Saturday, June 13, 2015

Two take ons and a very late night

Friday 12 June 2015

Cloudy with showers
24 degrees

Torrential rain in the night.  I had to put plastic cartons over the ipomoea to stop them flooding but they seem very happy and are already putting out new leaves.  Must buy some more expanding coir circles - they are brilliant - no root disturbance and they set to growing immediately.

The day started early - 7 am - ironing trousers, stuffing last minute things into the car and then OH disappeared in a rush of gravel and exhaust fumes.   Hope he gets there in one piece to far away Pontevedra.  Not a brilliant forecast - either torrential rain or very hot.  Hope he actually catches some fish on this trip.

Down to the rental unit for 8.30 and do some work in the little rental unit whilst the electrician bangs about in the new unit, moving some of the plugs and lights that were hidden.  At 10 am he is finished and I head off to see a house with two gites and pool.  It is in a village 20 kms away and close to a lovely leisure lake.  The house was a ruin when they took it on, 20 years ago.  They came on holiday and accidentally bought a wreck.  Their children said they were not fit to be let out on their own. Prices were a lot lower then.  In eleven years I have never known anyone accidentally buy a property. Today, it is a beautiful house with the most stunning colombage and is typical of its area.  The garden is lush and in typical English style with roses, shrubs, herbs and myriad insects enjoying the feast of nectar.  The couple are now in advanced old age and it is too much for them.  The lady was a bit frosty but warmed up eventually.  Delightful and very happy to take it on.

Back home and dog is bored rigid so take him for a quick walk and then to my local town to take on the house which I found on prospection last week, with the aid of my trusty new tablette.  It is in the ownership of a number of people and fortunately, they are all there to sign the mandate.  Built in the 1960's, it is solid and has a garage and little garden and, surprisingly, five bedrooms.  Not bad for under 200000 euros.  Sign everyone up and then back into town for a little coffee.  Bump into an American lady and try and persuade her to come to the big city with me tomorrow but a selection of her children may or not be turning up.  The new Maire stops to press the flesh and I ask him what he is going to do about the non perambulatory gypsies who hang about drinking and smoking and annoying people.  He talks extensively but the upshot is that he is doing nothing about it.  Like the old Maire then...

OH rings and says it took him 12 hours to arrive and the GPS took him via Vigo, a massive shipping port on the sea coast of Galicia.  Galicia used to be strange and cut off.  It has its own variant of Spanish.  Before the new autoroute was built, I think the only people who passed through its heavy cloud and remote villages were the pilgrims on the way to Santiago.  I remember being in the car with the boys and OH and driving along a small road, heading west, and we looked up at a hillside and a man looked down at us.  Dressed completely in black.  Holding a massive scythe.  The image has stayed with me.  On arriving in Vigo, on another trip with just OH, we were walking around the harbour and an immense Cruise ship came in.  It was 17 stories high.  It was like standing next to the Death Star.

Then, surprisingly, WF (youngest son) rang on Skype.  He has been working 12 hour days and is getting a lift from an African lady who lives in the same town.  Because of the long hours, he has not been studying for his insurance exam, doing any driving lessons, or looking for new accommodation. He was somewhat relieved that OH was not there, and on his case.  I suggested he go and get an eye test.  All work now is on computer and both myself and OH have rubbish eye sight.

Unfortunately started looking at Pinterest for resin buttons and found the most beautiful old Bakelite belt buckles which I could reproduce in resin.  Also found the way of making moulding putty out of household silicone, cornflower and acrylic paint.  Then watched some more of the sewing course and looked ahead and was disappointed to see that a lot of the makes were for men.  Watched how to make a tie.  It is a lot more complicated than I imagined and I was cross eyed at 2 am when I finally switched off the machine.

On a flight of fantasy?

Thursday 13 June 2015

Cloudy with torrential rain later
23 degrees

Today is normally my favourite day of the week.  I go down town to my little nearest town and look at the fripperie and buy unnecessary fabric items, chat to the German lady who works there and speaks the most fluent English, look around the market, pick up bhajis or crepes to nibble on and then go for a coffee in the English bar and see who is around.  

My working language is French so it is interesting to dive back into English culture and norms and, after eleven years over here, see it from an outsider's perspective.  That is not to say I feel completely or even partly French.  I don't.  I still retain a very strong and eminently British disregard for bureaucracy and petty rules and regulations.  However, there was a man in the bar today who had stretched that disregard to several microns' width.  I never know if he is telling the truth or if he is flying on the wings of fantasy.  That is the thing with a lot of the local expats.  They don't speak French so they are obliged to live in their own world and I think quite a few of them find it a strain.

This man, GH, has lived in the area for many years, does odd building work, and lives with a French lady.  His strong native accent means both Brits and the locals have trouble understanding him - he comes from an area which is about 300 miles further north than any of the rest of them have ever known.  He was nursing a little coffee and talking about DIY to an Aussie guy who is over for three months.  I sat down, bought the Aussie guy a drink because it was my turn, and GH turned to us both and said:

'when you find eight grand in your bank account, what do you do?  The only thing I could do was take it out and spend it'.
'Whose money was it?'

'Well, it was in my bank so it was my money'

'Where did it come from?' 

'The bank made a mistake - there was a guy up in Paris who banked a cheque and the bank put it in my account'

'That is fraud! The bank will sue you and you will go to jail'

'Well yes I know but the doctor says I have a weak heart and it is giving me a lot of strain so I am suing them for 25 grand' 'I am an old man.  I don't speak French'

'You have lived here for 20 years.  You are married to a French woman who doesn't speak any English'

'Well I am going for a little cig'

He wandered out and the Aussie guy said Jesus and we talked about art and exhibitions and how much he loved painting but not the promotional side and then I went back home and OH said where had I been.

In the afternoon I had to go to my biennial boob squashing session.  The wait was an hour and a half and I had read every magazine in the place and watched a procession of limping, staggering and myopic people through the doors.  Finally it was my turn.  I hate mammograms even though I can appreciate their health benefits.  I am always worried that the machine will forget to stop the compression.  Emerged feeling very tender.

Speak to the US lady and she says there is no way she can pay in any monies before the due date because she wont close on her US sale until the 10 July and, in any event, it is not her responsibility to pay the penalty clause if she defaults.  Her notary is not agreement with this - they both signed the contract.  They are jointly liable.

OH is in preparation frenzy for his upcoming trip to Spain with his mate JH.  There is fishing apparel absolutely everywhere and he is trying to learn some new knots and, at the same time, some Spanish.  This went on late into the night and I left him to it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

What is French for customer service?

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Cloudy with showers 23 degrees

Blissfully cool this morning and the garden and fields were busy sucking up the night's rain. The bamboo has grown about a foot overnight.

Off to town this morning to see the Dermatologue.  It was a very long wait and I was only in for about ten minutes whilst she examined my many moles.  I am particularly covered in little red ones - cherry angiomas - which are a sign of ageing skin.  I also have brown ones and beige ones.  OH says my back is like a dot to dot picture.  Apparently they are collections of blood cells.  Had a coffee and, walking back to the car, was followed by a strange man in a white suit, blowing kisses at me.  I think I need to tone down my allure ;)

Back home and the La Ratte potatoes have taken the opportunity of a decent watering to start developing potato blight, the buggers.  Pulled off the dead leaves.  Everything else is looking very happy.

Had to put plastic bags over the newly planted pots of ipomoea because when OH concreted them to the posts (they blew off and smashed last year), he filled in the drainage holes.  I am going to have to find a better solution as there is a lot of rain forecast for this week and the pots are just going to fill up and rot off the plants.

Following receipt of an email in French for PB seller to the US couple who are divorcing, I translate it and he comes back saying he doesn't want to go with the legal route but is prepared to give them an extension if they pay in ten percent penalty clause fees.  They have already paid in five percent as a deposit, which will be forfeit if the sale doesn't happen so effectively he is asking for 15% percent penalty fees.  I am absolutely infuriated.  The poor US lady is in a terrible emotional state after all that has happened and PB is being a smart guy and trying to screw an extra 5 percent out of it.

I go down town and am in state of high umbrage and decide to go and tackle the Tresor Public who helped themselves to 200 euros from my bank account for late payment fees of local taxes when I had paid them on time.  This was in respect of taxes for 2013 and they took the amount in October 2014 and when I complained, said I would have to wait to get it back and the wait 'risked being very long'.  

I went in just before closing time.  The receptionist, who resembles Dennis Healey, glared at me from under her substantial eyebrows and informed me that, normally, they were closed at 4 pm.  I said where is my money.  She said what money.  I said the money about which you have received two letters and two emails and ten phone calls.  She said we have repaid you.  I said no.  She said bouf and went into another office and came back and said the payment was rejected because we don't have your social security number (wtf!!!!).  She grimaced out a smile, thinking I wouldn't know it.  I did and reeled it off.  She said it would be sent très rapidement.  I said if it wasn't, it would be their turn to get a mise en demeure (snotty letter demanding money).  She drew down the blinds and put the key in the door and said was there anything else.  I left after giving her a long stare.  Do you know the joke?  What is French for customer service?  There is no French for customer service - it doesn't exist.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I will never eat foie gras...

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Overcast and fresh 25 degrees

Awoke confused this morning and convinced that it was the day I was going to go and have my 'fragile' skin checked out by the skin specialist or dermatologue.  I had a strange red mark on my chest about six weeks ago - if it had been bad it would have had a long time to entrench itself by now - and the doctor recommended I get it checked out.  I put some of the psoriasis creme on it and it went away but the doctor is still keen that I go. Apparently people with blue or grey eyes have less melanin in their skin.

Anyhow, I got up and showered and dressed and found out where the place was and got out the note in the crabbed hand of my doctor before looking at my diary and discovering it was tomorrow.  OH decided we could go down the rental units and move the sink.

The amenagement of the little new unit has evolved over time and the one thing I have learned is that you should really spend more time at the start and really plan what will go where and, especially, measure up properly.  The sink is under the window at the moment but is too close to where the hob is going to be and even a skinny French woman is going to have trouble getting her narrow derrière into the space available.  We arrive and immediately OH starts to list what he has not brought with him.  All of his tools are in plastic bags which are spread over the three rental units and various places at home.  

The floor of the rental unit is covered in crap, pieces of wood, ladders, bags of rubbish and pots of paint.  It is complete and absolute chaos.  OH just wades over it, knocking stuff over (a large container of screws for example, which go everywhere).  I insist on clearing the area we are going to be working in and moving all the bits of wood to the other room.  I then have to search the bags for the drill whilst OH measures up and we then take off the top of the sink unit, put it to one side and he unscrews the unit and we move it along.  Mysteriously the sink is now too high for the wooden batten and OH sends me out for cake and some private swearing (him).  I bump into the electrician and bring him back with me and he is alarmed at the state of the place and says oh la la and asks if we have been burgled.  I tell him it is an in house job but I think it got lost in translation.  It always amuses me to hear workmen saying oh la la.  It just doesn't sound right.

We move the legs on the sink and OH carves out yet another huge chunk out of the back of the cupboard to accommodate the taps for turning on the water to the washing machine and in the process we discover that a double plug is now inside the cupboard.  There is now virtually no back at all in the cupboard because he has carved out both sides.

This has been going on for so long.  He spends most of the time undoing what he has done. Progress is so slow and he keeps on telling me I am in the way and sending me out to do stuff.  I go and see the plumber and tell him the sink is in place.  I am going to have to go in before here because no proper workmen can work in such an environment of disarray.

We get back home and I look at my emails and, as I expected, PB seller is absolutely furious and says I must have known for ages that the Americans wouldn't buy and I have been hiding it from him.  He says they aren't married so how can they be getting divorced. (they are married - has this man never read the contract he signed?) and he wants an immediate update.  I try and ring LM buyer and she is not answering her Skype.  I ring her husband's lawyer and speak to someone who says he is out and I say there is a six hour time difference and can he please email me and let me know when we can talk and she says 'it is Tuesday here, what day is it with you'.  It was midday their time.....

OH zooms around the lawn on the tractor mower and I pull yellowing leaves off the potatoes.  All too soon it is time to go out and see a large property in a neighbouring department.   The day is sparkling and the large white houses with their blood red shutters and balconies full of geraniums are magnificent and picture postcard lovely.  I arrive in the village and it is dead as Tombstone before the shootout.  I ring the owners and they come and get me and it transpires that the property is indeed very large but alas is a cow farm and the house itself is in poor condition.  The SAFER, farming organisation, which sets prices for agricultural buildings and land, has valued it at 800 000 euros.  My clientèle would expect a chateau for that price.  We have a quick look round and I admire the puppies which are adorable and only one month old, and the puttock pony and the chickens.  The lady tells me a useful trick for keeping blight off tomatoes - put a very thin piece of copper wire through the stem of the plant and it will act like the copper fungicide and avoid the need to spray all of the time.

In one of the buildings is a large copper and I ask what them they use it for and, horrifically, the farmer's wife says she uses it to kill her ducks by dipping them in boiling water.  In their short lives the ducks also suffer 'gavage' to grow their livers and make foie gras.  Gaver un canard involves forcing a long pipe down the duck's throats and then pouring corn down it.  I am very upset and have to leave the room quickly.  I never have and never will eat foie gras.

We have caramel infused tea and biscuits and the puppies play in the sunshine and then I leave and get a telephone call from the US lady's notaire saying what on earth is going on and she (US lady) cannot leave things til the last minute and she needs to say right now whether she is buying or not, and not keep saying different things on different days.  I think it is very easy for a notaire, sitting in her office, to ask for things in black in white but LM is operating in a very fluctuating situation.  I speak to my notaire and ask her to set things out clearly to PB seller so that he knows his legal position and can make a decision.

Back home and water the parched garden.  Storm clouds are gathering over the tall trees. OH watches Women's World Cup football and I keep falling asleep on the sofa.  Much cooler tonight.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I am wound up...

Monday 8 June 2015

Hot - 32 degrees with thunder later

Agency boss rang and basically was not counting on doing anything in the situation with the US buyers - thanks a lot Mrs.  She said why didn't I send an email and let the sellers know and I said I wasn't happy about doing that and then she said why didn't I tell the notaries to do something about it and I was thinking 'you take 50 percent of the fees', why don't you do something about it?  So we have lost a week there and the sellers still don't know.

I then get an email from the US lady, saying would the seller like to give her a 100k mortgage.  Is she mad?  Am I surrounded by crazy people?  The sellers wants to sell his house, on the appointed date, to the people who signed the contract.  He is not a mortgage provider and any approved channel is not going to lend to someone who has no income.  I feel very wound up and go out and hoe the weeds.  At least the bloody things stay hoed for a while, once I have done it.  I hate this job.  I hate the stress.  I am getting the psoriasis back on my elbows.  It is hot and I am not sleeping well.  I am exhausted.

Drive both cars to town 20 kms away to get various things fixed - the windscreen wipers which packed up when OH left to go back to the UK, the wing mirror which was bashed off by someone who didn't even have the manners to stop and leave their details, the brake pads and discs which have been killed by OH's fast and furious method of driving.

We set off at different times - I go first because 'I drive so slow' and then OH can drive like a maniac, overtake me after gesticulating and shouting messages that I cant hear through the jammed up Kangoo window, and then zoom off into the distance where I find him stuck at the traffic lights three cars ahead of me.  He again disappears off up the road and I arrive when the garage is just opening and he has been standing in the boiling car park for at least ten minutes.  Ridiculous.  For every 100 kilometres we drive, he uses a third of a litre more fuel than me.

Back home and I need a siesta.  The sky is full of thick, yellow phlegmy clouds and the air is close.  I do some ironing and then we go back to get the car.  I take the shorter route which is full of speed bumps and OH takes the road he can go fast on and gets stuck on a roundabout where two cars have managed to drive into one another and the road is full of glass.  I get home 20 minutes before him and discover that the seller of the house PB has written an email and send me a Whats app message, saying what is the news of the US buyers and I think, sod it, he might as well know now so I email him and things go ominously silent.

Walk dog and OH makes wonderful seafood chili risotto.  Hoe the potatoes and find some blight on the La Ratte ones so spray with copper fungicide.  WF used to call it cocker funbeside when he was little.  The memory makes me smile.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Splurging is good

Sunday 7 June 2015

Very hot 31 degrees

Woke up at 4 am and was absolutely wide awake and decided that from now on, I am going to pursue my dreams.  Went back to the idea of resin jewellery and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours looking at Pinterest inspiration before drifting into a deep sleep from which OH woke me at just after 9 am.  I had found, from my browsing, various suppliers of the resin and the moulds, but hadn't thought of looking closer to home - a lady off the crafting group suggested the starter kit which is sold in Cultura shops all over France.  Cultura deliver free into store and then just notify you when it is in.  Result!  Ordered one jewellery mould and a button mould and a crystal resin starter kit with instructions.  Good reviews from users.  Friday,OH is off on his fishing trip, and I shall be haring over to pick up the kit and get started.

I also was tempted and went for what seems to be like the best deal of the decade. Amazon Local were advertising a 97% voucher on a sewing course - so instead of being 600 pounds, it was 19!  Bought the voucher and redeemed it and cant wait to get started.  

Here is the link but sign up quickly as there is not much time left to run on the deal

600 pound course for 19 pounds! E careers course online

Have also ordered the following book from Amazon

Carrie Schmidt - Painted Blossoms book

which looks like the sort of painting I can do.

My bank balance is looking rather sad but what is the point of money if you cant treat yourself occasionally.  I tend to splurge periodically and spend the rest of the time gradually building up the balance.  One thing I have really discovered that helps the funds for a splurge is putting a euro coin away every day - there is always a euro hanging about the house or in my purse.  It is amazing how much money you find in the jar when you go to look periodically.  I also collect all of the spare change and redeem that - the last count gave me 42 euros, hence the sudden splurging now.

Took the dog around the lake and even the town nearby looked glorious in the sunshine. Many puce faced joggers pounded past.  A water skier zoomed over the surface of the sparking waters like a great dragonfly, crossing and recrossing the spumy waves.  Two ducks, one leg each tucked under their winds, dozed on a piece of drift wood.  A terrapin, mini Lac Ness monster, poked its head up to look at us.  

Back home and cooling drinks and we both felt very tired so had a long siesta.  Dog snored under the kitchen table, where the tiles are cool and the shadows lurk, even in the day.

Up later to water and design some buttons and look through the pantry and my sewing box for things to adorn the buttons.  Found a YouTube video on how to create your own moulds using DIY silicone, turps and cornflower.  Limited life span but interesting if you want to model an unusually shaped object.

Watered the garden - it is absolutely parched.  Two more days of heat then there is a lot of rain forecast.  The telly reception is terrible.  OH thinks it is the angle of the earth against the satellites.  Am too tired to figure out if he is serious or doing his thing of making up something plausible but without no base in science, in order to test me.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Birthday girl!

Saturday 6 June 2015

Overcast 22 degrees

My 57th birthday

How on earth did that huge figure get to attach itself to me?  I remember when I was studying A level English in night school, plan being to get to University, that a lady on the course said to me that she felt the same on the inside as she did in her thirties, it was just the face in the mirror that had changed.  I wonder if I would even recognise the person I was twenty years ago.  I have changed inside and out.

Waited a very long time for OH to wake up and bring me tea and presents, but finally he obliged and I had a huge haul of lovely things.  A big bag of gorgeous clothes from Ms Noddi also a reiki book and some lovely hand cream.  Two tops and some Brigitte Jones underwear from OH (he had thought high cut meant skimpy but they are nearly waist height), anti wrinkle cream from the boys and some lovely chocolates.

The present which caused the most confusion was something in the Ms Noddi package.  I thought it was a tea cosy.  OH thought it was a beany.  It contained an image of a chook and a house.  OH thought it was an unusual beany and arranged it on my head.  I unpinned the label (saying tea cosy) and tried to put it on a tea pot and discovered that it didn't have any holes in it. OH went back to his beany theory.  The dog hassled me for chocolate and then shredded the present paper.  Time to get up and dressed and off to the seaside.

I unearthed from the closet a lovely Gudren Sjoden hand smocked and embroidered dress and teamed it with the Zara bolero with sequins given to me by Ms Noddi.  I thought it looked like a fetching ensemble and, on emerging from the car park in Spain, was promptly serenaded by a toothless man, bearing garlic.  I am counting that as a result!  Had some gorgeous tapas and I found a vintage clothes store in a side street and OH lurked in the foyer with the other bored husbands and replied to them in French.  Did some shopping and back home and had wonderful, albeit immense, turbot and white wine.

Rang back my brother and got his second wife who said he had gone to the Pub and that it was their eldest's confirmation tomorrow and there were 21 people up for the occasion.  She sounded slightly pissed whereas I would have been both pissed and manic, in her shoes.

American lady sent me a message saying that she and her husband and his 'shark' lawyer had had round one in court and it was grim but at least he was admitting that he was responsible for the penalties to pay for the house sale which is about to fall through.  She said she had seen another house which she had loved and could I go and find it.

Drank more wine and passed out on sofa.