Spring is here

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At long last, the sun has come out, the sky is azure blue and cloudless and it is beginning to feel as if the damp, chilly winter is behind us.

I'm in PF for a few days before heading along to Cannes to work at Mip TV for the week.  But on a day like today, it will be very hard to leave the village for the bustling metropolis along the coast, packed as it will be with luvvies and endless meetings in windowless rooms.  Not to mention the infamous bunker in 'Le Palais'.

It's been one of these days when I've felt like a real 'Pierrefeucaine'.  I did my shopping in the market, saw people I knew and took advice on which carrots and green beans to buy.  Simone was particularly solicitous that I should get my fruit and veggies from the right stall - a local chap (well, 'un Hyerois') - and not someone who imports vegetables from other countries.  How we laughed at the idea of strawberries from Belgium, which were on display at the non-local stand.

Then went down to wonderfully-named 'Simply' to get some chicken for my stew and met Corinne from the Tourist Office, who regaled me with her poor experiences at Disneyland Paris (oops) and filled me in on various folk and their medical conditions.

Other bits of news from the village:

- There is now a pawnshop next to Dany's bar.  Or rather somewhere that buys gold.  Including teeth.  Suzie wonders if he has a small room in the back for extractions.

- The former Petit Casino next to the florists is about to become a medical lab.  They're midway through renovating it and all there is so far is, incongruously, a dentist's chair (linked to news item one, perhaps?) and a counter.  I was hoping for something a little more exciting but the ever health-conscious Pierrefeucains are thrilled at the idea of speedier diagnoses from the village doctor.

- Talking of supermarkets, the Vival next to Dany's (which is patently where it all happens in Pierrefeu) has been sold and will re-open as another small supermarche.  It's run by Simone's grandson.  Another one works chez Dany and yet another owns the Blue Dream bar.   The Milesi mafia is alive and well.

- The red boulangerie has new owners . And have done it up so it's all faux exposed brickwork to simulate a 19th century bakers, I suppose. The bread's good and I can vouch for their croissants. You still can't beat the Boulangerie du Mairie for tarts, though.

So my casserole got cooked (despite having to borrow garlic from Simone) and going without flour, following the shelf cull after Mr Mouse's visit last year.  I'm about to wash and prepare some (non-Belgian) strawberries and rasps for supper.  Then I think I shall retire to the terrasse with my book for the last of the sun, and in anticipation of a wee apero there with the girls later.

Vive le printemps!

So, a week today I'm off to Pierrefeu for a long-awaited break. And for a fortnight too!

Beyond the standard suitcase-full of pluggery (who knew so many gadgets needed charged?), there are requests trickling in for UK treats for ex-Pats in PF.  Such as:

- Jelly for Suzie who seems to have a yen to make some kind of traffic light confection, and has only got red.

- Snacks and light reading for Lu, who's had pleurisy.  Thinking twiglets, wine gums and Grazia, Hello etc etc

- Maybe a little dress or something girly for little Arielle. Note to self - how big is she now?  Last time I looked she was about two.

And I suppose I'll have to take some running gear for early morning (pre-heat!) runs down in the vines so that I'm semi-ready for the Race for Life at the end of June.

On a dreich, damp Bank Holiday Saturday, I'm counting the days...

A whole new maison

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Having been denied my Spring long weekend in Pierrefeu because of the pesky ash cloud, I wallowed in some old pictures from last year and found a few to show the work on the facade.  So here's a wee look at the before, during and after on the front of my little 'maison de village'.




More news from PF

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vap34.jpgWith the new version of Vivre a Pierrefeu ready to download, here are the headlines from this quarter's gripping edition:

- A recipe for tasty - and seasonally - Pets de Nonnes - or Nun's Farts (seriously!)

- Details of new businesses opening in the village, including no fewer than two manicurists

- News of a competition of Pierrefeu photos, being run by the tourist board. If you're passing through over the Summer, apply here.  Who knows?  By the time you click on this link, I might even have done the long-overdue English translation of the site...

- Photos of various festive events, including the best-decorated house and Santa Claus visiting the village

- Quite useful information about the local gendarmerie's initiative 'Operation Peaceful Holidays' where you can register when you're away and they'll keep an eye on your house. Possibly one for folk like me

Bring on the bypass!

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Sunshine after the rain
Originally uploaded by Blue Blanket
This is the view from my bedroom window in Pierrefeu. It'd be lovely to sleep with the windows open like this when it's very hot, but I can't. Why? Because from about 5am onwards, huge big lorries start rumbling through the village on the road below.   Quite often they are bin lorries from Toulon and round about, heading to the dump on the Collobrieres road.   And they are massive, smelly and dirty...

When I first bought my house in 2002, I asked why the village put up with this.  Michelle, in the Bar Central, called it 'la honte de Pierrefeu' (Pierrefeu's shame) and hinted that the Mairie actually benefitted financially in some way for letting the village be a main artery for juggernauts.  Others just shrugged, and watched as yet another huge trunker had to squeeze past a school bus or a tractor-trailer pulling a load of vines.

But there may be good news for Pierrefeu.  Last week, an open meeting was held to lay out plans for a detour which will lessen traffic through the village - lorries and cars.

Var Matin's report outlined the options and some of the comments from locals - especially those who live in the area where it's likely to be built, down in the valley.  However, when you see the numbers of vehicles we're talking about - 20,000 lorries a year and 6000 plus cars a day - it's hard to see where there can be valid objections. 

It won't be cheap at 14 million euros.  But I'm willing to start a small fund now, if it helps...

TV - Pierrefeu style

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Local TV has hit Pierrefeu.  And I don't mean to be rude but I think the presenter, her cameraman and director could do with a few basic lessons...

Watch out for these classics in the Fete du Terroir film:

- Madame Poncho is in virtually every shot...

- The kitchen scenes with the cooks and their chums smoking over the bubbling pots and pans

- The lazy re-use of some shots by simply putting them in again - in rewind. There's actually a child running backwards in one scene.

- Monsieur le Maire everywhere and a guest-presenting slot by M Benentendi, who's the councillor responsible for these events

- The fascinating vegetable-carving gentleman

- Repeated appearances of sundry barnyard animals

Joking aside, it's lovely to see Pierrefeu on film and I even spotted a few familiar faces in the crowd.  It does make me think I've missed a relocation opportunity, though, when I realise that the Var TV mob are pocketing 500 euros a pop for these wee videos.  And they've covered Le Luc, Carnoules and many other places across the valley.

Oh, and if you want to see what a Christmas town hall meeting looks like when it's given Presidential Debate status, check this out.  Lovely scenes of a festive Pierrefeu by night.

Some time later...

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Some time later...
Originally uploaded by Blue Blanket
...I was on the beach at St Clair. Same day, mind. Apart from a bit of a breeze, who knew there had been a monsoon first thing that morning?

Lunch on the beach, watching children paddling, a snooze in the sun afterwards with a podcast of the Now Show.

And home tomorrow.