Our local eco-minded builder (who is Belgian, wiry, has seven children and sports an excellent moustache) did give me something for nothing.

It was advice.

And it went like this: I must go and see the Service Des Eaux. It is important. Fantastically important. I must go before any plans are drawn up. While we are waiting for our first-stage planning permission (CU). Serious ennui is certain to follow any failure to do this (which my dictionary translates as “problem” as well as “boredom”). I should go at the earliest opportunity.

The earliest opportunity was the following morning.

At the Service Des Eaux, a very nice man listened to my talk of yurts and compost toilets, reed beds and solar showers. Then expressed surprise that our CU had been submitted in July. He said he should have had a copy. And clearly, he hadn’t.

A very nice man of action, he phoned the Planning People immediately and spoke to the woman dealing with our case. She told him that someone from Planning had been to our land and said they were not favourably disposed to the project.

Not good.

But not a no.

He then assured me that, when he receives his copy of the CU, he will tell Planning that he is favourable (eau yes). He then suggested that I go and see the Maire (mayor), and get him to push our project.

After some to-ing and fro-ing, I have just returned from the Mairie, where the Maire isn’t, again, this afternoon. They phoned the same woman at Planning, who said she’d just had our estate agent on the phone with the same question.

Perhaps because the pressure from us is now sufficiently great, the woman at Planning revealed she is waiting to hear back from several people (including the Service Des Eaux). And we should have our answer by the 20th. Of next month.

A date that has appeared on this blog before.