Sometime in the middle of next week!
I'd got everything ready to go, models..check, terrain…check, lighting check, then the Current Mrs Broom (hereinafter referred to as TCMB for brevity's sake) "reminded me", through the medium of huffy silence that I'd previously promised to spend the day sorting out our winter supply of kindling for the fires, (Big Bertha and Little Nell). Suitably chastened I headed up to the top barn and dug out my trusty hand axe while TCMB went shopping.
From a risk assessment point of view let's just examine the situation for a moment in case we can see any problems here. Okay, sulky old codger who'd rather be playing with his toy soldiers, dim lighting, freshly sharpened axe, person swinging the axe is all on his own.
No. All looks good. What could possibly go wrong?
One of the down sides (and I'll come to a few others in a moment) of living in the land that time forgot is that a hospital of any sort is a goodly distance away and I confess that driving for 30 mins with a finger mostly held on by sellotape wasn't the way that I saw the day panning out. Fortunately the staff at La Croix Blanche are wonderful and I was quickly tutted at and stitched back together. The upside of the injury was that all further kindling production has (and pardon me for the pun) been put on the back burner for the moment, the downside was that with one hand swathed in bandages I didn't dare attempt to move those fiddly little 6mm buggers out of their box files.
And this is where I ran up against yet another problem with the rural idyll that I inhabit. because naturally I felt a little guilty that I'd led people on with all my sexy talk of imminent battles and such, I thought I'd post a brief explanation in the hope of buying some time. Unfortunately La Belle France has (at last count) 12 small areas of what they refer to as "zone blanche" or zero internet connectivity.
Can you guess who lives in one of them?
Now to be fair there wasn't a lot of due diligence done on this particular aspect when purchasing the property. I mean everywhere has the interwebz, right?
Thankfully, with the honour of France at stake, the government has moved heaven and earth to create a kind of temporary fix. The fix works (after a fashion) for the people in my hamlet - like 96 year old madame Trinquart, who has no use for anything not invented in France, for David and Laurien (who are up at 4am to tend to the cattle - in bed by 9, and don't even have a TV let alone a computer) and Michel who fell out of a tree head first onto a pitchfork in 1964 and isn't even sure what a computer is. As for us, it transpires there are too many trees between our "house" and the emergency transmitter thingy they erected at St Alpinien...so were buggered... until the blessed and oft promised arrival of fibre sometime in 2019.
Now give TCMB her due, when we were faced with this problem in 2015 I resorted to one of my then new and unrefined gallic shrugs (still can't quite get it right but I like to think of it as a work in progress), however she's like a dog with a bone and refused to live in a world without connectivity. Exploring every avenue she found that Orange did a special mobile type internet access deal and since thats all that was available that's what we've ended up with. For the princely sum of 55 euros we get uninterrupted access to 20Gb of data. Download a movie or stream a bit of music and its suddenly gone, until the following month when our 20Gb gets refreshed.
So then, stymied in my attempts to warn my thousands of rapt followers (currently 16) TCMB and I have resorted to that most desperate of measures… La Poste! Sitting in the only car in the car park outside the post office in nearby Merinchal we can use their free for 30 minutes internet…which is where this post is coming to you from right now. If the French have doggers (and to be fair they probably invented it) we look like a likely pair. If anyone pulls in and flashes their lights I'm off!
And Finally. In 1986 a phone box was installed at the bottom of our hamlet. Within a matter of months a local stream began to undercut it and no one has apparently ever used it. We received an apologetic letter from the Mairie a few months ago (think local council official, but with a lot more power) explaining that as part of a program being rolled out across France the phone box was to be removed. Now in common with too many other things to mention I have a bit of an aversion to mobile phones, which TCMB doesn't mind about since it gives her something to chide me over. A few days back she told me she'd ordered one, specifically for me, despite my protestations and that I needed to go to the bottom of the road to collect it from the courier.
Good to see she's still got her sense of humour!