Technical hitches

What a time to have technical problems which have resulted in my website, including this blog, falling over and email appearing erratically. It all started when my website, which uses something called wordpress got its knickers in a twist. My friend, Tim from whom I have subcontracted we space for a derisory sum, was not able to help. Further, his work has changed, so he clearly wanted shot of ‘tenants’ like me. I am most grateful for his generosity, but it is time to move on.

So I found an Internet Service Provider, Greengeeks, based in California, who offers unlimited space (necessary for my photos) for an affordable price. Scary to try to transfer all my stuff in the week before going into hospital. But I couldn’t do it before, as I had a worrying virus for nearly three weeks.

In fact the work was not completed in time; the transfer was not completed before my op. At the actual time of writing this- 28 November, the menus are still in a mess.

The entries for the next ten days or so are therefore written retrospectively.

A much travelled Mac

While I have found Apple’s telephone service top-class, its delivery service is diabolic.

I ordered my Macbook Air on 29th October (from Apple France, which I discovered was based in Cork…) and have been following its progress on the internet since then. On the 31st October it left Ireland for the Netherlands. A couple of days later I saw it was in China. Two days ago it arrived in Luxembourg. And there it seems to be sitting, no doubt having a well-earned rest after all its to-ing and fro-ing. I have to ask myself if this is linked in some way with tax evasion.

Update 6 November. I see my Mac is back in the Netherlands … …

Apple spending spree

During my days on the sofa, surrounded by pills and hankies, drifting in and out of unhappy sleep, I had time to reflect on my decision to buy another iMac – that is a desktop computer. I changed my mind and decided to get a laptop instead, and if necessary, some time in the future add a big external monitor. So I cancelled my order and decided to buy online.

What a nightmare. Nothing wrong with the Apple website, which I have always found quite easy to use. But I reached the final stage of the purchase process and my French bank card was rejected three times. So, with much foreboding, I telephoned Apple (France – but as I discovered later, actually in Cork, Ireland!). A couple of menu choices later and I got through immediately to a human. A nice, polite, helpful human. She was reassuring, and as if by magic, this time my card was accepted.

Several hours later, more dozes on the sofa, and I decided that it was silly to have gone for an 11″ screen, so rang Apple again to switch the order to a 13″ model. No problem, I was assured – except that the first order had to be cancelled and a new order processed. This time my card was again rejected. The Apple person was reassuring and said this did happen frequently and it was probably a case of ringing the bank and getting the expenditure ceiling raised – this might take a day, he warned.

When I rang the bank they agreed there was enough money for the purchase in my account but because I had already spent a sizeable sum on my Ikea kitchen I would need to apply to raise the expenditure ceiling for October – and this would take at least a week! Forget it, I said, kicking myself that I had not thought earlier to simply use a UK bank card.

Back to Apple for a third time, went through the order process – again – and this time no problems with the card. So a swanky MacBook Air should shortly depart from Ireland destination the Cévennes.  I can’t wait.  Much as I love my current big screen, I look forward to the more portable option.  I will, for example, be able to use it in my six weeks in the rehabilitation centre.

Postscript I collected my old iMac from Montpellier yesterday, hoping to do some organisational work on it before it finally expired.  Incredible, it seems to be working again!  I am under no illusions that it will at any moment suddenly pack up definitively.  In the meantime, I have the luxury of two computers – not to mention my iPad and iPhone!

Oh, and I should have mentioned that I have a new iPad – a decision I made before this saga with the sick iMac.  My ageing old one will pass on to the family in London.

The Cévennes motor rally

For one weekend every autumn this part of the Cévennes is consumed with a passion for watching noisy, souped up cars career round the local steep hairpin bends.

There are two local passions which, for the sake of harmonious living simply cannot be challenged:  hunting (wild boar) and motor rallies.  I don’t really mind the rally, but I have got quite worked up in the past by the mindless behaviour of the spectators.  One leg of the course of le Rallye ‘Critérium des Cévennes’ starts just after my land, on the road from Mars to Aumessas. The spectators start to arrive from as far as Montpellier and Marseilles a day before the rally – many camp overnight beside the road – and have in the past pinched firewood, left rubbish, helped themselves to deck chairs and parked on my land, regardless of lavender and rosemary bushes in front of the little house below.

For this reason, with some embarrassment at the proprietorial streak I have discovered in my character I now put up ribbon barricades and unfriendly no parking notices.



My other objection is that I think it encourages the local youth to screech round the local corners, clearly dreaming of future rally glory.  Fortunately the rally looks as if it is also hit by financial problems, with a huge drop in participants, and this may be its last year.




Yes, it is observed enthusiastically by French children, and this year I remembered to have a good stock of sweets for them.  This delightful group come from just up the road, in the commune of Mars.  The pretty girl on the left is the daughter of my favourite le Vigan baker, Segondy.



Meanwhile in London, Ella was similarly attired for a nursery school do:



Three of the four grandchildren were suffering from a nasty virus. Now I have it. Day three and I’m feeling sorry for myself.

2 November I’m suddenly much better – hooray! That was an exceptionally vicious attack; I have been unable to do anything for ten days.

Death of my Mac

Near the airport I called into my Apple dealer to collect my Mac, to learn it was not sick but dead. I can’t believe it – a four year old Mac foutu, kaput! Well, it could be repaired by replacing the motherboard and video card for a price of over 800 euros.

I spent an hour wandering round the shop, wondering what to do. I had no doubt I would replace my computer, but with what, desktop or laptop? I was tempted by laptops but eventually opted for a slightly smaller version of my current iMac. I hope I don’t regret this.

The journey home

The evening before leaving I looked at my booking pass, saw no reference to my scooter, so rang one of Easyjet’s rare help numbers, got through eventually to someone in the Far East. After an unsatisfactory discussion he issued a new booking pass. End of conversation. Then I looked at the new pass – it said expressly no electric wheelchair! Phoned help again. Similar conversation, except this time the person admonished me for not requesting this change earlier. But I did, I protested – in my original booking a month ago! And I’m not requesting a change but rather a confirmation of my original booking.

So I set off early this morning all set to do battle at Gatwick airport. No need. Once again the Easyjet’s staff bent over backwards to be courteous and helpful. They agreed with me that their software was problematic, assured me that their System had my scooter in it, and once again escorted me like royalty.

Until I got to the plane itself where I discovered that it is up to each captain to decide what to do about electrically operated vehicles (apparently there had been a fire on a plane two years ago when the battery was left on a wheelchair – and connected! I produced the manufacturer’s certificate of compliance and eventually the captain agreed to do what they had done on the outward plane – store the batteries within the cabin. (The manufacturer actually says that this is not necessary because my batteries are so light!)

During the course of this many of the airport staff enthused over the simple, lightweight design of my scooter.