Bonne Année, bonne santé – everyone is wishing their friends, colleagues, the postman … the cat, a happy and healthy new year.
2019 kicked off for us with a burst water pipe. At 2 am, on a nocturnal trip to the bathroom, it was clear that the cistern wasn’t filling, the taps were dribbling and in short we had no water. Fitful attempts to sleep until it was light enough to investigate resulted in vivid dreams, for both of us involving exactly the same point on the lane up to the house, so as soon as it was light, Markus knew precisely where to look! And sure enough at the very spot where in his dream he had been discussing the problem with a neighbour, water was gushing merrily out of a hole in the ground and flowing briskly down the lane to the main road.
We called the water company at 8.30 and they promised to send out their team so Markus popped round to see Roger and, since he too had no water, to drink a glass of rosé – eh oui!
Mid-morning a chap in a van turned up, who proved to be vastly entertaining. He told us he had been able to verify that the pipe had burst at 2 am because water consumption at les Sarziers had hit a noticeable spike on his débitmetre, and he added that he was most grateful that we had refrained from calling the emergency hotline until the morning since he had been on the night shift.
He shook his head at the stream and regretted that he would be obliged to cut off our water supply until such time as the repair team showed up. Markus pointed out that we didn’t have water in any case, and he replied pensively “Ah oui, c’est bien vrai!” Once he had stemmed the flow at the stop tap on the crossroads and the river began to abate, he drew two blue arrows on the road to show the repair team where to look and Markus complimented him on his artistry. “Well”, he said, “I have lots of practice”, adding rather daringly, “and at the week ends I paint them in yellow!”
The next task was to indicate to the repair gang the exact location of les Sarziers. Yes, I know, faithful readers will recall the great naming and numbering operation of a few years ago, which, we were promised, despite the huge waste of time and natural resources, would enable the emergency services and tutti quanti to pinpoint each house in France with unerring accuracy. Abolutely useless of course! We were back to the same old confusion between us and the tiny, almost inaccessible hamlet of Sarzier, where many a lorry has found itself hopelessly stuck. Back to the wrong name for our lane, our crossroads and no knowledge whatsoever of 140 Chemin des Granges. Which is all as it should be.
Once all that had been sorted out, he prepared to leave. Markus asked when the SWAT team might be expected to arrive and the chap said “Ah!” and looked wise. “Well”, he said, “they are at present attending an emergency in St Victor,” a small village about 10 miles away, with a restaurant. It was now 11.30 and he thought they would probably arrive before 12, unload the digger and then go and have lunch. “The thing is though,” he said, “they are very choosy about where they have lunch”. They might of course eat in St Victor, then again they might feel like a change and have a look at Chez Nath in Boucieu, or perhaps check out Empurany, although the cuisine there might not be quite to their taste in which case they would go on to find somewhere in Lamastre of an acceptable standard. “They’ll probably be here by two” he said with a twinkle in his eye as he got into his van and sped off.
Sadly, we had an appointment in the valley and had to set off at 2.30 before there was any sign of these epicures. We were sorry to miss them, although we did spot their lorry, loaded with a cheery turquoise digger, coming towards us on the road from St Victor.
When we returned, it was all over. A neat patch of turned earth and water back on tap. A hugely satisfactory outcome, combining French efficiency, wit and gastronomy. Happy New Year to you all!