You know when I was a kid I had a comic full of characters taking on unlikely adventures, getting up to tricks. There was
Lettice Leefe from Girl magazine and Minnie the Minx from the Beano and they somehow came out on top.
It is a bit like that here at the moment. Just today, two French men called showing me a copy of Revelations 21 from the Bible, talking about the apocalypse and conversely 'Paradis'. "I can look it up in English on the internet thank you very much," I said. But not fast enough as they mentioned sending around their 'brother' who speaks English.
I don't think the 'brother' would understand about the scrapes that Lettice Leefe got into. Then Minnie the Minx would probably have had a go at house electrics leaving a trail of destruction that should stay inside a comic. Quite enough apocalypse and revelations .
Here are parts of the first and second electrical schematic diagrams so far. I used symbols in the book, Electricity in your French house.
Getting an electrical connection
Every time I had mentioned the house domestic electrics, Craig suggested we could pay Bertrand the electrician, until the week we moved in and went for a meal with neighbours, Jan and Frieda de Heere. Jan assured Craig to believe it is not so hard to do it yourself. So now it is, “Get on with it, it is not difficult”!
We had finished the vapour barrier and the horizontal batons to which we can nail the plasterboard.
In March, our bottom line basic conditions for déménagement/moving into our chalet, dropped back to a survival level, one cold tap.
The second week in June had mostly been a week of wires, preparing the electrics and finishing painting the outside wood panels with UV protection on Saturday at 8am before the sun and temperature rose.
In reality, the difficulty was imagining the house finished with sockets and lights hanging neatly in the right places.
As the cabling hung from the walls, the drawings were on the desk, would Bertrand the electrician drop by to have a look before we seal it behind plasterboard?
He said he would, but it was when I was hanging out of the car window looking down on him outside his house.
On 10th July after waiting a week for Bertrand to call, I decided to post the wiring diagrams onto a French electrical discussion forum on the internet to check it with others. But a couple of hours later, passing Bertrand on the road, “Vas-tu venir?” I said. “1.30 today,” he said.
Relief after Bertrand arrived, silently as he has an electric van. After talking about bees and asian hornets, we looked at the wiring diagrams. “Très bon," he said. Only a couple of things to change, putting the lights on the same circuit breaker, disjoncteur of 16A (or two, one for each rail, so if one goes down you have another), and changing the bathroom lights.
Bathroom lights no earth in France
Although we have lights which are good for bathrooms, the IP44 standard, they have a possible earth connection. The French in general are much keener on Class 2 double insulation than the English, and Bertrand does not want the possibility of an earth wire on the lighting. Earth wire, water and electrical fault means a large possible current, he prefers to leave the live and neutral wires well isolated, then rely on a short circuit creating a differential between the two that can trip a circuit breaker.
So now the bathroom light is IP21 standard, more later.
On the French electric diagrams for the approving body, the Consuel you have to show the layout with the sockets and switches, but not the colours of the wires going to them. The colours can vary, but the neutral and earth must be consistent, as in the UK, blue and green/yellow.
Summer currents heavy air long days
For a while after we moved in, in June, every minute was about working to finish off the house but then suddenly it was clear we had to be earning, leaving the house for evenings and weekends.
It had taken its toll. In June, it was three months since we found we had leaking windows and only after five fix-it-with-mastic visits from Christian Brondel, and after we methodically targeted weak window leak points listed by an architect friend did we get it straight. After seeing Craig cautiously explore the state of the window frame following each downpour only to come back down-faced and frustrated, after dreading each visit, he finally smiled because the windows passed the hosepipe leak test. But it took three months.
Avoiding an apolcalypse but not finding 'Paradis'
Bertrand understands cats, it was he who told us, when ours, Mojo, was stuck in a tree, that he had never known a cat that went up not to come down by itself. He also knew we needed to ask questions.
As did a world ant expert and specialist on social insects, M. Darchen who I recently was telephoning repeatedly for more information. Every time she heard my voice she said; “Encore?” "You again?" I told Bertrand this story, he who had said to feel free to ask him any questions. On leaving, he could not help adding "Et je vais dire “Encore?” and when you ask them I also will say "What more questions?"
But what else but to be curious?
If A is for apocalypse, and B is for Bertrand, then C is for Curious cat, no doubt. A comic cat that chases her tail and we wonder how she will climb down from the places she explored.