Holidays and other wotsits

Starting again on my blog makes me realise how long it was since my last entry – my galavanting around on holiday and other mundane things like painting stuff around the house, mucking about on Orkut and now Multiply (left Orkut in disgust) and seriously considering a move to Linux have taken up much of my time.

Last Saturday we held a BBQ for my expat group – which was great fun. I hope that those that came, Ewa, Irfan & Pascal did too and I thank them for their great company.

Holidays took us south to the Med coast – a little inland in the Montagnes Noires for over a week. Nice walks up in the mountains. We spent our last few days near Sète – which is on the Med coast – and all through our stay it was very hot 35°C for most of the time.
That was in July – by August the weather had cooled off somewhat, but it didn’t deter us from a stay in Rouen around the 15th August public holiday. It was only weekend, but it was a nice one. Rouen being nicer than I thought it was and we even had time to go to the coast.

Before the July holidays I had a meeting at the ANPE (Agence Nationale Pour L’Emploi) – and managed to convince them to send me on a “bilan de competance” (an assesment of my skills). As France shuts down in July and August – after sending a letter in early August and then phoning them yesterday I have to return to the ANPE office, which unfortunately isn’t the local one, to request a place on this bilan de competance. Hopefully, provided they don’t mess things up (they have a great tendancy too) I’ll have to contact an outside organisation that will be offering this.
To be honest the ANPE depresses me imensely – they mess you about and treat you like shit and then wonder why people get agressive with them after being sent on a wild goose chase by them.

Meantime I’ve been mowing lawns, generally tidying up with weedkiller etc in the garden. As Isa’s parents are away for a couple of months I’m also doing the same sort of stuff over at their place and watering the plants between us. Which reminds me I need to do that over there tomorrow.
Thumpah’s Dad has been in hospital during his stay away for the couple of months down south in the Périgord region. It’s been a big worry for both of us here as he’s had to go through two fairly serious operations to do with his circulation in his neck and legs.
He seems to be very brave and bearing up very well – I hope that this is a good sign. We had to face up to the fact that he could die or lose his legs. It’s very scary. Having lost my own Dad when he was only in his mid 40’s it brought horrible memories flooding back to me. Although I suppose my Dad was lucky as he didn’t suffer that long before he passed away with cancer.

Onto happier things. For the moment I’m painting the metal surrounds of the windows – one of the many tasks that need doing to the exterior of our place. Being in France there are deep frames around the window apertures that hold both the shutters and the windows (or in our case windowed double doors). We have 9 to do and I was preparing and painting a metal treatment paint onto the 3rd. Of course as they are metal the preparation is very important, especially as they were not painted very well in the first place (whoever painted them before didn’t sand down or use any undercoat resulting in a mess).

Away from the DIY I’ve been fiddling around with Linux Fedora Core 4 – with a view to eventually replacing XP as an operating system on my PC. So far I’m impressed with it – however, it requires a lot of perserverance to install things and work with the system. So far I’m quite pleased with myself having installed a Quark Xpress type program called
Scribus. Additionally I’ve installed Xine a DVD/DiVX player and WINE an emlulated environment to run Windows 3.11, 95 & 98 programs. The latter has been the hardest to configure – but I’m pleased to say I have Photoshop 7 running now on it – a heavy program that runs very fast under Linux compared to on XP.

Generally I’m happy with that, but I need to get an Ethernet connection to be able to connect to the net. Fedora doesn’t like USB modems. Eventually we’ll get upgraded as we’ve found it doesn’t cost much more each month.

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