Now the season is almost at an end, and our last guests leave next week (unless we get a late booking); so I have turned my attention back to maintenance. This week I decided it was time to give our house a lick of paint - so I have been painting the front of the house and the barn and it is looking really pretty. I think we probably need some new shutters but perhaps just an attempt at maintenance will have to do this year. It is a shame as I was keen to paint them a new colour - to make the house feel more like mine. I suppose like a dog scents its territory - in a not so charming analogy.
The rest of my time has been spent trying to sort out the mess I seem to be tied up in with regard to paperwork. Upon arriving in France I felt quite pleased that the phone/internet and electricity was all in hand. They were expecting us. We were ready to do the meter readings etc. Great stuff. Of course, having English helplines went a long way to dealing with this. Anyhow, I was feeling ready to brave some of the other systems and utilities. I decided to pay an accountant to sort out the business side and tax regime - in hindsight a fantastic idea. I contacted the local Mairie for advice on the water bills. Seemed ok. I emailed said authority and sent the meter readings. They came out and sent me bills. All good. I sent back my direct debit forms. Job done. Or not. 2 months later they came back. I had made an error. Fine - I corrected it and sent it back. 2 months later they came back. I had made another error. Fine. I corrected it and sent it back. 2 weeks later they were threatening to switch off my water. Okay, so an emergency trip with my neighbour and a handful of cash was made to the nearest office in Pons. They laughed heartily and said I wouldn't be cut off. Oh! I sorted out the direct debit and offered to pay. "Non" as they so often say. Payment apparently would now be taken in February. Oh! This week 3 payments were taken from my account. Oh! Today I received a letter saying I am being taken to court for non payment. Oh! Another trip to Pons is booked for Monday with fluent neighbour again. Good excuse for a coffee and a trip to the lawnmower shop as I have sheared off some partsOh!
Whilst all this was occurring I was also trying to transfer over my child benefit. I had a letter from the UK explaining I no longer received them there. In fact I had two. Great stuff. Again, there were several long and quite frankly confusing communications. I sent my letters from the UK government. I send our passports. I sent our birth certificates. I sent my business information. I sent my accounts. I send our birth certificates again. I sent my accounts again. Now, not only am I being sued by the French water authority - the government have decided I am a "stateless refugee". Oh!
Perhaps French paperwork isn't such a breeze.
Stateless in France (you gotta laugh)