Les plaisirs inconnus

A title stolen and translated and adapted from Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures… a little piece of Manchester pop culture makes its way into Charentais life… a significant part of my teen years to boot.

Last night, we went for a bit of an evening wander – and I was treated to the boys’ ‘cycle route’ up through Les Hauts Ecures and across the fields. Well, many wasted foraging opportunities! The path was lined with blackberry bushes, the fruits of which are now blackened and withered, but still huge and fat. There were mounds of sweet chestnuts and walnuts too – and I can’t believe the boys didn’t think to tell me of this!

It had been raining all night and most of the morning, so it was lovely to see the evening sunlight break through above the final, paper-thin rows of maize.

The quince jelly didn’t get finished last night, alongside the apple crumble on account of the gas going. I should have known we needed to replace both last week rather than wait! Nothing is as inconvenient as your gas bottle going when you are in the middle of tea. Luckily the chips and quiche were just about edible. It never goes at a convenient time!! Life in England is much more convenient – or in some parts of France I guess.

We have bottled gas, so we need to change it every so often. No gas on tap, and no gas central heating. Oil is our central heating method. We paid 400 euros for the remaining oil, but I have no idea how long it will last. I’m damn sure Mme Arrouet had it running day and night because this house was bloody boiling when I came last October and December. Again, you need to get Fioul refilling and keep an eye on it! Electricity might come in through the door, but French systems trip ALL the time if you do too much together. In all honesty, my dad’s house is worse, but that’s because he has about 200 electrical products running at any one time. 3 Fridges, 3 de-humidifiers, lights, televisions on standby – his kitchen lights are 2000 watt! Put the kettle on and the toaster and you risk having to hunt for the switch in the dark – and not knowing where the fuse will be. It could be in the craziest of places, like the odd toilet in the back bedroom. You kind of get used to not having things on tap. You can’t just switch heat on – it takes a while to warm up! Firewood needs collecting; fires need stoking; grates need cleaning.

But it’s all worthwhile!


2 thoughts on “Les plaisirs inconnus

  1. Beautiful sunset photo, Justine!

    Gas scares me! We heat our huge old farmhouse with a combination of wood furnace and electric baseboard heating. Last September (a year ago), we called a local chimney sweep to come to do our chimney. He explained that he was backed up, and might not make it until January. He never showed up! This year, we’ve just started lighting the furnace again, but will have to hire another guy to clean our chimney! Electric costs a fortune, so we use that mostly as a backup.


    1. It’s the electricity that scares me here, mainly because M. Arrouet, the previous resident, seems to have nothing of lighting the place by running a single wire through several extension cables and making junction boxes which defies all logic. Gas bottles are put together by sane people from organisations. Electricity, here, seems to have been utilised by a man who was not afraid for his life.

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