Thursday, 13 September 2007

rue du Four

Most little villages and towns in France have a 'rue du Four' - roughly translated as the 'street of the oven' - and La Sesquière is no exception. This is where we live.

Probably like most foreigners, we imagined that the name was a holdover from the past and did not imagine that it had any relevance today. How wrong could we be!

When we first came here, we looked at the chunk of stone outside our house and noticed the arch (that accesses the hollow inside) and the metal lid. Further investigation showed that under the lid was a circle of metal covering a deep metal pot suspended over the hollow inside. Curious?! And obviously a bit of history.

Move on a few months and we were woken up by the sound of activity around this stone/metal contraption. Old vine stumps were being pushed through the arch and lit. The deep metal pot was half filled with water and the open boot of a car parked nearby was filled with kilner jars of vegetables, and meat terrines.

As the water came up to heat, the jars were added and the metal lid put on......many hours later a vacuum had been generated in the jars and the owner had food to add to their winter store cupboard! Throughout the day, whoever passed by the oven checked it and added more wood as required.

Incredibly, the oven is used by most families in the village, 2-3 times a year! Freezers are not that common here at all. When our chest freezer was moved into our cave - it was a village event of great interest!

Our neighbour has even built his own 'oven' in the garden and when his wife is 'preserving', they use both ovens.

Last night as we returned from our walk, we found a fire alight and metal pot half filled with water - all ready...

Michael our neighbour was at the road side and I asked if it was him. No! he said - it is Miguel, and he is doing it all wrong!!! Michael was coming out to set him right.

The oven seen from our terrace:
When we walked by, Xena wanted to stay by the fire - and tried to get right inside!


Gogus said...

Hi Jacqui
It looks like we'll have to brush up on our preserving and kitchen skills when we move over. Just received this mail about change to health care for early retirees. Had hope we would only need top up health insurance but it is looking like we will need full cover.
Hope that our studio rents out well and will boost my pension, like you Carol will not have one when we move.
If we could we would make the move now but just don't have the money or the language to be able to work there, we also want to stay here until our daughter Holly finishes her Uni course. She has completed a 2 year degree in public art in Edinburgh and is now in the 2nd of 4 years at Newcastle studying fine art. If she stays the course she is considering a 1 year teacher training or art therapy course after that which will mean she should have completed them by the time we leave for France.
Since going to Uni she has become virtually independent which is nice to see. Dread to think what her loan will be by then. ( don’t want to get started on that)
Holly has been home for the summer and we are driving her down to Newcastle on Friday. Luckily during the summer she got work in the Dean gallery of modern art in Edinburgh so that will save her struggling so much next year.
The day of the signing for us is the 15th October but we are unable to come over for it which is a shame. We are booked for 12 days in November and will collect the keys from the agent in Herepian on the 15th an spend a few if not the rest of our stay in Lamalou.
See you in a couple of months.
Carol & John

Jacqui U said...

Retirement - you just have to find something to do with all those hours in the day! And for me it turns out to be 'preserving'!

Thank-you for the e-mail re Health Service changes. It is very interesting.

I think though people move here expecting health care to be free but it is not - you pay the same rates as the locals, which is fair.

We were assessed when we arrived to check we had sufficient income to live here, and have always paid our regular Social Services contributions just like a local. They are not expensive, and are means-tested.

I think the 'changes' detailed in the newsletter are in fact just making sure that incomers are not managing to avoid paying their contributions (which it seems many have been doing!) - which again is only fair.

See you in November!!


Gogus said...

Hi Jacqui
Hopefully you are right and if we contribute the same as locals i agree that is fair and following up your other info about fully covered health treatment we may even be better covered than we had thougt. We had started to visualise huge chunks of our money disapearing into some BUPA equivalent for a few years.

Jacqui U said...

I have been researching the Health Care issue, and I have to say - it does not look good!

There seems to be some dispute as to what is actually decreed - this article is one that supports what you were told (ie that early retirees will NOT be covered) :

Our annual assessment is happening as we speak - so we will see what we get told!

The removal of State Health Care will be a major blow to UK Expats here.

Richard was retired due to ill health (he was injured on duty) and it looks like if we are told that health care is withdrawn here, we can apply to the UK for an E121 form - usually reserved for people who retire at State Pension Age.

Watch this space....