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 apĂ©ro.  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