We have Internet connectivity, yay! It’s been a real trial and almost three months since we arrived but heck, who’s counting, right? Yes, today we returned to the 21st Century and found ourselves properly connected to the Internet. Okay, that’s overstating it slightly as the version of the Internet we have is via the mobile network using the Orange Airbox, which works really well but has the distinct disadvantages of a) being metred — we have 30 GB a month in real money or 30 Go en français — and b) costing a bomb — 54 euros a month, which is a bit of piss take when you consider that you can get fixed line fibre, unmetered, with TV, sport, and a bunch of other feature we’ve come to expect for roughly half that. But we’re online, so who cares. Well, yes, I suppose I am a little bit bitter because having a metred connection is a pain . For example, no more Netflix or Spotify, which means I am now tinged with regret over decluttering our DVD and CD collections. I know it’s the south of France but it is still winter which does mean some long, cold nights ahead. We’re short of time, admittedly, so we’re unlikely to launch into a full season binge of anything but I do miss a little bit of TV after a busy day. The one DVD we currently have to hand is Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cracking film with a very rousing sound track (I cried alot when I watched this during my pregnancy) and DD loves it. We’re currently learning all the words to all the songs (Bryan Adams!) and having a thoroughly good time singing along but you know, just some times I fancy something a little grittier; 24, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black. Or Doctor Who. I’d really like to snuggle down with a hot chocolate after battling the three-year-old into bed (tonight it took only 2 hours) and watch something with lots of swearing in it. On the upside, by the time we do get properly back online there will be plenty to catch up on!
Since we arrived in France we’ve been almost entirely without real, bonefide, always connected, not worrying about data limits 21st Century Internet (and hence, Wi-Fi) in the house. For a holiday, no big deal. For an adventure in a new country when you have a million things to sort out, friends and family to keep in touch with, bills and moving practicalities to put to bed, a zillion questions flying around in your head, and a whole new language to learn, it’s a real pain in the arse. Do you know how many times a day you reach for Google? No, because the odds are you just pick up your phone or lift the lid on your laptop and Google away. Not being able to Google anything is amounts to not getting things done on steroids. Do you want to know what days the markets are? Tough, you’ll have to wait until you pass a tourist office and ask there, if they’re open. Which estate agents have properties you want to look at it? No idea. You’ll just have to go into each town and wonder round aimlessly until you find one then go in and be at their mercy. Want to make a cheeky offer on an overpriced house? No-can-do because the agents will only show you houses within 10,000 euros of your stated budget so as not to do themselves out of oodles of commission. Ah, so you want to search LeBonCoin, to bypass the agents and buy direct? Hahaha, no chance. Oh, you also want to reassure the grandparents that their grandchildren will remember them? (Yes, we’d been gone barely two weeks and my mum actually said that to me.) Well, Skype is out of the question. Do you need to find a phone number, maybe a phone number for calling from outside the UK to notify a utility company that you’re not at your old address? Good luck with that one, buddy! You can dial 0800 numbers until you’re blue in the face. No-one can hear your screams. And don’t even get me started on YouTube. It’s impossible learn to do anything that an instructional video could teach you. Every now and again I’ve set my mobile to allow roaming data because I just can’t take any more but try learning a new fold for the cloth nappies (I know there’s a fold for a heavy wetter – boy – out there) based on some fairly shoddy step-by-step drawings and you will fail, trust me. So there you have it.
The only workaround we have is to piggyback on a neighbour’s setup. In theory this means we can take it in turns to wander up the road and sit on a step opposite said neighbours house to use their Wi-Fi. In practice this means James thinks of something he needs the internet for then trots off up the road leaving me pinned under the smalls. Since we got here at least one of them seems to be breastfeeding at all times. Lord knows what’s going on with DD but for a small child of almost three she spends more time on my boobs than the baby. The times that I’m pinned under both of them are when my new found inability to mindlessly surf the Internet – usually reading blogs of women the World over similarly pinned under at least two small children and trying despeartely to see the funny side – is most keenly felt. To make matters slightly worse, getting it sorted is almost entirely in the hands of the property manager, who seems to have trained at the chocolate teapot school of effectiveness. Let’s just say we’re not hopeful that any of this will be sorted any time soon. In the meantime, you can find me under a rock (disguised as a couple of small and hungry humans). Send a telegram or something.