Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A warm, sunny day at last…..

The weather has had a different feel to it today.  It’s like a nice spring day back in the UK.  The sun has been shining since we got up, with a gentle breeze blowing.  I’ve even managed to get some jeans dry on the washing line.  I’ve also taken a photo of the gite – I’ve put off taking one until we had some sunshine, so here it is, with Ozzy outside to prove I really did take it!

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We went to St Meard this morning in search of the post office to buy stamps for a postcard and our youngest grandaughter Lizzie’s birthday card.  The poste office found, we wandered in through the open door to find…. nothing!  Just an empty building with a few old battered sticks of furniture!  As we came out again a local began gesticulating and waving his arms around, seeming to tell us that we need to go around the back, so we did.  No luck, only the gates to a school.  We walked back round to the front of the building and I girded my loins, dragged my schoolgirl French to the forefront of my mind, and crossed the square to consult with the same chap and a woman we had seen earlier. They were manning a veg stall set up in a shelter outside the church.  Luckily, the lady spoke a little English, and, combined with my ‘en peu le francais’ we managed to establish that the post office was now closed (I think we’d already gathered that!. It’s not just in the UK that villages are losing their post offices!) and we needed to use the post-box around the corner.  I showed her that my post had no ‘timbres’ (stamps) and she waved her arms about a bit, meanwhile shrugging her shoulders.  ‘Le tabac?’ said I.  ‘Oui, oui’ said she. ‘Pour Angleterre?’ said I.  Again the shrug. ‘Je ne se pas’.  So we proceeded around the corner to le tabac, and, sure enough, there was a little post office counter inside.  Phew!  I was even brave enough to ask in my best French, with an appalling accent, no doubt, ‘Je voudrais deux timbres pour Angleterre’.  You see,  the trouble with asking for something in French, is that the person you are speaking to then assumes that you can understand it as well, and starts speaking it back, far too rapidly to even hear the words, let alone understand them!!!  Anyway, I think he said he’d put the stamps on for me, and directed us to the till.  He was obviously training up a new clerk on how the till worked, and we all threw up our hands in horror ‘Ah non, non!’ and had a good laugh as she rang up €8.60 instead of €1.60 for two stamps.  That ordeal over, we went and bought bread at the boulangerie, and, thanking the lady on the veg stall profusely, bought an overpriced savoy cabbage from her to have with our dinner tonight.

French doesn’t come easily to me, the pronunciation especially just doesn’t make any sort of sense in my mind.  Now, if we had been in Italy, it would be a different – it’s a much more phonetic language, words are mostly pronounced as they are spelt, with a few easily remembered exceptions, and I’m finding it difficult not to come out with the Italian word for something – not that I speak Italian with any sort of fluency, but, having spent 3 years in Naples, the words just come automatically to my mind, and, to me, it’s a language that makes sense.

Back at the gite, feeling very smug that I’d managed to make myself understood, we sat outside in the sunshine with our coffee.

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