More Laughter and an addition to our Family
I have suffered my fair share of cringing (and causing laughter that one can only join in with!) when saying things in French quite the wrong way. Probably the first was when Monique from up the road asked Madame C and myself to her house for an impromptu "cuppa" whilst the men were going about their own business. We clomped our way up the road (we had been gardening and nattering at the same time) so were not suitably attired for an actual afternoon coffee and cake session but as it was only we three, it didn't matter.
Monique watered down the coffee from her jug (as I looked on despairingly as I love strong French coffee) and put it into a saucepan to heat up on the gas. She then brought out a box of the local "Creusois" cake and we sat there nibbling and slurping. After a while she asked me if I'd like another piece of cake but as I didn't really fancy another wadge, I said "non merci, je suis plein". I knew this word meant "full up", as on our many French holidays we had always asked the petrol pump attendants "le plein, s'il vous plaît" (fill her up!) The two ladies looked at each other then fell about laughing, Madame C then explained that in this context (and not indicating a petrol tank) the phrase meant that I was saying I was pregnant! To this day I have never heard the last of this as it is dredged up by Madame C for everyone who'll listen and to have a giggle at. I don't really mind now as I've told enough people myself!
Monsieur C exposed me to my next worst faux pas - or perhaps it was the worst! We were in his car with me alongside him at the front and Terry sitting in the back. Monsieur C turned the air conditioner down to a low number and then asked me if I was warm enough. It was a very hot day and I was feeling pretty warm so I was pleased at his action and told him earnestly that "ça va comme ça, je suis chaude". He sat and chuckled and waggled his eyebrows at me then turned to Terry, did the explicit French hand movements and told him that he was a lucky chap to have a "hot" wife - if you follow my meaning!!! I had temporarily forgotten to use the verb avoir instead of être and should of course have said "j'ai chaude" and the difference in the meaning in these circumstances was pretty considerable! Monsieur C then went on to say that the same thing applied to being cold - said one way it certainly meant one was feeling cold but said with the wrong verb it meant that one was frigid. Ooooops! That's another one that has done the rounds many a time, thanks to my lovely neighbours.
By November of our first year we decided that at last it was the right time for us to have a dog, so we fenced off the garden and drove into Guéret to look around the SPA. We told the attendants that we were looking for a youngish dog and having looked around, saw three or four that quite appealed to us so went to find someone who could tell us more about those particular dogs.
I have to say how impressed we were with their honesty, as one dog was not suitable as it had been re-homed several times as they'd realised that it was too possessive of it's one main master to have two people in the household. Another one had a medical condition that would permanently cost a lot in vets' fees ; another couldn't be stopped from peeing in the house and so it went on.
Disappointed and saddened somewhat, though not giving up, we said we'd return a few weeks later to see if they might have got some different dogs in by then. We did return and that time were quite taken by a young red setter type who had been tied up to the SPA's fence and abandoned. They said that they weren't allowed to re-home him until he'd been there for a certain number of days so we left and had all but decided to return for him when his time was up.
However, we were buying blé for the geese one day in Gamm Vert, scanned the notice board and spotted an ad offering a six-years old male Breton Spaniel. He wasn't as young as we'd intended but something about the ad caught our attention. Terry was busy finishing some work at home and didn't have the time for the hour's journey to see the dog so I went on my own with instructions from Terry to say that if I liked him, he would too and we'd have him!
Arriving at the house I was welcomed and shown the dog, Willie (they went to pains to say that he was already named when they "inherited" him and his name wasn't their choice!). Apparently, when they (an English couple) bought their house from an elderly French lady, they were told that her husband had gone into a Home and she was down-sizing by selling the house but she wasn't going to take the dog with her. If the buyers wouldn't agree to take him, she was going to have him put down as he was an ex-chasse dog and now that her husband couldn't look after him, he was unwanted. They told her that they already had a dog but that when they eventually arrived, they would keep Willie. However, they didn't move in until some three or four months later so Willie was apparently lodged with various neighbours for a month or so at a time until they arrived and then - their own dog didn't get on with Willie, so they couldn't keep him either.
Willie was such a lovely lad, rust and white coloured and had a friendly nature and I decided then and there that we'd have him. We agreed that they would deliver him to our house a few days later (obviously they wanted to see where we lived and that he was going to a suitable home). On the way home I called in at Gamm Vert and bought a roomy dog basket and duvet; bowls; food and various dog treats. When I got home and showed Terry what I'd bought he exclaimed "what size dog are we having ???" He thought the basket would be too big for our kitchen - but it wasn't, it fitted in a corner very well and would allow Willie to stretch out in the hot weather so that he wasn't all scrunched up.
Willie was duly delivered to us and became part of our new French family. He has a lovely nature, was already house-trained and has big, trusting, amber-coloured eyes. He didn't meet just one criterion - he wasn't and still isn't lead-trained. Being an ex-chasse dog, he was used to hurtling over fields and he hates being in the car in heavy traffic - he is definitely a country dog but that doesn't matter as we have found lots of different walks along farm tracks; by the river; and lots of different country areas and we let him go. He used to run and run so fast and so far when we first had him that we often lost sight of him for to ten or fifteen minutes but we've had him for three years now and he will be nine years old on 1st October this year. Although he still runs to start with, he eases off much earlier now and once he's stretched his legs he's happy to "lead his pack" (us !) at a fairly brisk pace; or to snuffle about in the grass or try to dig down to Australia with his stumpy tail wagging nineteen to the dozen. He is bi-lingual now and will both "Sit" and "Come" on command (unless he's out in the country and then all common-sense deserts him). He is a gorgeous boy and so quickly belonged in our family.