Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stuck on a sand bank....

Friday 4 September 2015

Cool at first 12 degrees rising to mid 20's

Woke to blissful cool and wrapped up in my duvet instead of half wrestled inside a damp sheet.  Air crisp and clean.  Dog sprang out of bed and into the yard and shook himself and yawned and stretched.  He then headed off down the road to see the neighbours and came back an hour later and looked depressed.  They only come for the Summer and now they have flown back to their respective homes, Manuel to the South and the rest back to the UK. I haven't even seen them on bike rides together this year - just the man and the boy rebuilding the wall, and dog sitting and barking at them periodically, like an irritating overseer.  Dog has had a wonderful Summer with them.

Take two cars and I go and meet the US client and show him a little town house.  He says he likes it.  He says he likes everything.  Unfortunately, without the girlfriend, nothing is going to be agreed on.  The good ship Leaving Normal seems to be stuck on a sandbank, not realising that the seas in which she sailed were so shallow....  OH turns up and we set off and stop for a coffee en route at a bar overlooking the walls and river of the beautiful mountain town.  The client loves this.  Then further South to see a chateau which I haven't visited in many years, but which OH visited recently with another client during my absence. It sits in the middle of its park and is a squat building with windows which remind me of a face.  Actually, it reminds me of a storm trooper's helmet....  Anyhow, we arrive and this time the renters are actually there, instead of just the father who has Alzheimer's and refused to let OH in the house last time....  I haven't met these people before.  They are very withdrawn, don't offer to shake hands, look anywhere but look us in the eye.  The woman is keeping an eye on her Dad in the kitchen and the man is playing chess on his own in another room.  Kids obviously at school.  

The problem with letting a house is that the renters want to stay in it and live normally and are not disposed to show it at its best.  A seller would present a chateau to the best of their ability.  A renter wants you to sod off and leave them in peace.  The chateau is looking dilapidated.  Curtains and door handles are hanging off their moorings.  There are water stains on the ceilings.  It is dusty and full of cobwebs.  It is also, however, a wonderful light filled property with stunning high ceilings, chandeliers, original plaster ceiling roses and wallpaper that just makes me drool.  I do so miss lovely wallpaper.  The bedrooms have a pale blue bird motif which is just exquisite.  The client is enthralled and says this is his dream of chateau and what is causing the water marks on the ceiling?

We get back to our town and OH leaves me with the client whilst he checks out his little house, on which he is signing this afternoon.  We are there a couple of hours.  I play with the Senseo coffee machine.  Client very happy.  We have lunch in a supermarket snack bar as all restaurants are then closed and then to the notaries.  I am representing the sellers. We do the read through and all is going swimmingly until we get to the question of the drainage.  The notary says that more and more problems are coming up with the question of whether houses are correctly hitched up to the mains drains and many houses which the owners swear are hitched up, are in fact hitched up via the old septic tanks and there is flooding when people start using the water regularly.  She says that the owners declare that it is correctly attached but there is no certificate.  My client says he wants a certificate.  The notary rings the owner who is a school teacher and therefore has her phone switched off.  She decides to insert the clause relating to the certificate and my client signs his part but I cant sign without the seller's go ahead so we are just about to leave when the owner rings up and is very unhappy at having to pay an extra 80 euros.  The notary is arguing with her and saying that at least if she has the controle then the buyer cant come back against her.  My client's son has now been waiting for three hours at the airport and he says he really has to go.  I take him to the roundabout before the auto route and then go back and the notary has just finished talking to the seller so it is OK and I sign.  However, because the buyer has now gone and the notary doesn't work tomorrow, we cant give him a copy and start the 10 day reflection period immediately but have to post out to him in China.

Get home feeling completely wrung out.  OH has been cutting the lawns and has not made supper so we have chicken sandwiches and red wine.  I look up the anglo french law company on FB and discover they have the most appalling reviews - people complaining they have waited up to two years for work paid for up front, lack of communication, being fobbed off, never knowing when the paid for work will be produced.  They are just con men and not even members of the Law Society.  OH looks at their page and says it is bizarre that no names of partners are mentioned.  I ring business manager and ask him to ring the buyers of the contemporary house.  I am going to have to start doing visits on it again with other clients....

Friday, September 4, 2015

The shops have no staff and an amazing renovation

Thursday 3 September 2015

Delightful day with sun and white fluffy clouds 25 degrees

OH woke up horrifically early and brought me tea.  He then passed out again so I went into the spare room and wrote.  Feel nervous about today.  Really, really big budget client coming over.  The sort of client you get perhaps once every couple of years.  He looks unassuming, easy going, cap pulled down over his eyes.  He likes red wine and stopping for coffee and smiling.  I hope he likes putting pen to paper...

Down town to check that the little house that he is buying as an investment is in good order. The compromis is tomorrow.  The house is clean and fresh, the cleaner has done her job well and the house is looking as good as it can.  We leave, satisfied, and head into our big town to get some glass cut and find out how much the garage is going to mug us for the repair to the boot handle.

OH drops me off at the DIY store and goes to get supplies from over the road.  The shop is like the Marie Celeste.  The cost of employing staff in France is prohibitive.  The salary paid is just half the cost to the employer - the equivalent of the same amount again has to be paid in social charges and taxes - so it is normal not to see a lot of staff in a shop.  However, there appears to be no one apart from the woman on the till.  This is a big shop.  I get very irritated.  After about 20 minutes, I manage to find one man who is talking to another man about sealant.  He painstakingly is working along the row of sealants, explaining the benefits of each one.  I can feel my psoriasis stinging.  This is bloody ridiculous.  The shop is full of customers.  I butt in and both of them glare at me but the sealant man reluctantly tears himself away and cuts me some glass and it costs 35 euros for a piece 85 cms x 32 cms.  

We then go to the garage and there is only one man there too.  He takes phone calls, orders and does all the repairs.  Occasionally he has an overweight teenager who lumbers around after him but doesn't actually seem to contribute in terms of productivity.  He is there behind the counter when we arrive, frowning at the computer screen.  I show him the broken boot handle on the Nissan and he goes back to the computer and thumps it for at least five minutes, then gets out some schedules and then taps on a calculator and comes up with a figure of 111 euros.  Does that include VAT I ask.  No - so he adds on 20% and looks at me. I have to say yes.  He then says it will have to be painted to match the same colour as the car.  And that will cost more.  Cant you just order a black one.  Apparently not.  It will come to 175 euros.  Just order one and put it on.  When can you put it on.  Probably next week.  I will give you a ring.  Go home, grinding teeth.

OH decides he needs a little lie down before meeting high roller client.  I walk dog.  Finally manage to get in touch with the client and, instead of being with his fiancée, who will be a decision maker in the big purchase, he is on his own.  Oh bloody hell.  That means no decisions will be made on this trip.  Go down town and meet him at the restaurant and off to see the first house.

It is a house which I haven't been into for a good seven years.  The owners are German and, in my experience, have a lot of money and spend it on excellent quality.  We get there and a slim French woman zooms up the gravel drive and parks in a haze of dust.  She shoots out of the car and wrings our hands and then opens up the most stunning house I have seen in a long time.  Ranged around a central courtyard, the walls have been stripped back to expose the river stones.  The rooms are immense with wonderful massive oak beams, ancient chandeliers and the most stunning alabaster figurines holding up the fireplace. Properties like this are an utter joy to see.  There is the main house of 600m2 plus guardian's house and gite, pool and gardens for just 850000 euros.  There is also a busy road which our guy says puts him right off.  I must get this one onto my books.  It is the best value top end property I have seen in a long time.

We go for a drink and I have an ice cream and then off to our town where I show a house that I dug out a couple of weeks ago - the one with the badly mentally handicapped girl.  OH really liked this one - the client said it was OK so we swiftly moved onto the last one which is the Villa brought onto the books just yesterday.  He was very impressed with this one and we were there an age and it was then beer o'clock and we settled down in the town centre and enjoyed a couple of beers and then got pizza and went home and I had to ring the owner of the other lovely villa to tell her that there wouldn't be a revisit because the girlfriend wasn't here and she was disappointed but said she would just have to wait.

Kept on falling asleep and OH insisted I went to bed at 9.30.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why there is no French word for customer service and wonderful houses....

Wednesday 2 September 2015
Cool with sunny periods and rain later 22 degrees

My hair is a terrible mess.  A combination of excessive exposure to sun has made the dyed part into Marilyn Monroe bleached blond which blends quite nicely with my pure white hairs but not so neatly with the salt and pepper bits which I cant actually see, but a recent view of my head on a digicamera, showed I look like a badger.  I am downtown early to meet the plumber and see why we have no hot water in the big rental unit.  

He is late and the guy renting our apartment for the week comes out and buys a paper and spots me sitting on the flowery bench.  He lopes over.  They are having a lovely week and have been on some long walks and bike rides and today are going to B a local village.  I am surprised.  B contains an interesting tower, which is in ruins, and not a lot else.  He says they are going to the wine cave and I say to avoid the collective's red, as it can strip paint off metalwork.  He says they went to the coast but didn't stay long, as it was full of grockles. This is a West Country expression for plebs.  Haven't heard it in many years.  I don't know how on earth they managed to come up with the opinion that the coastal town they visited is full of plebs.  It is a wonderful town with marina, exclusive bars and restaurants, and many interesting architectural features.  They are plebs who do not appreciate it.  These people do not part easily with their money and perhaps this is what they told themselves in order not to spend time (and money) in the resort.  How strange people are.  

The plumber turns up and the hot water comes on no problem.  Apologise profusely for dragging him out and he says no problem, it was probably just dirt in the taps,  and drives off.

Go then to the hairdressers.  There is a lady with very thin hair and the coiffeuse is trying to fluff it up.  I ask if I there is a loo in the shop and am told it is private.  Have to go and find the one in town which is of the Point and Shoot variety, uncharmingly known as a pissoire. In general, the French are an extremely clean nation.  Their public toilets however are disgraceful.  I enter the loo and bolt the door using my elbow.  The stench is appalling and I half close my eyes so as not to have to see what I am hovering over.  It is not easy to hold your nose with one hand, your clothing with the other and balance on the balls of your feet whilst doing the necessary.  Get out and gulp lungfuls of fresh air and back to the shop and am duly plastered with dye and given magazines.  Ask if the coffee is heating up and receive the reply that her supplier hasn't been in, therefore she has no coffee.  Coffee is so hard to come by isn't it, in the 21st century.  Why the xxxx couldn't she bring some from home?  Wonderful French customer service strikes again.

Emerge, rather elegantly coiffed and coloured, an hour later and go for a coffee in the centre of town and enjoy the mild sunshine.  Ring OH, who is in a much better humour and is in McDonalds in our local big town and says he has just dropped his bun and the dog wolfed it down before he could stop him.  He also ate some of the lettuce.  Back home and toast some of the strange fruit and chocolate bread found in Spain and finish with a delicious juicy nectarine.  Rang the anglo french law company and, alas, report is still not prepared.  No one can (or will not) tell me why it is still not ready.  It suddenly occurs to me that they may be waiting for the local planning document to see if anything is planned in the local area. Ring and leave a message at the Mairie, asking them if the AFL company has been in touch.

Off into the west to see the house which I couldn't see yesterday and wait for Monday's clients.  Town is dead.  Clients arrive and my colleague tips up and we head up the narrow lanes, still full of brash and smashed up tree bits, and find the house and it is wonderful and quirky and has the most wonderful long view from the terrasse.  My colleague shows them around.  The decoration is rather Laura Ashley, with fine pink and cream stripe wallpaper upstairs and fresh blue sprigs downstairs.  The garden is blowsy and overblown and an exuberant potato vine ramps over the exposed stone hen house and has bridged the gap over to the house and is making inroads into the sleek slate roof.  There is a pony in the barn and he snickers to us and we stroke his velvety nose and he turns sideways and I see my reflection in the purple black of his eye.  He smells wonderful and horsey and earthy.  The people are very taken with the house so my colleague and I sit on the terrasse and eat some of the immense figs which are about to break the branches of the tree with their abundance.  An hour later, I leave him to lock up and take them back to the nearest town and we run through the purchase process and they ask many questions and the guy really opens up.  We are touching base next Friday when they are back home.  They leave and it seems like a long drive home.

Quick cup of tea then go and see the house where it has taken me so long to get in touch with the owner.  The owner's friend arrives on foot.  A slight woman, quick of movement, and rapid of speech.  We see the garden first.  The pool is deep green and there is some fissuring of the concrete lining.  The pump in the pool house is turning like mad but nothing is happening in the pool itself.  The garden is walled with bamboo and there is no road noise at all, despite only being a five minute walk out of the centre.  We go into the house and, whilst it is lovely and has six bedrooms, it just doesn't have the charisma of the Belle Epoque villa near to the NZ ladies house.  The lady says I must come and talk to her husband who knows all the history of our town and I say we would love to but we have a chicken in the oven.  She says to give them a ring and come around for an apéro.  She then throws into the conversation that they are the owners of the massive hotel which burned down in suspicious circumstances nearly 20 years ago.  She says the site is for sale to the right buyer.  The right buyer would need half a million for the land.  Suspect the right buyer would need to be either Chinese or Arabic - neither nationality would go down well in this tiny corner of the world.

Back home and have the chicken with stir fry veg and finish with a fine selection of cheeses - manchego and stilton with cranberries and goats cheese.  Walk the dog - it is getting dark at 9 pm now.  Crickets playing fine harmonies on the night air.  Watch National Lampoon's Vacation.  To bed and to sleep, to be hassled by a mosquito, and change beds at 3.43 am

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Itchy and scratchy...

Monday 1 September 2015

Cool and showery 24 degrees

Slept well, despite feet being bitten to pieces by bugs in the rug downstairs and a massive mosquito bite on my derrière.  Woke to find my ankles really swollen and skin mottled with big red welts.  Put on lots of bite ease, on with the motley and down town to meet a colleague and go and see a house for yesterday's people.  He drove eccentrically, steering with his knees, waving his hands in the air and spending some time with a hand tucked inside his seat belt.

We had missed the worst of the storm in our valley but, as we approached the outskirts of the town where stood the house, the roads became more and more covered with leaves, sticks and mashed up tree bits.  It took a long time so I suggested we went for coffee before we saw the house.  Had two coffees and he told me lots of stories.  What I really wanted to find out was about the various new houses he had brought to market and if he had any clients knocking about who would be interested in seeing any of my housing stock.  Didn't find out any of that.  After an hour, we set off again along roads that got narrower and narrower and more and more debris filled until, rounding a corner, a huge fallen tree blocked the road.  Its snapped bowl snagged like dragon tooths in our direction.  No passaran...

We went to see the neighbour and he said he had spent the morning clearing the road back from his house to the main carriageway.  He said they had to spent the evening trying to eat and read by candle light.  People who pay to eat by candle light must be mad!  Was his parting shot as he headed off again, saying he would give us a ring when the pompiers (firemen) had been to clear the rest of the road.

We drive back and it seems a long journey and my colleague rambles on about more stories but I am more taken up with the fact that I have just got a text from the sellers of the contemporary house and they are back from holiday tomorrow.  Get home and ring their buyers and they don't answer.  Ring anglo french law company and get the secretary and she says she thinks 'someone is working on it' and they will ring me back.  Get very wound up and realise that my psoriasis is back with a vengeance and is all over my arm and some of my leg.  OH says he doesn't know what I am wound up about.  It is alright for him.  He is not the one carrying the weight of people's expectations.  He isn't the one they are ringing up saying when will something happen, what can we do.  He isn't the one people get really pissed off with and then turn nasty.  He doesn't lose any sleep.  He says it really annoys him when I get wound up over things.  We have a lot of words and I go upstairs and bang the door on my craft room and spend two hours crafting and when I come down, he is still sitting on his bum and the kitchen is a terrible mess, as is the rest of the house, so I go out for a walk.  Get back, have a bath and go to bed.  Find psoriasis creme and spread it about liberally.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dog day....

Monday 31 August 2014

32 degrees and incredibly humid then torrential rain and storm and down to 21 degrees (shivering ensued)

Out to meet new clients today.  Have set a new location to meet in the local supermarket car park and, hurrah, found the people immediately.  Was not holding out much hope - the man I had spoken to on the phone and he came over as tight as a clam.  He was standing next to a Dacia Duster, arms on his head, and his wife was fussing around an immense 14 year old.  OH went over first.  He is funny; when the clients are short, he stands quite close but when they are very tall - and this family were all well over six feet - he stands right back. We had a chat whilst the lady went to get bread (this isn't a problem at the big hotel rv meeting place....) and the man breeds police dogs.  They don't want anything fancy.   Lady came back, with just bread.  I noted this, with interest.  I don't know about you, but when I go into a supermarket for bread, I never come out with just bread.  OH might have been a bread only man at one point, but after eleven years over here where he has been doing the bulk of the shopping, he always comes out with other assorted items.  Just bread means this lady does not part lightly with her cash.  The alternative reason that she did not want to keep anyone waiting didn't hold because she was in the shop for an age.

We got back into our respective cars and headed off to the first house.  At the top of a long hill, it is actually two houses which have been renovated.  Most of the land is on the other side of a very small road but, for some reason, this really puts people off.  The road is so narrow, these clients could have probably cleared it in one leap.  But no - they didn't like the Moroccan interior and were very confused by the decision to put in a ramp instead of the stairs.  At a 30 degree angle and with two bends, it would challenge the most adventurous of wheelchair users.  We left as the skies went black, and headed to the house with the two big black dogs.  So far, the man had virtually not said a word, but just frowned and pursed his lips.  The lady had just said 'oooh'.  This is a very useful phrase and I employ it often. People make of it what they will.  It comes in handy when you are faced with terrible renovations, eyeball popping wallpaper, bizarre room structures and barns full of bats.  It is far more socially acceptable than WTF?

We get to the second house and the dogs are enclosed in the garage because the post lady is due.  She arrives and quickly leaves the post, not knowing that the massive black dogs are actually lovely once they accept you.  They are Beaucerons and OH asks for them to be let out of the garage and the man client instantly warms up and relaxes.  He communicates with dogs better than people, it appears.  We go around the house and it is much lower price than the last one and we then direct them over to the village where we will meet after lunch and go home for bite to eat.

OH decides he doesn't want to come out this afternoon so I go alone and pick them up and go and see a house which looks much larger on the outside than the inside and the couple say it is very pretty but far too small.  They admire the Bouviers de Flandres who are safely ensconced in their dog cages and they ask if they can be let out and the owner says they will rip them to bits and I say how about if they let out the Teckels.  Teckels are adorable little terriers with huge heads and daschund type bodies.  They erupt out of the van and the people are entranced and I have to haul them out of the gate and get them to the next house.  The video surveillance camera turns and watches us as we leave.  I know that if OH was here, he would be giving it the finger and I am so glad he isn't because the camera records what it sees and it would be highly embarrassing.

The next house belongs to some friends of mine and has existing dog kennels and I think I am on a winning straight until the man says that the boy will not be boarding in the school in our nearest city and this house is just too far away for the lady to drive him.  Oh bugger!  We leave and pick up their car and go to the last house which is in our town and not too far from the train station.  It is a large house with barn and a hectare of land and again, Moroccan style.  They really seem to like it, despite the fact that it is architecturally stripped of all interesting features.  It does have a gite.  We get back into town and I suggest we go for an ice cream and I can see alarm bells ringing in the lady's eyes at the thought of having to spend money.  Oh no, she says, we have water.  FFS.  Arrange to meet them again on Wednesday and go for ice cream myself - one ball of passion fruit and another of ginger and it is wonderful.  Skies turn mustard yellow and I get home just before the most massive storm and rain.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Reassurance, bullshit and resin

Sunday 30 August 2015

Forecast 38 - didn't actually get through the door until 9 pm

Woke up early and the air was cool and it was only 22 degrees so threw open all the windows to let out the hot, bored flies.  Found a Red Admiral which had been trapped on my window all night and was in the throes of expiring.  I laid it gently on some paper and its antenna ceased waving and its beautiful wings shuddered and then it passed.  I will preserve it in resin.

OH elected to take the dog around the lake and I stayed at home to talk to the young couple and persuade them that backing out was a very bad idea.  The Euro is at an eleven year low, there is huge demand and a lack of decent housing stock at reasonable prices, people are buying as they haven't bought since 2005.  If they don't buy now, they will be priced out of this area.  Also, they can let it out during their absence and it will give them a good return on their investment.  We spoke at length on Skype and the man, who had been having the wobble, said he was reassured and would go ahead and sign the papers and they would transfer over the cash.

I get a very frustrated email from the buyers of the contemporary house, saying they have heard nothing from the anglo french law company and is there anything this end, holding things up.  I tell them that this company has not been in touch either with me, or the notary, or the land surveyor.  I also tell them that when I ring up, I am fobbed off or fed bullshxt.  It has now been three weeks.  I am at a loss to know what these people have been doing for all this time.  How long does it take to read documents and translate them?

I speak to the owner of the ugly 1950's house where my people from this week love but haven't sold their house and my colleague's clients love but cant buy because the guy is changing jobs, and it appears that the rival agency has a cash buyer near to the asking price.  Bugger.  The owner says that she didn't accept immediately because she would really have liked to sell with me.  I have done far more visits than all the other agencies put together.  I tell her, regretfully, that I don't have anyone ready to sign on the dotted line, so she says I can find her the next property, and she will go in and accept the other agency offer tomorrow.

OH comes back,  very interesting shade of puce, saying Bloody Hell, its hot out there.  We have lunch and a siesta.  I leave my window open and close the shutters and the air puffs through in hot gasps.  An hour later, suitably refreshed, I sort out the laundry and get to grips with photographing my resin pendants.  They are tricky to photo well but I manage a good effort using some on a mirror and some on a wooden sunny windowsill.  The black matt surface of the desk works well for the scarabs.  I pour some new pendants and buttons and the mix seems very liquid.  I hope it sets...

Have remains of seafood risotto and walk dog in the fading light.  Still stiflingly hot.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Early day wobbles and starry, starry night

Saturday 29 August 2015
Furnace 37 degrees

Down to little rental unit early to clean and set up before the heat of the day sets in.  Only 22 degrees by 11 so finish before the dripping starts.  The unit is on the back of the building so it is cooler, the facade getting the major blast of heat.

Get a worrying text from the young people in China who have offered on the village town house by the river.  The man is having second thoughts.  An hour later, get another text saying they will have to back out.  Some reasons are real reasons.  Some reasons are because people get scared.  They just need reassuring.  They are both teachers so I elect to write to them and set out the reasons in bullet points as to why they should bu.  Teachers analyse and discuss.  They are not impulsive.  They spend a lot of time reading up on stuff. I ask them to take the weekend to think about it.  For the moment, I say nothing to the owner who is in her mid 70's and thinking she is coming back to pack up the house in just over two week's time.  OH brings some cakes and we sit on the stairs in the deep gloom of the central stairwell and enjoy the cool silence, broken only by munching and sipping of tea. OH then very nobly polishes the many banisters and uprights and sweeps the stairs and I mop after him.  Our life is just so glam.

Back home for lunch and a run through and setting up appointments for Monday's clients. High budget but seem to be out with many assorted agents, including my colleagues.  I have spoken to the man on the phone and he is not very forthcoming.  OH will come with me.  Just hope man opens up - he comes over like a clam where the tide has gone out.

We have been invited to a house warming and I have promised to make something.  Find some sausage meat and frozen puff pastry and whip up some sausage rolls aka Lancashire tapas.  I bet the French have never seen sausage rolls before.  Their normal modus operandi with strange foods from over the Channel is to taste them with extreme caution and then hoover them up whilst you are looking the other way.  They turn out crisp and golden and I have to shoo away both OH and the dog.  The phone rings and it is our renters so I creme up and put on large hat and glasses and head down town.

The lady is wiry and looks like she spends a lot of time in the gym and the man is very tall and stooped.  I take them into the flat and they coo with delight and then enquire about how to work the hot plate and micro oven.  The lady is disappointed that there is no salad spinner or frying pan so I say I will bring one in tomorrow.  She says they do cook when on holiday 'I am married to an accountant, for heaven's sake!' she laughs.  If her husband charges the same level as mine over here, they should be out and eating steak every night of the week...   

Back home, quick shower and out again into the breathless evening, car air con blasting. Arrive to find owners plus the NZ ladies' builder and family and the neighbours and their two adopted daughters (who have doubled in height since I last saw them) and an elderly French couple whose grandfather built the house in 1901.  We all have sangria which has a kick like a mule, and admire the new kitchen and garage extension.  Their kitchen is so much nicer than mine and they have a lovely decking area.  It is all clean and modern and not screwed together ad hoc with bits of plywood and angle joints.  The dish washer works and the articulated cupboards each have individual lighting and don't have to be propped open with wooden spoons, the time it takes to put stuff away in them.

There is a wonderful array of tapas, lovingly prepared, and we all tuck in and it is followed by tirimasu and cake.  The sky fades to deep blue to purple to black and the stars come out and there is a light breeze and the earth exudes the heat of the day and cricket song reverberates on the air.  We leave at midnight, along with everyone else, and I fall into bed and sleep deep and dreamless.

White heat and the wavering clients

Friday 28 August 2014

Heating up 33 degrees

Get a text saying that the couple from earlier in the week want to revisit the big 1950's house.  I get there at 10.15 and find them lurking outside.  All the windows are open and a lady I know from an agency in town is there with an older lady and a young girl.  I take my people upstairs, find the plans left for me by the owner, and we pore over them, establishing which are supporting walls and which are stud or 'party' and can be taken down.  This is the house which I revisited a week ago with my colleague, who has not given me any news from his clients.  We are there an hour.  The other people leave and we lock up and go down town.  The problem is that my people have to sell in order to purchase.  I ask them what had they planned, if they found a house they loved.  They said they thought they would go back to the UK and put their house on the market.  They didn't feel brave enough to make an offer which is probably wise as who knows how long a modern house in Leicester will take to sell. I think this house will be sold in the next few days.  It is getting a lot of visits.   How frustrating.  Also from the point of the sales challenge as lots of others are catching up with me.  Need two more offers before the 31st.

Back home and have lunch and then out to see a country house.  The owner is a lady from Versailles who has a massive chateau in a neighbouring village.  We met because I had left a card in the clutches of a large bronze griffon at the entrance to the drive.  He obviously held onto it well, as did she, because a year and a half later she rang me up and gave me a house, which I sold, and then various parcels of land, which I also sold.  I drive up the long private road to the chateau and park under a pollarded London Plane.  The lady is in the kitchen with her husband and a friend from Brittany.  We have coffee and gallette biscuits with green tea inclusions and talk about the heat, and Spain, and Portugal and weather and Brittany and then, alas, it is time to leave the cool of the stone walled interior and into the furnace heat of the mid afternoon.   I drive to the little house and we throw open the doors and I take photos and measure up.  It has been stripped of anything of architectural merit. The toilet smells badly.  She hasn't installed a proper kitchen, as I advised.  The shower unit is still old and cracked.  We talk price and there is quite some divergence between what I think it is worth and what she wants for it.  She says she will talk to her sister and I drop her back off.

Down town to touch base with the NZ ladies.  They have their builder over and seem to be planning vast changes.  One of the rooms has already been painted by their joint efforts. They are all bare footed and streaked with white paint.  The room, divested of its dull brown dressing, looks tall and clear and elegant.   Even if they only were to paint each room, they would put 50k on the price.  The difference is stunning.  I am so excited to see how this project develops.  I did negotiate a great price and it is because of this, they have faith in my abilities and so many of their colleagues will be coming over to buy.  They say they havent time to talk over our joint project because they are going next door to the other neighbours for an apéro (aperitif).  K has downloaded a language app on her Samsung.  They have no common language between them and the neighbours.  It will be a learning curve of epic amplitude on both sides....

Back home and have to go and sit in the bath in as cold water as I can stand.  Very refreshing.  Peel prawns and shuck mussels for OH who is making seafood chili ragout. Have a little lie down.  Really needed a siesta but it was too late.  Forecast 37 degrees for tomorrow :(