Friday, October 29, 2010

Today I finally became part of our Local Communes ‘micro-économie fraternelle’

Expats Blog

Yesterday afternoon Marie France, Madame La Maire of our little Commune of Gourville, called round to see me with some official looking pieces of paper. “Monsieur l’architecte” she started - I find it quite quaint in a way how The French greet people by their ‘métier’ , a practice that long since died out in the UK. So in our liitle commune we have ‘Madame La Maire’, René l’engineer’ and Manu ‘le plombier’ – who as far as I can see these days has nothing to do with plumbing, but who once I believe ‘fixed’ the toilets at our local salle de fêtes !



Marie France then started to show me her dossier of cadastral maps of the commune and wanted confirmation of the parcels of land that I owned just up the lane from our Barn. As we walked up there, she went on to explain that the men from the Commune where repairing the old ‘chemin blanc’ that runs behind our land and there was a large old chestnut tree that was showing signs of disease and needed to come down. At the tree she introduced me to Jean-Pierre , the commune ‘fixer’.

After the obligatory hand shakes, pleasantries and kicking and tapping of the grand old tree Jean-Pierre looked across to Madame La Maire and winked. “Monsieur West” ... she paused for quite a long time, then continued “Jean-Pierre would like to know if you would like the tree” Now technically the tree wasn’t actually on my land, but she had already told me that the owner of that parcel lives miles away in another Commune and has given our Commune their permission to remove the tree. A long silence followed while I tried to way up the advantages and disadvantages of saying “yes” to a forty foot high, by a meter across , mature chestnut tree.


My mind was racing … that’s an awful lot of logs for our wood-burners … was my first thought …. How do I physically cut it and transport it … was the second thought .. and finally, .. what’s it going to cost me ? ?

I decided to jump in feet first and started with “okay, but I’m not sure how I can transport it back to my yard “ - “ We have a lorry” came back the immediate reply. I then followed with “Ma tronçonneuse ne marche pas bien” (my chainsaw is not in very good working order .. well .. shamefully to say, it isn’t !! ) “Monsier West” smiled Jean-Pierre “Nous avons deux gros tronçonneuses … vous êtes libre demain ? ”

It then hit me …. They were offering me the wood … for free …. In exchange for me helping cut it up into manageable lengths for removal, and they had a lorry to deliver it to my yard ! One days labour for a couple of years of fire wood .. not bad eh ! !

It’s also quite nice to know that, after only just over two years of residence in our local commune, I have now been officially enrolled into the ‘perks for the boys’ brigade - Vive La France ! !
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