This time last year… We were getting our ‘ducks in a row’ for signing the ‘compromis de vente’, our promise to buy by signing the vendor’s ‘sales agreement’. Birth, wedding and divorce certificates, passports (utility bill?). The thing was that the originals were not enough, there also had to ba a certified translation. We found someone in the directory who was ‘certified’ (to translate… there’s plenty of other ‘certified’ individuals around, probably including us, but I don’ think that’s the kind of certification that was meant). By this time I had quite a collection of ‘scans’ of official documents (actually photos, cropped and adjusted for clarity) so having negotiated a price we emailed the scans to him. However, in order to fully certify them he suggested we come to his house with the originals and to pick up the certified translations.
The landscape we had got used to in Deux Sévres had been heathland, scattered woodlands and valleys. The translator’s house was located in an area called Marais Poitevin to the west of Niort, marsh and canals – some of the roads had marshland either side and at each turn the roads got smaller until we finally arrived at a dead end. Casting around amongst scrubby trees we found his house. After an hour or so of discussion (he was a kiwi though I had embarrassingly asked if he was South African, I think he forgave me).
The next thing was a trip to Rochechouart to meet our estate agent at his offices. There we had to go through each individual page of the 40 page contract and sign them. The agent was English but his French was better than mine until we got to the reports on subsidence and earthquakes where my French geological jargon came in very handily.
So, a 3 hour journey back, excitedly chatting together about what we wanted to do with the house we had just committed to. The second major milestone in our French adventure passed (the first being our arrival).
There are 5.25 billion* cheeses in France (at least) and none of them taste like cheddar. There are loads of soft brie/camembert like cheeses (possibly 250,000* but I lost count) funnily enough though, apparently the last brie-maker actually situated in Brie has just closed down – perhaps they want some cheddar?).
In fact there is a local (Limousin) brie-like cheese that is both cheap and tasty called coulommiers which you will be getting if you ever visit us. I actually just looked this up and its French but anything but local… originating over in the east near the Jura – whatever, its cheap and tasty. We do occasionally succumb to buying cheddar at premium prices in the supermarket’s ‘exotic’ chiller section (that’s exotic contents… the chiller itself is a Beko).
Cantal is a hard cheese that originates in the Pyrenees (that’s what they told me, I just looked that up too and its an Auvergne – Massif Centrale cheese, pah you just can’t trust these cheese sellers can you?). Anyway, the mild version tastes pretty close to cheddar (there is a ‘mature’ version that tastes a bit ‘blue’ – not to our taste).
Only 5,249,999,996* cheeses left to try.
* Some numbers changed to protect the innocent
My laptop died last Friday and since the internet is somewhat central to our existence here I had to buy a replacement). Surprisingly some things are cheaper in France (tea, porridge oats, paint and ladders are at least twice the price here though – luckily they weren’t what I needed) For half the UK price I got a replacement but unfortunately with Windows 8 and further misfortune – an azerty keyboard – so if a becomes q and m is a comma I apologise… and don’t talk to me about the full stop!… But almost the entire week was spent getting my ‘workspace’ back up and running; much was in the ‘cloud’ (i.e. on’t net) and a recent backup helped but you still have to reinstall and reconfigure stuff. Still, its mostly done.