is about ten minutes away. Somehow Rosalind’s now ex-husband (I assume they were married and are now divorced) blames Sally for what happened but won’t talk to Sally so Sally has no clue as to why.  When all this happened Sally’s daughter from a previous marriage told her that Paul had molested her.  It took Sally quite a while to get over all that, I imagine, (I am not sure that I am!) but but she has dealt successfully with all that stress.  Paul received a suspended sentence as a result of a plea bargain.  In general these are difficult cases to prove, so the fact that there is a conviction is significant.

While with Sally we went out with her to La Recreation Gourmande, the restaurant she used to work in, to celebrate Peg’s birthday.   The restaurant is quite good, and received a listing in the Guide Routard, our favorite restaurant guide which lists high quality places that offer good value for money.   Peg’s dinner included a rabbit aspic, which she quite enjoyed, although for me it is Thumper in Jello.  The cheese course was fabulous as was the dessert.  We both had a pork chop for a main dish, which was very good but not outstanding (and made for too much food, so we took our pork chops home)

After lunch we met the chef and his wife.  He works nearly 100 hours a week, she splits time between the restaurant and the children. She lamented the temporary loss of a worker due to depression, I think it was.  She said under French law she had to wait a month to replace her, which made life difficult for them in the meantime.

The next night we had dinner with Bruno and Babette, who were Sally’s neighbors until 18 months ago.  I once called her Brunette, but she didn’t think it was very funny.  They bought an old farmhouse to renovate but still can not get the permits!  So they bought a mobile home and use a bucket since they are not connected to a sewer.  He grilled large amounts of meat, way too much, and we drank rose wine.

Bruno wants to meet their electrical needs using a 12 volt system.  Having lived on a boat, I can tell you this can be difficult at times unless you get a gas-powered refrigerator and of course you can forget electric heat or even ordinary fans.  It is possible of course to stay off the grid, although given how hot the summers can be I’d like to have enough grid current to run a few fans at least.  In the meantime they are running an extension chord from the house next door to meet their modest needs, assuming a 48″ flat screen tv is modest.  It will take quite a few batteries to run that thing!.

Sally’s new neighbors – her house is semi-detached meaning one neighbor’s house is glued to hers- are quite picky about where she walks,  apparently.  She owns the land right out their back door, strangely enough, which is the only way she could conveniently reach the nearby pasture.  Apparently that was important to a previous owner.  The new neighbor wants to buy that patch, but Sally declined the offer.

R, who was married to G (both Brits, like Sally, as well as Peter and Caroline), is still single despite being rather attractive and still fairly young.  Another couple we met are selling the house they had just completed in 2002 when we met them.   A French women, in her 70’s, had a hip replacement and as she was standing for the first time after the surgery, her leg fractured.    She seems to be getting better although she misses her dog, who died recently.   These are all people Sally introduced us to on previous visits.

Afterward Sally took us to the train station.  We got off in Dijon.  Peter and Caroline were there to meet us.  We spent the next week on the Canal de Bourgoune with them.   This is their 19th boat.  They have stopped using it during the summer.  It is just too hot in the south of France.  They recently sold their house near Toulouse having bought a flat in the UK near Brighton.   This puts Caroline much nearer her friends and their three daughters and Peter decided that his model airplane hobby is best served in the UK, where they do a much better job of making it a safe activity.  Apparently the French don’t think about planes running into people from time to time, especially the young boys who come with their fathers who run around oblivious to the danger.

It was fun riding the boat through the canals, and very pretty.  However Peg and I both decided independtly we do not need to own another boat to do this.   It is not so much fun that we’d want to do it all the time.  And it is cheaper to rent one- do it with a group, it’s more fun, since you do not have to take care of it.

We are back in Paris staying with Anne and John.  Tomorrow we move back into the apartment in the 6th, and stay until July 11.  On the 11th our friends have paying guests again (the apartment rents just short term).  To make our travels less expensive we got senior passes- yes we are over 60!-  so we get 50% off rail travel.  Next we are going to Normandy, a little town called Dinan near the coast for just a few days.  I’ll eat lots of snails which like to grow there for some reason. And they are easy to catch.  In the meantime we’ll cruise around Paris on our trusty bikes, the ones John found and assembled from parts he found on bicycles people had abandoned on the street.