Saturday, May 16, 2015

A visit! Nature does some power washing on my behalf

Friday 15 May 2015

Heavy showers with sunny periods 
22 degrees

The potatoes are certainly getting a good watering in and, alas, the extra rain still doesn't mean that the well is going to give us any water.  There must be a pipe broken somewhere because the pump is turning like a trojan but no water is filling the tank.

OH gets up and sits at the computer and starts looking at the News and I say we have a lot of cleaning to do and he says, the French man wont like it, and he did his cleaning yesterday.  He cleaned up his terrible mess in the back hallway and laundry room but there is an awful lot of house left to clean.  He goes outside in a black mood and throws things into corners in the porcherie (workshop) and then says he is going shopping and will walk the dog.

I clean like a demon.  Other people live in clean, tidy houses.  We live in a pig style because of OH's rampant littering of every surface.  I despair.  I would love to live somewhere well ordered.  Somewhere where you don't have to spend days cleaning and putting stuff away when there is a visit.

I get an email from the sellers of the llama farm, saying they have lost the property they had reserved in Spain, together with the 3000 euro deposit (lucky Spanish estate agent has at least earned something for their efforts, unlike me) and they have also made an offer on another property which has been refused, so they want to delay signing with the new buyers.  I tell them they can write in a very extended period between Compromis and Acte de Vente and say we will speak when they are back home.

The NZ ladies confirm they are over on Saturday and can I meet them at 9 am with the contractor.  The Contractor groans and says it is a 40 minute drive and does he have to be there at 9 am.  Yes he does if he wants the job.  As my dear MIL used to say, you can sleep when you are dead.  Whilst we are 'quick', we can move.

The patio is power washed by nature and the sun comes out an hour before the clients arrive, so all is looking clean and refreshed.  The man reminds me of a former boyfriend.  VB is thrilled to see the house again and admires the garden.  We see all of the property and I make tea and we eat the first gariguette strawberries - tart and delicious.  The man eats and drinks and whistles and looks around and then, when I ask him what he thinks of it, VB starts to look tense and he replies that the house is too low down.  He wants rolling views.  Bastard.  He has eaten all my strawberries too.  They leave and I feel very deflated. The dog is worn out from barking and behaving like a maniac and he gets on the mat and snores loudly.  OH comes back from where he has been getting the rental unit ready for the clients tomorrow and says oh well, and then makes me ring lots of buyers.  I don't want to ring buyers.  They do my head in.  Fortunately most of them are out.  Chat with lady on my FB group about flowers and gardening.  Feel drained.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Well woes, ongi etorri and some excellent news later

Thursday 14 May 2015

Overcast with heavy rain later
23 degrees

The revisit on our main house is tomorrow and OH wastes at least one hour in trying to persuade me to cancel it.  Yes, I know some of the paint is falling off the outside wall and the Hammerite has decided to chip on the entrance gates and the patio is filthy, but I know that these are just superficial and it is the location that is the most important to the clients. The lady came many months ago when OH was away and I had cleaned for a week and the house was looking lovely.  

OH then says he will clean the patio, which is extensive and wraps around two sides of the house.  When I chose the stone, a pale cream colour, I had no concept of how dirty it would become, and was blissfully unaware of the saga that would follow in getting it laid but that is a story for another day.  Normally, we would use the well water for all outside jobs but the pump is not pumping up any water from the well, despite its best efforts.  We are scared rigid that it will involve digging up the patio to discover where the break in the pipe is.  All normal methods of fixing the water supply have failed.

The pump is in the former hen/pig house and has a room to itself.  There is a five feet tall water tank and an impressive amount of copper piping.  The pump itself sits like a smug red bug at the foot of the tank.  Periodically, air gets into the system and you have to remove a small black screw and then feed water into the system, re-screwing up  the black screw and turning the pump on until the water comes through.  If you don't put the screw in properly, the water shoots up and soaks you and you have to spend an age looking for the screw which will have shot into an inaccessible corner.  This method has so far failed and there is obviously a more sinister reason why the water isn't coming through.  We still owe the plumber for the work on the new rental unit, although he hasn't quite finished, and daren't ring him in case he decides to part invoice us and we don't have the cash to pay him. Selling the big rental unit will pay for a lot of these problems.  The buyers are going to see their notary tomorrow.  The alternative is to use the mains water tap but there isn't a connector for the hosepipe so we are stuck and two hours go by whilst OH tries to fix on some fixations and cant manage it.   I clean like a demon and put away the vast amount of stuff that is trailing around on every surface and most of the floors.  Oh to live with someone tidy!!!

Just before midday, go and see a property fifteen minutes away in a little village.  It is utterly charming, mid 19th century, in cream exposed stone.  The building is L shaped and the approach is via a flagged courtyard and wrought iron curlicue gates.  The lady bursts out of the kitchen, smiling and friendly.  I note the basque writing over the door and she is impressed that a stranger would know what it meant (ongi etorri - welcome).  I don't say that I only have road-sign basque...  Of course the basques do not call their land basque - they call it Euskal Herria - basque homeland, the language is Euskadi (oosh kadi) but I digress.
The rooms are rather cosy in dimensions, the largest being the dining kitchen with massive open fireplace.  The table is set for lunch, salade de feves, fresh baguette, vin rosé and a tiny posy of flowers.  It is a public holiday today - one of four this month.  An obese adolescent boy sits at the table the whole time I am there, stomach rumbling and plays with his knife and fork.  I whizz round in an hour and then back home.

OH is hoovering with the end off the hoover.  It drives me mad.  Why would a hoover have an end if you can hoover better without?  At least he has cleaned up the back hall and so called laundry room (dumping ground for all fishing stuff, plus laundry, plus boots and DIY stuff) so at least you can get into the room.  I change the beds and get to grips with the voile curtains for the living room.  Bought from Ikea and originally intended for the big rental unit, the voile curtains are a good four metres long.  The living room windows are much smaller so I pin the curtains up just behind the tape so as they are half size.  This saves a lot of sewing and angst as, in my experience, material squishes out when you sew a hem together, and by the time you get to the other end, you have, mysteriously at least a few cms of overhang.

There is a Skype call incoming and, wonderful news, WF has a job!!!  Again three months but just a short train journey from his house.  Nearly ten pounds an hour too so he will be able to pay the rent, carry on trying to pass his driving test, and save some cash.  He will be processing orders for broadband internet.  The hours appear to be 8-8 during the week and 8-2 on Saturdays.  I thought the working week was 35 hours?  A voir.

Have siesta.  Rain hammers on the roof and the shutters judder in their moorings.  OH is still muttering 'the house wont look good' as I nod off.

The NZ ladies email to say they will be over on Saturday to review the house and meet with AW the builder.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dealing with a ham fisted man....

Wednesday 13 May 2015
Overcast 23 degrees

It is 8 am and a tawny owl is still whooohooing in the tall trees.  Wake up OH and he is in a complete fog so drink my tea and read a little of Narrow Dog to Carcassonne which is marvellously funny and a much needed break from Frank McCourt.  I don't know how anyone survived a miserable Catholic Irish childhood in the 1940's.

Both are wonderful storytellers.  I can't imagine anyone wanting to publish the meanderings that I write on here, although I do seem to have a number of regular readers on the other side of the Pond (plus lovely Mrs Noddi) but all are shy of commenting.

OH requires my assistance with 'sorting out' his fishing stuff.  He has what I call a heavy handed approach to things, combined with a natural maladroitété (I made part of that word up).  His extendible landing net has seized up, with the result that you could only land fish that were prepared to jump into it from off the bank.  He instructs me to grasp the net end and he will pull out the extending pole.  It is very firmly wedged.  He expresses surprise and says this has not happened before.  The dog's eyebrows go up, in a very good impression of Gromit. In our experience, this happens all too often.  He then decides to jerk it, to see if he can surprise it into extending.  I cannon into him with some force.  He then gets some WD40 and I say that is not a good idea and it really isn't because neither of us can then get a good grip on it.  The dog goes for a quick drink and then comes back to watch Round Two.

OH then produces a spool of fishing line which has 'mysteriously' wedged itself together. This is far more of a challenge to get two pairs of hands onto it, especially as there is a good 9 inches difference in our height.  If I brace myself, it involves bending my knees, increasing the gap in our heights and OH becomes rather puce and I feel, unreasonably annoyed, with my lack of (a) strength and (b) height.  I refuse to stand on a box.  I have still not recovered from the Alhambra incident.  He jerks it up and down and I go up and down with it.  The spool has not budged a millimetre.

The phone rings and I escape and, to my utter amazement, it is the new buyers of the goat farm and they have upped their offer by ten k.  I leap around in a happy money dance and then email the owners.  They ring me back many hours later and are on top of a very windy mountain and all I can really hear is the wind and somebody Spanish shouting in the background.

OH goes down the flat and I load up some more properties and draw a plan of the lovely Villa where alas, it appears there are termites but in a very localised area, and send lots of emails.  I speak to the lady who came to see our house ages ago and say I have nothing to show her and she says she would really love to come and see ours again so I say yes and then think Oh God how on earth am I going to get it cleaned up in time.

The sellers of the goat farm ring me back and say they want to get the septic tank reports before signing the offer letter because if it turns out that they do need redoing, then they dont want the sale to go back into negotiation.  After telling me they needed to move quickly, they are now delaying things.  I ring their notary who is in pole position for Useless Notary of the year and ask her where is the report.  A clerk tells me that they received an email from the relevant authority but it didn't have an attachment.  Did they ask for the attachment? No,apparently not.  They just deleted the email.  Sodding wonderful.  I ring the septic tank people and get a stroppy woman who says she is the only one in the office and I must ring back on Friday.  I don't know why she bothers answering the phone if she is going to be so offhand.  If she knows sod all, she may as well just get on with her own job and not answer the phone, which is route obviously taken by the sellers local Mairie.  They are only open two mornings a week - today and Friday and today was don't answer the phone morning. Vive la France.

Towards lunchtime I go to doctor's with OH and doctor tells him he needs to drink lots of water to stop gallstone crystals forming.  I try and get the doctor to tell him that he needs to drink less wine.  I am mortified every time we go to the bottle bank and have to tell people that we have just had a party.  

Spend afternoon cleaning up the little flat as we have renters coming in on Saturday.  Back home and OH chickens out of the killer chilli so I finish it off and he has pizza.  Dog licks bowl.  OH books trip to UK next week.  Speak to colleague who is out again with clients who must have seen everything everywhere.  When I worked for the French agency, if I went out more than two or three times with the same client, the boss used to start making snide comments about me being a 'guide touristique'.  These clients are the ones we went out with just before our holiday and told my colleague that they did not want to work with me again.  I certainly wouldn't have wanted to spend three weeks driving them around everything between 50k flats and 500k houses.  What a joke.

Meanderings on Farage, cheese and dog diets

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Overcast and warm 22 degrees

Surprised to see that it had rained in the night.  Dog and I sat on the step and enjoyed a cup of tea and some toast.  Dog's teeth aren't what they were so I have to give him a little saucer of tea and the toast has to soften a little before he can eat it.  He seems to have developed a liking for marmalade.  A while ago, I was eating an orange and he was looking very interested so I gave him a little.  He enjoys orange when it is hot.  He is also very partial to highly spiced food, although it does make him lick his chops for a very long time afterwards and he gets through gallons of water.  For an old dog, he enjoys a wide variety of flavours and textures.  He used to be very keen on cheese.  WF trained him using cheese, which has been an expensive choice down the years.

OH went down to the flat to create some more chaos and I enjoyed some P and Q and loaded up one and a half properties and generally made a lot more progress than I ever make whilst he is here and going on about things.

At 12 the new buyers of the llama farm rang and I told them that they needed to up their offer by 10 000 euros and we would have a deal.  They said they would think about it. Strange experience having a conference call with one person in UK and the other in the States.  Strange competing background voices with a mix of US and UK accents.  WF rang to say that he had been put forward for a couple of interviews.

OH came home briefly for lunch and then went to do some shopping.  We discussed the offer on the flat and decided that we really were not happy with taking some of the price in cash.  What if the cash was in denominations that we couldn't use.  We live in Hicksville and no one ever produces notes bigger than fifties.  What if it was forged? What if he didn't pay us at all?  I emailed the buyer and said regretfully that we could not go ahead.  One hour later he rang and said, OK, we would put it all through the notary and I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders.  Now I really feel that it is sold.  Youpee!!  Speaking of Hicksville, reminds me of a time I was in a supermarket queue.  Behind me was a small girl and her grandma.  In front of me was a man in a suit.  'Mamie' enquired the little girl 'is that man the President?'.  No one wears suits in our part of France.  I have been out here so long that going back to the UK and seeing men in suits and shirts and ties comes as a bit of a culture shock.

Mid afternoon went to see my notary and run through the various cases we have going through.  I must be in high esteem because she actually walked me to the door.  OH said I should have hinted that I would like some champagne for Christmas.  He is a one....

OH went fishing later on and I made chilli and accidentally puts loads of dried flakes of chilli into the mix.  Dog was thrilled.  OH had to join him in drinking gallons of water.

Nigel Farage 'I am a man of my word and I am going to resign' has unresigned after three days.  What a guy he is.  I wonder how many closet Farage lovers there are out there?  I tend to regard him more of a reality tv personality rather than a politician.  I would not vote for him or UKIP under any circumstances but I do feel that politics would be a duller place without him.  Cameron is bringing forward the Referendum on staying in or out of Europe. We need to sell up and leave here.  If the UK votes to come out, Europe will no longer be such a warm and cosy place for us.  Both OH and I agree we need to live near the sea and on the west coast of the UK however there is a huge mileage inbetween our desired locations.  He is thinking Lakes and I am thinking Devon.  I have told him, under no circumstances am I going back to the North West.  He says we mustnt be intransigent.  Oh, I rather think we can.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Flower power in the hedgerows

Monday 11 May 2015

Overcast 27 degrees

Usually I love Mondays.   Today I didn't feel quite up to the challenge.  Dragged myself down to the rental unit to try and load some new properties. I have had the paperwork for one of them for over a week now.  Not good.  Delicious smells wafted up from the ground floor restaurant.  The phone rang non stop - dink dop - and cutlery was rattled and glasses clinked.  My mobile rang and it is a complete miracle and the phone and Internet are back on at home!  Collected OH blood test results, spoke to my colleague about various things and went back home and sat and enjoyed cup of tea whilst looking at the green flashing lights on the Livebox.  My current favourite view.

Two hours later we had caught up on all of the backlog, I finished off loading another property and walked the dog.

One benefit of a semi blind and extremely deaf dog is that you are obliged to wander the lanes with them whilst they do their thing(s).  I never realised how beautiful the Spring and early Summer flowers are and just on my doorstep.  Today's delights were deep purple Aquilegia (Granny's Bonnets)

Also deep burgundy Geranium Phaem

and Solomon's seal which is just starting to die back

 thank you Louis Landry

Didn't have my phone with me so have had to rely on Google images here.  It is still a wonder to me that I find garden plants growing wild in the hedgerows here.  Sometimes, if I am lucky, I come across some orchids

or some wild purple gladioli, so reminiscent of holidays in Cornwall when the boys were little

I get an increased offer on the llama farm but it is still woefully below the asking price.  I transmit this to the vendors, who are currently in Spain and trying to prolong the reservation deposit on their Spanish property.  To my utter amazement, they accept, providing I drop fees by 50%.  I go back to the agency and say I might be able to squeeze five grand more out of the buyers but that will probably be it.  I also remind them that there is an introducer who has negotiated a wonderful deal for themselves.  The agency say they will see what they can do.  

The vendors tell me that they had received an email from the Russians, saying that the man has been seriously ill and in hospital.  I know that he has been posting funny things on FB and says that he is going to a flower show on Thursday of this week.  Is this proof that they are bonkers or liars?  I am so depressed.  I found them to be such delightful people.  OH says it was never clear where the money was coming from.  He never takes to people in a big way, as I do.

Something fishy...

Sunday 10 May 2015

Very hot
31 degrees

Woke up early after restless night.  Too hot with duvet over me and not hot enough with just the sheet.  Fairly intense headache and when I opened the windows to let in some fresh air, CL was already out on his tractor, giving the solid slabs of clay another bashing.  Read Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt for a while.  Jesus, they had a bad time in Ireland in the 30’s and 40’s.  Put pillow over my head and went back to sleep until OH woke me at 11 am

Put my nose through the back door and established that (a) the light outside was far too bright for me and (b) it was already too hot to work in the garden.

OH went down the rental unit with the laptop to try and speak to either WF about what he is doing about finding work, and/or RJ to see if WF can stay with him and do some work at the hotel.  He also looked at ferry availability to go back to the UK at the end of May and the only possibility is for the 17th May which is next Sunday and I will never have the two compromises signed by then.  Would love to go back and see boys.  It has been an age since I have been with them.

Cleaned and did ironing mountain.  Walked dog.  OH made wonderful supper of calamares and prawn thai stir fry with pan roasted veg.

Here are some images of the amazing fish counter at the huge supermarket at the seaside


Conger Eel



It is their eyes that speak to me.  Some look mad, some look bad, some look nervous.  The monkfish reminds me of Jabba the Hut.  The conger is curled like a sleeping cat.  The trout surge across the ice.  The way the staff were staring, you would think no one ever took pictures of fish....  OK actually I have never seen anyone taking pictures of fish either.

Mariage but not heavenly

Saturday 9 May 2015

Sunny periods 22 degrees

Brilliant early summer day with brilliant blue skies and puffed pink tinged clouds.  The birds making a racket from 6 am

To my amazement, the man from France Telecom came at 9.30 and found us still in bed.  Hurrah – internet?  Alas, no, ten minutes later he climbed back down the pole, said there was a problem further up the line and that he would ring to let me know when he would be back.  He didn't.  I tried ringing SFR and was cut off six times.

Dressed for summer in a coffee coloured dress with white spots and white broderie anglais top worn over.  Coffee coloured ballerinas (flat soled shoes) completed the look.  Still haven’t recovered from our holiday and still feel exhausted.  Put on some bright red lipstick and had some strong coffee and felt somewhat revived.

Went to the house where my colleague had achieved a sale during my absence and the owners were there and waiting for me and had everything signed and printed off.  We had Russian breakfast tea (Mariage brand – bought in Paris) which was fragrantly and delicious.  They smoked small cigars and the lady enveloped me in a woolly sweater as she said otherwise I would freeze.  An hour passed by very agreeably and then, suddenly, I started to feel very hot and clammy and realised, to my horror, that I was going to be sick.  I made my excuses and left quickly and threw up, voluminously, in an auberge carpark.  Felt weak and shaky.  Ate a chocolatine and drank water and felt better. 

Went down to the flat and discovered OH had done something to the laptop and it wouldn't switch on or off.  Mrs Noddi suggested I take out the battery which was an excellent idea.  Took me two hours to switch it on, discover that Norton wasn’t and wouldn’t work, download AVG and leave it to download updates and do a full computer scan.  Back home and had lunch and then planted 150 potato plants.  Soil really dry.  Forecast rain needs to appear and pronto.

OH went fishing and I got stuck with walking the dog again and then picked up the laptop from the rental unit and it was working normally and came home and made roast chicken dinner.  Fell asleep on the sofa extra early this evening.