Friday, July 1, 2011

Funny goings-on next door

Friday is market day in Felletin. I often think about going down there and buying a few bits of stuff but usually leave it too late (they pack up around mid-day). However, as I fell out my pit early ├že matin, I thought I'd make a determined effort to get down there well before the Felletin church bells clanged twelve. Walked the dogs, had a wash, shave and cuppa, then set off reeking of some hideous after-shave that's obviously well past its 'use by' date. Arrived about 11.30. Gloriously sunny. Bought a baguette, two mini quiches, strawberries, cherries, carrots, some tiny tomatoes and two cheeses, then grabbed a coffee at my fave caff where I lashed out on a packet of Golden Virginia and Rizlas then headed back home (though quite why I mention all that, I really don't know - it's of no interest to anyone).

Arriving in our hamlet, I turned left at the church and passed by the old presbytery which is currently being renovated. As the builders were at lunch (lunch hour in France is from 12 'til 2!) I thought I'd nip in there and take some snaps.

Interesting story about the renovation project (well, it's interesting to me anyway)... When we first came here the house was occupied by the (then) mayor. Presumed he owned it. Turned out he didn't. He actually lives down in Felletin but, by virtue of his position as mayor, (I presume) he was able to reside there due to it being owned by the state. Lovely old house with original features but a bit run down. An estate agent would describe it as having 'loads of potential' (i.e. it's a wreck).

Anyway, just after the new mayor (local farmer) took over, the old mayor moved back to Felletin and the house was left empty. Then all us locals were invited to a meeting at the local Mairie for the official announcement of the renovation plans by various high-ranking big-wigs. I went along out of curiosity. Discovered that the house was to be 'sympathetically' renovated at a cost of 350,000 euros (about £320,000) and project managed by a team of proper architects and specialist builders, all of whom were noted for their expertise in renovating old buildings. At the end of the meeting it was announced that the state would be grateful for donations towards the building costs. Quite surprised me as most of the locals (indeed, most of the inhabitants of the entire Limousin region) are, like me, completely skint. Georgie reckons we should donate about 250 euros. I reckon zero. Led to a lively discussion when she was over here last week.

Anyway (no, I've used that intro already)... Furthermore (that's better), when the house is eventually finished, I understand it will be rented out (presumably at a discounted rate) to a local young family. Great idea as the hamlet could do with some younger faces. That's what I like about rural France: proper socialism. Wouldn't get that in the UK. Come to think of it, the UK government wouldn't dream of spending 320k on a wreck of an old house that'll only be worth around 250k when renovated. And if they did, you can bet your boots the new occupier would be an upper crust politician or council executive, not some penniless mob of peasants. I await further developments with interest, as they say. In the meantime, a few snaps...