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Its been a while...

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...since I have had a right old whinge - so like it or not, here we go.

Telecoms - My internet and phone connection has been down for 9 days now. SFR are a joke - apparently there is a mandated 4 day delay between them requesting anything and FT/Orange doing anything. Their customer service is strange too.... They call me up to make an appointment for a time to call me up and discuss the progress! At the appointed time the lady calls me..."hello this is blahblah from SFR calling about your connection problem....please hold while I contact FT for an update." What? you couldnt have called them BEFORE calling me? "please hold sir." 9 minutes of funky music later and I get the results..."No progress, I am afraid. Can I call you again in 2 days with another update?" Whatever.  A few days ago a chap turned up and prodded listlessly at the phone socket before ambling off down the street. He shuffled back and told me an underground cable is broken between here and somewhere else and they need to dig it up. Time estimate? "probably not less than ten days".

Great. Meanwhile the SFR lady told me that I could go to my nearest SFR shop and they would loan me a Web Trotter, whatever one of those is, so at her suggestion I drove 45 minutes into town to find the bloody SFR shop shuts on Mondays. Another 25 minutes drive to another town and an SFR shop in a supermarket arcade loaned me a magic white pebble. It sits on my desk blinking a green light at me and syphons the internet out of the ether and beams it into my laptop. As for the landline, well, tough titty, apparently. No big deal though as the only people who call the landline are trying to get me to sign up for solar panels anyway.

Supermarkets - I do my "big shop" at Auchan. A while back they replaced all their checkouts for some reason. The new ones are narrower so they can fit 50-odd in the place of 40-odd. A bit of a pointless exercise as they only ever have 6 or 7 open anyway no matter how busy the store is. The problem is that the narrower checkouts have done away with all the shelves and places to put your bags....just a conveyor leading away from the till operator. You cant put your bags on the conveyor as its always moving, so you have to load everything back into your trolley. Oh you dont have a trolley? well you are stuffed - you will just have to pile everything into your shopping bags on the floor.

To make matters even more irritating, they have kept the wee set of plastic rollers by the scanner that allow the operator to slide boxes across with ease. A great idea, and they are also absolutely perfect for them to rattle your bags of soft fruit over, bruising every single one in the process.

Another shop I use occasionally is a Carrefour, which used to be a SuperU. I dunno what happened but someone got their sums wrong when looking at the viability of this store as it is always deserted. Often I am the only customer in the place and even on a Saturday there can be less than a dozen people...its bliss. However their housekeeping leaves a lot to be desired. They changed a set of shelves on the end of an aisle (a gondola as they call them in retail) and replaced it with some special thing to sell a certain brand of pasta. It doesnt fit the existing shelves well and if you looked behind it you can see enormous piles of mouse shit...not a handful of crots, I mean upturned dinnerplate sized piles of the stuff. Next time I was there was a few weeks later, and I assumed it would have been cleaned....nope. still there. They also had put a large box full of melons on a pallet in the fruit section, and have had to build a tidal wall around it out of tissue paper to hold in the flood of stinking, rotten melon juice dripping out the bottom. Yeah, I dont think I will be going back there. Besides, they have stopped stocking cheddar cheese.

The weather - seriously? Its the end of July in the south of France, I should not have to wear a jumper!

A few weeks back the forecast said it would be Scorchio for the foreseeable so I took the entire roof off somebodys house to replace some beams and refit with new boards and new tiles. A day and a half into the job and the rain started.

A few days of hot weather then the heavens open with torrential rain and stunning thunderstorms. Entire crops have been ruined, roads are regularly blocked by mudslides from fields, and progress on the roof is at a standstill until the next few hours of sunshine. My own house roof leaks during these downpours too. It copes with with normal rain but these biblical efforts overcome the flashing around the chimney and it pours through the attic, through the lounge ceiling and directly into my Epson printer. It is now even less willing to work than it normally is.


Standalone trailer insurance - HOW MUCH???? Thats more than I pay to insure two cars!

This forum - STILL not properly compatible with Chrome browser.

New neighbours - The chap seems normal but his wife is a full-on mental. She is often seen wearing just one shoe and the other barefoot. Apparently she needs to be electrically grounded at all times to prevent mobile phone signals giving her a headache.  She was wandering around the street the other day with a pair of bent wire divining rods in her hands, "checking for electrical zones". This is a small hamlet and with one proper village idiot already and two others on the borderline between eccentric and crazy, the dafties are almost outnumbering the normal people.

Employment - steady as ever, but by God I am bored of it. I need a change, but have no idea what to do.

TV - actually a positive one. I havent been harrissed to do anything about the loss of UK satellite signal and French TV is too rubbish to contemplate so I have gone from watching very little to watching none at all. I stream the F1 from Iplayer when its on (My magic internet pebble didnt like that last weekend, but we got there in the end) and I have started doing exercises in the evenings instead, which brings me to....

Weight - 102 kgs. Im not tall, but have always been wide. "brick outhouse" has been used as a description in the past when they thought I wasnt listening. Unfortunately, I have lately started to look like a pregnant outhouse as the belly has been getting out of control. Things came to a head when I ripped the ass of my last pair of overalls wide open when bending over. Thats three pairs now - time to take action.

Bicycles for kids - HOW MUCH???? My nephew is ten and his wee bike is too small, so I hit Decathlon to buy him a 24" bike. Maybe I am out of touch, but TWO HUNDRED EUROS seems a tad steep for a kids bike? there was one at €160, but it looked like a right pile of shite. Really? a choice of two? Screw that, I went round to Intersport and it was the same story. I dusted off an adult sized bike from the back of my garage and refurbed it instead as he is able to ride it ok...its a little large but he will grow into it fine! THIRTY BLOODY EUROS for a set of brake and gear cables - Jesus. I would have bought online, but wanted them quickly so had no choice but to get kippered at Decathlon.

Other peoples driving - Does anyone else have to take avoiding action to avoid oncoming drivers cutting corners onto my side of the road on an almost daily basis? After my last shunt, I was lucky that the guy coughed up an admission of guilt straight away, plus it was a pretty clear cut accident, however some of these near misses could be tricky to resolve if it came down to it, as it would be their word against mine about who was over the line. As a result I have bought dashcams from an ebay seller and fitted them to the cars. Reviewing the videos, it seems that I swear an awful lot more than I though previously, and I talk out loud to myself a lot, having proper two-sided conversations.

What was I saying about the normal to daftie ratio in the village?

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"This is a small hamlet and with one proper village idiot already and two

others on the borderline between eccentric and crazy, the dafties are

almost outnumbering the normal people."

Good to see you back on here. I love your observations, do please keep us updated I am dying to hear how the above topic works out!

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Ive been back in the UK for a few days and whilst not homesick for France I was aware that I was missing something, reading this which had me laughing out loud made me realise that what I was missing was the abnormality which has become the normality of my life.

I cant wait to get away, this place is packed with normal people [:D]

I am going to miss the work ethic and the Customer friendlyness of the eastern european immigrants running car cleaning and tyre fitting businesses etc.

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I have enough looney tunes 'here' in England and there are enough people, especially civil servant types who are poor enough at their jobs for me to find too much quite comparable.  Although you have got me there with customer service, that is usually good here.

Over all my years in France, we did have some bad summers both tooooooooooooo hot and cold and wet. When my brother came over oneJuly, we had torrential rain every single day, he hadn't been before and the cloud cover was so low that he never saw the mountains at all. The rain dissipated on the 10th day, when he left!

We got home from England one August and our house was freezing, it shouldn't have been in summer. OH suggested putting the heating on. I got duvets out and said there was no way on earth I would put the heating on in August in the south of France. The next day the weather picked up.

I actually found french drivers when I was back last, even more aggressive to other road users, rather than driving with that recklessness and abandon as I used to see in the past,  I did spend quite a bit of time in a couple of cities and that was where I saw it most.

I am wondering if french 'justice' will like dashcams if anything ever got to court. I have a feeling that something very stupid and completely lacking in common sense will be said about them...... will they ban them? Just wondering as I don't think that there was EVER anything wrong with people knowing where speed cams were to be honest, especially the very badly places one near my old village.

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I am sitting in the car park at McDo (restaurant full) using their free Wifi while going through exactly the same hoops with SFR as you Dave.  At least your WebTrotter works - mine apparently cannot be activated for another 24 hours, with no-one sure why this is or whose duty it is to activate it.  Two of the five SFR people I have spoken to by phone have had such impenetrable accents that our dealings have been very confused.  At one stage this morning I was assuring someone in a bewildered fashion that although we had a radiator next to the phone socket it had never caused any problems, and besides it was not on at present as it is VERY HOT here..........Some five minutes later I realise that his mumbled "radiateur" is actually meant to be "ordinateur"........   If I have to do this much longer I will probably murder someone and at least I will get free Wifi in jail.

Maybe your crazy neighbour is actually right - bet SHE doesn't have problems with her Wifi!!!

Chrissie (81)

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Having never previously had a problem with Neuf/SFR, when we moved into our current house we had nothing but problems for over a year before we gave in, cancelled SFR and signed up with (overpriced) Orange. After the first 2 - 3 weeks of similar problems, a technician came out (the third since swapping to Orange) who put us onto a working line (and one of our neighbours on the defective line. No more problems for us, but ever since then there have been Orange vans a couple of times a week up the road, so I presume they're still playing 'pass the parcel'
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Lovely thread by Dave.

Since its a thread about gripes, perhaps I could slip one in of my own?  Cyclists.

There are always quite a few around here - I think that its the nature of the roads which brings out the serious amateur cyclists. These people are generally absolutely fine. They move to 'single file' when they hear a car coming and acknowledge you if you hold back from passing at a blind bend.

However, during the high holiday season, the mad brigade take to the roads.  Two or even three abreast, no crash helmets, no recognition of anybody else on the road but themselves.  Yesterday was a first - one coming towards me in the middle of the road, looking 90 degrees to his right and talking on his mobile phone! If I'd hit him, whose fault do you think it would have been?

There ..................... that feels better. 

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Gardian you should try living in leafy Surrey. Wannabee cyclists MAMILs everywhere since the 2012 Olympic cycle race. In a couple of weeks we have once again the Prudential London Surrey Cycle event. It's not just the day when the event takes place that is the inconvenience, it's all the wannabees out in force every weekend.[:(]

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Where I live now there are quite a lot of cycle paths, and amazingly there always have been. So WHY DON'T THE CYCLISTS use the bloody things???????? Drives me mad when they can safely ride instead of using double carriage ways.

In France they built a wonderful cycle path adjacent to a very dangerous road where there are quite a lot of just about hidden priorité a droites and people would drive too fast on this road, but would these cyclists use the brand new and wonderful cycle path.........non, they would not.

Cycling is a great sport, but cyclists should use common sense when out on the road.

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[quote user="idun"]Cycling is a great sport, but cyclists should use common sense when out on the road.


I cannot pretend to be sporty but I have always ridden a bike, just short trips here and about but that's what suits me. So, on my way to the pharmacy one day, which is right at the other end of our spread-out village about 3 kms away, I was peddling away merrily on the cycle path, which is parallel to the road, when 2 other cyclists hoved into view to my left, on the road. There was a long queue of cars trailing behind them as there is no room to overtake as the road has been purposefully designed with planting in the middle to slow traffic down through the village.

Why they did not use the cycle path, I have no idea. It's not as though it was hard to spot.


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OK,  a response from a cyclist who rides both in the UK and France, often doing around 200 miles a week.

Do I agree SOME cyclists are irresponsible? Absoluteley - YES. Do I think that SOME car drivers, motorcyclists, lorry drivers, pedestrians are irresponsible? Absolutely - YES

However, in all of these camps I find the majority are fine. Road users only reflect people in general. Most people are fine and responsible, easy to get on with etc, but there are always the few.

I sometimes ride with a cycling club in group rides. We have a convention... the person at the back will shout "car up" if a vehicle is approaching us from behind and we need to ride single file. My general experience is that MOST people will then filter into a single file as quickly as possible.

There will be the odd exception who seems to delay moving over and they usually get advised of their misdemeanor by the ride leader.

When riding solo I always try and help any vehicle who gets held up behind me by waving them through if I can see the road is clear ahead and I will try and minimise the amount of road I take up. I will not ride too close to the kerb to do so. The kerb is a dangerous place for cyclists....

often lots of gravel, glass  and potholes and road furniture. In addition, if a vehicle passes too close (and they often do) there is no room left to manoeuvre.  If a vehicle has waited to get pass me I will usually try and give them a little thank you acknowledgement for not cutting me up.

Now, to cycle paths.  Firstly, I should say that I have no experience of cycle paths in France. Where I ride in the Lot I haven't come across any.

In the UK I will sometimes use them but not always.

The nature and type of cycle paths varies massively. Some are properly separated from the road, pedestrians and are wide and well maintained.

I use these. Others are no more than a white line painted in the road  about 1 foot wide. These give no protection from traffic and and are pretty useless for the reasons I've mentioned regarding riding close to the kerb.

Others are totally illogical, they are incorporated into what in effect are pedestrian pavements and there is then conflict with pedestrians. Some of these run for 100 yards or so then re-enter the road so you have to constantly stop and negotiate your entry back on the road. I do not use these. Btw, these have the added danger that they often run across the entrances to houses and you have cars pull out of drives basing their stop point at the kerb. If you are inboard of that you stand to get hit.

I could go on... So yes I agree some cyclists are idiots but so are people in general. I'd say it's a lot less of an offense to hold up a vehicle from passing for  a few seconds than for vehicles to pass cyclists so close that they brush them with their wing mirrors.

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Well, before this descends into the internets usual "all cyclists are pricks" "oh no they arent" "oh yes they are" debacle, I would like to say that to my extreme surprise, a couple of chipper chappies from whatever the FT contractors are calling themselves this week turned up this morning to check the line and its working fine. They dug up a section of cable outside the hamlet earlier and its working now. In fact according to Speedtest.net, I am getting 2mb down and 0.25mb up, which is the fastest its ever been here. Still piss-poor by urban standards, but not too bad for the middle of nowhere.

We will see how it copes with rain, which has always been the weakness of the previous line. It would literally slow down to a stop as the weather got worse.

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As predicted, its lashing down this evening.

Internet has slowed to 1.5mb down 0.25mb up. I dont know if thats due to the rain or due to it being evening and the one other person in the hamlet who has a computer is probably using the internet too.

I havent had to reset the neufbox yet though - a chore that had to be done pretty much every two hours previously, to the point where I had bent a bit of paperclip to sit in the recessed hole so I just have to press on it and not fumble around with it.

On the plus side, I have fitted an electric operating system to my gates today. A client asked me to remove and discard a basic system on a back gate that is no longer used. Unable to throw out anything vaguely useful, I snagged it for myself and fitted it at home today. I have a fully weird, non standard gate setup here, where they open outwards, one opens less than 90 degrees, one has to open more than 90 and the hinges are on the "wrong" side, so it took a bit of faffing an an awful lot of scelement chimique, but it seems to work. I havent been able to fully test it yet as I am waiting for the concrete to dry where I fitted limit stops, so hopefully that hasnt been washed out by the rain.

I am fitting this partly because I am lazy and partly for a little extra security, as Simple Jaques likes to wander around the hamlet and I have caught him several times having a rummage around in my garden at night. He is constantly amazed by my security lights and how they light up, following his progress around the property. Given that he fully believes in spirit people and Nagas and suchlike, he probably thinks its some kind of witchcraft!

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Gate axis not at 90° to the driveway, or one gate post set back from the other if you like.

Can cause real grief with electro-mechanical underground operators as the mechanisms can go over centre and then one gate will operate in the reverse direction to the other!

Hope it works out for you.

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Its not an underground system (I still have that old FAAC system in a box in the garage - another thing that "might be useful one day" that I cant throw out) but a basic screw-rod thing.


The house side was simple enough, but since its travel is less than 90 degrees I made a slotted bracket that fits to the gate to allow the ram to run its full course without forcing against the gate. This means for each action this gate stays still for a few seconds while the pivot travels along the slot and when it reaches the end it starts moving the gate.

The pillar side was tricky as I need it to open past 90 degrees to give me room to swing out when pulling the trailer through. In the end I recessed its mount into the pillar and cut a large slot in the pillar to allow the ram to pass "through" it as it swings open.

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Simple Jacques is a strange one. I met the guy a few years back when I had the restaurant. He seemed just a bit slow....a kind of Forrest Gump personality. He was in social housing in that village and had appropriated a scrap of waste land where he had a little veg garden. He would turn up with sad-looking little lettuces that he picked too young, trying to get me to buy them. I would give him something to eat and the salads usually went into the bin. Apparently he had very little money.

Anyway he moved away and a while later I moved too, to this hamlet where Jacques was now resident. He is living in a privately rented house, I assume paid for by the state. It has become apparent that he is not just slow but properly mentally ill.....I dunno... schizophrenia or something along those lines. Seemingly he rarely takes his medications.

The house....well, he has completely screwed it up. I wouldnt fancy being the landlord there. The kitchen got removed and the units burned in the driveway one day. He has painted the outside....fine its not very neat but isnt too bad, but he didnt stop with just the walls - he has since painted the doors, the shutters, the windows...including the glass...and everything else with the same exterior paint. I think the only thing stopping him from painting the roof is his lack of a long enough ladder.

Another neighbour caught him at the start of winter stuffing his EDF meter box with straw to prevent it freezing, which probably averted a real fire risk. He asked me a while back to have a look at the house electrics as seemingly he has unplugged loads of wall sockets and removed them, but various fuses keep blowing and some wiring is burnt. I told him to find an electrician as I want nowt to do with that sort of thing.

He had an old car which he painted with a brush and house paint. Over the course of a few months he took it to bits and couldnt get it back together (I had a quick look but he had just cut through the wiring looms, ripped the dashboard out etc) so it got scrapped. He then bought a new-ish wee motorbike which was quite a smart thing, but inevitably he hand painted it and has now taken something apart which he cant repair so its been stripped down to a bare frame and a box full of bits in his garden. He now cycles everywhere and at least seems able to get bikes working after he has dismantled them to repaint the frames.

He wanders round the village looking like Worzel Gummadge in a boiler suit and wellies no matter what the weather. He wanders along the twisty main roads often in the middle of the night and never with any torch or hi-viz clothing, just his dark boiler suit. Several people have reported near misses with the guy.

He firmly believes in spirit people, nagas, (I had to look that one up!) wood elves and that sort of thing. Seemingly you must never linger near a chestnut tree as its bad for your spirit and people with chestnut trees by their house are in league with the Devil. He refuses to visit a different neighbour as she has some bush in her garden which is seemingly deadly to men. He is quite often to be seen trying to fence off his house with bits of rope and wood planks which helps to keep the evil spirits out.

The guy obviously needs help, but since he seems self-sufficient and in relatively good physical health, nothing ever gets done.

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[quote user="dave21478"]As predicted, its lashing down this evening.

Internet has slowed to 1.5mb down 0.25mb up.
I dont know if thats due to the rain or due to it being evening and the one other person in the hamlet who has a computer is probably using the internet too. [/quote]

Quite a good service then. [:D]

At 08h25 this morning, my connection was staggering blindly along in its normal fashion - speedtest delivered the facts:

Ping - 168ms / 0.41mb download / 0.08mb upload.

That's a good connection in Manche... if you use Ozone / Nomotech... who are utterly atrocious. [:@] And here, we're too far from the exchange for any landline-based options.

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That's weird

Even here in  a village in the Ariège (not my urban luxury) I get

ping 27.657 ms

Testing download speed........................................

Download: 13.22 Mbits/s

Testing upload speed..................................................

Upload: 0.96 Mbits/s

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