Saturday, August 22, 2015

Fanny and the breaching butterfly

Friday 21 August 2015

Very very hot 

Spent morning cleaning our house and afternoon cleaning up the chaos in the new rental unit.  Rang the anglo french law company who, of course, had not prepared the report although they said it was 'in process' and 'wouldn't be long', though they couldn't tell me how long not very long would be.  Bloody useless, to quote the head of our agency.  Had to give the news to the sellers who are off to Cuba tomorrow.  I would love to go to Cuba, mainly to see the fabulous old American cars and the architecture.  The lady seller said to communicate with her by texto and she would, in the absence of champagne, drink a Mohito to celebrate when the compromis gets signed.

Looked in my past writings for something from the Summer, and came up with the following from 2012

It has been very hot in the our part of the world recently. Last week it topped 40 degrees with 95% humidity. If you want an idea of what that is like, put some very wet towels into your tumble dryer, turn on maximum, wait ten minutes and then poke your head inside. I defy you not to start dripping immediately. These temperatures are ‘exceptionel’ – normally August can be expected to hover in the low 30’s, an ideal temperature for toasting evenly all over and relaxing. The 40’s however are ‘excessif’ and people have either been escaping to the sea or the mountains. The transport-less have been hiding in their stone houses with the shutters firmly closed.
Being an estate agent, I was out and about. The Brits are back in force thanks to the nonstop rain back home and the favourable euro: pound exchange rate. For the first time since 2007 there are people looking for holiday homes. I had three English couples over the last few weeks. They were alarmingly white and scantily clothed. They didn’t wear hats. They didn’t drink much water. 

The latest couple were from the North and nervously excited to be on the verge of buying in France. We kicked off with a town house. 1930’s and with a swimming pool. The house has a forbidding grey render façade which I quickly whizzed them past – this house is one that looks better on the inside than the outside. The owner was away on holiday and the house smelled musty. The swimming pool was full of green weed. The clients were not impressed and I made a note to tell the owner he needs to make a bigger effort if he wants to sell. (still not sold as at 2015).

We then went to a house 6 kms away.   Owned by an English couple, my clients loved it – the exposed stone walls, the beams, the fireplaces and the cool interior. They decided it was too far out of town and we carried on into the centre of the village where we saw an interesting property which has just come onto the market. There is a large 19th century house on a plot of 2 acres with a separate bungalow. The owners are willing to split the property for a quick sale. I had trouble finding this property in the warren of tiny roads and we had to follow an obliging post lady to their door. 

We were approaching midday and the sky was washed clear of colour. We emerged from the air conditioning of my lovely cool car into a blast of sticky heat. The owners gave us water and sympathy and we were there an hour. The house has thick stone walls and was blissfully cool. Dogs panted on the stone flagged floors and a beautiful blue and brown eyed lurcher followed us around. We retreated to the conservatory and took in the garden. The Pyrenees were a pale purple haze on the horizon and the grass shimmered and waved in a green mirage. I told them the price and they were commented that they could not believe how much property you could get for your money over in France, compared to UK prices.

We dropped down to the riverside and went for lunch au fil de l’eau, a tiny restaurant which is open in the summer and is held on the lawns of a beautiful cottage. Children jumped in and out of the water and played badminton. Spanish, Irish, French and English voices mingled. The tables with their brightly coloured canapés were nearly all taken. Madame was in charge of sandwiches and rustled us up a delicious filled baguette with salad and coleslaw. We downed some very welcome soda and water and talked through what we had seen.

Refreshed, we then went back to town where I channelled my inner Kirstie and showed them a ‘mystery house’. It has been my experience, after eight years in the job, that people often buy something which is completely different from their original criteria. People come to buy renovations and end up buying brand new. People who come to buy in the countryside are seduced by the convenience and attractions of a town centre apartment with large terrace and all the entertainments on foot. I wanted to show a property which was ideal for a holiday home and would rent out easily, a property with no work to do and one that was out of the ordinary.  
A cool stream borders the 18th century cottage which we were going to see. There is a terrace and workshop and the kitchen patio doors open out onto a balcony overlooking the water. There is a kitchen/diner and living room and three bedrooms. As an extra, there is a patch of garden and a garage, though it is on the other side of the neighbour’s house. It is a snip at 149000 euros and well under their budget. (this one was quickly snapped up by a french client)

My clients were seduced however by the lurcher owner's and rejected the mystery choice. My inner Kirstie was annoyed and I told her to shut up. They went back to their B and B to have a think about what they had seen and I went to the pool. (they didnt buy anything and, as so often happens, just disappeared into the ether.  The lurcher house sold quickly, as did the bungalow by a separate sale)

What I needed right then was something cool and chlorinated. The open air public baths is open between June and October and this is where I headed. There is a large camp site just next door and the baby bassin was full of golden haired Dutch children. I noted, with relief, that the aggressive cannonballing dwarf was having a day off. The deep end of the pool has diving boards and a crocodile of tawny backed children was lined up, ready to launch themselves in a series of limb crushing manoeuvres into the water. I put on my tinted goggles and started a lazy crawl up and down. Bubbles of air sparkled like fire flies as bodies shot into the water. Someone was pretending to be dead on the floor. A very large lady in a spotty black petticoat swimsuit was peddling across the shallow end in a nearly upright position. I swam with my head under water, following the black line of tiles across the floor. It was blissful and quiet with just the gurgling of the filtration system and the occasional squeaking from the metal ladders.

It didn’t last long, as Fanny put in an appearance. Fanny (not her real name) is of medium height, with a robust physique, tightly curled black hair and a Joan of Arc look in her eye. She is around 70 years of age and we have never seen her anywhere other than the pool. My kids think she spends the rest of the year in an institution… Her normal modus operandi is to stand at the side of the pool and engage the unwary in conversation. Being English is useful as she supposes that we don’t understand her. She talks to herself non stop and periodically berates the lifeguards for letting children into the pool.

I surfaced to find her facing me at the shallow end. She was crouched as if about to start a race and was hissing encouragement to herself through her teeth. ‘Ca tape forte – courage’ she urged and launched herself tumultuously into the water. She disappeared and I dipped my head under to see what was happening. Fanny was scooting along the bottom, hands running along the tiles and legs see-sawing back and to. I recommenced my swim and focused on reaching the other end in less than 30 strokes. The lifeguards were chatting amongst themselves and didn’t seem to have noticed that Fanny had disappeared.

A few seconds later, Fanny shot out of the water in a surprisingly realistic impression of a breaching whale. Arms extended and wearing a terrible grimace, she shrieked before plunging back under. Her feet appeared briefly. Nearly everyone was taken by surprise. She did the breaching butterfly stroke twice across the pool and then paused, out of breath, and went back to her normal breaststroke.
‘C’est elle qui fait l’animation!’ laughed the lifeguards and went back to chewing gum and chatting up the tourists.

Friday, August 21, 2015

I kick butt at the bank and watch clients escape.....

Thursday 20 August 2015

Hot and sunny but not too sticky 32 degrees

Got up early and watered.  Rain is forecast for the weekend but the weekend is not here yet and the pots are completely dessicated.  The morning glory is looking tired and hasn't even got to producing its wonderful huge blue blossoms.  The oleander in the pots by the front door has recovered, thanks to a large injection of new soil.  A particular joy are the snapdragons, grown in expandable coir plugs, from seed.  Snapdragons have seed as tiny as dust, so I just wet the plugs, watched them swell and then sprinkled the tiniest amount of seed on each and covered with a dusting of compost.  I then just planted the whole plugs with their tiny crest of snapdragon seedlings into the pots and they have turned into bushy plants.  They remind me of my childhood, lining the paths of my aunt and uncle's cottage in rural Wales, their candy colours bright next to the stone edging, full of bees and insects.

Nerium Oleander

You have to love these don't you?  I am looking forward to drying the morning glory and making the most ravishing pendants out of them and catching their ephemeral beauty to look at it in the depths of Winter when all is pale and washed and to feel the vibrancy of Summer.

We go down town in convoy, me to the market and then for revisit and OH to carry on with rental unit.  We have a former holiday tenant coming back in October and he has made buying noises for either the new or the old rental unit.  I have had to make very pointed comments that progress is not being made and that he (OH) has in fact been doing this unit since March of 2014.  It is barely 40m2.  He seems to be having a push this week so tant mieux.  

I go to the boulangerie on the corner of the market and the Spanish lady is serving.  I say Ola que tal? and she says muy bien and then says I should say como ba? which is more correct.  I have not grasped the niceties of Spanish, as I have with French and I still get it wrong in French periodically.  There are a lot of layers of niceties in French and the higher you go up in society, the more the layers multiply.  Interestingly, some of my neighbours still describe themselves as paysans which is where the English word 'peasants' comes from. Its actual meaning is countryside people -  le paysage - being the countryside.  One of them still grows all his own veg and keeps chickens.  He also has a pig, which is slaughtered towards the end of the year, and this provides meat for the winter.  This is not an uncommon as you would imagine.  People can work in factories and offices but they will still have the pig and the chickens and they will get together with the neighbours and friends and spend a weekend slaughtering, bleeding, cutting and preparing the pig.  It also seems to involve epic amounts of drinking - of Ricard (a paysan's Pernod), Suze (base of yellow gentians and originating in Switzerland - sugary and stomach churning - also owned by Ricard) and red wine, brought in containers the size of petrol cans.

The market is heaving but I don't have time to go around because I have to go and kick butt at the bank.  I am a firm believer in not paying bank charges.  They have my money all year and invest it along with all the rest of their deposits and they pay me nothing.  If, occasionally, I do go overdrawn, I expect them to notify me and not charge me 16 euros for going 28 euros overdrawn.   The teller puts me onto a young, nervous looking chap.  He explains that once you go overdrawn, each further withdrawal is charged at 8 euros a shot. I say I want a free overdraft and my charges refunded.  He looks at the account and I notice that the notification by text of overdrawn status has been unticked.  I point this out and he has to admit that it is indeed unticked.  I always used to be notified and then corrected the imbalance immediately.  I say it is someone in the bank who has unticked it and I insist on having my 16 euros back.  He gives in and I leave with a free 300 euros overdraft facility and my 16 euros re credited.  Result!  It is never worth threatening to go elsewhere, a threat which is taken very seriously in the UK, because over here quite frankly they don't give a toss.

Time to go and meet my colleague's colleague and do the revisit on the boxy 1950's house which is very large and in a wonderful location and great land but is actually ugly and badly organised inside.  There are two young English couples and they spend an hour and a half looking round and I sit with the other agent downstairs in the sitting room and I listen to him ramble on for almost the whole of this time about this sale and that sale and this client and that client.   On and on he goes, on and on and on and I wonder how on earth he sells anything because listening is certainly a skill which he doesn't practice.  He does let slip quite a bit of information which will be useful.  He also says that if I have a client for a huge chateau in our big city, I should go via him because he gets on very well with the lady and can negotiate a very good deal.  I hold the mandate as well so that is not going to happen any time soon.  The couple finish the visit and are obviously keen and enthusiastic and I suggest going for a coffee so we can move in for the offer and the other agent says he has to go for lunch and then has another appointment so the couples leave.  I am utterly flabbergasted.  You never, ever leave people go after a revisit without sitting them down, talking things through and getting an offer.  The guy walks back to his car saying, in his ten year's experience, people who make offers immediately then just change their mind.  In my eleven year's experience, people who leave without making an offer, talk themselves out of it, keep on looking, and find another agent who will sit them down and get an offer out of them.  Bloody hell.  Back home and write to anglo french law company and say what is going on.  They don't even open the email by the end of the day.  Wonderful.

Something which disturbs me deeply happens later on.  I have a lady who helps me run the various Secret Santa and Easter Bunny campaigns on my craft group.  She is a great organiser and very enthusiastic and obviously enjoys it.  She messages me to say that her use of FB is causing problems at home and she is going to have to cut down a lot on her groups - fortunately not ours - to prove to her OH that she is not on FB all day and is getting things done at home.  She is to the north of me and we have never met but she is absolutely my right hand woman and I am perturbed.  She reveals that her OH accesses his phone when he is out at work (English builder) to check if she is online on FB and if she is, when he comes home he sulks and wont speak to her for days.  This is abuse, pure and simple.  She runs a business making children's clothes, keeps house, looks after the kids and helps out locally and runs markets, meetings, kids events.  I am not one for keeping out of things and tell her my feelings and suggest that she demands counselling with him.  Marriage is a partnership not someone imposing their will on someone else.  She has made another profile and we are retaining contact on that.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Two gorgeous properties and the Pyrenees are on parade and the sun is shining

Wednesday 19 August 2015
Bright and sunny 26 degrees

Morning writing again severely hindered by early appearance of OH.  Tea in bed very much appreciated however.  House in state of severe chaos - no housework has been done for weeks.  Garden is rampant.  The passion vine has reappeared from no where and has joined battle with the wisteria for possession of the garden shed/boys room/former pig shed building roof.  The topiary has all joined up and needs a severe haircut.  The brambles are bigger than the roses and as for the saplings in the borders....  I need to spend a fortnight in the garden.  OH is back to UK in October to sort out loan for purchasing renovation project and I intend to garden myself to a standstill.  We really need a cleaner.  Or to invite someone over.  That is the only time any serious cleaning gets done.

Mid morning I head over in the direction of the coast to a lovely village which I don't know very well and see a village house with garden and pool.  It didn't look much on the photos that the people sent me and it turned out to be a real Tardis, with lovely high ceilinged rooms, beams, fireplaces and original floors.  The pool was full of children and dogs and they all had to get out for the photos.  They stared at me like I was a creature from another planet (the children, not the dogs).  The lady went off to the market and the man talked at me non stop so it took a while to fill in the mandate.  He told me all about the things he would have done with the house, if he had got around to it.  I hope he doesn't say that to the people I bring around.  It just makes them think there is a lot needs doing.

Back home on the motorway for speed and I suddenly have a revelation.  An agent rang me yesterday, in response to an ad I had put on a free website asking for chateaux and manoirs in the local area, and said she had one overlooking a large river.  I suddenly realised which chateau it would be and, indeed, on searching when I got home, found it.  No price.  Going to be a number of millions.  Fabulous location right on the river.

Discover WF has been emailing prospective rentals instead of ringing them and two of them have already been taken.  Text him to say, for heavens sake, ring people!!!!!  Typically, his phone is off.  He has two weekends before which he will be homeless.  He really needs to pull his finger out.

Back out at three to see a house in a neighbouring department.  Only half an hour from ours but down in the mountains.  So beautiful with rolling hills, meadows spotted with sheep and the brightly painted houses, their windowsills billowing with geraniums.  Glorious day with the landscape shining and the road brown and wavy like a grass snake.  The Pyrenees every present on the horizon; sketched in all shades of purple from palest grey through lilac to deep berry hues.  I meet the owner at the appointed place and she takes me by roads unadopted and woodlanded ways.  Have to put the location in the GPS or I will never find it again.

The house is snug up against the road but it is a small road.  The garden is very long and narrow and is sandwiched between the road and the stream.  There are limited views.  It is, however, refreshingly low in price.  The house is full of people speaking mixtures of Spanish, a Moroccan language (could be Berber, could be standard Arabic), and French.

Houses definitely take on the character of their owners.  Some houses, albeit rough and rustic, have lots of charm because they are filled with love.  This house was like that.  It vibrated happiness.  These houses are easy to sell.  I think back to the house of a former notaire who had separated from his wife and ornery early 20's children.  It was a big sad house and had the feeling of a drooping, unhappy blood hound.  It took an absolute age to sell despite being a big property in a wonderful location.

Stop off for rum and raisin ice cream and café solo in town and to my surprise, RF eldest son, decides to get back in contact and we have lovely long FB chat.  He is thinking of changing jobs and is applying in London and Manchester.  Says he will probably come over in October for holiday.  Try to ring youngest WF and he is not answering his phone so have no idea whether or not he has fixed up any potential rental viewings.

Back home and no phone calls from buyers of contemporary property, who are meant to be chasing anglo french law company.  I ring them and the first time they answer then hang up, the second time it goes to call screening and the third time no one answers at all.  The guy obviously doesn't want to speak to me.  Absolute spineless bxxxxd and am totally furious. He has either not rung and chased them or has not got anywhere with them when he did ring.  Rant at OH.  OH supplies cajun chicken, egg fried rice and white wine.  Calm down and pass out on sofa.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Checking the details with much grinding of teeth later

Tuesday 18 August 2015
Another lovely day 24 degrees

Down town with OH to check that the Villa which is coming up to Acte is in sale worthy condition.  The gardener had been and the grass was roughly razed.  The weeds in the sparse gravel were yellowing.  The bamboo, freed of its grassy fringe, loomed immense on the edges of the garden.  I bought croissants and we had brought tea and we sat on the steps before beginning work, and watched the traffic and people walking past and we laughed to think that people might ring the current owners and say they were being burgled, but the burglars had stopped first for breakfast....

The house smelled dank and dusty but the nephew had been in and done the termite treatment.  He hadn't swept up though and there was smashed up wood from where the diagnostics guy had pierced the plinths with his screwdriver - diagnosticking seems to involve stabbing wood with a screwdriver and knocking on beams with a lump of wood.  In the top room, the tower bedroom, the base coat had not been enough to secure a firm purchase on the surface for the top coat and tiny flakes of paint, like dandruff, had fallen to the floor.  We swept them up, checked the electric was turned off again and left.  I have just thought, the water was turned off also - I need to get it turned back on again for the Acte next Monday.

Back home and I busy myself writing the advert to find WF youngest son a new lodging. Find a picture of him sitting in a restaurant for a birthday two years ago and put that on the ad.  Apparently people respond better to ads with pictures.  He has a spoon firmly gripped and is ready to launch into his dessert.  

I found the beautiful Villa where I am desperate to contact the owners ahead of the revisit of the HK people, and send her a message.  She replies when she thinks I am a punter but when I reply and say I am an agent, silence.  Oh how frustrating!!  The house is wonderful. She did give away the fact that it is let until the 23rd so I will go there and hope to meet her and hope she appreciates my persistence.

Scour the ads and drive around town to find another house or two for HK people.  Come across a grand looking house with a for sale sign - private - on the gate so ring and make appointment for later on today.  OH goes shopping.  At four pm I walk up the long drive and the house is imposing - turn of the 19th century with fine balustrades and fretwork balconies. Inside is gloomy and French of a depressing nature.  Everything is brown.  The wainscoting has been decorated by burning in a pattern of a rose.  The kitchen hasn't seen a new unit since the 1980's.  The bedrooms are piled high with old clothes.  The lady is Parisian and is growing out some blond hair dye.  She reminds me of an Afghan dog.  She is looking after a badly mentally handicapped girl who runs around shrieking and bouncing and throwing fruit around the garden - must be in her early teens.  She makes me shudder.  The voice in my head is saying my clients are going to absolutely hate this house but they are over for two whole days and I must have houses to show them.

Back home and crack and ring the buyers of the contemporary house and ask if they have any news from the anglo french law company.  I get the man and he has been also fobbed off and told they cant be pinned down on how long it will take to get the report out.  He says he is not happy and will ring them back tomorrow.  Personally if I had paid about 1% of the price of the property, I would be saying I want the report by the end of the week or I want my money back.  Do much grinding of teeth.  Sellers vastly unhappy, as indeed they have every right to be.  So far, this AF company took a week to get their terms and conditions signed, a second week to put the files in a dossier and the third week have not been available to talk to.  Bloody hell.  Not making any progress on any of my other dossiers either.  Am I the only person working in France at the moment?

Bright with butterflies and earthly treasures

Monday 17 August 2015

Delightful 25 degrees

Wonderful Summer day, bright with butterflies and brilliant blue skies.  Our African visitors are over - huge orange fritillaries and white swallowtails.  They love the verbena bonariensis.  A strange red leaf turned into a black and red moth, easily the size of my pinkie finger.  A praying mantid, green as peas, waved its antenna from a dead leaf.  Tiny blue butterflies over the rotting compost heap, yellow soucis on the evening primrose, their delicate wings echoing the hues of the flowers as they sucked up the nectar.  In the potager, the sudden rain has made the tomatoes swell and crack.  The strange black Crimea fruits are nearly ready and the cherry variety hang like beads on the vines.  The potatoes have been invaded by grass which obscures the lines.  The spade is hidden by the sudden growth.  When the boys were small, they were always amazed at how the tubers were hidden in the ground, smooth and white, and they used to grub around the dying topgrowth to unearth the treasures.

My head feels light, as if there is a space where the headache was and I feel weak.  However, an appointment is in the diary and I have to go and let in a technician to carry out the diagnostics on the property being bought by the HK man.  I walk around to a house which I used to have for sale and is now again on the market, spied on a competitor's site.  The owner is in and he is Spanish and I find myself explaining who I am and what I want and it comes out quite easily and he understands me but the house is on exclusivity.  I leave him my card and go back into town and go and see the lovely LT and have a coffee with her.  She is looking exhausted after the fête weekend and says her husband has a trapped sciatic nerve and she has had to do all the cooking over the weekend.  Her children are in, serving at the bar.  Feel better after the milky coffee and glass of water which LT also insisted I had, get bread and eggs and back home.  OH has got out the new pressure washer and has made a big difference to the patio.  Dog is still next door 'helping' the neighbours to redo their dry stone wall.  It involves him doing a lot of barking.  He probably drives them nuts but it saves us having to walk him as he is knackered by the end of the day.

Have lunch and catch up with emails.  Alas, the buyers of the contemporary house were away over the weekend and just emailed me to say that they are waiting for information from the anglo french company.  I dont think we will have the report this week.  I am waiting to get the report before telling them they are bloody useless.  Two weeks and counting and the sellers are very, very stressed but happily on holiday from Saturday to Cuba from where they will not hassle me.  Rang notaires office to ask who is looking after my dossiers in her absence and was told no-one.  Vive la France.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sounds of a thousand bees in the blossom...

Sunday 16 August 2015
Sunny and delightful 26 degrees

Woke at six to something eating the floorboards again.  Sounded like it also had very large teeth.  The light fitting was making tinging noises and there was rushing about.  Crawled out of bed, mouth dry as a dust bowl and went in the spare bed.  Light filtered like mist through the velux over my head.  Slept again and woke with terrible headache and drank lots of water and quickly realised it was not going to stay down.  Slept fitfully until three pm when decided I needed some fresh air so went and slept in the garden under the lagerstroemeria tree which hummed with a thousand bees, gathering nectar from its luscious pink blossoms

When we first bought the house, the tree was cramped and had grown awkwardly.  We pruned it and the neighbour was aghast and said it was very slow growing and we would regret chopping so much off its elegant and palely peeling branches.  Our LM doesn't know it is supposed to be slow growing and has spread over the past ten years to provide dappled pink and green shade over my favourite coin of the garden, my battered candy stripe deckchair ready to be fallen into, a place scraped out in the gravel in which to place my cup. Dog goes under the potting bench and snores and runs in his sleep.

Come back in and manage a little baked potato and watch recording of Funny Girl.  OH makes me an omelette and by five I am starting to feel human again.  A whole beautiful sunny day lost.

Metiers d'antan and musings on the ideal bathroom

Saturday 15 August 2015
Cloudy with sun later - very pleasant 25 degrees

On the whole, August has been much more pleasant weather than July.  Humidity has been around 75 percent and the temperatures have been more in the twenties.  We can actually manage to get through a day without feeling the overwhelming urge to sleep after lunch. Ten minutes can easily be an hour and a half and then it is early evening and where did the day go to?

Ran through my emails and OH went down to rental units and rang quite quickly to say town was blocked for the Metier d'Antan festival.  (crafts of yesteryear).  I go to my house estimation by a circuitous route and ring the owner who gives me directions as I get closer. The house is contemporary with vast pool and panoramic views of the Pyrenees, today wearing dove grey clouds.  The interior very much reminds me of a house which I came very close to selling, the buyers hesitated too long, and someone else snapped it up.  I feel excited.  If anything, with the location near our town, this is an even better property, although the price is more.  Hopefully with the change in the exchange rate, it will make up the difference in their budget.  

The lounge is long and filled with light and opens out into the kitchen and from there onto the terrasse and the pool.  Yet another divorce.  How prevalent it is these days.  The bedrooms are disappointingly small, as with most modern properties.  If I were building, I would have huge bedrooms and fabulous bathrooms with open views so I felt I was floating in space when I looked up from the tub.  My idea of a heavenly bathroom would be one where the windows wrapped from the floor right over the ceiling in one long wide strip.  A solid white tub set in a large room with mounds of fluffy white towels and antique gold mirrors and a chaise longue and lots of wonderful pots and potions.

We do the mandate and I am not offered coffee so head down town to take in the sights. The metiers d'antan on show included basket weaving, espadrille making, hat making, upholstery, lampshade making, spinning, vitrail (enamelling), woodworking and turning. The craftspeople were dressed in traditional local costume, the men in large kepis and the ladies in dark pinstriped dresses overlaid with bright aprons and white lace shoulder shawls and caps.  One spinning granny looked like she had just stepped out of the 18th century with her fallen apple cheeks and thistledown hair.  Her hands were knotted with arthritis but even so, she delicately held and teased out the tendrils of wool and magically it seemed, it was transformed into yarn.  The air was ripe with cheeses and fruit and herbs.  The marquee held an amazing exhibition of exotic butterflies and insects and some individuals (long dead) were for sale and I snapped them up to transform into resin jewels and hence ensure their longevity.  I was particularly taken by a golden scorpion and two iridescent bugs which will be perfect.

There were people playing accordions and I sat and watched them and ate the cheese and ham crepe which would poison me and make sure I didn't see most of the next day.  The perils of street food.  Back home and felt suddenly very tired and so we had siesta and then felt fine.  Dog spent next door with the neighbours, barking as they worked, his contribution to the effort.  OH said he had driven past and the neighbour, his son, and dog were sitting looking at the dry stone wall, like it was a giant Jenga puzzle.