Saturday, April 4, 2015

Improving gradually...

Friday 3 April 2015

Warm and sunny 18 degrees

Awoke 8 am with vicious headache and queasy stomach.  I was not however wheezing as badly as yesterday.  OH got up early, excited about fishing, and banged about downstairs before bringing me a cup of tea and then banging about some more.  Curses and breakages ensued.  I staggered downstairs, holding my head with one hand and my stomach with another.  OH in state of wild agitation, fortunately leaving soon after, bristling with gear and leaving a confetti of mud all over the kitchen floor.
Threw up the contents of the cup of tea, ate some muesli and took the antibiotics and steroids and told rebellious stomach that these contents would have to stay down.  The sun was shining and the internet was still off so drove unsteadily to the top of the hill and walked the dog.  Because I had the big walking stick, he was very well behaved.

Surprised to see that the town house, subject of much wrangling, has still not been signed due to the fact that the sellers’ advocate is now in touch with my buyers’ advocate and they are trying to find a way of getting the sellers out of the agreement with the other agency, in a way that the other buyers don’t ask for an assignation and the whole thing gets blocked for months in the queue for the Tribunal.  Texted everyone and told them of my internet and phone problems and said I could only get mobile reception by going out and up to the top of the hill.  The joys of living in rurality…

Back home, feeling slightly better and the queasiness had gone and the headache was starting to lift.  Dropped off the dog and drove to my appointment.  The people were on time and were waiting in a massive SUV with Swiss number plates.  We waved at one another and then went straight to the house.  The owner’s cat was lolling on the terrace and my clients cooed and the owner came out and the cat went into attack mode and ran straight up the man’s leg, which he found very amusing.  I detached the cat and we started inside.

The house is 18th century and constructed of stones from the river, pounded and rounded out of all their sharp edges into large egg shapes and then pressed into cement.  The inside is cool and modern, with large kitchen and stomach height wood burning fire.  On the whole, it went rather well.  We got outside and had a chat and they said, actually, they had 100 grand more to spend and had I got anything else.  I promised to send over some details and we parted and I quickly found a nearby bar and some refreshing coffee and tried to look at houses on the web and my stupid forfait is all used up.

Back home and OH is still out fishing so I eat some bananas and then go down town to meet a partner agent and see a little house for the client on Monday.  It is a peach.  I then go into our nearest large town and hang around in SFR for what seems an age before I am finally seen and lent a 3g key to use whilst they get around to coming and fixing my internet, which will now be Tuesday (if I am lucky).  I take the opportunity to say how very unhappy I am with their internet and phone services and the woman takes the opportunity to ask me how much am I paying for my mobile over with Orange.  I am currently paying 25 euros for two hours calls and 500Mo internet, both of which are insufficient.  She offers me a cheaper price for unlimited calls and ten times more internet, because I am such a loyal client.  I am not loyal, there are only two main phone suppliers out here who are prepared to try and supply me with broadband at home and one of them (Orange) denied that they were actually doing so, when I went in to ask if they could improve the service.  I swapped to SFR a while ago for landline and internet, mainly because they could offer an all-in deal for landlines in most countries plus French mobiles, but didn’t realise at the time that when the internet would go off, so would the telephone.  As I am currently saving in excess of 100 euros a month, I am putting up with the inconvenience of being periodically incommunicado, which can be pleasant and does mean I get around to doing other stuff.  It is frustrating however, when I have the newsletter to get out to all the people who have signed up, and I am awake at 6 am and can’t do any work on it because there is no pestilent internet.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Something happened in Casualty

2 April 2015

Sun!  20 degrees

I started sneezing at midday yesterday and by the time I went to bed, was wheezing and nose was pouring.  I must have woken on the hour every hour, first thirsty,then unable to breathe, then needing the toilet.  Dawn broke and I felt 100 years old so I spent virtually the whole day in bed, until 6 came around and I went to the doctors to pick up some new germs.

Bronchitis, was the doctors diagnosis, so I am antibiotics and the magical Prednisolone, a strong cortisone which kicks germs into touch in no uncertain manner and is much preferable to the intravenous injections of Ventolin which I used to be given in the UK and which made me shake like someone with  delirium tremens.  I normally take an inhaler of low dose cortisone which controls my asthma very well, but because my pulmonary airways are inflamed, I cant inhale it properly.  

A full blown asthma attack is terrifying and can be accurately described as drowning out of water.  I had a particularly bad attack back when I was a student, and staying in someone's dusty flat.  In the morning, I was about to pass out and went with my friend to Leeds Infirmary, where they put me on inhaled Ventolin and I sat and steamed and shook and felt life return to my lungs.  There was a little old lady sitting in Casualty (there is nothing like asthma for jumping the queue) and she was covered in bandages and sticking plaster and had some very nasty bruising.  A nurse came over to her and said, in piercing tones, 'the man who ran you over, wants to take you home'.  'oh thankyou' said the lady, and went out, hanging onto the man's arm.  Apparently she had stepped out in front of his car.

Attempted to watch the leader's debate, with seven party leaders, including the Greens, the Plaid Cymru (Welsh), the Scottish Nationals and the other usual suspects.  Alas, the effort was too much for me and I slept fitfully.  The only person who seemed plausible was the Scottish leader and the whole thing was rather disappointing.

March 2015 Roundup

This month has seen the arrival of people from afar who are new and recontact by vexatious persons.  The people from afar, from a country unknown to the habitants of the good ship, Leaving Normal, were a delight and came bearing presents and showing friendship and goodwill.  They brought joy and the excitement of discovering new things about the world.  The vexatious persons spent the month battling to repair what was spoiled by their greed and duplicity.  They started the month in arrogance and ended it in frustration.  Their affair is still not settled.  Partnerships have been formed and are on solid ground.

The children, in their own boats, are making steady progress and their work is appreciated, although not always in financial ways that they may merit.  They are learning to speak up and defend themselves against their own vexatious persons.

The rains of the month have not damaged the ship and the Spring is arriving, with sweet bird song and green shoots on the treesThe urge to leave behind the shore has lessened as each day has been more pleasant than in the year gone by.  The habitants of the ship are enjoying spending time doing things they enjoy, even rising before the sun, to make time for such things and watching the stars fading in the approaching dawn.

The hull has been lifted by fresh water and is no longer grinding on the rocks.  Good fortune is promised for the months ahead but even so, the captain is fatigued, and needs a period of rest before the oncoming new tide which brings many fish, of all sizes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Infamy, infamy! And we are running out of wood.

31 March 2015

Periods of heavy drizzle
13 degrees

We are nearly out of wood and the holidays are two weeks away.  The idea was that we would get back from holiday and not need any more wood because it will be May, and in the way of May, would be lovely and warm.  OH has taken to looking at the old beams in the barn and we may have a reprise of Angela's Ashes over the next few days.  Wet weather continues.  Last May was cold and wet.  The weather has definitely gone downhill over the 11 years we have been out in Europe but has still a way to go to be as bad as it was where we lived in the UK.

I go and see the doctor and show him my itchy elbow and neck and alas, he says it is psoriasis and is often caused by stress.  I have been stressed by sitting in his waiting room for over an hour whilst the previous patient waffled on about nothing in particular and left, looking in the best of health.  He suggests I take up a calming activity such as yoga or meditation.  I say I don't feel that stressed and he says my body is feeling it and showing it. I also show him the strange mole type thing on my chest and he says I will have to go and see a dermatologist and, no, he doesn't think it is a skin cancer.  My mammogram form arrives in the post.  Infamy, infamy; they've all got it in for me....  I google psoriasis and there are some truly revolting pictures.

On the work front, I go back and take on market the beautiful domaine and holiday home property south towards the mountains.  A return of investment of 10% is possible but the buyer will need to have deep pockets to purchase it.  I take the dog with me and we have a stagger around a muddy field.  The options for running off are limited because there is a whopping, pounding river at the end of the field, and barbed wire all around.  Alas, the coffee shop in the next village is closed so I go back home, have quick lunch and then down to the rental units with OH.

OH has been working in the rental unit now since the beginning of the year and it is still a long way from being finished.  I arrive and do some cleaning and then look at what is meant to be going where in the kitchen area.  Basically, there is not enough room to fit in a washing machine and it is going to have to go in the newly created cupboard (now complete with new, narrow door).  We do some measuring and the only other alternative is to move the sink, which is currently fixed to the wall, and with huge holes in the back where OH has made access to the pipes for the washing machine.  I ask why the washing machine pipes are behind the sink and am told I know nothing, and I have never plumbed in a washing machine.  I should have kept a closer eye on this project.  It will never be finished before we go away.  I wanted to put it on market for Easter.  When, and if, we go back to the UK, I am paying registered artisans to do the work in the house, even if I have to work full time to fund it.

The seller of the town house which is the subject of much wrangling by the two buyers rings me with some news.   Her advocate says she must sign with the other agency or she will be in trouble.  My would be buyers send me a letter they have received from their advocate, saying because my buyers are cash and the other ones aren't, then the sellers have a legitimate reason to withdraw from their engagement with the other buyers. Her advocate has asked to see the copy of the reservation contract signed by the other buyers, with the other agency.

A sale that is still lingering from last year has suddenly acquired some life.  The new owner has applied for change of use and the notice has to be posted in the window of the house for 2 months, during which time the Mayor or a bailiff must pass and see that it is correctly posted and then locals have the right to object.  A problem is that the owner's father, who is an alcoholic and either in the bars or asleep, is alone at the house and I cannot rely on him to put up the notice.  The owner's mother is with her adult children in Oz and the owner lives in China.  Great.  I will have to enlist the aide of a local lady who is friends with the family.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Election fever grips the capital

Mayor of London Boris Johnson

Monday 30 March 2015

13 degrees
Light drizzle followed by heavy drizzle

This made me laugh - although unlikely to have been by the Mayor himself, the wildly shaggy haired Boris Johnson, sadly lacking from Have I Got News for You since he decided to get serious.

So parliament has been dissolved, the General Election set for May 7th and everyone is looking very happy about it

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Milliband

Ed seems to feel that his genitalia are under threat.  If you are looking for serious political analysis, by the way, you really are in the wrong place.  My analysis of the election will largely extend to amusing pictures and cock ups.

Lots of enquiries and everyone seems to want to come when we are on holiday.  OH takes the idea of moving the holiday very badly and starts waving hands in the air like angry sea anemone.  Say OK we will stick with it.  I cant be bothered with holidays.  I would rather stay here and do some gardening and writing and fiddle around with my crafting stuff but no, we have to spend hours in the car going somewhere hot, stay in a hotel which is stuffy and where I have to listen to him snoring all night, and drink and eat too much.  I usually feel exhausted when I get back, although it is good for clearing up the stress related eczema which is now all over my elbows and neck and driving me bonkers.

My Russians say they will be back to sign the reservation contract on the 14 April and the sellers have found a house in Murcia and, fortunately, they are speaking on Skype when I ring up so I manage to speak to them on broadcast.

Spend the morning trying to find property for the buyer who wanted to buy the house that the Russians have now agreed on, and they reject everything.  The problem is that when people fix on a house, they want to find something else which is identical, and it can take years before they let go.  This happened twice in 2013 and both sets of buyers are still looking.  As Del Boy (Fools and Horses) would say 'fortune favours the brave'.  If you love something, you just have to dive in and then figure out the rest later.  If you are not brave enough to dive in, then perhaps the time and the action are just not right for you.

Go swimming later on in the day and the pool is almost empty, apart from a really annoying woman who swims so fast on her lengths that I am absolutely breathless in trying to keep up with her.  Do my 30 lengths in record time.  She is still shooting up and down the pool like an automaton whilst I take a breather, sit in the bubbles and look at my stomach bouncing about.  I have been eating bread again and look six months pregnant with the two kilos gained right on my front.

A french client contacts me about a house which has just come back onto the market, after having been reserved for a period of six months, at the expiration of which it transpired the buyer couldnt get the loan.  She says she knows the house and loves it but could only afford to pay 90% of the asking price.   It is an expensive house and this represents rather a lot of money.  I ask her if she wants to come and see it again, and she says she will talk to her husband.  This property, a stunning water mill, I used to have on exclusive contract. I found a buyer almost immediately, at a sum thirty percent in excess of what is now being asked.  The seller dilly dallied at paying for the necessary reports and insisted on having their own notaire, with the result that the buyers who had waited a month to sign, had to return to the States.  By the time they got off the boat, they had changed their minds and now we are two years down the road and it is still not sold. A voir, as they say over here.

Watched the end of The Tempest and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it.  OH was in deep sleep.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Revving up for the General Election!

Sunday 29 March 2015

Very windy with scudding clouds and sunny periods
14 degrees

Today I had fixed to go and see a house in the mountains for a client who will be here next Saturday.  The client sent me an email rejecting the location and so I rang the owner to change the date.  I don't want to be going out on a Sunday if I can avoid it.  The phone rang and rang and no answer.  I looked at the private ad again and noticed it didn't have a thermal energy report.  It has been the law for over five years now, that each house advert must show its thermal efficiency - rather like the bar graphs you see on fridges.  An hour and a half later, and almost at the time I would have had to have been leaving, the phone rang and it was the owner.  He agreed to get a report done before I came and I gave him the name of my man who does.

Spent an hour and a half loading names and details into the Mail Chimp software, ready for producing the newsletter and received two more articles, one on an international quilting project and another on wedding ring fine scarf knitting.  I have one week before Easter to get my act together.

Had lunch and felt exhausted.  OH said why didn't I go for a siesta, so I did and was spark out for an hour and a half.  Still felt tired when I woke up.  Need to sleep later this week - most of last week I woke up around 6 am.  OH was watching a  film and the dog was complaining so I took him out for a quick walk and he ran off.  Again.  Did actually smack him this time. Informed OH that he would be walking him from now on.  

Shutters banged and clattered during the night.  Gusty winds.  Tomorrow, the UK parliament will be dissolved and electioneering will begin.  

David Cameron - Tory leader

David Cameron of the Tories will probably resign if he isn't reelected.  

Will Ed Milliband and Ed Balls of the Labour Party have to climb into bed with the ghastly Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party?  I cant wait to see how EM faces up to public debates - he has already forgotten to talk about the economy in one of them.

Ed Milliband labour leader
Alex Salmond - SNP

Ed Balls - labour chancellor - talking balls is english slang for talking rubbish

Will people vote UKIP?  Nigel Farage is all over the media, fag and pint of beer in hand.  I think this is going to be a really fun election to follow.

Nigel Farage - United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

I note from the Live Feed that there is someone in Mountain View, California who regularly reads the blog, for which I thank you.  I wonder what you think of it.  I wonder who you are, so far away in sunny CA.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tired and frustrated

Saturday 28 March 2015

The sun is back!  Still not very warm though

Spent the morning writing up visits, giving feedback, replying to a sudden rash of new enquiries and then walked the dog.  Light drizzle ensued.  Took a very large walking stick with me and, before going over the door, showed it to the dog and informed him that he would be suffering the blunt end on his bottom if he ran off again today.  The dog understood and was exceptionally well behaved.

The Spring flowers are glorious.  There are deep and velvety violets, shiny celandines, grass green hellebores and a new flush of euphorbias, both low growing and tall.  Tiny bells of pink and white cardamine pratensis float above the new low stars of biennial teasel.  The latest and most exciting arrivals are the scillas.  As blue as the bluebell, they are tiny stars of flowers, rising proud above their thick and fleshy leaves.

Back home and have quick bite to eat with OH and then gather together mandats, bons de visite, camera, measuring machine etc. and go down town to meet the clients with whom I have spent most of the back end of last week.  They are late.  Again.  And again they don't apologise.  That is very irritating and rude.

We go to see the house I found yesterday and it has been renovated beautifully.  I used to have this house for sale four years ago.  It was inhabited by an English guy with a drink problem and two large dogs, who did their business in the courtyard.  Nice.  Now it is warm and welcoming, with dove grey walls, buffed and loved original oak flooring, lovely new ceiling lights rather than the more authentic strip lighting which buzzed distractingly and was home to many dead flies.  The lounge was now on the first floor and the double windows overlook the square.  The courtyard had been decked out and planted.  It was absolutely lovely.  It was also a house in the centre of town, with outside space, within their budget.  I could tell, as we walked around, that they were not going to go for it.

We went for a coffee and they sucked their teeth.  They are still fixed on the house in the back of beyond that needs a lot of work doing.  There is a river going through the garden. The guy says he could go paddle boarding on that.  I point out that the house is cheap because it is in the back of beyond, that they will spend all their time renovating which costs an average of 1200 euros/m2.  The woman says, if they didn't have a renovation to do, how would they keep themselves occupied other than smoking or drinking.  I suggest that they could discover the region, learn new activities, have the time to do all the things they have never had time to do.  I also point out that whatever they spend on the house will not necessarily be recoverable, that who is going to want to rent the house out there other than in summer - the one here in town earns 800 euros every three weeks and is booked up until late autumn. They say that they can do a lot of work themselves.  I point out that they will be spending an hour just getting up to the auto route, never mind to the sea, which the guy claims to love. They say that the agent told them he could get to the coast in 40 minutes.  I google it and it is 93 kms on small roads.  Still, says the guy, we really love that house. They then start discussing renovation between themselves, as if I am not there.

I get very fed up of them at this point.  I have shown them exactly what they said they wanted; in exactly where they said they wanted; and for the price they wanted.  I finish up quickly and go home and am very tired and very frustrated.  

OH doesn't say I told you so, which is just as well, or he would have been feeling the blunt end of the walking stick too.  Instead he makes steak and chips and then puts on a recorded production of the Tempest with Helen Mirren and, surprisingly, Russell Brand.  I find there is nothing like culture to put me into a deep sleep.  Wake up briefly to find OH has passed out too.  Insist that we go to bed immediately.