Provence sabbatical day 6 – sparky and the rocking pot

Maybe it was all the fresh air, olives and excitement, or maybe it was sheer exhaustion, but I slept like a baby. We woke up late 🙂 Even Mado seemed to understand and only meowed once. Our first task of the day was a semi-panic SOS call to Christiane … during the evening, we sniffed out and traced a dreaded burning plastic smell to the main’s fuse box (of all places). Christiane has looked after and worked on the farmhouse for 8 years, and knows its deepest secrets. The stories she can tell …

Christiane came around as soon as she could, and we showed her the problem, and what we’d done. Nothing out of the ordinary really; plug out the washing machine and plug in a little blower heater to help dry the washing. She phoned Bruno, the local sparky, who said he was working in Brignoles and could only come around after 5pm. Because the trouble came from the fuse box, Christiane prepared us for the possibility of it only getting fixed in the morning. Gulp. It’s pretty damn freezing without any heating. And the chimney sweep only arrives on Friday, so any fires made would have to be small. She showed us secret wood stacks in the garden, and we saw the old donkey shed. COOL!!

Marcel then helped me coax the sun-battered shutters and window frames from their slots, and I started removing the window panes. It went really well. Until I got to the cracked pane, and nicked the corner. It spread like a spider’s web. I hoped superglue would work, but managed to glue my fingers to the glass instead. Luckily the Terps was at hand. Think we’ll be getting a couple of spare panes just in case …

It seemed like DIY was in the air. Our neighbour was tinkering outside the whole day, and sharing his penchant for the Blues with everyone. Further down the hill, someone else was going wild with chain saws and drills. Marcel even got the ol’ sander out and tackled the shutter door sides – taking off just enough so they close again. Every bit helps when you don’t have heating inside! He also secured the wood panelling back on the bath and replaced the leaky shower hose with one that we found in the bathroom cabinet. He also installed a little shower hook so we can use both hands when soaping up.

It was still light when Bruno arrived. With our broken French, and his broken English, and Christiane on the phone we managed to find out that the fuse box had “fondued” (melted). It was just too old. Nothing that we’d done. PHEW! He phoned EDF and asked them to replace it. They said they’d come around this evening. Really? Wow. Bruno smiled contentedly. Christiane phoned to make sure everything went okay. We feel so lucky to have such excellent help. We started a fire, and got the camping gas light and burner at the ready. Around 7pm the electrician arrived, switched off the mains, replaced the box, was bemused by my request to take a photo, and hey presto. Before we knew it, a sparkling new fuse box!!

Turning on the heaters, we phoned Christiane with the great news. She was as relieved as we are that the farmhouse is safe. It gets under your skin … you can’t help but love this old dame. Hell, even the “Snert” was rocking on the stove!! It could be that the pot holding the Dutch pea soup had a round bottom, and the thick bubbles caused it to go off balance, but we believe it was just as happy as were are.