Sunday, January 12, 2014

Westward ho!

This is a view toward the west across the vineyards behind our house. You only get this view when you walk almost to the end of the dirt road, nearly a kilometer from the house.

All these bare vines are waiting to be pruned. It's a long, tedious job. I'm glad I don't have to do it.

On Friday we drove over to Romorantin, the third "city" in our département and one of the sous-préfectures, to do some shopping and run a couple of errands. One of the errands was to buy some fioul domestique (home-heating oil) for the rest of this winter and, hopefully, next fall. The transaction was done and the fuel will be delivered on Tuesday. I had to go in person because I wanted to use my American bank credit card for the purchase. The delivery guys only take checks or cash.

The other errand we had was to buy a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card and plan for a cell phone that friends (thanks E&L!) had given us a few years ago. Ken and I keep talking about how it would be good to have a cell phone in the car in case we broke down somewhere, or in case one of us was out and about without the other and needed to get in touch. Pay phones are few and far between these days, especially in the countryside, and a mobile phone just makes sense. So, we're finally equipped with a bare-bones plan and minimal calling capabilities. It's really just for emergencies. Now we have to figure out how to work the darned phone (I just downloaded the user's manual from the internet).


  1. Loving the colors in this snap. I had no idea how much work was involved with running a vineyard until I saw a video at the Vouvray tourist museum. It's a lot like work. Anyway, good luck with the phone.

  2. Hi Walt,
    We order our heating oil online using a UK credit card through
    They use local delivery companies and the price seems to be competetitive. We order from the UK and can choose a delivery time to suit - you are allocated a date and time and can change to suit. It is very organised for people like us who have to organise everything around those precious few weeks a year when we can be in France.
    Of course, you might be loyal to a company which has provided you with good service over the years, or combine your trips to Remorantin with an opportunity to do other errands. If so, this wouldn't be an option for you. However, it could be good for emergencies.

  3. What lifespan does your LeClerc phone credit have?

  4. Susan, we got a 5€ credit for buying the SIM card, which cost €10. I don't know how long that credit is good for. Otherwise, with the Mini+ plan it costs €1.50 per month, including about 15 minutes of call time, and then 9 cents a minute after that. We haven't yet figured out much about it all.

  5. I'm glad the phone still works and that you can still get the manual. Your plan sounds very reasonable.

  6. I'm curious about what kind of phone it is?

  7. must they be pruned? what happens if they are not? are they pruned by hand? who does the pruning?

  8. That was the reason we purchased our first mobiles. Now we only have mobiles.

  9. stuart, indeed, it's a lot of work. But I enjoy the result!

    gaynor, thanks so much for that tip. I checked them out and saw that I could have saved a few pennies per liter. Next time!

    susan, we got the phone up and running, but still don't know how it will work exactly. Now that we have our account set up, I will need to go online and explore all the details.

    evelyn, we'll see how it goes. Hopefully, we won't be using it much, but it's nice to know it's there should we need it.

    judy, it's an old Sony Ericsson T300.

    michael, yes, they have to be pruned. It helps to ensure large, healthy grape bunches. And yes, it's all done by hand. Sometimes the growers themselves do it, larger operations have employees who work out there all winter.

    starman, I suspect we'll get there one day. But for now our land line has certain advantages that we're not willing to give up.


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