Friday, December 4, 2015

Some are goers and some are stickers

Thursday 3 December 2015

sunny and surprisingly warm - up to 20 degrees

Up early and OH had not brought in very much stuff from the car, which was packed to the roof with stuff.  Consequently, not much chaos in the house.  Took him tea in bed and he was looking exhausted from a short crossing, being woken at 5.15 for breakfast and driving for thirteen hours down France.

Out in the morning sunshine and hang around on the market, waiting for a lady brought to me by happenstance.  Back in the UK I had two good friends in the town where I lived and the lady I was waiting for is the ex sister in law of one of them.  By what curious turn of fate would she have bought near me in this little corner of France?  She is Scottish and an artist and the effort of moving out of her French home, having just sold it via Leggetts, must be telling on her brain because she rings me and it turns out she has gone to the wrong town. Have a coffee whilst I am waiting and the bar owner says they are still looking for property and do I have anything really, really cheap and I think of a house which no one ever likes but may be likable if the price was really, really low.  Arrange to meet them after the early afternoon clients.

The lady finally appears in a huge rentavan from the UK and we go on the terrace at the grand hotel and enjoy the brilliant winter sunshine.  A very nervous waiter brings us two cups of lukewarm coffee and we have to insist they heat it up.  Chat for an hour - mostly about her art and she has been chosen to exhibit at a gallery which helped Banksy to become known and then about buy to let.  She has a couple of properties in an area of Manchester which resembles Coronation Street and they can return 8%.  We both have to take off many layers of coats, scarves and jumpers and the sun glasses come in handy.

Back home in a rush to prepare the bon de visite and quick pork pie and Seville orange before meeting 2 pm clients in a town 30 kms south.  The mountains are stupendous and covered with snow like royal icing.  A hawk watches from the telephone wire.  Huge shoals of sparrows above the bare stalked fields; flexing and billowing on the clear high skies.  The people are on time.  She a petite blond lady.  He tall and tattooed with a goatee beard and close shaved hair with a well waxed topknot.  He looks Dutch but has no trace of an accent. I can sense his excitement about the snow and the mountains and ask if he is a snowboarder. He is...

To the first house, one which I have shown numerous times recently.  Just latterly to the bar owners who have decided it is too difficult to figure out how to get in three private bathrooms.  I think this could be the problem for this couple too.  They want to do art holidays and did think 'barn' as does everyone else but in fact, this house has a huge 55m2 living room which could easily accommodate huge trestle tables for feeding and art.  We were there an hour and then went to the really, really cheap house and alas, they loved it until they got through the door.

There are some houses which go immediately and there are some that stick.  The location of this house is not great.  It is semi detached and in a village without shops.  No views. Road visible across a big field.  Inside, you have a large dining kitchen with bathroom and bedroom off.  People find that strange.  A loo is tacked onto a corner of the kitchen.  Actually now illegal.  You then go through into a living room where the road side has no window and most of the wall is taken up by the massive former barn door.  Consequently it is dark. There is no fireplace and therefore no focus for the room.  There is also a loo tacked onto a corner of the room and two further bedrooms.  Upstairs, which is only accessible by moving the dead body weight sofa, bringing over a ladder and squeezing through the trap door, is vast.  There is a lovely south facing garden and barn which is long and narrow and mostly single level and therefore wouldn't cost a fortune to renovate.

When I first took the property to market, six years ago, it was 230000 euros.  It is now 140000 euros and people still do not love it.  The couple say they will be back on the 17th and want to revisit the first house.  They go, taking their two lovely little dogs with them. One is a Jack Russell but young and not bitey.  The other is a French bulldog cross and is hilarious, having the right sort of body but a completely different head.  What mum would have called a Heinz dog (Heinz soup advertised that they had 57 different varieties of soup).

The bar owners arrive and they dont like it either.  I email the owner to say sorry but no go. Wish I could have some good news for him.  He gets back to say he is having a lot of interest in it.  Interestingly, two properties I know of which have been for sale for years and years, have now sold.  One with immense ugly outbuildings and another former farm house with a huge central room which none of the people I took could figure out what to do with. Stunning views.  Drive home in lowering sun and bambis run across the road and play at the edges of the woods.

Make chili and watch Doc Martin.  Tape the Last Kingdom as OH is now three episodes behind.  Early night with hot water bottle.  Very cold out.  OH has plan to buy to let property in the South but is still very fixed on buying back in the North.  As I expected, he is not keen on moving to a Mediterranean island and me being an estate agent to the rich and famous. I cant see the point of being back in the UK and not being near the boys.  This is something which is going to be very difficult to overcome but on which I am not prepared to compromise.  I have had it with rural farming communities.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Autumn glory (still)

Wednesday 2 December 2015

10 degrees and sunny but decidedly nippy

Phone rang at 8.15 and it was OH and he was over the Channel and had been driving for an hour.  He seemed surprised that I was still asleep....

Had delightful morning making sparkly earrings and buttons, putting another layer of resin on the ginkgo leaves and trying out the Pebeo prism paints on some plain buttons which I made last week.  Combination of silver and purple very effective.  Fumes made my head spin and the dog tried to singe himself on the petrol fire.  We should have called him St Jean....

For the secret Santa, my lady is Russian American so I decided to go for bling and made some glitter earrings with large and fine golden glitter and a round pendant made up of one half black and gold glitter and the other half yellow resin with fine gold glitter.  Rather effective.  Hope she likes it.  Made another one for me.

Off they went in the post and that is another thing checked off the list.  List now virtually non existent.  Excellent.  I am list averse...

Walked dog and the late afternoon was stunning with catkins everywhere, and lichen and ivy snaking up the trees and people walking dogs.  Dog made friends with two mongrels bearing the names of Stompy and Funky...

Somewhere more glamorous than Yorkshire...

Tuesday 1 December 2015

14 degrees sunny but cold

How on earth can it be December already?  Thanks to OH being away for a fortnight, I am in a much better state of organisation than normal.  Cake made, check.  Secret Santa, check. House clean and tidy, check.  Newsletter sent out, check.  Lots of jewellery made, check.  I haven't got around to posting lots of new makes on Etsy or Facebook, but at least I have everything sorted out and made myself a display board with lots of nails on it, on which I have suspended my makes.  My psoriasis has totally dried up.  It may be that I am allergic to my dear husband, his chaos and rushing, infernal lists and have you dones, and the terrible mess he spread everywhere.  Feel like I have had a good rest.

Spent the morning doing the changeover of utilities for the two houses which have just completed.  The water authorities were no problem  - quite happy for me to set up an account in someone else's name and with their bank details.  EDF (electricite de France) were another matter and insisted that the owners do it themselves.  Had to give them instructions on how to do it online

Walked the dog and packed up the two pendants which have just been ordered and somehow the day passed very quickly.  Had very much been looking forward to Kirstie's Handmade Christmas but, in the new format, there was very little going through the process of making things, and more 'competitions' between keen amateurs, making cakes and decorating Christmas trees.  She then made fondue.  Anyone can melt cheese and put in alcohol and I wasn't impressed with the furry stocking she made.  It would not be allowed anywhere near our fireplace - the hazards of being married to an ex insurance man.

Listened to CD 4 of Michel Thomas 'Spanish' course.  He is infuriating, with his insistence on pressing down on syllables.  And you can hear him chewing gum.  I did his French course and have never, in twelve years, had the occasion to use sentences such as I want it but I don't need it.  Must stick with it.  I will never be an agent in Spain, which is delightfully unregulated, if I cant speak Spanish.  I dont have the right to hold a professinal licence in France, despite having done the job for twelve years, because my degree is not in French or something business related, and I have always worked as an independent.  Someone coming fresh out of college with an appropriate degree or having been employed as a salaried agent could apply after three years experience.

Following watching a program on real estate in Ibiza, I have decided that is where I need to be an agent.  No more battling for peanuts.  I need to be selling villas which cost millions. And in a place which is glamorous.  I am looking through the windows at the maize spikes and there are some white cows on the horizon. Signed up to house sitting site.  We need to go and check out the island.  OH will not be keen.  He wants to go to Yorkshire.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Back at the chateau....

Monday 30 November 2015

0 degrees rising to pleasantly sunny

OH's ferry was cancelled last night due to appalling weather.  Roofs were being blown off in the north west of England and by the time he reached Birmingham, the rain was rocking the car.  Brittany Ferries kept on assuring me that there was no problem and the real time ferry information showed boats merrily criss crossing the Channel.  OH rang periodically during the day to say surely the boats weren't running.  I think he was hoping not to have another nightmare crossing.  I must dig out the diary entry I made for that day.  It was very eventful.

The alarm went off when it was pitch black this morning and I had been having a troubled time in my dreams, sorting out a huge ball of wool that had gotten itself into a terrible tangle. Discover that the NZ ladies have sent me an offer on a house in town - the one that reeks of dog pee.  It is dauntingly low.  I will have to wave the magic wand very hard to get this one to materialise.  How can I tell the owners that it is 70k under sale price when the sale price is 170k?  Why on earth do they want all the furniture thrown in?  It needs throwing onto the nearest skip.  Or burning.  Odour makes your eyes water.

It was back to the chateau again, this time with the Australian couple.  The lady had been to see it a while ago.  I think she was hoping that her husband wouldn't like it.  It does have truly terrifying amounts of work to do.  The big scary mushrooms had gone but there were big holes in the wood work where they had been dug out.  Unfortunately for her, he absolutely loved it.  They have a short list of four houses and will pick one and get things underway before he goes back to work in Madagascar.  He has been in the Urals for a year. That will be a bit of a culture shock.  Would love to go to Madagascar.  Imagine tropical forests and exotic birds and palm trees and sand and sparkling blue oceans with foaming white breakers.  And having a half a million euro renovation to supervise from the other side of the World.  Still think this chateau looks like Adams family residence.  Shudder convulsively.

Drive home like maniac in order to have enough time to let the dog out before going to afternoon appointment.  Dog takes the opportunity to run off whilst I am telling OH about my plan to be an estate agent in Ibiza.  He didn't seem as taken with the idea as I would have liked.  He will come around to it.  I have sorted out some Spanish Cd's and will become fluent in one year.  That will be my plan for 2016.  I am just 28 days off having written this blog for a whole year.  The postman tells me where the dog is and I just have time to go and find him, tell him he is bad (he doesn't care) and put him back in the house, before going to a completion.

The buyers are still in the far East and the seller has moved to Brittany so there is just me and the two notaries and they rattle through the sale in 25 minutes, we all sign and I go and insure the house and then back home.  Dog demands to go out.  My back is bad again.  I think I am allergic to that chateau.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sprinkled in fairy dust...

Sunday 29 November 2015

Sunny 15 degrees

Slept til nine thirty which is totally exceptional.  Daylight and sun were streaming through the shutters and hunting horns were sounding in the distance.  Dogs were baying. Men were shouting.  The wild boar hunting season is in full throttle.  Isn't there enough killing in the world?  Can people find nothing better to do on a glorious day other than dressing up in dayglo and chasing animals through the woods?  I sincerely hope they shoot one another.

I have rarely seen the creatures during our 12 year in France.  They are shy and reclusive. But once, as dusk was falling, I drove around a bend in a road.  The forest was dark and deep on either side of the narrow band of tarmac.  Suddenly, there was a movement on the right and a family of boar trotted across the road.  Father in front; massive muzzle and shoulders.  Mum followed and behind her, three piglets, their coats bearing the multicoloured stripes of the very young boar.  

"Wildboar in Anamalai hills" by PJeganathan - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

Wild boar are the ancestors of all domestic pigs and the males can weigh up to 175 kilogrammes.  They have very sharp tusks and are not to be messed with...

I get a call from the US client and he wants to run through the next steps with me so down town and he hands over the set of keys and says what he needs sorting out and I wish him all the best for the return and go and have a hot chocolate to warm up.  The bar is relatively quiet, the cold weather having kept people indoors.  Back home and get dog and walk him around the lake.  Very quiet.  Being a rebel, I walk him in the opposite direction to normal.  Dog is not a rebel and keeps on trying to turn back and go the other way, like an annoying GPS.

Buy some padded envelopes and am delighted to fnd some gold flakes to combine with the feathers in bangles.  On the way out of town, I notice a craft exhibition and go in.  It was three euros and I was feeling this was three euros too much when I came upon a most stunning exhibition of textile jewellery.  The lady is showing a group of interested and envious women how to embroider using her Comely embroidery machine.  Dating from the early part of the 20th century, it is controlled by a handle under the table.  Basically, she embroiders the support for the piece on organza, sews on a rich selection of the most fab stones and crystals and beads, and then backs with firm black tissue.

There was a magazine showing the dresses she had embroidered for Diana, Princess of Wales.  I went over and examined the various pieces.  They were exquisite.  The combination of colours and forms and moods of the pieces was exhilarating.  Some of them you would have needed to go to a State dinner in order to have an occasion smart enough to wear them.  Others would have been good for a night as a flamenco dancer. They were unashamedly and exuberantly extravagant.  They laughed in the face of subtle.  They were like wearable maraschino cherries.  

I felt my mouth watering.  When else would I get to own something made by someone from the house of a grand couturier de Paris - never mind someone who had worked with Diana Spencer.  I found a relatively simple piece - a cross with a large malachite beads, edged in turquoise and blue seed beads and a large murano glass bead.  The outer of the cross was edged in 19th century nacre (mother of pearl).  The lady placed it on a padded black cushion and popped it into an ornate white box.  She gave me some of my money back again, saying she had been touched at how her work had moved me.

I came out and went to Aldi and bought cereal but, just for half an hour, I had seen into another world and had been sprinkled in its fairy dust.  I walked on air for the rest of the day.