Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dog day morning and how to get the medicine to go down....

Friday 23 October 2015

Warm and 18 degrees

Time to go and get the MOT on the dog.  The lady at the pension is convinced he is losing his marbles and wants him to go on a substance called Candilat which would oxygenate his brain.  I rang up the vet and she said to bring him in.  Dog is thrilled and tries to pee on every piece of greenery in the vicinity of the cabinet v├ęterinaire.  No other dogs in there and no animals with weeping owners who are obviously taking a last journey together. Dog usually spends the waiting time getting knotted up in the leads of other dogs and annoying cats with affection.  They retreat to the back of their cages and hiss.

We sit at reception and dog tries to get knotted up in the chair legs.  On the walls are a range of dog foods.  Foods for fat dogs and thin dogs, growing dogs, feeding dogs, dogs with renal and kidney problems.  Granules for baby dogs.  Softer stuff for old dogs with brown and tartared teeth.  Dog, by now, is well wedged under the seats and having a sniffathon.

The vet emerges and pops him up on the bench.  She shines a light in his eyes and says he has the beginnings of cataracts and he is quite deaf.  Thought he could still hear the rustle of the dog chew packet at the end of the session....  His heart is good and he has tartar on his teeth.  He has arthritis in his back legs and hips and she gives us some anti inflammatory - one in liquid form which I can squirt into his mouth and others in tablets which I don't know how on earth I am going to get down his neck.

My mother used to have poodles and she could pin them under her arm, pop the tablet onto the back of their throat and then massage their gullets until the pill was swallowed.  I would need to be the size of Schwarzenegger to perform the same feat with an unwilling dog of our dog's size.  He is described as medium however I am 5" 2" and the dog is 43% of my body weight.  OH is completely useless - I shall have to resort to guile and pulverise the very large tablets into dust and sprinkle on his dog meat.  There is no possibility of hiding them in a bit of butter...

We emerge, 64 euros the poorer, and dog again pees on everything and we run some errands and then back home.  Watch Bargain Hunt.  The most revolting, battered Indian painted screen surprisingly makes a very large profit.  David Harper had chosen his clothing on a most 'likely to clash' basis.

OH goes into the kitchen to get together his fishing stuff and I doze on sofa.  I think I may have had flu virus because I still feel completely exhausted.  After a few minutes, he pops his head around the door and asks if I want a cup of tea and says he 'may have made a little mess'.  He has created mammoth chaos so I shut the door and enjoy the tea and ignore the swearing and crashing and then, finally, he is ready to go and leaves with just a fine granulation of mud all over the kitchen floor and a dusting of ground bait on the cooker.  I enjoy peace and quiet and catch up with writing last two days entries.  The sun comes through the open window and the golden leaves rustle on the trees and I can hear the combines at the top of the hill on the uppermost maize fields.  Dog snores.  Time passes.  

All too soon, it is time to go and see a property.  Gleaned from the small ads, it is a 1975 property with a sad history.  The man who commissioned the build died during the process and his wife didn't want to continue so mothballed the house until 1990.  The owners have now converted it into a bright and spacious property with lovely terracing, pool with dolphin fountain, funky green beams and a fireplace which is in the wall between the kitchen and living room.  I love a fire in a kitchen and have only known one other property which had one.  Stuck to the walls of its village church, it was so difficult to see, despite being really lovely, that the owners gave up and have rented it out.  Today's house had two downstairs bedrooms and one upstairs with balcony.  Just 238500 euros or 172000 pounds sterling.

Drive back home in the fading light and the sky is a symphony of washed greys with the moon an icy half circle.  Smudging on red on the horizon and the Pyrenees pale violet grey.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Old style glamour and spirits abound...

Thursday 22 October 2015

Chilled with rain but sun on coast
15 degrees

Slept late and felt very tired so decided to go to the coast for the day.  Saw some interesting old advertising posters and found a wonderful spirits shop

Back to our future

Wednesday 21 October 2015


Went down town first thing with some plaster board and kitchen equipment for the new flat.  OH has created chaos again and hasn't actually been in for weeks.  We are coming up to the second anniversary of this particular renovation.  He needs to stop fishing and get cracking!!  The effort of carrying the stuff just up one floor nearly killed me.  Cold must have attacked my delicate lungs more than I realised.

He then went to have a physio session and I had a run around town and did errands.  Lovely sunny day so crack on with the garden and he walks the dog. 

The main potato border is now finished and so I rake off all the dead grass and lumps and clumps of old vegetation and weed kill the new growth.  I then attack the area which is still giving potatoes.  I planted La Ratte which is an exceptionally fine salad potato but is not the largest tuber I have ever seen.  There are, however, millions of them and I discovered on clearing the already dug rows, that the tubers extend sideways and I filled a full fish box with new small tubers.  Couldn't believe how many I found.

Afternoon - looked at my resin efforts of a couple of days ago.  The huge dandelion seeds I put in a pendant and they transformed into silver filigree.  Beyond gorgeous. 

Today is the day which Michael J Fox went 'back' into the future.  Back in 1985 they imagined we would have flying cars, finger print payment and super skateboards and many, many nutters on the streets.  Alas, on the latter seems to have transpired.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crunchings of the subconscious...

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Sunny 15 degrees

Dreamed that I was back at University but, and this is progress, it was youngest WF who was moving into the house in Gateshead where I spent my second year.  He was holed up in his room, looking at his computer, so I went and looked at the other rooms.  People were in the middle of decorating.  One had the most ravishing flower wallpaper and gorgeous bedding.  Another room belonged to a married couple and they were hanging art deco style paper in a horizontal manner.  They suddenly realised they were doing it wrong and hung it vertically where the paper pattern revealed itself as a lake of water lilies and a huge red arum lily in the centre.  I then went outside and found my former room mates and they were trying to dispose of old paperwork and files which they didn't want to take home.  We were on the road by the North End football ground and they were tossing stuff into the bushes.

I left Uni in 1985 and, with it, the people I had known there.  There was a girl who had the downstairs room in Gateshead.  A previous occupant had painted the walls with a red stencil stating 'censored!'.  That took some painting out.  She married just after we all graduated, moved down to near Cambridge and became an accountant.  They moved back up to Newcastle a few years later.  I believe they have separated.  Never found her on FB or Friends Reunited.

Upstairs were myself, IE and SL.  IE was my best friend during Uni.  He was a lovely person with a line of bad girlfriends who were neurotic to a woman.  He was generous and kind and funny.  He married a blond catholic girl - he sent me a photo - and has also, disappeared into the ether.

SL was a liberal reactionary but didn't actually extend to getting out and protesting about anything.  Famous father.  Smoked a lot of weed with girl from downstairs.  His parents came to visit us once during our time there.  Complete dichotomy between their straight laced and stiff personas and the raunchy writings of the father.  When the mother rang to speak to SL she introduced herself in a bark and gave her full name.  Very cold, both of them.  I was lazily googling, many years later, and discovered SL had become a solicitor. You could have knocked me down with a feather.

The girl downstairs introduced a friend of hers who came to live, briefly and disastrously, with us.  He wasn't a student and lived on the dole and his passion was Dungeons and Dragons - a role playing game in the days before computers - he would spend all day setting up the scenario then dragoon the boys into playing with him.  He was very strange. The more weed he consumed, the more violent he came and then started making threats to kill us.  We were terrified and went to the police.  They said they couldn't do anything until one of us was harmed.  We went to the landlord.  He was far more hands on.  A stocky Geordie, he ran up the stairs, bounced open the locked door with his shoulder and physically threw the guy out of the house with the assurance that he would xxxxing xxxx xxxx xxxx.  Convincing words.  We never saw him again.

Gateshead was one of the best years of my life - a year when I lived each day fully - so many experiences for my subconscious to chew over when given liberty so to do.

I also tracked down my boyfriend of the time and was pleased to see that he had found a lovely girl and was living in the Lakes.  He had changed so little.  Very surprised to see that he had a child.  He had always been very much against a family.  As, indeed, was I.  That is the problem with marrying an insurance man with a flexible endowment.  Great powers of persuasion...

Skulduggery at the llama farm!

Monday 19 October 2015
Cloudy but warm 18 degrees

Woke at nearly ten and felt half dead.  Back ached and had had cramp in the night with the result that my feet were buzzing.  Made tea and took to OH who was still completely comatose and said he had been in Japan and in a garden with some ladies with very well developed chests...  Suggested he got down to the small rental unit which, by a photo I found on my phone the other day, he has been 'renovating' for coming up two years now.

Downstairs and did 'quick' update which took an hour or two and then had lunch and watched Bargain Hunt.  Do love Tim Wonnacott.  It was such a shame he could not bring his personality through when he did Strictly Come Dancing last year and resembled a pole.  I would have thought he would have been good at dancing.  He certainly has lots of style and panache.

Was astonished at a phone call I received later on in the evening.  Remember the llama farm and the disappearing Russians from earlier on this year?  Well, after the Ruskies vanished into the ether, with their non existent millions, an English couple offered on the llama farm and the owners at first said yes and then, when they couldn't find an alternative llama farm, having lost the one they wanted and the 3k deposit, said no and took the house off the market.

The phone call was from a French lawyer who is based in the UK.  He was ringing on behalf of the 'disappointed' UK buyers who had said the sale wasn't going ahead because they felt that the owners didn't want to sell whilst I was involved.  He suggested that the agency would like to 'revise' the conditions of the mandat ie chop our fees considerably and then maybe things would work.  I told him the background and also that I had spoken to the owners recently and they had said that they would not market the property again for a couple of years and, when they did, it would be at a substantially higher price.  I also told him that if his clients hadn't been so mean with their offer, I would have been able to make it work.  I then said I would refer it to our business manager.  I wouldn't have his job for all the tea in China.  Essentially, what has happened is that the Brits have waited a full year after visiting on the Bon de Visite and now think they can approach the vendors directly.  They have taken the UK lawyer to make sure they are on correct legal ground.  The agency however had the property under a properly written and agreed sales contract (that is what the mandat) is and I have written evidence of them discussing the visit with me and subsequent negotiations.  They are trying to cut us out.  Good luck to them however what they do not realise is that, from the vendors side of things, they cannot enter into any private transaction with any persons presented by the agency until a year after the expiration of the mandat.  It was formally withdrawn in June of this year.  A suivre, as they say over here.

A further development on the people who backed out on the contemporary property after the fiasco with the anglo french law company.  The sellers have now taken on a French juriste to advise them and will be trying to sue the buyers for the fact that their property was immobilised for a period of three months over the Summer, when they may reasonably have expected to sell to another purchaser.

Thank heavens, and I am relieved to say, the two Chinese sales are now exchanged and on track.  Or should I not tempt fate by writing that.....

Monday, October 19, 2015

Beautiful buttons

Sunday 18 October 2015

Glorious autumn day
16 degrees

Cracked and made our first fire of the year last night.  The combination of the lovely warmth and the duvet on the sofa made it very hard to stay awake.  Still feel exhausted with the cold virus.  Interestingly, in the UK I could shake off a cold in a couple of days.  In France, with a different strain of the virus, it makes me feel really ill.

Went for a walk around the lake with dog and OH.  Absolutely beautiful day.  Saw a great white heron, coots, mallards and alas, still many cormorants.  Dog had wonderful time. Wished I had my camera with me to take a video and show to the dog pension woman who is convinced he is on the point of imminent collapse.

Back home and finally got into my craft room where I spent a happy afternoon sorting out all the buttons and pendants and photographing them.  The Big Lens app which I have just downloaded for iPhone gives wonderful depth of field to photos and makes them look professional.

Big Lens link to Apple download page here

Cant see the rooms for the contents...

Saturday 17 October 2015


Spent morning doing paperwork and then what I really needed were some zeds but it was time to go out and see another house.

Glorious autumn day with sparkling blue skies and golden leaves.  The GPS took me all over the place and I ended up opposite a very uninspiring house which was all closed up. Rang the owners and fortunately it wasn't that one.  Drove for another five minutes and came upon a much better 1900's house in a quieter location and the owner was waving from the doorstep.

Know the expression you cant see the wood for the trees?  The house was stuffed to the gunnels with a bewildering amount of stuff.  Not a wall was bare, or a surface.  Rather dark and rooms in every direction.  Wires and pipes snaked over the ceilings.  The most difficult properties to sell are those which are started and not finished.  This was certainly one of those.  A malevolent and extremely large tiger (toy fortunately) glared at me from a bedroom and his glass eyes followed me around the room.

I hit my head on a particularly low ceiling and had to sit down and regain my senses.  They fed me coffee and I was adored by a small enthusiastic spaniel with a knitted jacket.  Lovely people.

After an hour it was back on the road home and OH was whizzing around on the tractor again and subduing the greenery.  Ghastly amount of brambles have invaded the main borders.  I need to dig out the old wax jacket and some thick gloves to get to grips with it.

Ever such a lot of rugby on the telly but finally got to watch Strictly Come Dancing which I absolutely adore.  Love the sparkle and the glamour.  Would so love to be part of it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wouldnt it be nice to call a spade a spade, especially if it is a crap, dirty, cheap one.....

Friday 16 October 2015

Sunny and gorgeous but cool at night
16 degrees

Spent the morning editing photos.  Not having admin support; an independent agent has to find the properties for sale (they never just walk in through the door), go out and estimate their value, take photos and measure out, sign up the sellers and then go home and put all the information on the agency software and send up the mandat for signature by the agency.  The agency then does quality control on the mandat and the uploaded information, checks that the necessary certificates have been obtained and then posts out the copy mandat and puts the property on market and markets it.

Often, with a large property, it can take as long to upload it and edit the photos as it does to actually go out, find it, measure up and take photos, and sign up the owners.  The bit I particularly detest is writing the advert.  How many ways to describe a facade, a room, a layout, a garden, a view?  I have yet to fall into the clich├ęs still adopted by UK estate agents. Perhaps they list more properties than me?  I did read once of an agent who wrote what the property actually looked like, and got a lot of visits by people who wanted to see if it was actually that bad.  Used the words - crap, cheap, dirty.  

I use Windows Photo Gallery for editing and find that by turning up the shadows and down the highlights and turning colour right up, I can make a room look warm and inviting and take out the glare from the windows.  The bane of my life is window glare - it completely distorts the light levels within the room and washes out the colour.  I am also expert at cropping out washing, bottles, mops, sundry items and dogs/children.  There is a very good retouching feature which also enables me to edit out alarming patches of damp, walls that have been drawn on by enthusiastic children, and myself out of mirrors.

The word to describe the house I went to see at lunch time, having put on the motley and some tidy clothing and told myself I could do it for an hour, was 'plain'.  Extremely plain. Belonging to a health professional; it is a modern single level house with electric gates, video-surveillance, and long tarmac driveway.  Views of the countryside.  Swimming pool very close to the house with ugly large hedge of leylandii.  They will regret planting that.  It will be in the pool with the kids in no time.

I had this house for sale about four years ago, when it was owned by an English lady and her Portuguese husband.  They had lovely furniture and pretty art work and the kitchen was shiny.  Today, the house looked as if the owners, who had been there for about three years, had never actually moved in.  Just a few pictures of the family on the wall.  No tableaux, no curtains or nets, a very neutral grey rug and violently orange sofa with red cushions.  These people are badly in need of a stylist.  The pool had a sagging black net fence around it and was full of plastic toys.  Would you go for interview not wearing your smartest outfit?  Why do people not dress their houses for sale?  Especially people with the means to do so. Signed him up in any event for a reasonable price and back home and had to have a sleep on the sofa as felt completely wiped out.