Back to Winter

11 Mar

First up is the weather report.  Monday was fog over the lake in the morning with the wind getting stronger through the day.  Tuesday it was blowing like mad by morning, apparently the Mistral, and by noon it was raining lightly and quite cold.  Wednesday rain and wind again, 10˚C.  Thursday rain and wind again, 10˚C.  Friday the wind has abated but the rain is still going.  Friday it rained in the night and continued during the day.  Not so cold, up to 11˚C!  Saturday started raining but cleared by noon and turned out to be a nice afternoon.  Sunday was a nice early Spring day, sunny, some cloud, cool air but very pleasant.  So that is the weather dealt with.

Before we went back to NZ we applied for another one year French visa, a Carte de Sejour.  While we were away we each got a letter – Leanne’s said to go to the Mairie du Thoronet to collect hers and mine said to go to the sous-prefecture in Draguignan to sign something.  Why two different letters for identical applications?  We would find out soon enough!

On Monday morning we got to the Mairie du Thoronet before opening time.  Sure enough they had Leanne’s card but before she could uplift it we had to go somewhere else, the Tresor Publique or local government finance office, to pay €106 in fees by purchasing special stamps and bring them back to the Mairie.  What a beautiful bureaucracy, they don’t tell you this in advance, nor the amount and you can’t just pull out cash or a credit card and pay it on the spot.  Instead we have to go to another town and buy some stamps and then come back again.  Whoever dreamed up this system is a genius.  But at least we could get Leanne’s card and possibly that very day if we could get the stamps.

So then we asked the lady who had taken our applications why my card was not ready and showed her the letter I had.  She opened her file containing photocopies of everything that had been submitted.  Except she found that they were not all photocopies!  One crucial page was an original.  That’s why my application was not complete and the sous-prefecture wanted me to front up and sign something.  Now it made sense.  It didn’t make me happy but it made sense.  Almost.  If the sous-prefecture had a problem with the application why didn’t they revert to the office that put the application forward instead of coming directly to me?  That would have solved the problem immediately and I would probably never have known about it.  But there I go again applying rational logic to the French systems.  You’d think that I would learn!

So in the end I took the errant piece of paper personally to the sous-prefecture in Draguignan and the little man there told me that my application was now complete and it would take six weeks, no less, for my card to be ready.  No expedited service on account of this being their screw-up.  Six more weeks.  However, he could issue me a ‘Récépissé de Demande de Carte de Sejour’ in the interim.  I agreed that this would be a good idea since my current visa expires on 20th March and we will be in France until 4th April.  So that would be good.  Then, as they always seem to do, he played his ‘gotcha!’.  In order to get this Récépissé de Demande de Carte de Sejour he would need a passport photo from me, in addition to the five copies I submitted with the application.  Then he smiled knowing that normally I would now be snookered and have to go away again to get the said photo.  So I smiled, reached into my file and pulled another of the sixteen I had had printed!  Right back at you little man!  20 minutes later I had my Récépissé de Demande de Carte de Sejour.

We found a Tresor Publique a few hundred metres up the road and bought the stamps for Leanne’s card – one €90 stamp, one €10 and three €2.  But not only did they sell us the stamps, they recorded on their computer system the reference number of the visa application to which they related, the denominations issued, Leanne’s name and address and the office at which we would use them.  And this is important because…???  Back at Le Thoronet we presented these at the Mairie and uplifted Leanne’s card.  And all of this was done by 10:30am.

Then something quite bizarre happened.  We went to Le Luc specifically to go to the bank to see why Leanne’s credit card stopped working in Paris on our way home.  We got to the bank by 11am knowing that they close at noon for two hours for lunch.  But it was already closed.  We were flummoxed.  Looking around the other banks were also closed.  Bank holiday?  No, we found out later that the banks are always closed on a Monday.  How on earth we have managed to live here for nearly a year and never learn this or run foul of it before is a total mystery to both of us.  What a day!

Leanne's Carte de Sejour.

Leanne’s Carte de Sejour.

My Récépissé de Demande de Carte de Sejour, or acknowledgement of my application for a Carte de Sejour.

My Récépissé de Demande de Carte de Sejour, or acknowledgement of my application for a Carte de Sejour.

Notre-Dame du Mont-Carmel in Le Luc has always been locked up when we have visited in the past.  Our visits to this part of Le Luc are usually to visit the bank.  Today we came to visit the bank and it was closed but the church was open.  Is there a hidden message in this?

Notre-Dame du Mont-Carmel in Le Luc has always been locked up when we have visited in the past. Our visits to this part of Le Luc are usually to visit the bank. Today we came to visit the bank and it was closed but the church was open. Is there a hidden message in this?

Did some work around La Regalade on Tuesday until the rain sent me indoors.  Spent the afternoon working on the blog backlog from our trip home.  Spent Wednesday catching up with people – Sue, Lew and Jean, Jeremy and Jo.  Also made it to the bank again and they looked on their system and declared the card was OK.  We tried it later and it is definitely not.  The rain and wind keep us fairly quiet for the remainder of the week.

Jeremy had laid some gravel to cover the muddy area outside the garage but the rain this week turned the whole area into a small lake.

Jeremy had laid some gravel to cover the muddy area outside the garage but the rain this week turned the whole area into a small lake.

We also had three power cuts this week ranging from ten minutes to an hour.  EDF (the power utility) said there is an underground cable fault.  When we drove out we found a cable had been slung through the trees along the driveway then diving off down the hill.

We also had three power cuts this week ranging from ten minutes to an hour. EDF (the power utility) said there is an underground cable fault. When we drove out we found a cable had been slung through the trees along the driveway then diving off down the hill.

I confess that I used HDR on the camera for this shot but the fact remains that the rain stopped on Saturday afternoon and the sun came out.  This was taken from just outside the kitchen door.

I confess that I used HDR on the camera for this shot but the fact remains that the rain stopped on Saturday afternoon and the sun came out. This was taken from just outside the kitchen door.

This is the bedroom end of the house with its gravel courtyard.  It is very shady and will be great in the summer (when we won't be here).

This is the bedroom end of the house with its gravel courtyard. It is very shady and will be great in the summer (when we won’t be here).

On Sunday we went out with Jeremy and Lew and Jean to walk the track up Gros Bessillon.  The weather was great, the track was unaffected by the rain we have had and the views were outstanding.  All in all a great day out.

Two thirds of the way up is this memorial to a group of Resistance fighters who lost their lives very late in the War when they came under enemy gunfire.

Two thirds of the way up is this memorial to a group of Resistance fighters who lost their lives very late in the War when they came under enemy gunfire.

Near the top of the walk the track spilled out on to the access road.  Two of these fire trucks came down rather tentatively on the narrow roadway.

Near the top of the walk the track spilled out on to the access road. Two of these fire trucks came down rather tentatively on the narrow roadway.

The guy and his mates were HAM operators and they were up here to service their radio mast.  This guy (on the right) was a bit of a character.  He spoke some English and even knew of Auckland but he spent most of his time in an amusing repartee with Jeremy in French.  They even sang together a little song of the Nicoise because he and Jeremy used to live in Nice.  Really funny.

The guy and his mates were HAM operators and they were up here to service their radio mast. This guy (on the right) was a bit of a character. He spoke some English and even knew of Auckland but he spent most of his time in an amusing repartee with Jeremy in French. They even sang together a little song of the Nicoise because he and Jeremy used to live in Nice. Really funny.

Wild crocus flowers were around the upper areas.  The flowers are 3cm across.

Wild crocus flowers were around the upper areas. The flowers are 3cm across.

Panorama from the top of the Gros Bessillon.  It starts facing NW and pans to end NE.

Panorama from the top of the Gros Bessillon. It starts facing NW and pans to end NE.

Typical of the track on this walk - fully gravelled and dry, which is pretty good after a week of rain.

Typical of the track on this walk – fully gravelled and dry, which is pretty good after a week of rain.

There were ample opportunities for nature stops but Jean wasn't too keen on me being anywhere near with the camera and a zoom lens!  Strange that!?!

There were ample opportunities for nature stops but Jean wasn’t too keen on me being anywhere near with the camera and a zoom lens! Strange that!?!

Lookig back at Gros Bessillon from near Carcès.  We had walked to the top basically following the ridge.  About a 9km loop.

Lookig back at Gros Bessillon from near Carcès. We had walked to the top basically following the ridge. About a 9km loop.

The area around Carcès used to have a number of bauxite mines.  In fact the name bauxite derives from Les Baux in the Luberon, about two hours from here.  This photo is an old quarry now filled with water.

The area around Carcès used to have a number of bauxite mines. In fact the name bauxite derives from Les Baux in the Luberon, about two hours from here. This photo is an old quarry now filled with water.

The neighbours have bird feeders on their terrace and while there for a chat I managed a few shots out the ranch slider.  The feeder this one is clinging to is filled with peanuts so that gives some idea how small the bird is.

The neighbours have bird feeders on their terrace and while there for a chat I managed a few shots out the ranch slider. The feeder this one is clinging to is filled with peanuts so that gives some idea how small the bird is.

Blue Tit on a tree.

Blue Tit on a tree.

That’s it for this week and it will be out ‘on time’ for a change.  Enjoy.

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2 Responses to “Back to Winter”

  1. Jeff March 12, 2013 at 03:38 #

    What do you mean you did not know banks were closed on Mondays? EVERYBODY knows banks are shut on Mondays! 😉 I love these stories.. they bring back so many happy memories of dealing with the french administration…

  2. hbonwit March 11, 2013 at 16:27 #

    Regarding the paperwork in your post, I’m assuming that you’ve seen the movie Brazil?
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088846/

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