Tag Archives: French language

No TV?

Television icons
Image via Wikipedia

In the final week of working hard to get things right (or just done), at a certain point you just have to make decisions. Nasty ones. You have to choose between the must-have and nice-to-have. And that’s not an easy job. One says he really thinks curtains are essential, the other claims to die without TV. Do we really need that door between the two basements? or do we put our energy in finding the right furniture? It’s constantly putting pressure on the working relationship because you’re just so tired you really don’t care what the other says or even about the arguments. All space evaporated. But what to do … you have to go on. Continue reading

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Bank issues

My first pay cheque
Image by dmmd303 via Flickr

You think the banking system is the same all over the world. OK, maybe not so the same in India or Uganda but in Europe all the banks use the same method to transfer money from one account to the other. Right? We discovered that’s not the case.

We started to become superstitious about the French banking system when we went shopping on a Saturday at a large Carrefour. In our lane right in front of us a family had piled up their caddie (shopping cart) and when the sweet caissière finally bleeped all 241 items, they grabbed their paychecks.

“You mean those paper receipts we used in the 80’s of last century?”
“Hell yeah, those!”

Without even a glimpse of embarrassment they copied the total costs hand written on a check and handed it over to the cashier. She stamped it and the shopping were paid. Deal done.

This all looks quite innocent. But what do you do when you have to transfer large amounts of money? Like when you want to buy a kitchen? Believe it or not: a paycheck does it all. And that’s where it really went wrong.

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the French way

Boite aux lettres dans les buches
Image by jacme31 via Flickr

The French do have a funny way of working. Most of the time they’re more friendly than the global opinion suggests. And some times not.

We bought the mill in March 2009 from a French doctor who lives 30 kilometers in the nearby city of Rethel. The family used to use the mill only as a summer get-away. Therefore it was not insulated nor decorated. And it had no mailbox.

With the first mail was a handwritten note requesting a mailbox. The previous owner never received any mail at the Ruelle de la Fontaine (Spring Alley). The note, written on the back of a letter, was stuck between the shutters. We thought it was so sweet that we bought a typical French boîte aux lettre the very next day and fixed it at the side of the fence.

When we picked up this weeks mail there was a new and very official letter from the main postoffice in Attigny. With some help of a dictionary we were able to translate the meaning: our brand new mailbox was too far from the public road. With the rain and snow of the past weeks the postman probably got sick and tired of getting his shoes dirty. There’s not much we can do though. The fence IS the official border of our land. The mail box is fixed exactly on that border. We guess they think that the dirt road to the mill is private property. It sure looks like it.

The down side of this story is that we have to write a letter to the postoffice of Attigny to explain the situation:

Cher monsieur Facteur,

Dans votre lettre d’entre vous nous demande de mettre notre boîte aux lettres sur le côté de la voie publique (D30). Nous sommes au regret de vous dire que ce n’est pas possible. Cette pays n’est pas la nôtre. Sur une précédente demande par l’un de vos facteurs, nous avons installé la boîte aux lettres à la frontière officielle de notre pays aussi proche que possible de la clôture.

La route humide et sale, va bientôt être beaucoup mieux après la rénovation de l’usine est terminée. Nous espérons continuer à recevoir du courrier à la Ruelle de la Fontaine.

Merci,

Marco de Boer / Hugo Kalf

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