© Number 10 B & B 2016
Work is due to start on the swimming pool and Jean-Jacques, the advance party arrived first thing in the morning.
Some of what followed was nothing short of surreal.
We currently only have two shutters on the house and they are both closed, so arriving at 8.00 am, Jean-Jacques assumed that being English we were still in bed and proceeded to wait outside until 9.00 am before ringing the door bell. It was so considerate of him but not necessary. I am usually an early riser and even Richard was up and dressed early ready for all the excitement.
Things did not get off to the best start when the local company engaged to do the excavation work did not appear, despite Jean-Jacques attempts to call them. Not to be defeated, he flagged down a passing tractor and asked the driver if there was a digger to be found locally. After some thought and much head scratching, a suggestion was made and it turned out to be the man we were waiting in vain for.
However we now had a vital piece of information – directions to his yard. The only problem remaining was that Jean-Jacques understood very little of these directions given in heavily accented local French. Something that encouraged me to think maybe my French could be improving after all. If a Frenchman born and bred found it nigh on impossible to understand the locals, perhaps my comprehension could be improving after all.
Not deterred by the somewhat incomprehensible directions, Jean-Jacques set out. On his return a short while later, he brought good news – the digger would arrive later in the morning.
So here we are in the garden waiting for the digger man when Jean-Jacques took a case from his van and asked us all to guess which musical instrument it contained.
Clues were given including the fact he was self-taught being unable to find anyone in his entire department who could teach him. The case was too small for a trombone or accordion and the wrong shape for violin or clarinet – what could it be?
With great ceremony and tantalisingly slowly the lid was lifted….
Not at all what we had suspected or suggested!
What followed was one of those surreal moments which will stay in the memory for a long time. After explaining its intricacies and foibles and referring to it as ‘the bloody instrument’, Jean-Jacques proceeded to play for us. It was incredible to think how anyone could teach themselves such an unusual instrument and play so well.
After a selection ranging from well-known French songs to Happy Birthday and Amazing Grace, he encouraged the rest of us to try our luck. We all declined with the exception of Fabrice, who we discovered played the sax and did a great job for his first attempt with bagpipes. He did however get rather puffed, until Jean-Jacques explained it was not necessary to blow for every note.
The moment when we feel that this swimming pool will actually happen
His first proper job
Fresh from his course, this young man did a precision job with ease
Richard suitably fortified with a beer keeps a keen eye on proceedings
Jean-Jacques had already carefully marked out the pool, terrace and summer kitchen. So now he talked the digger driver through the precise levels required and the dig could start.
Richard has had a long fascination with tracked vehicles dating back to when he was a boy and spent hours watching them working. As a young man, ably assisted by his mates in the Rover Scouts, he went on to build his very own tracked vehicle – a snow cat.
The fascination continues unabated to this day and he was unable to tear himself away for very long throughout the dig. I must admit that I too was fascinated to see the precision with which the digger could be used to shape the pool including the curve for the roman end.
By evening we are proud to see a swimming pool shaped hole starting to emerge. The rest of the Piscine Plus team arrive in a couple of weeks and then the fun will really start.
Time too to think ‘bottling’
Unable to find sloes locally, we are seeking alternatives. To date we have raspberry, crab apple, quince and pear liqueurs maturing in the dark and are keen to try as many others as we can discover.
As our lovely little kumquat tree was laden with fruit we decided they should be the next experimental tipple. Now all we have to do is be patient and wait for it to mature, that is if we can resist for so long.