Saturday, August 15, 2015

Shopping in the rain, more rats in the roof and a beautiful villa

Friday 14 August 2015
Heavy rain for most of the day 18 degrees

The rain was coming down so hard that it looked like it was coming out of a giant shower head.  You could hear the parched earth sucking it up.  I thought of the plant pots where OH has filled up the drainage holes and wondered how saturated they would be.  Have no idea where the brolly is and all the waterproofs are packed away so they will have to get on with it.  I was meant to be going to a big antiques fair today with some Aussie friends but it is mostly outside with just a few items in a hall - who is going to bring their rain damageable goods or expensive furniture to sit in the rain all day.  Rang my friends and they were thinking the same thing so we did an actual rain check on today.

I was just putting on my boots when the phone rang and it is my colleague and she wants a key to visit a house in town.  She swings round ten minutes later and looks like she is dressed for a day on the beach.  When you have been out here for a while, I think you can forget the importance of looking smart and business like.  She leaves and we set off in the rain to our local big city.

First stop is to the accountants to pick up last years paperwork.  They had never been very forthcoming with advice but the final straw was when I told them I was going to be having a very good year and asked for ideas for expenses to write off and they suggested I eat out more in good restaurants.  I took a local accountant who managed, almost immediately, to break her leg and is now on holiday, after not having actually worked for the last three months.  Vive la France.

We then went to Brico Depot which is a huge builder's merchants.  Rain was doing a fandango on the metal roof and it was deafening.  Typically, there were virtually no staff to ask for help so we were there quite a while but got most of the stuff, including a cooker hob for the new rental unit and a new pressure washer for the patio - decided not to go with another Karscher as it fell to bits in virtually no time at all.  Then to MacDonald's for lunch. We never ate MacDonald's in the UK.

Last but not least we went to Cultura and I got some more resin and am now raring to go again after having received via Ebay ring blanks, d bails, fancy bails, chain etc.  Am still waiting for some other bails and my jewellery drill from the states.  

Back home and quick cup of tea when went out and met yet another painter to give a quote on the NZ ladies house - surely there is someone who can do two floors for less than 25k.  It is just ludicrous.  My colleague phoned to say the visit had gone extremely well and they would want to revisit next week but they had also to sort of financing.  She hadn't made a follow up appointment to see them.  Very important to make follow up appointments to stop people disappearing into the ether.  

Back to the flat and discovered why the water wasn't coming on because it was closed just at the level of the water tank.  OH then went back home and I drove around town for at least forty minutes before finding the house which has been advertised privately online with just an email address.  A stunning Belle Epoque villa with garden and pool.  There are people inside and I think this is my lucky day (having just won ten euros on a scratchcard) but they turn out to be renters.  And Spanish.  It got rather complicado but they understood in the end what I wanted and promised to give my card to the owner when they leave in a few days time.

Ring the anglo french law company and press them for information.  He prevaricates and I insist on knowing what work they have done on the dossier.  He says they have collated it into a file.  In other words, fxxx all the whole week.  Wonderful.  The notaire is now on holiday for a week.  He cant even promise to have it prepared for next week.  I say I will be reporting this back to the client and he is putting the sale at risk.  Idle bxxxxds.  Sellers very unhappy.

Back home and have chorizo omelette and poached nectarines and ice cream and the rain starts off again and alas, in the night, so do the rats.  They follow me to above the spare room.  I have cramp and the rain is beating down on the velux.  Going to have to get some traps tomorrow.

I avoid being eaten by guard dogs and there are rats in the roof space

Thursday 13 August 2015

Grey and cloudy and very, very sticky
32 degrees

The text from the client said 'be on time, I need to put away the guard dogs'.  I arrived before the gate and the CCTV turned to watch me.  I rang the bell.  The guard dogs might not be put away.  The client emerged and welcomed me in.  I had met this couple years ago when they were first looking to buy in the area, completely misunderstood what they were looking for, and they had found the house themselves by driving around.  They had now decided to sell to live in their house in Brittany.  They had spent a fortune on unnecessary items in their now lovely country house in my area - two heating systems, video surveillance (programmable à distance), a half kilometre of fencing.  They had taken out the lovely wood burning stove in the living room and put in a Rayburn.  They did not seem to realise that the Rayburn normally goes in a kitchen.  They thought the top plates were for giving a boost of heat to the room.  They have nothing in the house which anyone would particularly want to steal.  They are in the sticks where people dont even bother locking their doors when they pop out.  Cameras, fencing, dogs.....   Why do they have so much security?  The man shows me the video of me arriving.  I really must get my roots done.

Some houses look small on the outside and when you get inside, they are real Tardises and surprise you with their feeling of space and how many rooms they have.  Some houses look very large from the outside and when you get in, you wonder where is all the space. Unfortunately this house is one of the latter.  It does have the prettiest decorated wrap around balcony with wooden fretwork.  There is a large barn, 2 acre garden, well, some limited planting of plant beds, many fruit trees and is in a quiet location.  People are going to be thrilled until they get through the door.  The kitchen is barely 9m2 and the living room has no character at all.  I think it will be very hard to sell but will definitely get enquiries so we start to discuss the price.  I manage to get it for under 400000 euros and am drinking coffee out of Victoria English china and filling in the mandate when the owner tells me that he has a potential buyer.  I halt.  The son of a former owner would love to buy it.  Why the fxxx didn't he tell me that first?  He says it may be that this person cannot afford the house.  I lose quite a bit of enthusiasm at this point.  We do the paperwork and I get back home and am grinding my teeth.

Back home and spend afternoon sorting out paperwork and getting bills to prepare the VAT return, which I can now do monthly online and saves me having to take the paperwork into the local VAT office who, without fail, look surprised to see me.

Send through yet more paperwork to anglo french law company and they do acknowledge it this time, largely I suspect because I have copied in the buyers.  They were instructed at the start of the month and so far have done sod all apart from getting the buyers to sign their terms and conditions.

Am disturbed in the night by something chewing the floor in the roof.  It goes on and on and on and on and I am too scared to go and see what it is, without the protection of rubber boots and a large broom.  Go into the spare room and listen to the rain on the velux.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thoughts on camping, a wonderful surprise package and alas Windows 8

Wednesday 12 August 2015
Very very hot and sticky 34 degrees

OH shocked me into wakefulness at 7.30 today with a cup of tea.  I must stop him sleeping in the day, I need my morning time to myself....  Felt dazed but at least he had rescued me from my dream where someone was after my detachable toilet and I was determined they weren't going to get their hands on it.  I often dream about toilets - usually I am trying to find one with a door on it so I can have some privacy.  Make of that what you will....

Sent over chapter and verse on the contemporary house to the anglo french law company and told them I would be ringing them tomorrow morning to find out what progress they had made.  They had the good manners not to even acknowledge receipt of the 12 documents I sent their way.  Battle will ensue and butts will be kicked.

Down to our big town and walked around the lake.  The entrance was filled with caravans and camping cars and the people had come from all over France.  Personally I would hate to be cheek by jowl on a campsite.  Right next to the busy main road and they couldn't even see the lake.  Still, they were having a lovely time and hosing things down and hanging out their washing.  I am more of a four star hotel kind of girl and always had a particular antipathy for camping and roughing it.  Give me pampering, a fine restaurant, good walks and views and a swimming pool and spa any day.   Ooh and shopping.  Mustn't ever forget shopping.

Ms Noddi sent me a surprise package of a lovely floaty white top which is so feminine and pretty and a ravishing raspberry crepe wrap around top.  Tried them on for OH and he said how about a cup of tea.  Men!

Back to the now, I am desperately in need of a new laptop as the current one is revving like a Jumbo on the runway and cant hold charge.  We chose a HP model with a terabyte of memory and one which promised five hours of battery life.  What I hadn't reckoned on was Windows 8.  I understood nothing.  I hated it until I understood that it operated like the tablet with apps.  Tried to install free download to Windows 10 and it bombed out after four hours. Will try again tomorrow.

At 6 went back into town to meet the sellers of the contemporary property and the notary to draw up the new boundaries on the plan.  Madame was extremely stressed and just wants to see the buyers signature on the reservation contract.  The sellers signed a procuration as they are due to be going to Cuba next week and the notary is also on holiday all week. Have told the anglo french law company we are signing on Monday.  The sellers then left and I ran through the new deal with the notary and asked about which is the best regime for the HK guy to buy through, seeing as he is divorced with children.

It is a peculiarity of French law that, unless provision is made, ones property passes partly to the surviving spouse (if you are married) and partly to the children.  This is called Indivision.  You cannot disinherit your children.  Problems arise when a party is divorced and non remarried with children because his portion of the property value will go to his children and not at all to his partner.  The notary said a new law is coming out which will enable people to choose their domiciliation for the purposes of inheritance so if you are a Brit with a house in France, you can choose to be subject to the UK inheritance laws and not those of France.  In the UK, property passes to the surviving partner before passing to the children, unless of course you choose to will your property to a cat's home.

Back home and pizza for supper with lovely crisp white wine.  Dog under table and looking unhappy.  Shutters started banging late on and violent gusts of wind rattled them throughout the night.   The lightning started later and was like disco lights.  Something up in the loft was running around, rolling about items and chewing loudly.  Slept well, considering.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dehydration headache and yet another night out ....

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Boiling hot.  Spend most of day indoors
33 degrees

Wake up with headache and churning stomach and have to use lots of reiki to lift it.  Sun makes me feel very bad.  OH goes down to the rental units and I make headway getting HK client file underway.  Thankfully the sellers are very organised and get paperwork through to me in its entirety during the morning.  I instruct the notary.

Discover on the contemporary sale that it is not going to be possible to get the new cadastral plan out of the geometres office because he has closed for holidays, works alone, and has not indicated on his door when he is likely to be back.  It could easily be for the rest of the month.  Ring the notary and the seller and suggest we meet up and draw the provisional plan and submit this to the buyers.  Feel very frustrated and grumpy.  Take paracetamol and have toast and jam and sleep and feel much better.

All too soon, it is 7 pm and time to go out again.  The director of our agency and his wife are coming down for a meeting and I need to be sharp and presentable.  Hair has gone particularly wild so restrain it with pins and put on lots of makeup to cover dark circles under eyes.  OH books a holiday in Galicia on the beach.  I say why on earth hasn't he done the washing up.  He looks at shirts for sale on Ebay instead and we have words.  Go and soak in the bath, put on slap and silk dress and we head out into the roasting sticky evening.  

Town in heaving.  I notice my colleague trying to extract her husband from the bar.  Their little girl is eating crisps and entertaining the people on the terrace with song and dance. She gets the car, puts both of them into it and leaves.  She does not look pleased....

The bosses arrive and we go for a panache then to the restaurant.  In the centre of town, it overlooks the river and is gaily ornamented with petunias and geraniums.  It is delightfully cool under the awnings.  The bosses have large salads and OH and I have tomato tart and toast which isn't as good as it sounded on the menu.  There is no white wine.  The bosses have steak and chips and OH and I have burger and chips which turns up without a scrap of salad for any of us and in a bagel which is sweet and really doesn't go with the beefy contents.  Pudding is also disappointing - cafe gourmand is normally accompanied with a range of delightful little puddings but this one consisted of two rock hard and violently pink meringues and a small pot of trifle.

We had a lovely chat and there was a lovely breeze and we were back home for 11.  We don't normally go out this often and I feel drained.

Down by the river and frustration later

Monday 10 August 2015

Cool and showery with sunny periods later
28 degrees

Up early and down to meet lady at the big hotel in town.  She has not read the email I sent her, giving the meeting place, and I finally track her down in the middle of town.  We set off immediately and go and see house in neighbouring village.  She likes the house but not the proximity of the neighbours so I have to cancel most of the appointments set up.  The only house that does seem to be a runner transpires to be one where she already has a private appointment, so I cant take her to see it.

Go and have cake and coffee down by the river and the day is exquisite with fish rising and sun shimmering on the gently flowing water.  Coffee and brownies go down very well.  I drop her back off in town and back home again.

OH is still sitting in the chaos of the kitchen and announces he is tired and must go and have a siesta so I join him.  These hot Summer days are not good for achieving things. Ring the anglo french law company and they say they are 'pulling things together'.  I don't know what this means as they have not requested any information from me or the notary so I get a comprehensive list and promise them the next day.

Look at garden.  It is in a terrible state.  Why do weeds never have a day off.  Tomatoes full of blight.  Sigh....


Sunday 9 August 2015

Hot and sticky 32 degrees

Felt very tired after such a busy week.  Spent most of day tidying up and doing laundry. Started to re read Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.  Wonderful book and enjoyed it as much this time as before

Beautiful doll like creatures and exquisite costumes.  Their hair is dressed with wax and they slept on wooden pillows so as not to disturb the ornate hairstyles.  The young apprentices wear the most extravagant and brightly coloured kimono.

Rang the buyers of the contemporary house and read through the draft compromis and they are decided on having the independent law company.  Heart sinks.  This will put weeks on things.  Must contact them and get them moving or otherwise we will be out of time on the original offer.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Visits in the rain then a hot time in the old town

Saturday 8 August 2015

A day of eights; 8 day of the 8th month and the year adds up to eight - 2+1+5.  According to Google, eight is a feminine number and is associated with manifesting abundance and riches of all kinds - spiritual, emotional and financial.  Certainly this is the best financial year I have had, ever, in my various careers.  I am also more emotionally stable and am looking forward instead of digging over the overflowing wardrobes of past memories and things done wrong.

Up very early, both of us, and down town to meet our enthusiastic client who has flown over from HK for the weekend.  We go and see the first house and it is absolutely tipping it down with rain and the client hates its finishes - he has a particular antipathy for the laminate flooring and says the skirting boards are poor quality and that you can see the joins in the ceilings where the boards have been taped together.  The house is being let to two families and I decided that I am not an untidy person because the state of the house took untidiness to a whole new level.  This house lets really well, surprising when you consider that there is an unfinished pool in the back garden, the depth of which would cause serious injury to any small child who fell into it.  

We leave quickly and drive out into the country and go and see a lovely 18th century house which seems to be viewed more favourably.  The owners sit us down and give us coffee and tell us about when they went around India on a bike and were 'ippies.  They are now in their late 60's and I have trouble imagining the rotund couple in flowery gear and on the back of a Harley.

Suitably refreshed, we head back out into the rain and back into our town and go and see a town house with two apartments.  The steps are covered in moss and we all slide around in our leather soled shoes.  The owner is cooking goulash in a pressure cooker and it smells wonderful.  I am very surprised that the guy likes this house.  The rooms are tiny and teeming with furniture and many personal items.  A boxer dog bounces up and down on the top floor balcony and wags his stump of a tail.  OH and client head off up the hill to look at whatever view is still visible and be chased by the long horned sheep (included in the price but I would love to see how the notary would estimate their value...).  Stomachs rumbling, we find a van selling hot chicken sandwiches and they are delicious.

Finally we go and see a beautiful 1928 villa which is just stunning.  The family are in the long kitchen, eating lunch so we wander around alone, admiring the tall ceilings, arched windows, dove grey walls and cornicing and the view from the balcony.  The man is in love.  The owner then says she has a revisit next week.  Oh bugger; bugger, bugger.  The man says he needs to come back with his fiancée who will love it.  They will need to get over fast.

I leave OH to show him a tiny town house with garage (investment opportunity) and leave to go and meet the clients from earlier in the week.  They are parked on the edge of the big main car park and the rain is now torrential.  I take them to see a picture perfect cottage with beams, big fireplace, exposed stone walls and stunning views (normally).  They are very impressed and talk about how they could make it work for them.  Last but not least, I have a property over towards the big city.  It is 40 kms away and the GPS takes me on the most tortuous route and it takes forever and then I cant find it and have to ring the owner who is convalescing in hospital and eventually we get there and the clients hate it.  We must have only been there about ten minutes.  Back into the car and overrule the GPS and find a main road and back to our main town.  They say they are heading down into Spain for a holiday and will think about it.  Disappointed that they don't want to revisit the one they seemed very taken with the other day.

Get back home to find OH is still out with the client and not answering his phone.  Feed dog. Chafe.  Finally manage to get through on the client's phone and he says he wants to make an offer on the little town house.  Yippee!  Print off offer form and back into town and find them having a beer.  It is festival weekend and town is heaving.  Have a beer myself and then get client to sign form whilst we are all compus mentis.  He is having a rare time.  He is thousands of miles from home, drinking red wine and watching French men dressed as chickens and playing funky tunes on brass instruments.  Why chickens?  Don't ask me.  I know nothing.  They were going down a storm with everyone dancing and pogoing.  Time rolled on and we decided to eat in town so went to a central bistro where we had moule croquettes, pavé de veau and chocolate and chestnut parfait with ice cream.  OH was not even capable of walking straight so I dropped the client off at his hotel and came back home and had to put his drinking mate to bed.  That man knows no restraint when faced with alcohol and music.