As its approaching May, we normally start to cut down the amount of heating that we need in the house. We don’t have central heating but a big log fire which heats most of the downstairs and then we have additional oil heaters or electric heaters as needed.
This year though we haven’t really been able to cut down as much as we’d like and as a result we almost ran out of wood. That’s not good because although you can buy fire wood in the shops it’s very expensive (up to €100 per tonne) and generally only those who have to or tourists buy it. Everyone in the know gets it delivered by a local man – for a little over half the price it is in the shops. The problem with this is that you really need to get it delivered early in the year and then store it as most of the local delivered wood is still a little green and it takes some months to complete the drying process.
We normally have ten tonnes of wood delivered each year and have some left over. As our lives here have been about renovation all day for the last few years we haven’t had a fire on in the day. Mostly our days have involved taking windows out, doors off hinges, building walls, mixing cement – that sort of thing so no point in heating up a house to let the warmth out. We just stick on another jumper, pair of gloves, thermal underwear – anything to keep warm – and we get on with it.
This year though has been different, as I’ve been writing every day – the blog and guides for the website – I’ve had to have a bit of heating or my fingers would stop working and so… horrors… we’ve run out of wood – and it’s still cold.
Remy, my lovely neighbour, called in to see how we were and noticed that we had a small oil heater on in a room that is 150m². We told him we’d be fine but he wasn’t happy with it at all. He insisted that we must go and order more wood tout de suite and he would come with us and show us where to go – après midi. Everything is après midi here!
So off we went, to the next village along and met a man sitting in a little office and ordered 15 tonnes of wood and it’s really cheap at €40 per tonne. Then came the catch – it can’t be delivered until November and it has to be stored for a year.
Remy though, had other plans. Later that day he came round on his tractor. He goes everywhere on his tractor. I was once in the car park of a supermarket in one of the bigger villages near here when a tractor pulled up next to me and a family of four got out to do their shopping!
Remy got the Other Half on board and off they went to his barn, returning half an hour later with a trailer full of dry wood. “Well” said Remy, “I couldn’t let the English freeze could I?” There are some things about living in the middle-of-nowhere in France that are not so good – like over flowing septic tanks, power cuts and mud everywhere but I certainly couldn’t ask for better neighbours.A bientôt Janine