Saturday, June 6, 2015

Prospection and plumbing

Friday 5 June 2015

Hot start but clouding over later
32 degrees

It was already 28 degrees by 10 am so I got in the car, put on the air con and went around to drop off some keys with a colleague.  She had forgotten I was coming and had just emerged from the shower. Her cheeks were the sort of pink that you only see on a native Brit - she had been for a run.  

French and Spanish people never go flushed and sweaty - occasionally, after many kms pounding away on a running machine, they may develop a slight pink tinge. They never look hot and they never drip like we Brits do.  It is very annoying.  They also wear relatively thick clothes until the temperatures rise to the levels that would make a northern European pass out with heat exhaustion and, when we hotter blooded creatures cast off the layers in May, the French look at us askance and say to one another that we must think it is Summer.  For me, Madame, 20 degrees is Summer and a fine one.  I would be perfectly happy in a place in the world where the day starts off at about 16 degrees and then rises to about 25.  Here, you freeze or you absolutely boil, apart from September and October and even half way through November, which are absolutely delightful.

Armed with my new tablet, I had spotted two Century 21 properties in town which were distinctive and I thought I recognised where they were.  One of the pictures had a church tower in it so I went to that quartier and started to circle the area in apple peel circuits and struck lucky.  The house was empty but two phone numbers on a panneau on the front wall. Result - took photos and made notes and drove on.  I took a turn around a little estate and found another private for sale sign.  More photos and notes.  The second C21 house proved very difficult to find.  I stopped various post ladies and they all said they recognised it and none of them could remember where it was.

I was very hot and sticky by this stage so went for a fizzy water and showed the picture of the house to the contents of the bar - mostly Brits and all of them blissfully retired - and no one knew it.  One woman showed me a video of an island in Japan which is overrun by huge rabbits.  Interesting but no help at all.  Back out again and it suddenly struck me which area it would be in and I found it opposite a house I visit regularly.  The woman was in and said sod off so I did and went home and had lunch.  Watched Bargain Hunt.  People bought some bonkers things and the auction was run by a man who looks like the adult version of the little boy in the Adams Family.

There was a knock on the window and it was the plumber coming to fix the well.  He dropped an immense ladder down the hole, unscrewed the clappette at the end of the pipe, put on a new one and the tank filled.  The pump did not stop pumping when the tank was full so we had to switch it off manually but at least we would water and it took no time at all.  Yet another visit from the plumber next week to discover why it won't switch off.

Felt very wound up about the US couple's case as the seller still doesnt know and the agency still hasnt prepared the letter to send to them.  Finally got through to the business manager and he said it would have to be done by the notaires.  WTF?  Why couldnt they have decided this at the beginning of the week?  He said to leave it the weekend because nothing could be done and then he went off and I found that the dog had run off and I dug OH out of the front room, where he was washing and waxing fly line and had got himself in a real tangle, and made him go out and look.  This fishing thing would be great if he ever actually came home with one.

My notaire has prepared the compromis for the flat so we read through it and made some modifications and I sent it back off again.  Hopefully the buyer's notaire can see them next week and then they can sign and Robert sera notre uncle.

The dog came back on his own and OH tried to show me the various parts of the fly line which includes backing line - the bit first wound onto the reel, followed by the thick fly line followed by the leader followed by the tippet.  When I think tippet, I think of a shoulder stole, such as :

 usually in fur and thrown around in wild abandon in historical novels -

 "Yolande cast her tippet aside carelessly, and flung herself into his open arms".  

Alas no, wake from my reverie to find that flung into my arms is about three metres of very thin and badly behaved skinny fly line which has knotted itself into eye crossing confusion. After 20 minutes, I have made it considerably worse and am released to make supper. Once again, we have nothing interesting in the fridge so roast some peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes and have some lamp chops, with parsley and thyme flung carelessly over.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Weather heats up but your agent is keeping her cool

Thursday 4 June 2015

Stinking hot 32 degrees and nearly 50 in the sun

It was already over 20 when I poked my nose through the door at 8 am.  People who don't live in hot climates think 'oh great' when they hear of high temperatures.  They are not great - they frizzle the garden, they frizzle your hair and burn off all the expensively applied colour, they burn your skin and give you wrinkles, they make you drip.  To get an authentic heat experience of a hot day in the South, put some wet towels in the tumbler.  Let them tumble on maximum heat for about 20 minutes.  Put your head into the machine and you tell me if that is great.

Agency decides to carry on trying to contact US lady's husband, who is currently not answering his phone or replying to emails.  He is probably tied up in the business of messing up people's lives.  Worryingly, the business manager says that divorce could be considered as a legitimate motif for not continuing with the sale, which means that we would be paid nothing.

Applied much suncream, tied up my hair and found a large sun hat, shaved my appallingly white and hairy legs and found some sandals, put on a pretty dress and headed down town. Felt quite chic under my hat and sunglasses and bright lipstick.  Went to meet a seller and give her the keys as she needs them for a son who is popping over to keep an eye on the house when they are away.  The lady is wearing thick clothing and sunglasses and sitting in the shade.  We have tea and she tells me how she met her second (and current) husband due to their interest in politics and church going.  I tell her about how OH and I got together via a blind date, thirty years ago in August.  

How difficult it must be, starting again in your fifties, as this lady did.  In fact, how difficult it is altogether to find a partner who is good for the long term.  All those dances and discos and the relationships didn't last more than a few months.  And the horror of meeting someone when you were sober and it was daylight and you discovered that they were not at all like you remembered (or hoped).  I am convinced that work or interest groups (or introductions via dear friends like Ms Noddi) are the best places to meet a potential partner.  Mr Noddi came via Ms Noddi's bookshop and was shy and bought many books before stating what was really on his mind.  I suppose marriage and partnerships are on my mind because of the breakdown of the relationship of the American couple.  Lady is still too upset to speak to me.

I go to the fripperie and find a delightful white top with delicate tracing and pleating.  A poster of an exhibition attracts my attention - work done by local amateurs.  It is held in a little exhibition house overlooking the now bone dry river bed.  On the ground floor are drawings - one by a man I know - I am amazed by the discovery of his name at the bottom of the picture and realising he is a very talented pen and ink draughtsman.  

There are some pictures that would give you a start if you came across them on a midnight trip to the loo
I like the manic style of this one

Zombie with a barrel on her head

A further case reveals intricate crewel work by another lady whose house I have for sale.  There is some stuff that is twee (scary doll nightdress cases) and some that is bizarre (Mondrian style but fatter lines) and then on the third floor I find a lady who won't give me her house for sale and she has lots of delightful felt and sewn items and I plump for a pincushion with band that I can attach to my wrist.  She doesn't have a paper bag so I wear it as a bracelet and head back into town.

An Australian couple I have known for years have just arrived and we are delighted to see one another and say hello and they say have a drink and why are you wearing a pin cushion?  So we had a coffee together and it is great to see them again and we say we must do lunch and mean it.  Saw another English couple who haven't been around for ages and I ask after her mother and they says she is dead and that is what they wanted for her. They look very happy and are drinking wine and laughing.  They look like people who are now off the hook and free to enjoy themselves.  Very aged relative.  Being old is very boring.

Back home finally and watch the end of the Jooooooooooooooohn Wayne cowboy film and we are in a complete torpor.  Do some emails and ring up some new prospective houses for sale and unusually most people say no but one man says yes and he is English with a lovely house, two gites and a pool.  Un produit rare as they say over 'ere.

Take dog for a walk in the woods, which afford some shade, and the banks are alive with butterflies, notably one of these, which I haven't seen before (thankyou Wikipedia)

Great banded grayling

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dark clouds and a sudden bolt of lightning

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Overcast 24 degrees

Spent morning loading a property and chasing people on the phone and by email.  Took dog for a walk and found a house which I used to have for sale - bought by Russians not long ago.  Wonder if they have not fitted in?  Took a photo of the house and their name and address for reference - found them in the phone book so will ring tomorrow.

Came back and had lunch.  Must stop eating bread, feel bloated.

Got email from yesterday's people saying they had changed their mind, dont want to revisit and will come back with their son later in the year to consider buying at that time.

At six pm a bombshell via Skype - the American lady's husband has filed for divorce.  A month ago they were over here, signing papers.  They had found a buyer for their house and all was en route.  Now, dreadfully, it has all unravelled completely.  What a terrible, terrible mess.  Tomorrow I will have to tell the seller.

Real estate is a symphony of tragedy, in many movements.

Visits in the sunshine!

Tuesday 2 June 2015
Very hot and sticky - 29 degrees

Up early to write and enjoy the fresh morning air breezing in through my bedroom windows. Listened to the wind in the tall trees and the small birds going about their business.  Wrote for an hour then it was all too soon to get up and put on the motley.

The first clients today were those of my colleagues.  I arrived early in the village, found the keys in the letter box and threw open all of the windows.  All of the hot, bored flies escaped.  I looked through the window and there was a man of a military appearance, lurking outside the huge iron gates.  He was easily in his 70's.  I was about to show him a renovation project with vast outbuildings.  This was not going to be a good visit.  In fact, I had trouble getting them over the doorstep.  They didn't mind a renovation project but they did not need over 500m2 of outbuildings.  Apparently my colleague had not told them.  If this is how he works, he must spend a lot of time showing completely unsuitable properties.

The people were farmers and in the process of selling their farm.  They didn't want to buy some soulless little concrete cube, like most French people of their age, but were looking for 'old stone'.  They also didn't want to buy something that someone had renovated, where they didn't like what had been done.  They have a budget over 200k in excess of the price of the property we were standing in front of.  I do feel that this property is completely unsellable just because of the outbuildings - they are absolutely vast - the property no longer has the land to support a farm so the property has now become a white elephant.

I take them to see another property and they don't like that either so I go for a coffee in the nearby town and very much hope I don't see PB's mother as she is still blissfully unaware that the sale has gone pear shaped.  Ring head of the agency and say what on earth are we (ie they) going to do and LL has brilliant idea of getting the business manager DC to ring up the awkward US husband and get his take on things.  If he says there is not a hope in hell, then we can tell the seller PB immediately.

Back home for lunch and freshen up and watch part of a cowboy film with Jaaaaaaaaaaahn Wayne.  Down to the big hotel car park in town and, to my surprise, not only have the clients managed to find the car park (as opposed to circling town like a fly in a bottle) but they are on time!  I hope their lovely smart car survives the afternoon without a scratch.  Despite having a strange Lithuanian surname, they are from Cheshire and we get on very well immediately.  Couple in their mid 60's and keen golfers.  

We roll off to the first house.  The couple want a lock up and leave.  You could lock up your car in this garage, provided you had the skill to manoeuvre it through the very narrow streets and spin on the spot.  It was one which they had requested to see as an example of a town centre location.  They decide it would need gutting although at 130k, they were well within budget.  We roll onto the second one, the Dutchman's house where everyone loves the interior and no one likes the fact that it is opposite the contrôle technique place where you have your MOT's done.  They actually really like this house and I start to feel optimistic.

We then go to the Finnish people's house.  This is Basque in appearance but once you get inside, it has the most wonderful Germanic/Scandinavian feel about it.  It is an upside down house with two bedrooms, sauna and shower room on the ground floor.  There is a garage where even I could manage to park a car.  On the upper floor is the living room with spectacular wooden ceiling, leading out onto a proper terrasse.  The kitchen is bright and welcoming and there is a lemon sprigged bedroom with private bathroom, also leading onto the terrace.  The people are really taken aback because they absolutely love it.  We sit in the living room and absorb the quiet.  They start to imagine themselves living in it.  I start to wish it was my mandate and not my colleagues.  I tried to get in contact with these people via a neighbour.  She either didn't try or didn't succeed to contact them but it all got rather embarrassing because every time I saw her in town, she hadn't got in contact with them and in the end, she started avoiding me.

We went to another house but their hearts were in Finlandia.  By this time, I was dripping and so were they.  We went for a refreshing lemonade and organised a revisit for Thursday. Our town sparkled in the sunshine and looked gay and lively.  Went home and collapsed in heap.

OH rang WF and told him he needs to move out of his student hovel and that I will look for some spare rooms for him to go along to.  He can sod off and do it himself OH.  He is very good at giving out jobs.  Had to water and it took ages.  Wish plumber would hurry up and come and fix the well.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Resumé of sales to date 2015

Monday 1 June 2015

25 degrees overcast and 'heavy'

The French sigh and blow out their cheeks in weather like this.  They say it is 'lourd' or heavy.  The stickiness and heat make you feel tired and lethargic.  Duvets feel too heavy and when you open the bedroom windows in the morning, hot and bored flies come into the room in search of a cooler corner.  They spend the day dancing around the lampshade and covering the surfaces of the bulbs and mirrors in Morse code.  They leave a lot of messages in particular on the window sills and even wiping it off leaves a yellow residue.  

OH blows out his cheeks and says he needs to paint.  He doesn't feel up to painting so he decides to concrete some pots onto the posts in the garden.  Last year they all blew off in a high wind and I dumped the broken lilies on the border at the side where, to my surprise, they took root and are about to flower with their feet safely in the ground.  He spends about an hour and fixes the pots in place and it is so hot that the concrete dries to sand and the pots now have a rim of friable material which, fortunately brushes off.

We do some emails and run through tasks and have lunch.  OH says he needs five minutes - he has a headache - and goes to bed for nearly two hours.  He looks glassy eyed when he gets up.  I go to colleague's house to pick up some keys.  Her husband is an artisan and she has a garden full of broken tiles and a play house which is lurching over at a 30 degree angle.  It makes me laugh every time I see it.  It looks like an abandoned dog house where the dog had some effort to pull himself free.  We have a cup of tea and I recount the story of the imploding US sale.  She has been busy bringing on mandates and now has over 110 properties.  She is overtaking me on our website.  I need to get my act in gear.  Back home and walk the dog and don't feel brilliant myself.

Other colleague rings up and says that client who blew him out this morning now wants to see a house which we both know and can I show it for them tomorrow?  Fortunately my planned visits are in the afternoon.  I have one client whose name sounds like sicky and another one called puker.  Hope this is not an omen.

Read a comment on my blog saying they love my style but find events hard to keep up with. Time for a run through?

1.  Dead as dodo - AA/SC - showed this house New Years day - AA people made an offer and then withdrew.  Didn't hear any more until March when the seller SC rang to say that AA had come back in with very low offer after seeing the house on a private seller site. Seller asked me to contact them.  AA informed me that as they had 'negotiated' the sale themselves, my fees should be 50%.  I informed them that they had tried to cut me out and the seller was too honest to play their game.  (Once I show a property to a prospective buyer, they are no longer permitted to buy that house privately).  A couple of weeks went by and AA then came back and said they would go via me and we were in the middle of wrangling over fees when another agent came onto the scene.  SC had forgotten that she had arranged a private visit and LB came to the house with her sister.  No sellers at the house so LB and her sister went into town and got another agent to come out with the keys.  LB made an offer which SC accepted and went in and signed the offer document.  AA went nuts and offered more money to SC who then tried to renege on the deal with LB.  LB threatened to take her to Tribunal as did AA.  Went on until mid May when suddenly AA backed out.  She is now over in mid June and OH is very keen that I have nothing to do with her as he thinks she is duplicitous bastard.

2.  Madmen - the Russians who drove over to see the llama farm over 1.5 hours away from where I live.  How often do you get a llama farm with gites?  Not very often, which is why I took it on.  The Russians loved it.  They drove home and rang me up and made a full price cash offer.  We thought it was Christmas in March.  They drove back again for the compromis.  They asked for three weeks to pay the deposit.  Everyone went away very happy.  A week went by.  No one was worried.  Two weeks went by and I went with OH to Spain for a holiday.  The sellers rang me incessantly and went nuts.  I rang the buyers and they said there were no worries but there had been a little delay.  I tried to reassure the sellers who then started talking about pulling out of the deal.  It transpired that the 'big amount of money' arriving by the end of May just didn't exist.  The Russians had no money at all, the compromis became null and void and they never did want to tell me where the money was coming from or when it would arrive.  Meanwhile, another couple who had just missed out on the property came back in.  They were thrilled with the second bite at the cherry but not so thrilled as to make a decent offer.  They made a lower offer which at first the sellers accepted and then later backed out themselves and said they didn't want to sell any more. Well, not for a couple of years.  My buyers were distraught and said they would wait for as long as it takes.  They did not up their offer.

3.  ST/PSC - English couple.  French sellers.  Compromis signed before they went home, deposit received, coasting smoothly to Acte end July.

4.  MD/KC - these are NZ ladies who came over on boiling hot weekend in April.  They made an initial offer on a house where it transpired that the owner had not paid attention when he signed the mandate and wasn't in fact selling the two flats with the house: the price was for the house alone.  He said he had a better offer for the house and flats and wouldn't sign mine, even though it was the full price of the mandate, where officially we should have been able to force the sale or ask for fees.  I left a copy of the signed offer with him.  Big mistake - I wont be doing that again.  I was running around with ST/PSC so left the ladies with OH who took them to see the lovely Villa and they also loved this one.  They then made an offer on the Villa which was accepted and signed the offer letter.  To my amazement, and horror, the owner of the first property came back, announced that his various other better offers were all dependent on large amounts of financing, and therefore he would accept the ladies offer, providing we took a huge hit on commission.  I told him that they had moved on and were buying something else and he showed my offer letter to his advocate and tried to force the ladies to buy his house. Fortunately, the offer letter was so incomplete that it was not valid as a legal document. One of the owners of the Villa died.  The notary took forever to complete the paperwork.  The ladies came back when it was cold and wet and insisted on having quotes before signing the compromis.  I drafted in AW who is an excellent builder and they felt reassured by his confidence and assurance that the work was mostly cosmetic.  There were termites but very localised.  Compromis signed last week and Acte for end of July.  Have started to breath again on this one.

5. YMR/MD - MD came over when we were on holiday so I asked SF to show the house and the couple made an offer and we have only just managed to extract the draft compromis out of the sellers notary.  Very rude etude on the coast.  A few modifications to make but that is all.  Compromis set for 16 June.

6. me and OH/LPMR - when oh when will the draft compromis be drawn up on the sale of our big rental unit.  LPMR went to see their notary three weeks ago and they have only just sent over the buyer details to my notary.  She is now beavering to produce the document for this week.  Am very keen to get this signed and the loan agreement accord received and then we will know definitively that it is sold.

7. About to implode spectacularly.  LM/PB.  LM is on her camino ( path ) a keen and dedicated pilgrim and very active Catholic, she blew into our local town from an easterly tip of the States last August.  I showed her a number of houses but only one fitted the bill.  A quirky property, full of staircases and rooms, built into the walls of the town.  A hidden courtyard, a rooftop terrace, a long garden, a deck.  A house that scared the crap out of the French clients I took to it.  LM loved it at once and made a low offer.  The seller lives in the Middle East and we had some difficulty catching up with one another.  An agreement was thrashed out.  LM had a guy check out the heating and electrics and plumbing.  It transpired that the boiler was 35 years old and didn't turn on - not what I had been told by the seller's mother who lived in an uneasy upstairs/downstairs relationship with her husband; who hates his drinking, smoking and volatile behaviour. (she lives upstairs, he lives downstairs).  The house smells of dogs and fags and the kitchen ceiling is yellow like a Pub Snug bar.  I was amazed when LM offered on it.  She wasn't even put off by the neighbours, most of whom are unemployed and spend the time hanging around, letting their kids run off, and smoking.

There was a lot of very tedious wrangling over non disclosure of various faults by the seller's mother and the complete refusal of the seller to communicate directly.  Finally, a deal was struck and the compromis was signed on 17 December.  The seller's mother then went off to NZ to stay with her daughter and if I wanted to go into the house I had to ring around all the bars in town to track down the seller's father.  He never answered the house phone and sometimes in the bars he would answer and sometimes he would just run out of the bar.

LM had to sell her house in the States in order to purchase here.  In March the snows started - metres of the stuff.  The town was immobilised - in fact most of the State was immobilised.  It went on for weeks; her roof and driveway were damaged and it was too dangerous for people to visit the house.  March turned into April.  No sale.  April turned into May and LM decided to take on a big agency and they brought a buyer and the house was sold last week.  Last Thursday to be exact.  It was on walking out of the signing of the house that LM's husband suddenly announced that he didn't want to sell their house, he didn't want to buy in France, in fact he didn't want anything to do with France and if LM left, their ten year old son would be staying with him in the USA.  This burst like an evil, smelly bomb last week.  At the same time, the seller had informed me, in a very tetchy email full of upper case threats and exclamation marks, that if LM didn't sign on the due date of 30 June, it would be the Tribunal for them.

Yesterday morning, LM said that her husband might refinance the house and give her the money.  At lunchtime she wrote and said that she wished the seller's mother could know that it will not happen on 30 June.  In the evening she said she wanted the sale to go onto the end but it was a long shot and her husband was being unreasonable on all fronts.  The seller still knows nothing.  His mother has taken a flat nearby and is moving the stuff out for the end of June.  As soon as I let them know things are about to fold, things will get very nasty, very quickly.  We need a miracle on this one.

8.  Signed and relief that I will never have to see these people again.  AR/SDH.  AR came over with her French husband at about this time last year.  I showed them a number of properties, including one in a lovely village with Chateau and river.  It was on the top end of their budget but didn't really fit their criteria as, at that point, they were buying with the lady's sister.  They left, made an offer on a town centre property in our town and I really ground my teeth because I also had that property and hadn't thought to show it.  The sister then backed out of the deal and AR could no longer afford the house.  I rang them up to see how they had gotten along and she updated me and said that they had really loved the village house but it was too expensive.  I said I would get them a deal for the price they could afford, negotiated it with the owner who was thrilled and delighted, but had just let the house for nine months.  AR refused to buy before the tenants were out.  As it turned out, they left before Christmas because they said the house was like a freezer.  The buyers started going on about the septic tank, which couldn't be found, and I went around with a technician to get a quote.  The house interior was in poor repair and, alarmingly, there were big cracks in the kitchen.  It took some arm wrestling to get the seller to sort them out and redecorate.  We signed on this one in January.  Since, I don't think the buyers have passed a month without going in to see the notary and complain about something or other.  The notary says they are frightful.  The latest thing they have is that she has stolen a stone trough from the garden. This was never on the list.  So glad I wont have to see the husband again, although the wife is charming.  But not as glad not to see as no. 9

9.  AM/DB.  I thought DB would push me over the edge.  For the first time in my career, I walked out of a notaire's office, slamming the door behind me, and burst into tears.  I passed it over to the business manager who confirmed my estimation of this particular buyer's character.  AB - absolute bastard.  DB came over in the middle of the year and was accompanied by his wife and small child.  They came to see a house which had  been for sale for over ten years.  Overlooking the river and with a huge terrace and medieval arches, the location was superb.  Inside was a war zone where the owner had been doing DIY for 15 years.  It was a total and absolute mess.  The small child attempted to throw himself over the edge of the terrace and plunge down the vertiginous slope to the river pounding along, far below.  Negotiations were very, very long.  About five months.  DB argued down to the price of the mats in the hallways.  I developed palpitations and a twitch in my eye.  I rang the agency and asked for help which is how the business manager got involved.  He finally thrashed out the deal whilst I had a week in my garden to calm my nerves and get some sleep.  The day of the compromis arrived and it was at this moment that the seller chose to announce that either I could reduce fees by 20% or he was walking out.  I was forced to agree and it was at this point that I left, doorslamming, and tearful.  I never, ever want to see any of these people again.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May roundup

Sunday 31 May 2015

Hot and sunny with cloud later
26 degrees

The good ship Leaving Normal has been rocked by storms this month.  People whom we relied on have proved deceitful and perverse.  Storm waves are mounting as the month end arrives and the capitain is not able to influence them.  Mysteries and intrigues are everywhere.  Who is telling the truth?  What is the story behind the events?  The Capitain longs for her own shore where she can be at peace.

Foreign shores were visited and found to be enticing and the urge to revisit is strong.  As is the urge to escape and leave behind the troubles of May.

Surprises of a more pleasant nature came upon the ship but the delays involved were wearing.  There are dark clouds on the horizon and even the bounty promised cannot cheer.

Pondering on fundamental questions....

Saturday 30 May 2015

Hot and sunny with big black clouds
25 degrees

Went down town to see the man who had accidentally received my parcel.  Rather disappointed with the quality of the tablet cover - worth about 50p and not ten euros. Violently red, at least it will be easy to find.  I had sold the house to them many years ago, when it was immaculately presented and the garden was a delight.  Today, after three years on market, it is dilapidated, sold with a fraction of the land and a very ugly and falling down farm which they are keeping for themselves and which is right at the entrance of the property and overlooks it.  Some battered hammocks and a lot of washing were strewn around the terrace.  In two minds whether or not even to offer it to prospective clients.  Price now dropped to a level which is interesting though.

Dropped back into town centre and went for a coffee and had chat to lovely lady who owns local bar.  Told her the horror story of the US clients.  We tried to arrange a day out but our diaries dont coincide.  Came back home and hoed the potatoes and edged part of the potager.  I am incapable of cutting a straight line but at least the grass will be kept at bay.

Pondered where the situation could go with the combustible seller, who is still unaware of the situation, the uncommunicative husband and the tenacious wife.  And their ten year old son.  The fundamental question is not whether he wants to come to France or not.  It is how much he values his family.  His wife has a dream and it is big and no doubt very scary.  She will never forgive him for wrecking her dream.  She is strong and courageous and has proved herself the equal of the French and US administrations.  Got an email from her today which was a long distance wail - 'I have achieved the impossible - I have just received the visas!'  She will regroup and I doubt he will be her equal.

At the end of the day he will have to choose between keeping his family together, living a dream which is not necessarily his, but doing it together with his wife and child.  Surely that is more important than anything?

Towards the end of the day, go back to see the brother of the owner of the chateau.  He is supposed to be there for 3 pm but everything is locked up so I lurk in the garden and take pictures of the house, which is imposing although on a very small plot, and views of the chateau.  15 minutes later a battered car whizzes through the tall stone gate posts, reverses into a thicket of trees, bangs into the wall and a tall woman leaps out of the car and strides towards me, shouting 'who are you?'.  I am less phased than I would have been at an earlier stage in life and estate agency.  At least I know she wont bite.  

It transpires that it is the sister of the chateau owner, a nurse, and on her day off battling with the greenery.  The lawnmower had just 'relached' and so she had manhandled it onto a trailer and taken it into town to get it fixed.  We ring up the brother, who has completely forgotten about our appointment, and she seizes a large bag of keys and lets me into the house.  I get around the house in no time at all because all I have to do is to take pictures and she takes charge of the measuring up 'je suis tres practique'.  

Divided into three apartments  - all of which are in excellent condition - and ready to rent out or move into and let out some of the flats.  Originally the house of the chatelaine.  Take lots of pictures, receive a very firm handshake 'a bientot!' and she is gone.  

Small birds run along the branches of the tall blue cedars and tiny white clouds are caught like cotton buds on their upper branches.