Saturday, 25 October 2008

Know your boundaries

We are now happily settled at the neighbours' gîte and are re-acclimatizing to life in rural France; the quiet, the wildlife (including cluster flies, harvest mites and hornets), the beautiful countryside and the eccentricities of the French, the bureaucracy and the local population. It feels good to be back!

Yesterday we had an early start as we were putting in or les bourns cadastral or boundary stones. This is not just a case of bashing in a few rocks but involves the local geometre, (official surveyor) an array of complicated and highly technical measuring equipment and the presence of all concerned parties. Thus a strange bunch of people assembled at 9.00 am at the land. We were there together with Herman (the herb farmer at the bottom of the field), Madame Delgrano's brother, who owns a neighbouring field, and Madame Fleurre, a smart and sprightly seventy something lady who owns another of the fields.

The French contingent were in good spirits; it was sunny and they were enjoying the outdoors! They told stories of their youth. Madame Delgrano's brother started life picking grapes for Madame Fleurre's father and then should have been a baker, in the family tradition. However he rejected that plan as he felt that all he would do was to make things that disappeared with nothing to show for it. He decided to be builder; something he found much more enjoyable as his buildings were there to stay and he could still look at them. Madame Fleurre and her friend went off to look for mushrooms in the wood but the dry autumn meant there were none.

All seemed to proceed amicably. The plans for the fields were originally drawn up in Napoleonic times and hence there was some discrepancy about the exact dimensions which did not stand up to the robust measuring tools of today. However, all was agreed and all seemed happy except for Herman (who had been convinced that he owned all of the wooded area around the boundary - we suspect because he has let much of his land get very overgrown and if he cannot freely access the edge of the woods he will have a lot of clearing to do to make it possible for him to access all of his land!) Herman stormed off at one point (to the amusement of the French) and although he parted in a seemingly good humour in the afternoon we saw him marching back and forth around the boundaries of his land. No doubt we will hear more from him! The boundaries were officially marked with all due ceremony! The man in the photo placed the original stones 40 years ago. He is retiring next year!

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