What’s in a name, William Shakespeare asked and the answer can, sometimes, be “rather a lot”. Firstly, thank you everyone who commented and expressed sympathy for our car troubles. We are still without transport but I can report we are moving forward. The garage behind our first cottage have been magnificent and they will collect the car on Monday. They will give it a quick pre-check, take it for the test and return it the next day. Hopefully we can then get some insurance and leave our latest enforced isolation.
Regarding the insurance, I would like to offer some information. Many people in the UK use the comparison websites for insurance quotes. It is quick, easy and often offers a decent price. What is not made clear is these are actually considered “brokers”. Not a problem in England but at the root of our dilemma here. We have been puzzled by the refusal of some companies to insure us. “We cover courage!” one company boasts. Yes, but you won’t cover two retired lecturers for about 6,000 kilometres a year to drive to the shops, will you? Something was off and we were determined to find out what it was.
It took some persistence but someone finally admitted they didn’t accept a foreign no-claims discount, especially from a “broker”. This is partly due to Covid where people working from home are unable to do detailed record searches. The impact of Brexit makes sharing of data a grey area, compounding the problem. Any evidence of a no-claims record from a comparison site often cannot be verified in a reasonable time so it is rejected. Now, you may think this is interesting but not relevant to you but if you need “foreign” car insurance it can be devastating. And we never thought we’d need to insure our car in another country either.
Despite this ongoing headache this week has been much better for us. The building work has resumed and we are creeping towards luxuries such as a modern boiler. At present we cannot heat the water without running the heating which, in the recent heat wave, was less than ideal. We tried opening the windows but this brought the plague of flies inside, along with wasps, butterflies and, worst of all, horse flies. We’re installing fly screens on the door and windows and occasionally have a mass hunt using those clever tennis racquets that zap them when you get a hit. In the morning it sounds like a machine gun in the lobby there are so many.
The horse flies seen to love Jacqui and we are investing in a range of cures and researching preventative measures. Our beautiful old Tibetan Terrier, Saffron, suffered from bad ears all her life and we found a cream used for thrush was the best thing for them. It works wonders on the horse fly bites too – hooray for mild steroids! A friend told us about a wrist band used by horse riders to deter them. I was delighted to learn it was called “Naffoff”, which is what I say constantly when in the wood. I can’t wait to try them.
Speaking of the wood, we try to get out for an hour or so most days. We are concentrating on the top end where the oak trees are and it seems to be paying off. After some heavy work we have stripped most of the brambles and the choking ivy away. We consigned whole heaps of nettles to the compost heap and as we moved further back we discovered several more oaks. These are older trees, better established but still struggling. Each tree may take several days to clear all the parasitic invaders but already the nearest is looking better and I am hopeful we can save them. I’m not sure the tiny tree at the front will survive though we are going to remove the sapling next to it to give it more of a chance. If it doesn’t we will replace it with a new tree, another oak.
And sometimes you find something rather disturbing in the undergrowth. This week I unearthed a couple of old shot gun shells and a snare, now disabled of course. But next to them, buried in the earth, was a boot, sole upwards. I just hope the rest of the owner isn’t in there, head down. Unless it’s the illegal hunter in which case I hope it is.