(it seems that that's how you say that now....)
Looking back, it's hard to believe how well-organised our life was in the UK and what a shambles it is now.
In the UK we had a wonderful plumber. He could plumb anything, anywhere, anyhow. He lived just up the road and he was reliable and cheap. He'd put the heating system in our house and he just knew what was what. Here, too, we have used the plumber who installed the heating in our house, but it just isn't the same. Not at all.
The boiler-servicing man was great, too. I think because it was a small town and the church was a decent size generally you could find the contacts you needed.
Our mechanic. He was great ! I used to tease him because he just loved BMWs, but he still worked on our Toyotas, then Citroens. Obviously Toyotas are better than Citroens, but we spent more on repairs to the Toyotas than we have for our Berlingos. New radiators, all sorts.
We also had this brilliant washing-machine repair man. We looked forward to him coming. He kept our Hotpoint going for a supernaturally long time (certainly over 15 years) and when it was nearing the end of its life he told us plainly to run it till it died then dispose of it decently. Here I called a guy from Yellow Pages. Oh the shame !
Anyway when we came to France we needed a washing machine so we bought a basic model from a big store that gave good after-sales service and all was fine till just before Christmas when the 32 minute wash started to take hours and the programmer knob would go round and round and round. I phoned the guy from Yellow Pages and he charged us 50€ to tell us that it would cost almost 300€ to fix. I am not sure it cost that much to buy... Anyway. Disappointed by the shortevity of our washing machine (6 years is somewhat brief, surely) we considered our options. Pat on Facebook urged the machine to continue till Christmas at least. Apparently the machine uses Facebook. It heeded her plea.
Meanwhile enter certain knights in shining armour who also use Facebook. "How much does a washing machine cost in France? How can we send you money for one?"
French law is pretty tight on trying to stamp out corruption, so any money that comes from your employer with your wages is deemed to be additional wages, taxable etc. This means that it is best now NOT to send additional gifts of money for workers in France via their mission (check with the person / mission beforehand - don't take my word as gospel !)
So this morning a new washing machine was delivered from a local association called Envie. They specialise in refurbishing second-hand machines and also in obtaining new old stock machines and selling them on. Last week we went in to see what they had, and they had two natty Hotpoints - 9kg load ! (the old one took 5) and 1400 rpm spin speed (the old one did 800). They were new old stock and the price seemed good for what they were (Google is your friend on these things)
Four loads later and the thing is a marvel. It's so quiet. We had to go in and stare at it to make sure it was working. And the fact it takes almost twice the load will cut by half the number of washes we do.