"Permanent closure" is the strictly literal translation, although "closing down" would perhaps be a better known expression this side of the Channel. But "fermeture definitive" is what the notice said. I wondered, when I saw how empty the car park was, if the store was closed on Monday mornings. But it would not be just Monday mornings that Mr Bricolage would be closed. Mr Bricolage closed down! I found it difficult to take in that my favourite DIY store in all of France was no longer in business. My friend Chris and I have spent many hours wandering the aisles of the store picking up the odd bits and pieces we needed for the work we were then undertaking at les Lavandes, the French hideaway that the Old Bat and I had bought almost ten years ago. They sold everything from artists' materials to ready-made staircases, from ride-on lawn mowers to floor coverings. They had the biggest range of drawer handles I have ever seen, and a veritable rainbow of self-coloured skirting boards. Over the years, Chris and I had bought screws, drills, a tile cutter, a window shutter kit - all manner of things. So familiar was I with the store that I could have found the screws even if I had been blindfolded at the entrance, but this time I had come in search of an alarm clock.
The Old Bat and I are very recently returned from a trip to stock up the wine cellar for Christmas and we had been plagued by power cuts. Now, I have to admit that a power cut in the village of la Prévière is not at all an uncommon occurrence; in fact, they are quite the opposite, but it is unusual for them to occur as frequently as they did during the first three days of our visit when we had four or five. I suppose calling them power cuts might be over-egging the pudding a tad as the only indication that the power had gone off was the flashing of the time display on the alarm clock in the bedroom. Maybe they were simply hiccups, interruptions in supply, but sufficient to stop the clock. Two of those interruptions had occurred on consecutive nights, thereby ensuring that I was not woken by the loud buzzing of the alarm. You might - quite rightly - say that is hardly the end of the world considering that the only pressing business of the morning - indeed, the only pressing business of the whole day - was a visit to the boulangerie to buy the lunchtime bread. However, an early start is needed on the day of our return to England, so an alarm clock is essential. Ideally, we needed an old fashioned, wind-up alarm clock. But where to find one? It's hard enough in Brighton, but the shops of Pouancé, Châteaubriant and Segré (the three towns closest to us) are unfamiliar territory - apart from the boulangerie, charcuterie, supermarkets and Mr Bricolage.
Serious consideration was needed, the sort of consideration that would have been described as "a two-cigarette think" in the days when I was still an active smoker. Having given that consideration to the matter, I had come to the conclusion that the most likely source of the apparatus we required was one of the big supermarkets in Châteaubriant. There are three large supermarkets in the town and I was quite content to leave to She Who Must Be Obeyed the decision as to the order in which they should be visited. So I drove to Hyper U, the larger version of Super U, our local supermarket. We did manage to buy some felt-tip pens to add to our granddaughter's Christmas present, but alarm clocks? We found none at all. It just so happens that the Hyper U and the Mr Bricolage sites are contiguous (at least, I think they are) so I suggested that we check out Mr B before going on to Leclerc, the second supermarket on the list.
I have yet to break the news about Mr B to Chris - not that we have undertaken any renovation work or other improvements for several years. Neither have we any planned. He will, I am sure, be just as astonished as I was to learn of the closure of what seemed to me to be a thriving store.
I did manage to buy an alarm clock. Leclerc had a good range. Although none were of the wind-up variety, I found a cheap electric one which has battery back-up so that the settings are retained in memory in the event of a power cut. I just hope we don't have one over the time the alarm is set to go off!
Thinking of early mornings, this was the dawn at la Prévièreone day during our recent visit - at 8.45am! Perhaps I should crop the picture to remove the lens flare, but I rather like it as it is.