Saturday, January 31, 2015

Monkeys and the Wrath of God

Thursday 29 January 2015

Rain 7 degrees 

Take OH a cup of tea and it looks like the bed has been a wrestling ring for rhinos.  He struggles out of the sheets which have him in a dead lock and announces that he has spent the night chasing (in his dreams) obdurate chimpanzees who were insulting him and throwing bananas.  It is only when he tries to get out of bed, that he discovers he has both legs in one of his pyjama legs....

Spend the day uploading properties and walking the dog, who is very bored but doesn't want to go out in the rain.  Late afternoon speak to a friend who tells me that there is a weather warning out, and we should batten down the hatches.

I pin back the shutters and discover we have no firelighters.  I can't make fires without firelighters.  Bugger, bugger, bugger.   Use five million bits of sticks and most of a newspaper that we will now never know the contents and finally, after an hour of almost asphyxiating myself, get the sodding, bloody fire to light.

Rain is lashing down and we have hardly anything in the cupboard.  Consult the BBC website which gives supplies based recipe suggestions and manage to come up with chicken parfaits using the old, pungent blue cheese, some spare chicken breasts and the remnants of a packet of Bayonne ham.   Mashed potatoes tarted up with some creme fraîche and a variety of little roasted veg.  Not bad, Mrs, even if I say so myself.

OH arrives home looking knackered after tiling above the bath in the rental unit.  He produces a good bottle of white and we watch Eggheads.   Looks like Daphne is no longer on the team.  She was phenomenal and could always guess right, even when she didn't know the answer.

We started watching the most dreadful film which OH had recorded a while ago, when I wasnt paying attention.  By Werner Herzog, it was called Aguirre the Wrath of God and was filmed in 1972.  Here is the summary

  1. Aguirre: The Wrath of God Review

    Aguirre: The Wrath of God is one of those films where the production story seems to overshadow that of the film itself. Werner Herzog’s third film, and the one that marks his international breakthrough, is remembered as one of the most tumultuous film shoots in cinema history. Thankfully, the film is every bit as fascinating and mysterious as the nature of its production.
    The inimitable Herzog, then aged 30, shepherded a cast and crew of 450 off to Machu Picchu, largely without a plan or prayer. Herzog knew he wanted to track the fateful course of historic adventurer Lope de Aguirre, a man whose conquests he had read about in a children’s book and felt ripe for dramatic reinvention, but its turnout, he left largely to the gods to decide. Herzog threw together a largely wordless script in a few days, and set course for lands unknown. The rest is (film) history.
    Amongst the four hundred was the now notoriously volatile Klaus Klinski, whom Herzog, always enjoying a challenge, would employ as leading man four more times after this. The combination of the inhospitality of the land and of the personalities involved would make for a remarkable production. Over a rushed, trying five week shoot, Herzog and his crew of countrymen and natives reportedly faced danger at every corner, living in as much in fear of Klinski’s rage as the torrential weather conditions. Starved, soaked and exhausted, the crew battled on, with Aguirre, in all its atmospheric, enigmatic glory emerging as the fruit of their labour.
    An epic of doomed persistence, Aguirre’s narrative perhaps gains significance from the story of it’s making. The struggles of the cast and crew cloaking the film in a damp and dour atmosphere of despair that only serves to heighten the on-screen debilitation. Aguirre tracks the titular explorer as he rises from amongst a band of explorers to become leader of their party, an accomplishment that proves to be less successful than it sounds. Charting the increasingly disastrous mission of an ever diminishing band of explorers, Aguirre is definitive in its portrayal of an insane commitment to absolute futility. If the increasing barriers put up by both man and nature didn’t make success seem a bright prospect for Herzog’s explorers there is the underlying knowledge for the audience that the place they seek, El Dorado, doesn’t even exist.
    In its vision of a band of raft-riding, defeated men descending into the heart of darkness, Aguirre draws obvious parallels with another ‘70s classic, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Indeed, Coppola sighted Herzog’s film as an inspiration, and the debt is obvious even without Coppola’s humble recognition. As Aguirre, his men, and one horse, slip deeper and deeper into the heart of the jungle, it is apparent that the atmosphere of Coppola’s Vietnam was informed by Herzog’s film. Utilising the hostility of the landscape and its natural sounds as backdrop, Herzog creates as astounding a portrait of the oppressiveness of nature as any he would follow with.
    Klinski plays Lope de Aguirre with a quiet and building intensity through to the explosive speech near the end to which the title refers. He may be the earthly wrath of god, but he is still minuscule presence amongst the vastness of the natural world. In the most remarkable scene of the film, Klinski stumbles around the raft, attempting to scare away a horde of monkeys who have overtaken the vessel, whilst the camera loops around him, emphasising the overwhelming futility of it all. Only Herzog could come up with such a fantastically bizarre way of showing the utter hopelessness of attempting to defy nature as staging a monkey invasion sequence.
    Aguirre is not perfect, working with a single camera setup against a tide of difficulties does pay a toll on the technical side of things, and the fact that the story was more or less ad-libbed does come through, but these quibbles are side-lined by the remarkable aura of the film. The setting, the troubled production, as well as Herzog’s skill with the camera and Florian Fricke’s fantastic score, give the whole thing a tinge of oppressiveness and mystery that remains timeless.
    Herzog’s behind-the-camera escapades have become as well-known as his cinematic contributions. Aguirre marks the start of the BFI’s Herzog retrospective, and whilst not his debut, it is his first real touchstone, a film that is entirely impossible to emulate. Aguirre marks the first time where everything came together against all odds, as it would many times for one of the world’s most enduring “soldiers of cinema,” to use the director’s own term.
  2. OH thought this film was the bees knees.  I was relieved when the electricity went off at 10 pm and we escaped to our early beds.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Prospection and reflections on life

Wednesday 28 January 2015

9 degrees and mizzling

Down to nearby town to see an apartment with balcony.  It is in a building which hangs over the river and looks really good from the photos.  When I get there, there are a number of bells to ring and none of them has the right name.  Go and see the ground floor shop keeper who suggests I ring all of them.  Top idea.  Ring home and get the phone number.  A man in his late thirties descends the narrow, twisting staircase.

We climb up into the icy apartment.  It is in a state of some disarray and the man says he thought I was coming tomorrow.  His speech is slurred and he has one eye permanently closed.  It transpires that he had a brain tumour in his late 20's and it has affected the muscles of his eyelid and the eye has limited manoeuvrability.  

He starts to clear up the dishes and make the beds whilst I measure up and then serves me a cup of stone cold coffee.  He sits and strokes his cat who purrs richly and we prepare the sales document.  He used to work as a delivery driver and does not know what his future will bring.  A lesson on living life to the full as we never know when fate will put us on hold.  I really hope I can enable him to sell and get somewhere with some outside space so at least his terrible psoriasis can receive some rays.

Back home and partner agent rings me to say that his client doesn't like road noise.  Why didn't he ask them if they were sensitive to noise?  We could have saved a lot of time and effort and it would have been one less person who I upset yesterday.

One of my happy sellers who has just completed gets a friend to ring me.  She has a huge hotel restaurant in a nearby town.   I get over there early afternoon.  It is a beautiful building where I have shared many a happy meal with friends and clients.   It transpires her husband has left her, the children are away at school and she is running chambre d'hôte on her own. She wants a new life.

We go around the hotel and it is so well done, with bright clean rooms and beautiful bedding.  The phone rings constantly with bookings.  There is a veg garden, pool garden, swimming pool and also a field with donkeys.  They come haring over for carrots and we stroke their bristly ears and I note the mark of the cross on their haunches.  She has been trying to sell for years and the clients who have come to visit have said the road is noisy. The property is very visible and they cant expect to get passing trade if they are in the back of beyond!

thank you Hope Oaks Farm

Back home again.  The abscess on my gum has reached a massive size and is oozing pus. I feel exhausted.  OH in very bad mood because he can't find his tile cutter and has spent the whole afternoon searching.  We find it in the barn, where he put it, when we had our last clean up.  I am going to have to organise him when he starts in earnest on the new rental unit.  His stuff is spread over the old rental units, one of a number of outbuildings at home, the loft, the laundry room and is often stuffed in old shopping bags.  It drives me nuts.  He has no idea where anything is and never puts anything away.  And it is often my fault that he cant find it.

Focus on the adventure that awaits me this year.  A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.  This month I am making sure the hull is sound and healthy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Crapola maximum and Barry Bucknell revisited

Monday 27 January 2015

I promised myself to write something every day and to be positive.  Today was so unutterably crap that I am writing nothing about it.  End of story.

Will entertain you with events from back in 2011

Monday evening I am on duty in the office and a couple from Paris roll in.  They have noticed a bungalow advertised in the window at 129500 €.  I explain it is sold 'off plan'.  They look confused.  I explain it is not yet constructed.  They ask how are they supposed to live in a house which isn't yet built...  I sit them down and show them the plans.  Actually, they say, we would like something old.  Preferably a bungalow.  No busy roads.  No near neighbours.  And they have 130 000 €.  I haven't had a property like that in the past ten years.  Bungalows tend to be well over 200 000 € and on estates.  I fish through our partner agent files in the hope of finding something and, bingo, find a single level building with workshop and, bonus, a lake and 6500 m2 of land.  Just 135 500 €.  Secretly wondering what is wrong with it, I make an appointment to see it with them the following day at 9.00.  When the couple have gone, I ring back the other agent.  They laugh and say 'you will see'.

9 am dawns and the clients are on time. We roll 15 minutes north through the early morning sunshine and following the sat nav - a Godsend for a woman with no sense of direction.  The property is at the end of a long lane.  There is indeed a lake, and a canal, and a ruined building and the bungalow.  The couple are amazed and I release them into the garden to have a wander around whilst I open up the house.  Most of the land is the other side of the canal.  ‘Attention’ shouts the husband as his rather substantial wife approaches the delicately rusting metal bridge.  Too late, she drops onto it, with a terrifying ‘clunk’.  It holds.  I go into the house and have to climb over many boxes to switch on the electricity.

There is a very large workshop.  The lady thinks this will keep her husband busy.  I agree this is always a good thing where husbands are concerned.  We go into the house and I switch on the lights.  There is a lot of wood on the walls and the ceilings and the furniture.  It is very gloomy.   It looks like the paper has been taken off the walls by someone in a high state of excitement.  The couple love it.  They think it would be a good idea to enlarge the windows to let in more light.  Interestingly, all the windows at the rear have opaque, public loo-like, glass cubes instead of glass.  I go around the side to investigate and discover the neighbour’s land abuts exactly the rear of the house.  The windows are opaque to guarantee the privacy of the neighbour and so can neither carry clear glass or be enlarged.  The couple are hugely disappointed and I have nothing else to show them so we trot back into town and promise to keep in touch.

Wednesday morning and it is getting towards lunchtime.  Again I am on duty and a couple from Suffolk come in.  What a surprise!  We Easterners are very thin on the ground in this part of the world.  They have a similar budget to my Parisians but are happy to have neighbours and want to do some renovation work.  This makes life a lot easier and we select two properties to see.  They pop out to get a sandwich and we arrange to meet in half an hour.  ‘Well?’ asks our secretary.  ‘They are really funny’ I reply.  ‘I don't give a monkey’s arse if they are funny, are they going to buy something?’  Well if I knew that, I could have saved myself a lot of time and diesel over the years...

I join the couple for a coffee and we then set off for a property which is in, a neighbouring Department.  The village has a bar and grocery and a very attractive church.  The owners are just leaving as we get there but say to go and visit and then just close the door when we leave.  ‘Not like Ipswich’ note my couple.  The property consists of part of a former Inn which has been beautifully renovated by the current owners.  On the ground floor is a large living room with stairs off.  Further back is the kitchen, shower room and loo.  Next to the living room is the door into the barn.  My couple are interested in the barn as well so we draw back the curtain, open the new door, open the old door and have a good look at the barn as well.  It has been re-roofed recently and there is a walled garden.  The lady thinks this will keep her husband busy.... 

We then come back to our town and visit a semi-detached property in a residential area.  The lady prefers this house.  There are many large dogs.  A heavily pregnant girl is holding back a particularly large one who would love to jump all over us.  ‘He is young and friendly’ she assures us.  We run in house quickly.. 
The owner is very proud of his plywood cupboards in the bedrooms.  My clients ask me if I remember Barry Bucknall.   The owners of the house have a lot of stuff and not much of it is in the cupboards.  We leave and the couple promise to recontact me late tomorrow after their visits.

Well, they vanished into the ether..

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I really don't appreciate their tone...

Monday 26 January 2015

Frosty 2 degrees, sun then cloudy later

My gum is still oozing pus and thank heavens I have no nerve in there, or I would be in agony.  Ring dentist and ask for more antibiotics as the surgery is still over a month away and my face is sore and swollen.  OH drives me in and I get the tablets and then have nothing to swallow them with.  Crunch one up and it is utterly revolting.  Have to take the taste away with bread.  Walk dog around the lake.  No cormorants in sight.  Small coots jerking across the slate grey surface of the water.  The dog's ear is healing but is still split on the end and flaps when he walks.

Back home and I doze on the sofa whilst OH watches Squawk Box and other US financial news.  The women on there are very highly polished.  I am not because I live in an essentially non heated house and all my more interesting clothes are Summer light weight. We adopt babushki principles in winter.  OH lights Aga in kitchen and we catch up on the mails.  He moans incessantly about the new interface, so much so that I feel like throttling him.  The interface we work with has just been updated, and it is not an improvement.  I write and tell the software provider and get a bullying reply which is copied into the company I work with.  Bastards.  He says if I understood the new system, I would love it.

I am going to tell him today, during the 'free' training session that I have been offered, that I have dilettante buyers, unrealistic sellers, the bonkers administration, the geographical isolation, and all of this which is carried out in a variety of European languages.  The very, very last thing I need is for the sodding, sodding, bloody software provider to fart around with the interface.  It is not an improvement.  It didn't need fixing.  Rant over.  But if he does carry on writing to people I work with, I am going to put my comments back on FB and he can stick it up his xxxx.

Also discover that as from the middle of last year (we get updated on Andorran timescales)
that outbuildings which are situated on agricultural land can no longer be transformed into habitations.  Oh bloody fantastic.  Have a very large barn with full and very costly plans and the building permit lapsed last year.  Do I ask if I can renew it and be refused and can therefore no longer claim that I didnt know of these new regulations?  Do I keep quiet and let our eventual buyers find out for themselves?  OH declares that the administration change their minds every few minutes and not to say anything to anyone.  I am not comfortable with this.

Partner agent rings to say that her clients turned up late and said they had seen the outside of the house, and it was too far out of the town centre.  It is under a kilometre, lazy bastards. She was very frustrated indeed and had apologised to the key holder.

Watch Natalie Ledwell and Mind Movies videos and get some free Mind Movies videos. Bob Proctor spoke well of them.  Played the wealth and peace of mind ones.  Subconscious - please start paying attention!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dreaming of the house of my dreams

Sunday 25 January 2015

Glorious sunshine 4 degrees

Woken by the sun filtering through the shutters.  Cars and courtyard still shrouded in frost. Dug dog out of his basket and down town to pick up the rental unit keys and buy bread. Rental unit hardly touched and I was pleased to find bounty in terms of margarine, fruit, bread, potatoes, milk and orange juice.

Walked the old tram route which has been fully tarmacked by the local commune.  It was heading for midday by this time and there was no one around.  The tarmac was finely carpeted with orange oak and ash leaves and our breath spiralled into the chilly air.  The occasional jogger passed us by.  Dog attempted to pee on every third tree.  Walked for an hour and a half and then went for coffee in a bar and attempted to catch up with the Sunday papers accumulated by OH from his various trips to the UK.  Doing quite well - we are already up to November 2014!

Back home and OH lit the Aga and I made mince pies and malt loaf and listened to Radio 4 iPlayer on the laptop - the Ipcress File.  We can get iPlayer radio but not iPlayer telly which is somewhat frustrating.  Internet not strong enough for Netflix streaming.  We managed for a long time on dial up and then went to 512kb and are currently on 1.5mb which seems incredibly fast.  I went to a rival supplier of internet to see if I could get a better price and they informed me that, where I live, it is not possible to get broadband.  I went back to my current supplier and they also informed me that I could not have broadband.  I pointed out that I had broadband and it is they who are supplying it.   I suggested that I should stop paying for something that they say I don't have and they said they would stop my connection....   Andorran logic is very hard to follow.

Clients from early in the week emailed to say that the business partner needs to get over and see the property and they wouldn't be making any quick moves.  Why can't people make quick moves for God's sake - it would be a refreshing change.  The clients from later in the week reminded me to repay the security deposit and said they would mull things over and get back in touch.

Had roast duck and roast potatoes and delicious white wine.   OH listened to music and podcasts in the kitchen and I started looking at houses back in the UK.  Looking at houses I could potentially afford turned out to be rather depressing so I started looking at ones that I do not currently have the means to buy.   I have to say, the fact that people have money, does not mean they have taste.  Gorgeous barn conversions with Jackanory windows were mullered with ghastly heavy drapes and frilly flounces.  Serious nick knack collectors too. Finally came upon a dream property.  Georgian and on National Trust land.  Not renovated to within an inch of its life.  Cutting garden, white garden, veg garden, near to the South Coast and on the banks of a prime salmon river (OH very keen fisherman).

Here is the link

Universe, I need 1.85 million plus stamp duty.   Please oblige and quickly.  Muchas gracias xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The difficulties of finding the dream - when the dream keeps changing...

Saturday 24 January 2015

3 degrees with brilliant sun later

A more civilised start today.  Down to pick up clients at 9.30 and they are already up and about and ready to roll.  

First house is 15 kms from our town and is a new house in an old shell.  The mountain views are absolutely stupendous.  Their snow is deep and crisp and pink in the morning light.   The owner has come back from Switzerland to open up.   The clients go back to being reserved and withdrawn.

Head off to another house and again, don't get a lot of feedback.  They pop into a room and say 'ok' and then come out again.  With all clients, I do a sit down run through at the end and it will be especially valuable with these two.

We arrive at our final house and it appears that finally, we may be approaching something they like.  It is chocolate box pretty and is being sold by a partner agent, who is there and waiting when we arrive.  The owners are away, and I am surprised to see another Maine Coon.  They are popping out of the woodwork everywhere.

The couple spend a lot of time in the garden and admire the wonderful snow capped peaks. The other agent and I start to feel optimistic.

I take them to a nearby bar and we do the run through.  The man takes the opportunity to show me on his phone pictures of a property on which they just missed out, last year.  It bears no resemblence whatsoever to what I have been showing them.  Feel miffed.  They have been looking for a number of years and, running through the houses we have seen with them, I can see why.  Their criteria have evolved.  It transpires that the man likes the first house we saw today, and the lady the third one.  Alas, ours is way down on their preference list.   Have a hot chocolate and then they leave to go down to the mountains.

I go home.  It is 2.30 and OH thinks I have made progress.  There is a possibility of revisiting Monday with the clients so all is not yet lost.   They then ring at 8 pm and say that they have decided to go to their friends up in France, many hours north, as from tomorrow morning.  So no more revisits and they will be back in early March.

Try and catch up with the clients from earlier in the week - the man has gone to rugby and the lady says that his partner will be buying his house in the UK so there is a lot to sort out. On the positive side, means that the man can make his own decision and the partner won't have to come over to see the properties as well.

Ring all the owners of the properties visited, leave feedback, update the software system and arrange some appointments for next week.

I find a bottle of korma sauce in the cupboard and make fish curry.

It has been a long day.  Watch 'Meet Me in Saint Louis'.  OH is big fan of Judy Garland

Judy Garland publicity photo.pngthank you wikipedia

Another fragile Gemini with many marriages, and ultimately an early death with drugs and alcohol.  It is fortunate for you and I, dear readers, that fame has not yet carried me off.  I am always ready to be famous however, and promise to handle it sensibly.

Visits in the sunshine!

Friday 23 January 2014

Cold and misty 0 degrees

Alarm sounded at dreadfully early o'clock.  I didn't move here to get up when it is dark and cold.  My body was creaking more than the floorboards.  Piled bedding, towels, laptop, mop, bucket and kettle into the car and was down at the rental unit for 7.45 am.  Birds were still in bed and had to put on the car lights on dip so see through the drifting walls of mist.  

Pleased to find that the flat was neat and tidy.  Less pleased to find that I had read the wrong part of the meter and that the right part of the meter was spinning round crazily, meaning that they had probably used up the rental price in electricity.  Don't ever let in Winter normally.  Oh bugger, bugger.  Charged them a nominal amount and they went. Lady still highly made up and wearing strange earrings which looked like pupae.

Spent hour and a half cleaning and tidying up and getting ready for midday's people.  Lovely and cosy and warm in the flat, even though I had turned off the radiators the minute the last clients had gone down the stairs!

Down to the car park and the next clients were running late so went for a coffee in the nearby hotel and bumped into a resident Brit enjoying his 10 am carafe of rosé.  He told me about various goings on in town including the good news that the local council has decided to knock down the jerry built eyesore which was started six years ago and never finished. Ours is a beautiful traditional town and the huge breeze block monstrosity blighted its street. Hopefully some more parking, since the local council also decided to restrict it to half an hour maximum in the town centre.

Eventually the clients arrived and the lady was upset because her daughter had just run to say their dog had died.  They followed me to the first appointment which is a house I have just brought onto market.  It is beautiful and has great flow and a fabby swimming pool.  I don't know whether it is the dog loss or their normal nature, but I don't get much feed back from them physically or verbally.

We head off next to our house.  OH has lit the Aga for the occasion and also the wood burner and turned on all the radiators.  There is a strange, unfamiliar wave of heat as I open the back door.  The clients seem to warm up physically and emotionally and we have a cup of tea.  They go back to the rental unit and I feel rather tired and eat bananas.  OH turns up with dog and we have quick resumé.

Pick them up again at 1.45 and show them a farmhouse with former light aircraft hangar. The owner has two large, enthusiastic, black dogs.  One of them is scooting a very large stone around the courtyard with his nose.  We have to keep leaping out of the way.  The sun comes out and the Pyrenees pop up from the cloud base.  We then go down to a house where they don't even want to go through the door.  The key holder is not pleased as he has come out of work specially.  He closes up grumpily.  

We then head down to a very special manor house with 4 acres of parkland and huge outbuildings.  When you arrive in front of the large solid infilled gates, you have no concept of what lies behind.  The 4 acre park holds centenary American redwoods of huge girth and height (9 metres and 38 metres according to the owner) and used to belong to local aristocrats.  We go around the house which is rather eccentrically decorated, especially in the bedrooms.  The lady of the house is obviously wilder than her demure appearance would suggest.  'its not me who decorates - its the boss!' says the husband.  The clients appear somewhat stunned.  The lady owner serves tea and biscuits in the conservatory and her husband regales us of tales of his time in the Army when he was a pilot and later when he became a Colonel.  He came to the realisation that he had worked all of his life and had nothing to show for it, so he bought this house and many bee hives and spent the next 15 years producing ten tonnes a year of honey and pollen.

He has a pink plug in what is obviously a hole in his head following brain tumour surgery.  I can see the lady client's eyes keep sliding over to it.  She says later that she wondered what would happen if the plug came out.  Very unlikely that he would deflate, he is quite some character and one of the joys of this job is meeting fascinating people from all walks of life and also seeing beautiful furniture and pictures.

Take them back into our town and they jump in the car to go and have a drive around the area.

Back home.  Feel rather fatigued but have to catch up on calls and emails.  OH cooks the most delicious thresher shark which absolutely melts in our mouths.  We have white French Jurancon wine to accompany.  He found them on a French special in the local big supermarket and is feeling optimistic that I might actually manage to shift some property this month.  This is the sort of wild optimism to which I am normally prone.