Wednesday, December 16, 2020

France Trivia Advent Calendar, day sixteen, the Minitel

French Village Diaries France Trivia Advent Calendar day 16 Minitel
Advent day sixteen, Sparkling Rosé Ice Edition and Biere de Noel

Advent day sixteen, Wednesday 16th December 2020

I think my advent calendar got its dates mixed up as surely the sparkling rosé Ice Edition I pulled out today, should have been in yesterday’s window to celebrate the end of lockdown. Oh well, never mind, Ed is a day late too as he forgot he didn’t need an attestation to walk the dog when he went out yesterday.


As I carried my laptop along the newly decorated landing this morning, on my way to my yoga nook, keen and eager to log into Zoom for my yoga class, I passed the office. Drifting through the door was Adrian’s voice as he began the introductions to the course he was running via Webex today, with delegates signing in from the UK. The next room along is Ed’s bedroom, where his online guitar lesson was just coming to an end, his conversations with his teacher in rapid French just audible above the music. I am so grateful that although we live in a small rural village, we are lucky to have a pretty decent internet service that allows all three of us to be logged in, on different platforms, taking part in video conferences, at the same time. Things have changed quite a bit from when we moved here in 2004 and we had to choose between having the phone line active or dialling in via the modem to check our emails or go online.

French Village Diaries France Trivia Advent Calendar day 16 Minitel
Keeping the gas bottle warm


Whilst we may have a pretty good internet service, we don’t have a mains gas supply in the village and just before morning coffee today, the gas bottle ran out. Back in pre-Covid-19 days, this would invariably happen the day after Adrian had left for the UK, meaning it was down to me to disconnect the old bottle, struggle in with the heavy new one, prise off the plastic seal (the most difficult part of the process) and connect it up using the special little red spanner. Thankfully, now my man is home, all I need to do is shout, although I did bring in the new bottle this morning as he was taking out the old one. It wasn’t quite the straightforward switch it normally is, as even with the new bottle connected, the hobs were struggling to keep alight. I have to admit it did cause a bit of a panic, as morning coffee is a necessity, and time was running out to get it brewed before the start of Adrian’s course, but the camping stove we use on bike trips came to the rescue. It might be quite a mild winter so far, but the outside temperature of 5º was obviously too cold for the gas to flow properly and the new bottle needed a bit of extra love and attention. Leaving the door off the cupboard, to ensure an ambient room temperature, and not rushing it to perform, seemed to work and this afternoon I successfully made another batch of leek and cauliflower soup. Phew, I did wonder if it would be microwaved lasagne for dinner this evening as this bottle was the last spare we had.


France Trivia advent calendar, day sixteen, Minitel

Keeping on a technology theme, the star of today’s trivia is the Minitel. This was a French invention from the 1970’s, that was rolled out throughout France in the early 1980’s and allowed French households and business to connect and interact online, through the telephone network. Using a terminal in your home, you could access an online telephone directory, have a mailbox, read online news and make purchases and travel reservations. It was the world’s most successful online service prior to the internet we know and love today, and although we never used it, I do remember the terminals at the post office when we arrived here in 2004. According to France Télécom, in 2009 there were still ten million monthly connections, but by 2012 they had retired the service as the world wide web had taken hold.

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