Saturday, October 31, 2015

It makes me want to shriek

Friday 30 October 2015

Surprisingly hot 24 degrees

This has to be one of the best Autumns of my life.  Stupendous and warm and glorious. OH actually out of bed before me today as he is going to see about some new shoe insoles.  He has terribly flat feet.  They are like two plates of salami.  He leaves and I get down town and wait, with some trepidation, for the insurance assessor and my insurance man to arrive.

Time ticks on.  9.30.  9.50.  I finally get through to the insurance agency and say where is the man and am told he has had to rush off somewhere else.  Express extreme dissatisfaction.  Oh crap.  Will have to go upstairs on my own.  

The owner's daughter is sitting in the flat and she points at her watch and looks sour faced. Not that she has another expression.  The insurance assessor is charming and we run through the extensive damage caused by the leak from the top rental unit, now thankfully sold and no longer my responsibility.  The ceiling is the colour of a pub in the 1960's.  A nasty tawny cigaretty yellow.  The estimation of damage is over 4000 euros.  And all because my plumber didn't tighten his nuts properly.

Emerge one hour later into the sunshine and come across a pair of English former clients. They are enjoying a coffee in the sunshine.  I am having a chat with them when I spot one of my sellers beckoning me from around the corner of the block.  

She is hiding behind the wall and her small bichon frisé takes the opportunity of licking my legs.  What is it about my legs and small dogs?  She says she has some news for me and takes me into a nearby bar.  The bichon frisé settles down to eating the fag ends and crisps on the floor and she tells me that the English couple are out looking for houses and have been to see hers.  She says the English agent with whom they have been looking says they are a nightmare and whatever one likes, the other hates.  And vice versa.  It is my colleague.  I make a mental note that they are looking and another that my colleague has not offered any of my properties.

Back home and try and make a dint in the chaos in the kitchen.  OH reappears and we have lunch and then he goes fishing.  Spend an hour and a half making lemon meringue tart which, fortunately, doesn't resemble a cep on this occasion, and a chili for two days.  

Then time to play with my new resin bangle moulds and attempting to glaze single leaves.  I do not have any mold release and really hope that the stuff doesn't weld itself irretrievably into the molds.  Watch YouTube.  The key is to hit it a lot on the counter.  And if that doesn't work, put it in the freezer for ten minutes.  No wonder they are so expensive.  Make one with the semi precious stones I picked up a week or two ago and another with grass seeds, tiny red oak leaves and even tinier snail shells.

I then try and resinate the ginkgo leaves.  It is really messy and runs all over the place.  Watch YouTube retrospectively and, oh bugger, I should have stuck the petals to a piece of plastic film and let the resin thicken.  All I may have done is ruin some perfectly good plastic lid tops.

Walked dog.  He was a menace and run off.  The medicine must be working as he is now quite fast.

OH came home, very late in the afternoon and told me he had bumped into a local publican who was about to purchase a chateau of over 1.5 million and set up a retirement home.  I know from my accounting years, just how vast the net profit is on these places.  OH was being admiring at his enterprise and I pointed out that the man only has so much money because he has never paid a penny in tax, has no accounts for the bar business which he has operated for the past 25 years, and that if I didn't declare my earnings either, I would be a lot richer.  And I then told him to shut up and banged cupboards.  He is also claiming invalidity benefit when he is as fit as a fiddle.  It makes me want to shriek.

OH says the podologue says he is all out of line but good insoles will help. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

How low will they go?

Thursday 29 October 2015

Sunny 21 degrees

Fortunately the pheasant shooting season doesn't coincide with the maize cutting season so now there are tons of pheasants running around the fields and watching their erstwhile hunters trying to shoot deer and wild boar.  These creatures are sensibly hiding in the still extensive forests which have probably existed since time immemorial and are relatively impenetrable.  I actually saw two of them picking fallen grain from around the tyres of a huntsman's little white van whilst its owner was sitting and cleaning his gun and having a cig.

The phone rang first thing and I didn't quite get to it in time.  0-60 is slow first thing in the mornings for my good self.  I rang back and was surprised to be put through to the notary of the goat farmers and she said wanted her to ask me if I could negotiate my fees.  I said I would pass it to our business manager and asked if, as it seemed likely, the goat people now wanted to sell and the notary replied yes.

I went back to bed with my cup of tea and was mulling it over when the phone rang again.  It was the goat farmer and he said he wanted to talk about the legalities of the mandat and I said I would get our expert juridique to speak to him over that and he then said he was selling and would be going out of the country and therefore if he decided not to settle with us right now, there was nothing we could do to touch him.  However he didn't want to beat around the bush (subtext for I have just found out I cannot cut you out completely) and so he would offer us half fees.  There was an expectant silence (on his part) and I let it rest for about a full minute.  And then said I would also pass this information onto the agency.  I then lay back on my pillows and smiled ruefully and thought, duplicitous bxxxxxrds.

It all started back at the beginning of the year with the Romanians who made the full price cash offer and drove over from Russia to see the place and then drove over again to sign the compromis and then it transpired they didn't have the substantial cash balance.  They didnt have any money at all.  So I recontacted the people who are now trying to buy and had been pipped at the post and they were thrilled and made a low offer which, over a period, we negotiated up to the point where the sellers said yes and then, when they couldn't find a new home for the goats, said no.  The buyers said they would wait.  The sellers said they would have to wait a couple of years and then the price would be more.  All went quite for the whole of the Summer and then, a week ago, a call from an avocat in Paris saying could we negotiate our fees because the buyers wanted to go ahead and had tried to do so privately but the sellers were concerned (ie didnt want to be sued later) that they still had engagements with the agency.  I said I would ring the sellers and apparently neither sellers or buyers wanted anything more to do with me.  I was persona non grata

Under the conditions of the Bon de Visite, which people sign before going to see a property, it is stated that you cant deal directly with an owner for the period of a year.  The buyers had waited a year and then contacted the owners, who were far more open to selling than they had indicated to me.  What the buyers didnt realise is that under the clause of the mandat, they cant deal privately with someone presented by the agency, for a period of two years.

I rang the business manager and we talked about it and I also mentioned that there is a 25% introducer's fee (I want to be an introducer and earn 25% for passing on an email and telephone number) and he said he would see what he could do.  Get an email from the head of the agency saying 'What a CHEEK'.  Later get an email saying that we have asked for full fees.

I used to be wounded when people lied to me and went behind my back.  I used to take it personally.  What I have learned over the period of 12 years is that money makes people behave very badly and that principles are very quickly abandoned when thousands of euros are involved.   This property is a 250 km round trip and I must have done six visits and revisits and compromis.  I had my holiday spoiled by both the owners and buyers ringing me up non stop.

Went to see a lady whose sale is about to happen next month and we sat in the sunshine and talked about local people and how friendships evolve over time.  And how some of them fizzle altogether.  She is very fiesty and likes the word 'fxxk'.  She is looking forward to new experiences in the north of France which will be her new home.  She gave me over 100 novels and some leaves off her Gingko tree.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Not a lot of progress is made...

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Warmed up - 18 degrees

The countryside really is glorious and in full Autumn colours.  Was bowling along, enjoying the delicate flight of the tiny orange leaves from the beech trees and was nearly crushed by a large lorry.  Resolved to pay more attention.  Last night I read an article about using Instagram to attract new customers so opened up an account and posted some pictures of my resin jewelry.  Needed some positive encouragement after a comment by this week's client that she had seen stuff similar to mine on toilet seats.  Was somewhat taken aback to say the least.  Lovely comments via Instagram.  The young are far less rude and insensitive.

The client is a fashion buyer and I have worn different pieces of my jewelry all week in the hope that she would offer to take some.  She didn't.  I think my stuff is too natural and subtle.  Someone will love it.  I hope.  Looked at all the other successful resin jewelry sellers and they have over a hundred items and have been going for about five years.  Will just need to make more stuff and build a following.  Sigh.  Why does everything take time.  

The lady came on her own today and we revisited two properties - one a beautiful stone farmhouse in impeccable condition and another which is a shell and rather violently coloured to boot, but with lots of space.  I think she is erring towards the latter and she said she would think about it on the plane on the way home.  Felt deflated and went to MacDonald's and ate some processed rubbish which will probably take years off my life.

Back home and OH was back out working on the little rental unit.  He started nearly two years ago and I started hinting that he should get on with it about two months ago.  I passed from hinting to pointed comments and then had to become quite insistent before he has buckled down.

WF (youngest) rang and said that he didn't get the promotion and it had gone to someone who had been there for three years.  He said he wouldn't be waiting that long and it has inspired him to get on with his insurance exams.

RJ (eldest) is still fed up at being 14500  for being a sous chef and not being paid overtime. Small family businesses are not the best places to earn good salaries.  He needs to move on.  He is fed up (again).  Told him not, under any circumstances, to give his boss an ultimatum or to resign before he has found anything else.

The combines are chugging along the fields and soon we will have our view back!  Dog is desperate to get out and be crushed by the one in the field opposite.  I have never known the corn to be cut so early.  One year, after a brutally wet winter, it was cut in January.  One year it wasn't cut at all because it was a cold, wet summer.  The Summers here are no longer reliably hot as they were twelve years ago.  That is not a bad thing.  2004 nearly killed us.  2003 killed a lot of people.  When I first started in this business, I would go around houses and people would show me stuffy dark bedrooms and say 'this is where Grandma died'.  Not something you can put in the Particulars.

The lure of the padded cell

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Cool and showery
15 degrees

Round two with yesterday's client and the girls came too.  They were on time today so we headed off to my town and I showed them two houses.  I thought she was going to say that they were too small and that is exactly what she said.  However she said she really appreciated the fact that I had stuck to the budget she had given me.  She then said she thought she might have to go up another hundred grand to get what she wanted.  Wish I had known that back at the start.  I would have shown other houses in my town which were more susceptible to please.

The second house I showed is a little bijou - in immaculate condition.  It is balm to the soul to be in an environment so clean and pretty with little feminine touches everywhere.  In my house even the animals are male.  I sometimes feel that a padded cell, provided it was all white and clean, would be quite a good option.  I would insist that they took off my straight jacket at meal times, however.  Standards have to be maintained.

We went to a bar and I went to the loo and the lady asked what I was having and I said a grand creme and when I got back, I was the only one having anything and had to pay for it myself.  Was somewhat aggrieved as, not only have I picked them up from the hotel 15 kms away every day, but also took them to a supermarket to do some shopping before dropping them off last night.  We arranged to revisit two of yesterday's houses and I went home and felt exhausted.  Still haven't recovered from the flu bug.

Am having many enquiries on the chateau with the immense amounts of renovation to do. Wish I hadn't taken it on.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Things people don't know about estate agents....

Monday 26 October 2015

Incredibly warm 26 degrees

Things people do not know about estate agents

things people dont know about estate agents, how to keep your agent happy, funny article about estate agency

Shutter Stock image

1.  They are human beings.  They have a home life and need one day a week away from the day job when they can do enjoyable things like pay bills, do the laundry/repairs, brave the garden armed with machete and thick clothing, clean the oven, scrape crap off the bathroom/kitchen/toilets and spend time with their badly neglected family.  Surprisingly, they need one whole day a week to do this.

Subtext:  if you are over here on holiday and are busy all week but everything is shut on a Sunday, please don't ring your estate agent to see if you can have a little drive around the area and visit a 'few' houses.  Especially if you have no money to buy one of them.

2.  They expect you to be on time.  It is the day job for them.  They will have planned out the programme for the day and have a list of visits with times and sellers who have spent hours cleaning their houses in the uncertain expectation of a sale.  

Subtext:  please don't text your agent (especially if she has told you that her mobile doesn't work when she is at home) on the morning of the visits to say that you are going to be an hour late because you forgot that the time is different in France or your kids cant get out of bed or you having a lie in.  You can rest assured that whilst you are having your lie in, your agent will be downing a number of 'petit cafés', grinding down her worn teeth and having to rearrange everything. 

If you get to an appointment early, do not go for a coffee in a place where you are incapable of describing its location, decide to do a little shopping, or just park somewhere completely different and sit in your car.  Please try and find the correct appointment place.  It is the Mairie.  Every town has one.  It says Mairie on the front (or Hotel de Ville which is not a hotel at all but that is another story) 

Do not cancel on the day of the visit unless one of your legs has dropped off.

3.  They expect you to be serious.   There was once a man who thought he would like to buy some carrots.  He went to his local carrot seller and asked to see all of the five inch carrots of a brilliantly orange hue within a radius of about 40 kms.  He thought the carrot seller could take him in his car and stop for lunch and it could take up to three days.  He needed to sell his own carrots in order to be able to buy some other carrots but he lived in a part of the world where carrots were snapped up almost immediately.  He did mention that he was looking for carrots in a couple of other areas of the country.   The carrot seller told him to fxxk off.

Subtext:  if you have no money for carrots, don't go looking for carrots.

4.  Their earning are their business.  Do you get onto the subject of your bank manager's/dentist's/solicitor's earnings within a few hours of knowing them?  Don't ask us how much of the agency commission we get.  It really pisses us off.  The answer is that most independent agents get around 40% of the commission.  Agents on salaries get around 5-8%.  Before you throw up your hands in horror and say you wish you were earning such 'easy money' (words issued from mouth of former carrot searcher), there is the following to bear in mind

  • agents are paid on the day of the Acte de Vente.  This is an event which is at the end of the obstacle race which occurs between offer and Acte.  New and fiendish obstacles always present themselves.  If it all falls through, the agent earns nothing, despite having worked on it for months.
  • we are heavily taxed.  Say the commission gross is 10000 euros.  The agent gets 4000 euros and then has to give 20% to the VAT authorities.  RSI (regime sociale des independents) then takes 45% on the balance.  So the agent ends up with 1400 which is the basic pay for one month. She thinks this is not a lot and thinks life would be a lot easier as a cashier in Leclerc.  She would get a reduction on the price of carrots.
  • there is no personal allowance in France.  You get taxed from the first centime.  The only way to avoid this is by having lots of children.  
Subtext:  it is not 'easy' money.  It is no mean feat sorting out the carrot searchers from the people with little pots of gold and hope in their hearts.  And just the two children I had were enough for me.

5.  Your agent wants to help you.  We want you to find the house of your dreams.  We want to help you to buy it and settle in and live happily ever after.  Making people happy is what makes our job worthwhile.  There is such a feeling of joy on the day of the Acte when we hand the keys over to the new owners and see how thrilled and happy they are.  And we hug the former owners and wish them all the best for the future.  And yes, we do expect to be paid for doing a job well.  And yes, we do like champagne and coming around for BBQ's.

Subtext:  we enjoy spending time with you after you have bought.  Provided you have not tortured us in the process.  If you never see us again, despite living in the same town, it is because we hide when we spot you coming.

6.  We drink coffee - lots of coffee.  If we have driven you around for hours and answered all your questions, and shown you lots of houses and not got lost (well not too lost), we do appreciate stopping for coffee.  We also appreciate you offering to pay for it.  We don't really want to keep on going whilst you pull your little bottles of water out of your bag.  Especially when we have forgotten to bring one ourselves.  We would be delighted if you offered us lunch.  It makes us feel appreciated.

Subtext:  if you say you have brought your own lunch and the agent leaves you in a park for an hour, their enthusiasm for the job will have been reduced by about 50% by the time they pick you up again.  They will assume you are tight fisted or skint.  Or both.  If you turn up in a camper van, their hearts will sink.  Or say you want to make a yurt/glamping business. How many yurt farms do you know in France?  Enough said.

Spent the day with a lady and two charming little girls.  Despite being 11 and 14 years old, they were still little girls.  They ate big sandwiches and weren't dressed like slappers. Needless to say, they weren't English.  Had uncomfortable feeling that the lady is a covert carrot searcher despite her assertions to the contrary.  Six houses and it took from 9.30 to 6. Fell asleep on the sofa at 9 and OH insisted I went to bed.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our brains are turning to mush

Sunday 25 October 2015
Winter time changeover of hour

29th wedding anniversary

When October arrives, I always have a niggling feeling that there is something I should remember but it is always elusive.  I have been having the feeling for about a week or so now.  I enjoyed waking up and having the extra hour and doing some writing and thinking and watching the birds flitting around on the barn roof.  Eventually OH called down for some tea and he was looking expectant.  Oh dear, wedding anniversary and I had forgotten. Again.  Some years we both forget.  I think our brains are turning to mush.

He presented me with two books - one the Daily Telegraph Quick Crosswords and the other a fascinating mix of five diaries of people who took part in the Information Project around the time of the second World War.  In the future, authors will just be able to plunder blogs where, all over the world, people do write about their daily lives.  And some of them not for money...  The author of the compilation describes blogs as Warholian.

I promised to make him a lemon meringue and so he decided to tip his fishing stuff all over the kitchen table.  Some hooks, leaders and swivels had tangled themselves into an inseparable chaotic mess and, because I was feeling guilty on the anniversary front, I attempted to separate them before giving up and chopping out the metal bits.  Off he went fishing.  I walked dog who is now one hundred times livelier after two days of the medication - Meloxicam - to such an extent that he has taken to running off again and hassling me to play squeaky ball throwing when I am trying to watch Strictly and gritting my teeth at the infuriating Bruno Tonioni.  From comments I passed on FB, I am not the only one who cant stand his pouting and postulating.  And why is he being so nasty this year?

Lemon meringue is a thing of mystery.  Every time I make it, I discover a new way of making it go wrong.  Today, I didn't have any caster sugar and had to make do with icing sugar and it didn't do at all and the top of the cake resembles a cep.  

Never mind.  Went upstairs with a truffle silicon mold which I had discovered in the cupboard and decided to try making flower half spheres and then trying to stick them together.  Got around the cold resin problem by putting the container containing the mix into a pan of warm water.  Mixed up much better than usual and with fewer bubbles.  Domed some pieces and made some rings and experimented with setting stones into acorn cups. Also drilled out a half walnut shell, inserted a little shell and some seeds and a silver bail.

Wrote up tomorrow's appointments on the software and filled in the Bon de Visite forms.  Would much rather stay here and do interesting things rather than trail around yet another set of houses with yet another person - especially one accompanied by very young teenagers.....

Half six and nearly dark.  Better than the UK in any event where in deep mid winter, it goes dark around 3.30

Brambles, tangles and Tonionis....

Saturday 24 October 2015

Sunny 17 degrees

I don't seem to be able to wake up any earlier than 9.15.  Thank heavens the clocks go back tonight and I can recover my peaceful hour in the morning.  Sat on sofa with OH and watched telly and felt brain dead.  OH loves the US channels where people discuss shares and stocks and money and investments.  I study the clothing and hair and makeup and look through the windows of the studios.  It was very dark still in New York but my goodness there was a lot of traffic.  About every fourth car was a yellow taxi.  All the people wore black and grey and were walking in a hunched fashion as if facing a stiff breeze.  The shop windows were also blacked out.  The women had identical shoulder length hair, pale skin, smooth hands with nails like little chips of coal or blood.  Very minimalist jewellery.  I have trouble taking in what they were saying.  Contrasted the reality of October 2015 with that visualised by the makers of Back to the Future II.  Reality is a lot greyer and, on the bright side, we are no longer wearing 80's clothing.  It may be many, many years before we get the urge for day glow track suits, permed hair and shoulder pads.

The problem with news is that I am not interested in disasters, wars, murders, sensationalism, politics, economics or stardom which leaves very little else.  Does that make me a moron?  This morning on FB I have watched two elephants being reunited, chatted to number one son, laughed at some funny cartoons and admired a Van Cleef and Arpels video.  If I am a moron, I am a happy one.

OH went shopping and I rang and rang and rang people until I finally had a list of property to show to Monday's client.  Rang her up to.  Had thought she was hot to trot but she said she would have to absolutely LOVE a property in order to buy on this trip.  Felt bit deflated.  Otherwise, she said, she would go away and think about it.

Had stir fry prawns with garlic and soy sauce and sorted out my dried flowers, currently nestling in complete chaos between the pages of Great World Wars.  OH was busy looking for a down gilet jacket on EBay and didn't notice how I can appropriated his large, many leaved and appropriately heavy volume.  The ferns and oak leaves had dried particularly well but some of the hydrangea flowers had completely desiccated and I had to throw them out.  Collected some Lagerstroemeria (cape maple) leaves and put them to dry.

I have decided to branch out into bracelets after being inspired by the wonderful Modern Flower Child

Ordered some bangle molds from Resin Obsession in the States and was pleased to see that they were shipped within three hours.

Alas, then had to tackle the brambles which have extended over a good ten metres of the main border.  Decided to tackle them from a distance with the rake and the long handled secateurs.  Made some headway.  I really need to get down to ground level, clear out all the weeds and then dig them out from the base.  It is all a terrible mess.

Gave dog his first treatment of anti inflammatory which involved squirting a small amount of liquid into his mouth.  He didn't not think much of it.  I have never before seen a dog trying to spit.  However, within an hour, he was bouncing about and I had to throw his squeaky ball to him for much of Strictly.  Some stunning dancing.  Ainsley Harriott still looks like some one's Dad at a wedding and Carole is like a barge in full flow.  Bruno Tonioni is SO annoying!!!!!!!