Thursday, August 30, 2007

How to go from two cameras to no cameras

Customer service is not something that France is famous for, so when my camera went wonky at the beginning of the summer, although it was still under guarantee, my heart did that sinking feeling thing.

[This is really boring so feel free to skip over this whole sorry story of expensive telephone calls to the incompetent, evasive CDiscount after-sales staff based in Morocco, multiple e-mails, a registered letter, and a registered parcel. This painful process was only relieved by their refusal to give straight answers regularly descending into kafkaesque farce:
"I'll open a file in your name and pass it on to the appropriate department"
"Which department is that?".
"The appropriate one."
All of this effort gave rise to four identical responses advising me to get in touch with Panasonic (when getting in touch with Panasonic was of course the first thing I'd done) all signed by different people. My camera is still at the repairers in Lyon who are waiting for the go-ahead from CDiscount to start repairing it (cost 390€, so more than the camera is worth) because it turns out that the first year of the guarantee is covered by the manufacturer of the camera but the second is covered by the company that sells it to you. Of course that company does everything it possibly can to put you off trying to make that happen. After eight weeks, I finally made a mini breakthrough yesterday - they actually divulged the telephone number of their "Guarantees Department". Wow. I really feel that I am getting somewhere now.]

Luckily, we had an older compact camera and we've been using that since June. This weekend we went to the beach. (On the way there, we passed an gigantic warehouse being built by the side of the motorway. On the side, in massive letters we read CDiscount.) As we trekked through the forest to get to the beach, P. carried a basket and in that basket was a bag and in that bag was the replacement camera. At one point he said, "Oh look, the bag is open, I hope nothing has fallen out."

So now we have, wait a minute let me count, oh yes, that's right, zero cameras.

Any suggestion for a cheap compact (around 100€) that we might buy to tide us over until CDiscount coughs up ....... so probably for another couple of years.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Looking on the bright side

  • We spent no sleepless nights tossing and turning in the heat.
  • We didn't have to get the fans down from the attic.
  • Little time was wasted carrying food and dishes to and from the garden.
  • The parasol will see another year.
  • No saliva was wasted on having to repeat "Put your hat back on" ad nauseum.
  • I have an unopened bottle of Factor 50.
  • We didn't have to close the shutters at 8.30 a.m. every day.
  • I experienced mercifully few "Do my arms look flabby in this?" dilemmas.
  • Only half of the grass in the garden turned yellow.
  • This lack of tan will never fade.
It's actually very hot and sunny today, as it was yesterday, but it can't last, mark my words.....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Black Gold

In a shady corner of a truffière just outside a little-known village in the Dordogne, a black truffle is slowly maturing under the earth. The truffière itself is well-concealed behind a walnut grove and the truffle's position is marked by a mysterious arrangement of pebbles and sticks, its top just visible under a light dusting of earth. It won't be ready until some time in the autumn.
This is a vey big secret and I must not tell anybody. Shhhhh.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Drippy Dordogne

Is there anything more dispiriting when you're on holiday than relentless rain pounding on the window for days on end ? Dampness invests the whole house with the smell of wet dogs and half-dried clothes. Through another downpour, we gaze longingly at the garden furniture, massive raindrops stotting off the white plastic. The lime tree which is usually a great provider of just the right amount of dappled shade becomes a bedraggled umbrella and its innumerous hues of green turn to uniform kahki. The merguez that were meant to be cooked and eaten outdoors just aren't the same when consumed straight from the frying pan in the fugg of a cold kitchen. Meanwhile, the children start to show signs of cabin fever. Luxurious long-lies turn into simple reluctance to get out of bed to face another day of half-hearted card games.
After one more dismal weather forecast, we decide to come home early.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scotland this Summer

Scotland this Summer

Just dropping in to water the garden and do some washing on our way back from Scotland and on to the Dordogne. The highlights of the holiday so far:

Best Gardens: Threave near Castle Douglas.

Best Building: Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh.

Best Exhibition: "Consider the Lilies" in Kirkcudbright. (We didn't make it to the Picasso or Andy Warhol in Edinburgh.)

Best find: Kilos and kilos of chanterelle mushrooms.

Best Walk: Rockcliffe to Kippford.

Best Book: Kate Atkinson's One Good Turn

Best sporting event: Putting on the green in Moffat

Most unusual architecture: Samyi Ling Buddhist Temple at Eskdalemuir

Most misleading sign: "Families Welcome" outside a pub. This actually meant that the seedy bar was full of teenage mothers surrounded pushchairs.

Worst meal: Maxie's Bistro in Edinburgh. Dire.

Worst experience on coming home: having lost the ticket for the car park, closely followed by "popping" on the scales.

Best thing in the pile of post: My mini moo stickers. What should I do with them?


Being confined indoors most of the day, just the four of us, is reminding me of the days when my children were wee and most of our weekends ...