It’s definitely the advent of Winter – I think Autumn definitely started with the fall of the aspen leaves at the tail-end of August – and now, two months on, the fire is on and there is a definite nip in the air. It’s the kind of weather that makes you need hats, scarves and gloves. I’ve got several immediate projects to get on the go – a draught excluder and some curtains to go across the archway, as there’s a mighty strong gale that blows under the door way!
Steve’s mum and step-dad have now gone back to the UK – and sadly missed! – although Keith needs to bone up on his science knowledge as it seems to have melded into science fiction. If the truth be told, I like the small yet heated debates – it reminds me of my Gramps and my Uncle Paul – both of whom debate(d) endlessly with me over trivialities. Now ‘normal’ life will resume until I have to come back to England mid-November, and which I’m not looking forward to. I am glad I’ll get to see friends and family, but not so glad that I have to be back in England. Mind you, France right now has several English bits about it, beyond the nip in the air.
The country is on strike tomorrow (including Jake’s school, which is a rarity) and there are petrol blockades set up. There was mass panic yesterday when I realised L’Eclerc had switched their pumps off (well, considering they are credit card ones, it’s not a bad idea to stop people filling up jerry cans!) and worried I wouldn’t be able to get petrol tomorrow – you live through petrol concerns once (2000) and you realise what a chaos it can create. Of course, in England, the petrol blockades were announced on a Friday morning, so the great and the good of the retired world saw fit to panic buy and fill up their cars with 40 litres of petrol each, and by the time the offices kicked their workers out, there were mile-long queues and pumps running out. I still remember driving over to Clitheroe at a snail’s pace trying to conserve petrol, the roads empty and half the kids not in school. Luckily, a week in, the UK had had enough, and I wonder if France will feel the same. There’s a certain amount of inconvenience you’ll put up with whilst you’re standing up for your rights, but once you start worrying about how you’re going to get your shopping in, then it stops being a matter of principle and starts being a real concern. If it goes anything like England, the things you’re campaigning about might be held off for the moment (the £1.00 for a litre of petrol) but they’ll soon sneak in the back door virtually as fast as if you hadn’t bothered at all. I wonder if the country will bring itself to its knees without Sarkozy blinking. However, seeing as he’s got an emergency council in place and the press start talking about martial order, you realise they think it’s a bigger problem than they might be letting on.
It’s funny, because this is the first time I feel touched by French politics. I see the problems on both sides and it’s difficult to know what the solution is. I guess, sensibly, top-up pensions for those who want to retire early, though that’s incredibly undemocratic, since some of the hardest professions are some of the least well-paid, and some of the rich fat cats who can afford the top-ups would be able to work until they were 80, desk jockeys as they may be.
We’d planned on going to Aubeterre, but with the pumps being out of commission, it ended up being Montbron. Lovely, but not quite the same.
This reminded me, cobbles in England are being outlawed. Even ancient setts are being removed because councils are so scared of litigious citizens wrapped up in the compensation culture. So sad.