We left our heroine ... back in England waiting for the electrician to be ready. We had already planned on a trip to France in September, when the cost of the ferry crossing drops from its summer high, and by luck this year I had no Creative Writing classes in the autumn term to work around.
Our electrician had actually started work on the house before we got there. Behold! a new distribution board with trip switches instead of fuses, marked "Do not change the position of any of these switches!". No more fuse wire for us. And no more wondering if the whole place would explode when we turned the mains electricity on.
Of course in one week he hadn't got far with the rest of the rewiring, so we had no light in our lovely new cabinet de toilette, and no window either. Daytime was no big problem, there was a window in the adjoining bathroom. At night we could either rely on the street light outside, filtered through the overgrown hazelnut tree, or we could use a battery operated emergency light sat on top of the spin dryer ("we'll keep it just in case"). Still, an inside toilet! We still hadn't got used to the novelty.
Rod the Electric had however given priority to some electrical sockets in the upstairs sitting room. The previous visit had seen me totally failing to connect to the internet on my phone or on the dongle I had bought. I came home afterwards to five hundred unread e-mail messages; even deleting the junk mail had taken me several weeks. I know that's a lot, but you have to realise that I'm fatally attracted to anything marked "Free!", such as webinars and how-to books. So I had taken the plunge and ordered satellite broadband on Pay-As-You-Go, and satellite television, to be installed a couple of days after our arrival, as long as we could get a clear run at the satellite over the slight hill behind the house.
Came the day and two more nice Brits arrived with a van full of long ladders, meters, coils of cable and two large satellite dishes which they installed on the back wall of the house. We look as if we could communicate with the Space Station through them, but now we can get the BBC again and keep up with the skateboarding ducks and the questions on "Pointless". And delete the junk mail before it takes over the world. I even managed to watch some of the webinars I signed up to, until I realised my month's worth of air time was disappearing rapidly. It's not cheap, you understand, but cheaper than a subscription which would not be used for nine months of the year. All we have to do is make sure the hazelnut tree doesn't grow even higher and block the signal.
So what could be better? We have indoor plumbing, electrical sockets and switches that don't give us shocks, and can communicate with the outside world? Life is good in France. Just the last few details to deal with, eh? What could possibly go wrong?
Doreen lives in the empty bit in the middle of Wales, where since her retirement she has taken up writing. She says it's better than working any day.
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