Saturday, 25 April 2015

Play on words

The French, as the British in their newspaper headlines, are very keen on plays on words in all forms: witty, funny, clever, but also plain stupid, or unfathomable for foreigners.

Epis & Riz - Cormatin
The best ones however are the “jokes” based on a foreign language, mostly on English. An example? “Yes, we can!” This slogan was meant for the Fête de la Voie Verte, a weekend with demonstrations by arts and craftsmen and women and stands for the inevitable wine tastings along the Voie Verte, a long cycle path. What this had to do with Obama? Nothing, really, except that the festival took place during a weekend, and that “Yes, we can!” automatically should be associated with “Yes, weekend!”. Far-fetched? Oh no, there are even better ones available!

Cormatin has for years now an épicerie/rotisserie, run by Monsieur B. The shop is well known, and rightly so, for its freshly ground coffee, sold by the bag, its thick slices of exquisite ham at € 1 a piece and for its grilled chickens. The shop is called an épicerie, a grocer, originally a shop selling épices which are spices; nowadays the word stands for an ordinary grocery shop. Monsieur B. had an assortment as can be found in any village grocery shop. Recently he decided to stop his activities and enjoy his well-earned pension.
His shop was taken over by someone who wanted to maintain the shop’s proven formula, and Monsieur B.’s shop started a second life, albeit under a different name.
What could be an appropriate name for a shop of this nature? The answer is as logical as it is French: “Epis & Riz” (Ears of Wheat & Rice) of course! When one slurs a bit and does not articulate properly, “épis et riz” sounds very similar to “’épicerie”, does it not? Monsieur B. still helps out on busy days in his former shop, and the ham, grilled chickens and freshly ground coffee are still available.

If you would like to check whether this story is true, visit La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Quite a shock

It was quite a shock when last Friday morning the water bill arrived in the post. Not only was the bill sky-high (approx. € 1150), but there was also a letter attached suggesting that we had a leak somewhere. This leak, if there was one, had increased our water “consumption” in most likely not more than two months from the normal amount of water (based on a yearly consumption of 130 à 140 m3) to approx. 1200 m3.

watermeter in the fore ground, the leak near the house
What to do? We could not think of anything else but phoning the water board, who told us that since the leak was between the water meter and the house we had to find a plumber to repair the leak. Between the water meter and the house? In the Netherlands the water meter is normally located by the front door, hence a leak this size should not be very difficult to detect. Our water meter however is located in a field, at around 150 m away from the house. The pipe runs underground, so where to start?

Sue (in yellow) near the leak
The plumber arrived on Saturday, saw the meter running and promised to return on Sunday to start digging and make the repair. Sue tried to follow the pipe from the meter to the house, in the hope to find the leak. And lo and behold, she found at 25 m from the house, but still in the meadow a place where she could see and hear water gurgling out.
The pictures illustrates the size of the problem quite well: the picture of the meadow was made from where the meter is located; the yellow figure in the distance stands by the leak. The second picture is a cut out from the first one, where Sue (dressed in yellow) stands by the leak.

the leak, a small hole just under the tap
The plumber of course was quite happy that he did not have to dig up 150 m of pipe, and had the whole problem solved within two hours. The leak happened to be a hole in a tap, which was installed in the field for no apparent reason. What rests is trying to convince the water board that we do not want to pay the full amount of lost water….

The link to the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle can be found here.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Potters of the World, Unite!

Other than the established potters around here, such as Monique Dégluaire, Claude Mouton and Pierre Arnaud, who all exhibit their work in their own workshop, a group of “free” potters have formed a collective “Les Communs”, which shows its work between April and December in the former “Musée du Vélo/Poilu”.

The former museum
This is an old farm building, just outside and south of Cormatin, hence in between Cormatin and Chazelle. This hall is made for exhibiting work like this.
The space however is not only used for expositions; on certain days it is also used for an organic market and an organic bakery shop (see a previous blog).

Expositionhall - Bois-Dernier
Don’t hesitate to ask if you want more info about craft and arts near La Tuilerie de Chazelle can be found here.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A quick trip to the Netherlands

I knew that my Dutch passport was running out somewhere in January, but that was no problem….., so we thought.
We had it all done before: making an appointment with the consulate in Lyon, find the one photographer there who produces recognised Dutch passport photographs, have our fingerprints taken, do some sightseeing in Lyon and then wait for the passport to arrive by registered mail. Easy peasy…., so we thought.

In five years things can change considerably, we found out. The passport facilities were taken away from the consulates (cost cutting), and a passport could be obtained from the embassy in Paris where the Champs Elysées boasted an authorised photographer as well. The passport had to be collected in person, after at least a week. Price tag attached : 4 trips to and from Paris @ approx. € 100 pp., or 2 trips and an expensive stay in a Parisian hotel, plus the cost of a passport, also over € 100 pp. Quite a costly affair, when one thinks about it.

The centre of the universe
However we found a better solution.
One can also apply for a passport in the Netherlands, in The Hague, but also in a number of Hicksvilles, such as Haarlemmermeer, Enschede, Maastricht, Bergeijk, Echt-Susteren, Oldambt, Bergen op Zoom en Montferland. To find some of these places I had to resort to Google maps…. Now of course a trip to the Netherlands is not free of charge (here the passport has to be collected in person as well), but at least it can be combined with a lightning visit to family that lives not far from Bergeijk and with a shopping expedition to stock up on necessities unobtainable in France, as there are Indonesian sweet soy sauce, Indonesian chilly paste and real Dutch gin.

Townhall, or passport printing office?
We made an appointment at the earliest possible date in Bergeijk on a Monday, drove the Saturday before to Den Bosch, had photographs taken there, and walked into Bergeijk’s townhall at the agreed time. There we were told that the passports could be collected the next Monday. Fortunately the civil servant gave us a phone number we could phone from Thursday onwards. And on Thursday the passport was indeed ready, so on Friday we could drive home, the car filled up to the brim with Indonesian and Dutch goodies, including a Surinamese take-away for two people that lasted us three days, and armed with brand new legal documents.

Old and new
Right after crossing the French border we were overtaken by a French customs car, which summoned us to stop. However, after we had solemnly sworn that we would smoke all the cannabis in the car ourselves, including the 400 cartons of cigarettes and the 12 kg of heroine, we could continue our journey, without having to show our brand new passports!

Arrêter, s'il vous plaît!
The link to the website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle can be found here.