Saturday, March 28, 2015

Why my dog and husband have a lot in common...

Friday 27 March 2015

Cool and showery with sun later
14 degrees

I wake at 6.15 thinking of everything I have to do and am down in the kitchen, printing off mandate forms when OH appears.  I don't think I have seen him at this time in the morning for at least a year.  He wanders around, getting in the way and tripping over the ironing board. The dog has his paw over his eyes and is trying to pretend this just isn't happening so early in the morning.

By 8.05 we are out of the house and at the top of the road where mobile signal kicks in.  My 9.00 appointment in the far away mountains has cancelled.  Why do people always cancel by text.  Why the hell can't they email or, even better, ring up?  I say to OH we need to go in any event to see the property we intended taking on in a mountain village.  Manage to close my eyes and ignore the swerving motions.  OH needs the loo so we look for a bar and can't find one until we get to the town which has a fiendish one-way system and it is market day so extra impossible to find a parking spot.

We squeeze in next to a mini chateau and go to the bar opposite.  OH goes into the loos and I order coffee.  Ten seconds later, OH bursts out of the loos, declaring they are all point and shoot, and charges out of the door.  The bar owner is making coffee.  I run out after him and he is already 50 metres up the road.  It is like being out with the dog.  I shout and he ignores me.  Finally catch him up and do a lot of shouting.  He goes and gets the car and I find a parking space outside a bar and guard it against would be parkers for what seems like a very long time before OH finally turns up.  

We have what turns out to be an exceptionally good cup of coffee and a framboise tarte and admire the art deco writing on the post office building.  A mentally retarded girl hassles us for our mobile phone to make a call and the bar owner comes out and takes her inside.

Refreshed and calmed down, we go to the meeting place and the owner comes to meet us. He had said that his house was just five minutes from town and is was because he drove like a maniac.  OH was happy to take up the challenge.  The coffee and cake started churning in me and I felt like throwing up by the time we got there.

The house and gite and apartment are absolutely lovely.  The living room has exposed stone walls with a huge log fire and is wonderfully warm and welcoming and the double glazed windows almost block out the noise of the passing traffic.  Almost but not quite.  For a country road, it carries a surprising amount of traffic.  The land contains a lot of chickens and they have taken off the grass and made a lot of mud.  It is on a bend in the road.  Still, the price is good and so is the coffee and we leave with a mandate so the morning has not been wasted.

Drive off west and find another town with a stunning river pounding through the centre. There is only one bar/restaurant open and we have the menu.  Tuna tarte with salad and good dressing followed by hake in tomato sauce with pasta and finishing up with chocolate mousse.  The restaurant was full of workmen, eating the menu and drinking wine or beer.  It is absolutely beyond me how people consume this much food, wash it down with alcohol, and then go back out and do another five hours work.  We got home and had to have a sleep.

All too soon, 2.45 came around and it was back to the dentist to find out why a bit had dropped off my new tooth.  It transpired that the morsel of hard stuff was just glue and that the hole was a slight imperfection in the ceramic crown.  He took the opportunity to take out the stitches.  

It was then back to the car park in my town to meet yesterday's clients.  They had been to see a house in the back of beyond, no relation to what they had said they were looking for, and only 150k.  They showed it to me on the Internet and it was fabulous.  I did some very quick thinking, remembered a house I had seen on a private ad yesterday, and took them to see the outside.  A very confused Swedish man opened the door and he was a renter who was leaving tomorrow.  I made an appointment with the owner for 4 pm tomorrow and then left them to wander around in the fine rain.

Back home and caught up with emails and updated the software.

Spoke to the seller of the town house where there are two buyers and it transpires that there may be a legal loophole because the offer document used by the other agent doesn't have a date beyond which the offer is no longer valid.  She will know next week.

Had toast for tea.  Still raining.

It is just not their French dream or why TV programs make my life difficult...

Thursday 26 March 2015

Sunny periods 10 degrees

Woke up extremely early and wrote for a couple of hours and then went back to sleep, with the result that when 9 am came around, I was completely disorientated.  Sat on the sofa with OH and stared vaguely at the TV and we were shocked to learn that the Airbus was deliberately crashed by the pilot, who locked the co pilot out of the cabin and decided not just to end his own life but those of everyone on board - all 150 of them - spread like end of life confetti over the French Alps.  I understand that someone is sad and ill and desperate enough to want no more of it but I don't understand why they need to take others with them. Such as parents who decide to gas themselves in their vehicles and gas their poor children at the same time.

Someone who has been dead a very long time was buried today.  The murderer, Richard III, was interred with honour and respect in Leicester cathedral, after being found under a car park which was the site of a former priory.  No word was said of his killing the princes in the tower.  I would have been there with a placard, protesting.  Only myself and Polly Toynbee seem to be of this opinion.  Have started a petition to bring him to trial.

Interestingly,people in South America, have signed already.  I will be watching this one with interest.

As the coffee kicked in, I realised that I had said I would go and pick up some keys from a colleague who was going out at 11.45.  Phone said 11.11 (more repeating numbers) so I threw on some clothes, picked up the keys and headed down to the weekly market.  Before I could get there, the phone rang.  The seller of the beautiful llama farm had gone to see her notary and the notary was fuming because the seller had told her to get the reservation contract done today or she would find another notary.   I rang her notary and let her rant on loudspeaker for five minutes before establishing that she was a notary who would get off her backside and do something but that tomorrow was cutting it fine.  The buyers notary had only just sent over the relevant information so she said she would get things under way, I spoke to the seller who agreed to take over the paperwork required by her notary and I finally got down to the market.   Had coffee in the lovely tea shop and an extremely disappointing biscuit.  Did some spontaneous choking on its very dry contents.

Back home and find OH and dog covered in mud.  Have lunch and then go to the hotel car park and lurk and wait for clients.  Every time I organise a meet in this car park, the people are late.  40 minutes later, an airport hire car arrives but not before at least three people have come up and engaged me in conversation and obviously know who I am.  I say 'what is your news and how are you' and try to hide it when it suddenly hits me who they are. Feel rather strained by the time we get to meet the new people.  Prise the car keys out of OH hands and let him do the talking whilst we drive to the first house.

Constructed in the early 30's, it is a great house in a not quite so great location and is very reasonably priced.  The people hmmm and suck their teeth and it is not their French dream. Take them to our big rental unit - they really like this but no room to do a BBQ.  Take them to a beautifully renovated town house with BBQ room to spare in the small garden.  This house is too 'done' and they couldn't put their mark on it (they wouldn't be saying this if they knew just how much making their mark is going to cost them over here), take them to see another renovated house, extremely ugly from the outside, but lovely inside with garden. The stairway and hall is very narrow and the clients fill it.  They feel hemmed in.  OH goes home to make dinner and I take them to a neighbouring large town.

The first house is one that they had actually asked to see.  It used to be the home of the oldest woman in France and has lots of original features, including quite a lot of mould as the owner has been in the UK, enjoying her daughters central heating, since the back end of last year.  They love this.  I then take them to another house in the village which has the main property, built sometime in the early 20th century plus the original tiny 16th century house which is like something out of a Thomas Hardy novel.  A novel hovel if you will.  The roof is new but otherwise, there is a blackened hearth with massive oak chimney piece, beaten earth floor and a stone sink.  They are stunned and say they are ten years too old for this one.

We go for a drink.  They love the houses in this town but they don't love this town.  They love my town so I need to find something for around 150000 euros with outside space.  That is one tall order.  Go back home and OH says I am wasting my time with them and they will never buy anything so we have words and then we have wine and then we do catch up on the emails.

Speak to Russians on Skype.  They say it is -2 during the day.  I am not surprised they want to fly south but hope the weather is better when they arrive.  Heavy drizzle through the kitchen window.  Blue tits and grey tits battling it out on the fat balls.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Things are hotting up!

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Cold and showery 8 degrees

Had some trouble getting started today.  Looked through very long list of things to do and did not feel motivated at all.  Rain.  Looked through the window and told the weather to buck up or no one was going to buy holiday homes.  Put the calor gas fire on and the dog promptly came and blocked the heat.  Moved the dog.  Drank tea.  OH went down to the rental unit.  

The phone rang three times.  People were responding to the advert I had put out last night, asking for beautiful homes with gites and lots of land.  The budget was the honey.  The first respondent lived down in the mountains but it sounded promising, large land, lovely house (he sent pictures) and outbuildings and not too expensive.  He told me the name of the agency he was with and it turned out that they don't actually have any ads on their site. They must pass them on the various property portals.  I couldn't find his house on there either. Not much competition for me then!  Arranged to see him Friday.

The second caller had what he described as a remarkable house in a remarkable position. The price he wanted was also remarkable and his house would have to have its feet in the ocean to realise such a sum.  I said I would keep it on file.  May pass it onto my colleague and see if she can beat a more reasonable price out of him.

The third caller lived in a place so remote that his phone signal kept on cutting out and when I finally did manage to find the ad he had put out, it transpired that it was at least an hour from the nearest shops and my client's llamas would feel they were back in Peru, the mountains were so huge.  My clients live in the South East of the UK.  There is changing landscape and there is changing landscape, but this place would have been a change too far.

I ring some places we found on the Internet yesterday and book in a fabulous one for Sunday.  I am under the cosh to find something as the client arrives on Wednesday and the house he was going to buy is the one taken by my lovely Russian clients.

Towards midday I head down town and meet up with a colleague who shows me a house in centre of town.  It is very ugly from the outside but a complete delight once you are over the front door, with clean modern interior, double garage and enclosed garden.  I recognise the owner as she works on the tills in a local supermarket.  Her husband comes in during the visit and he is extraordinarily beautiful in a Michelangelo way.  He is followed by his two little angels.  They smile shyly and twirl their hair.  I say I will be back tomorrow. Unfortunately I may have OH in tow (;)  

I then take my colleague to a house which is up there with the most visited on my list. Constructed in the 1950's, it is of unlovely appearance and is over 250m2.  It is also divided into two separate apartments and has the most villainous wallpaper I have ever seen.  Dark in colour and wildly beflowered.  Heavy, head cracking, wooden light fittings complete the look.   We go around and my colleague is very enthusiastic and much better at re-imagining the interior than either myself or my many clients.  Make mental notes.

Back home and take the dog for a walk.  The rain has eased up and we are at the head of a very muddy lane, when the dog shoots off down it.  I tear after him and he completely ignores me for at least half a kilometre.  I am too breathless to shout at him and wave my brolly within an inch of his head in such a way that he realises that he has been very bad. He does it again within 15 minutes.   Get back home in very bad mood and tell OH I am not walking that stupid dog any more.

The owner of the house which my Russians are buying rings and says that there is only one house that is suitable for them and if they can't move quickly, they will lose it and then they may have to think twice about selling.  Following the on going nightmare that is the would be buyers and the house down town, I now know that she can't change her mind but I say nothing.  Promise to kick the notaries into shape with great rapidity.  Ring notary who says it is the other notary who is preparing the initial reservation contract.  Ask her to kick the other notaries butt.  The diagnostics guy rings and says the house may be in a flood zone. (it wasn't) and the owner prepares a long list of things to include in sale.  Either the Russians need to come back next week to sign, or they need to sign remotely.  The heat is on.  My neck starts to itch and I realise the eczema is back.  Oh the joys of estate agency.

I have another message on the phone relating to a house but the caller hasn't left their number so I have to ring through all the incoming numbers on the phone before I finally get to him.  It takes some time as some of them are pleased to hear from me and some have an axe to grind.  It turns out to be happenstance.  Yesterday, when I went to see the vast property with all the rooms, the owner had said that his neighbour was also selling, and had given me the name and the town.  I had then rang all four people of this name and found the seller who said she had it on exclusive contract with a friend and wasn't interested in selling with me.  The person who rang me today is an uncle and he is also thinking of selling his house in my nearby town.  Booked him in for Monday.  Must change answerphone message to insist people leave their telephone numbers.  I am not psychic.

Make chili and sort out the running order for tomorrow's visits.  Talk to two people who want to rent our little rental unit over the summer and get them booked in.  Feel very tired and hit the hay early.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

You show me yours and I will show you mine....

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Cold and raining 8 degrees

I work in 'partenariat' with another local agent so this morning I showed her one of mine and she showed me one of hers.  This involved an early start as she is juggling the demands of a very young child and an artisan husband who expects two cooked meals on the table every day.  Apparently the 21st century hasn't quite arrived in this part of the world.  

I get there at 9 am and she is just upstairs, cleaning her teeth and 'putting on her face'.  I sit myself down in the kitchen and listen to the heavy chunking click of the wall clock and the periodic drip of the tap in the sink.  There are some fabulous oil paintings of cockerels on the back wall and underneath, a large country style dresser piled up with paraphernalia of daily life; books, bills, wax crayon drawings, greetings cards, keys.  P arrives in a rush and we climb into my car and head out into the morning drizzle.

The first house is just 20 minutes away and the owner lets us in.  He is wearing a waist belt and had a trapped nerve in his back.  His face is pale and he has lost a lot of his habitual bonhomie.  The house is 18th century with interior exposed stone walls and high ceilings with beams blackened by age and many fires.  The kitchen is bright and has lovely railway white oblong tiles running over the thick wooden slab worktops.  A fire burns in the hearth and the immense TV is showing news of the Airbus crash over the French Alps.  Everyone lost.  We finish the visit in a mood of shock.

The next house is 44 kms away and we talk about statutes.  This is how the work regime is described over here.  P says that she managed to go onto auto entrepreneur status but it was very complex.  Her accountant ('a real cowboy - I met him in a bar') advised her that she needed to cancel her status as an independent commercial agent, which attracts massive social charges (see yesterday's post) and then she would be able to re register as AE (auto entrepreneur).  This she did but when she went to see the relevant government dept, she was told she couldn't re register for a whole year.  As she was still working for her former agency at the time, she was aghast.  The fonctionnaire (white collar worker) pulled out a piece of paper saying that there were exceptions to the rules and one of these was registering as a 'presenter of services', so that is what she became until setting up her own agency and becoming a limited company.

She also told me about a 'friend' who is a banker and with whom she opened her new business account.  Her website provider is in the UK and has to be paid in pounds sterling. Her banker friend was charging her 54 euros for each monthly transfer from euros into sterling in order to pay these fees.  Her calls and emailed were ignored.  She is still with him.  I would have fired him off in no uncertain terms.

My phone keeps ringing with the would be buyers of the house in my town.  I have stopped answering their calls.  Ask P for her opinion as to their case and she says they are in a very poor position and the other agent is sitting pretty.  Oh dear, that is what the notary also said.

We arrive at the second house and it is a wonderful farmhouse so far from the road that I may never find it, and ideal for my road averse clients.  The owner arrives with her son, who is autistic, and highly up on all the facts, figures and dates relating to the property.  The poor lady has had a life filled with tragedy, her husband being killed in a road accident and her eldest son nearly being killed in the same spot a year later, and still having problems with infections and relapses.  S is petite and immaculately turned out, her pale chestnut hair swept into a smooth chignon and pale skin stretched over a fine bone structure.  We trot around the house and I really need to pee.  I ask permission, test that the water is on, and bliss, am left to relieve myself.  Alas, discover that the flush doesn't work.  Come back downstairs and the autistic son says, very loudly, did I notice that the flush was broken. Feel embarrassed.

Stop off for coffee on way back.  P asks if I miss my children, far away in the UK.  Feel suddenly tearful.  Yes, is the answer, always and forever no matter how old they will be.

Back home for very quick lunch and then south to a walled bastide town hanging onto a hill above a torrential and pounding river.  The GPS takes me around many roads, none of which are right so the owner has to come and find me.  His property is surprisingly large, with room after room after room and I suddenly feel very tired.  We go into an overheated salon and he serves me luke-warm coffee and tells me that he has no life, the business is exhausting and he wants to sell and have children with his wife.  I tell him that children are also very tiring and they are impossible to sell on....  For the price he wants, his property is also impossible to sell on.

Drive to local town in search of cake and obtain a very large pain aux raisins stuffed with massive fruits and pearls of sugar for myself and a lemon tart for OH.  Back home in heavy rain and have to do lots of emails.

Spend evening with OH watching YouTube videos of men with very strange West Country accents, fishing off the rocks of the Bristol Channel and I start loading details of craft group ladies into the Mail Chimp software.   Easter is coming up fast on the rails and I have promised them a newsletter.  Three ladies have come forward with articles, fortunately, so I don't have to write the whole sodding thing myself.

Dog is looking very tired after spending last night in the outhouse.  He can smell a lady dog in the vicinity and spent the whole night barking.  At his age, he really should know better.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Accountants, thin doors and badly behaved trolley type of day...

Monday 23 March 2015

Cool and showery 11 degrees

My accountant's emails were starting to sound desperate so I had booked in a visit to see her today.  Over here, the financial year end is December and the accounts are supposed to be in by the end of March.  I find that by cutting it short, the work gets done after the rush and I get the results very quickly.  Note that she had not been desperate enough to actually pick up the phone and ring me.  That happens when you get to the last 7 days.

In the early days, when I was earning stellar amounts of money, I used to be seen by a partner.  When hard times hit, I got busted down to an accounting clerk and we have stayed together ever since.  S is on the telephone when I arrive so I chat to the receptionist N who is a lovely lady and gets slightly fatter every year.  It has been eleven years and she is now filling the chair.  She eases herself out, offers a coffee and settles me into a spartan room with views of the car park.

I have a problem in that I am about to have a good year.  Good years mean I will suffer immense amounts of social charges.  S arrives and shuffles through my paperwork.  I may be always late but it is always complete and well prepared.  The social charges, which pay for health, pension, sickness and a proportion of the national debt (yes, really) are levied at 40% of income after sales tax and related expenses ie my net profit.   I ask her for some ideas of how to reduce my net profit.  She sucks her teeth and suggests I go out for lots of nice meals.  (yes, really).  I say, how about if I buy a new car and what if it is eco-friendly. She says that there is a maximum amount I could spend - 25000 euros but not all of that can be written off - only 18500 euros.  What happens to the rest?  It just stays in your balance sheet.  And that is only for cars with under 20 grams CO2 emissions.  If I were to buy a gas guzzler, I could only write off 9500 euros.  My hatred of the taxation system is rekindled.  Why the hell cant you write off the lot?  S shrugs.  It is the law.

I ask her for other ideas.  She is starting to look hot under the collar.  I say how about if I rent an office.  Yes that would be OK.  How about if I rent an office for myself or keep a room at home and charge expenses (shouldn't these ideas have been coming from my accountant???).  S says how would I pay for that with my current bank balance.  I ask about changing regime to a more favourable one.  S says she needs to ask the partner I used to see.

OH is lurking outside and reading a tome on the Peninsular Wars.  Please don't ask me what these were about.  

We repair to McDonald's which is no where near the amount, apparently, I should be spending on lunch and then go to the large DIY store where we try to find a very narrow door.  OH has decided to try and hide the massive and luminously white water tank which the plumber has stuck onto the wall in the new rental unit.  Finding a very narrow door, as you would imagine, isn't that easy.   There is only one trolley left in the bay and it is of the badly behaved variety, with wonky wheels and rotting base.  OH charges off into the shop, shouting 'follow me' and I try to keep up but the trolley has other ideas and veers off into displays, causing chaos.  It responds neither to pushing or pulling and I have to holler at OH to come back and we contain it by seizing a side each.

It occurs to me that I may be able to find things for my latest crafting obsession so I go in search of a hand drill, spray on glue and silica balls.  Various men send me off on various wild goose chases.  Find OH wrestling with the badly behaved trolley and two metres of long thin wood.  Manoeuvre this and the thin door into the car and I get to sit in the back seat which means I can play on my phone all the way home without OH complaining that I am rude and ignoring him.

I have three missed calls from the would be buyer of the house in town.  I don't know why they keep ringing me.  I cant help them with their dilemma.  I don't have a time machine to go back and get the owners to sign their offer first.  We need to wait to hear from the sellers advocate.  Ring the seller.  Her only defence is probably temporary insanity.  I suggest, very subtly, that she must have been very stressed.  She is very stressed and it is about 15 minutes before I get a word in edge ways.  I suggest a trip to the doctor to TALK ABOUT HER STRESS and get medication might help her case.  I must have been too subtle and she must have been too stressed because she definitely didn't take anything on board.  I cant face talking to the would be buyers.   

We do a catch up of the emails and tasks for the day and I peel two boxes of prawns before going for a swim.  Have a rental enquiry so speak to him and then try ringing some other people who aren't in.  OH makes utterly delicious chili seafood risotto.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Avila, rising above its plains, city and World Heritage site

mapa de avila

Sunday 22 March 2015

Still drizzly
10 degrees

Quiet day so just walked the dog around the lake together, OH threw stones at the cormorants and we were passed, many times, by lady joggers who were very well turned out indeed for that time in the morning, and on a Sunday.

Looking through my old photos, I come across those taken in 2011 when we had a late autumn trip to the city of Avila in Castile and Leon.  The rain in Spain is mainly, in actuality, on the coast.  In the vast central plains of Spain, it is inferno o invierno (an inferno or winter). The walled city of Avila stands high above its surrounded plains and the land had been burned dry of vegetation and resembled the hump backs of so many camels.  The citizens protected themselves by great walls, constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries.  It is a World Heritage site and a privilege to see.  Here are my photos

Medieval John Cleese



Wedding models in town square

A little challenge for you - look closely at the photos and see if you can spot the annoying tourist....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rooms with a view

FO-Palacio Miramar exterior desde-el-mar

Saturday 21 March 2015

Little bit rainy except for when I walk dog, when big bit rainy

10 degrees

First day of Spring.  Ha, followed by lots more haaaaas.  Gone cold again.  Birds have started looking for nesting sites and all of the cranes seemed to have passed overhead.

OH wakes up early, excited about fishing.  When he sees that it is raining, he climbs back into bed and hassles me so I can't concentrate on writing.  He can be very annoying but is a regular supplier of tea at all hours of day and night.

I had put a number of containers into the back of the car and had completely forgotten about them and driven around with them for days whilst wondering why the car smelled funny. We decided to go out for the day and so OH threw them out of the car boot and into the courtyard.  I know from experience that once he throws something outside, it stays there until I move it.  We had words.  Then we had more words.  Then we went to the dump.  An hour later, and partially covered in specks of paint and oil, we finally set off for our day out. Fortunately it wasn't raining too hard so no aquaplaning was involved, as on the last two occasions.

Unfortunately, everyone else seemed to have the idea of going into town too so there was no parking anywhere.  We circled and circled and eventually squeezed into a minuscule space with a 15 minute slot.  Enough time to dive out and get a coffee and have a loo break. I then discover a Chinese Bazaar.  I love a bazaar; they are just stuffed full of stuff you never realised you needed.  OH extracts me after far too short a time, but not before I have bought more hairpins and stretchy hairbands than a cheerleader in a season.  Everything was a euro.  

We then decide to go out of town a way and look what is on the top of the promenade. There we find a building called the Palais Miramar (sea view) which is now a school of music but was the summer home of the Spanish royal family, Marie Christine and Alphonso in the late 19th century

FO-Palacio Miramar exterior desde-el-mar
Palais Miramar
Queen Marie Christine
 Local information says it is built in the English Queen Anne cottage style.  There seems to be more of this style abroad than in England.  Here is an example of a US Queen Anne cottage

queen anne cottage
Los Angeles Lucky Baldwin's Queen Anne cottage

Elias Jackson (“Lucky”) Baldwin’s Queen Anne Cottage was constructed in 1885-86, probably as a honeymoon gift for his fourth wife, sixteen- year-old Lillie Bennett. “For a year after she married Baldwin (May, 1884), this little girl was queen of the ranch,” wrote the Los Angeles Times. Lillie’s father, architect Albert A. Bennett, designed the cottage, but the honeymooners apparently never enjoyed its beauty. Lillie and E.J. separated in 1885, and the fanciful house was converted by its owner into a memorial to the third Mrs. Baldwin, Jennie Dexter, who had died in 1881. A stained glass portrait of Jennie stood welcome in the front door and an almost life-size oil painting of her was hung in the Cottage parlor. Both items remain today.   

Curious about the epithet 'Lucky', I look him up on Wikipedia

Baldwin was financially tightfisted in his business dealings, but led a flamboyant lifestyle. He was especially free-spending when it came to women. One contemporary commented, "Baldwin didn't run after women; they ran after him."
Baldwin's matrimonial ventures periodically created sensations. He was married four times, the first three marriages ending in divorce. He was sued by four women for breach of promise of marriage. His stature as a celebrity was such that at age 56, when he married 20-year-old Lilly Bennett in San Francisco, the wedding drew coast-to-coast press coverage.  In the same year, he was sued by a jilted 16-year-old girl who was awarded $75,000 in damages.
Lucky Baldwin 001.jpg
Baldwin, aged 80
Lillian Ashley (later Turnbull) signed a 'wedding contract' with Lucky Baldwin.Los Angeles Herald[10]
One of the women accusing him of breach of promise shot and wounded him in 1883 with a pistol inside his luxury Baldwin Hotel, built in 1876 on the northeast corner of Powell and Market St. He also narrowly escaped death in a San Francisco courtroom on July 2, 1896. He was sued by Lillian Ashley for seduction. While she was on the witness stand, her sister Emma Ashley,  walked up behind Baldwin and fired a pistol at him, grazing his skull.

Back home and I spend the evening looking at gorgeous resin jewellery on Pinterest.  I can feel a new obsession coming on.   Yesterday I collected some wild flowers and, not having any silica to hand, have submerged them in a sea of rice.  Hope they are not squished to bits.

Tea, fig rolls and it is snowing again in Boston....

Friday 21 March 2015

First day of Spring
Rain is back again

I get a message on Skype which is the modern day equivalent of a long distance wail.  'it is snowing again!'.  Poor LL, when she signed the initial contract to buy her house here, back in October, June must have seemed a long way off.  She is on a tiny outcrop of the States, on the Eastern seaboard, and has suffered snow for months.  And not inconsiderable amounts of the white stuff either.  She knows, as well as I do, that if she doesn't turn up to sign the Title contract at the end of June, she is liable to pay 10% percent penalties to the seller, who has actually changed his mind and doesn't really want to sell, but is tied in.  He would be thrilled to get 10% penalties and to not sell the house.  She is under the cosh.  On the positive side, the euro has really dropped against the US dollar, so she can afford to drop her price somewhat to generate a quick sale.  Providing the buyers can get over their doorsteps, and hers.

First thing today is to go and revisit the house I went to see last week, and get the sales contract.  I arrive and the septic tank lady is tramping around the garden and the owners, who don't speak her language, are hiding in the house.  I introduce them to one another and interpret.  I am then invited in and the lady of the house goes to make tea.  A good thing about UK clients is that you get tea at the start, which lubricates the bronchials and is agreeable.  You also often get biscuits (fig rolls in this instance, yum!).  The French and Spanish wait until business is finished before offering you refreshments (unless you are puce in the face with heat and look as if you are about to expire onto their freshly cleaned parquet) and then if you accept, you are there an hour longer.  They then take the opportunity to talk about many things of which the worst to extricate oneself from, is politics and when the UK will join the Euro.  Not in a month of Sundays because we don't want to be in the same crap that you are, is the actual answer.  I have to dress it up a little.  They are also often under the impression that the Queen owns all property in the UK.  OH used to tell people this was true.

We also discuss Jeremy Clarkson, of Top Gear, who has been suspended by the BBC following a fracas with his producer.  A million people have now signed the petition, asking for him to be reinstated.  People either love him or hate him.  The man of the house and myself are definite fans.  I particularly love the fact he is not at all PC.  PC is an infringement of civil liberty, imo.  I will be writing a blog about that.  When I have done a million other things on the list first.  I will also be writing one called In Praise of Monotasking but I don't know when because I am still stuck in the black hell of Multitasking.

I get out the sale contract and everything suddenly grinds to a halt.  Their daughters are not happy with them selling the house so feathers need to be smoothed and they will sign the contract later.  Why didn't they tell me that before letting me drive 25 kms to see them?

Back home and spend two hours going through all emails and getting my diary up to date. I have more people coming over in the next month than I have in ages.

The complicated situation with the house in town continues and both buyer and seller keep ringing me up but I don't know why because there is nothing that will happen until the seller sees her advocate next Friday.

My lovely labradorite has been working overtime so, when I get to bed, I recharge it by placing it between my hands and running reiki through it.  I wake up in the middle of the night suddenly and am conscious of an image of the stone in my mind's eye, and all of the facets are sparkling.  A strange experience.