Am I the only one who finds Mary Berry creepy?

Monday 22 June 2015

Hot 26 degrees

OH still asleep after ten hour return drive yesterday so got up and got on with the things on the list.  Dog had scrabbled off lots of the plaster from the wall under the table so swept up the shavings and debris and hid them in the bin.  Dogs of his race are obsessive and highly strung and once they get it into their heads that they are going to do something, all the encouragement, followed by shouting and threatened beatings, will not change their mind. Dog has taken into his head to destroy the plaster walls, just occasionally, and usually before a visit by clients, relatives or friends.  OH is just about as good as plastering as I am at icing.

Nibble at a bit of yesterday’s less than successful lemon meringue pie.  Mary Berry, someone with the smile of Snow White’s mother, and a cook since the dawn of time was on the telly, intimidating her adorable grandchildren and wearing her customary storm trooper hairdo.  Nothing can persuade me that she is a nice, kind granny.  She showed how to make a lemon meringue pie using a biscuit crust base and topped with a filling made with condensed milk.  See Saturday last’s post for the fun I had finding that in the supermarket. She combined the condensed milk with three egg yolks and the juice and zest of two lemons and then whisked lightly and it all combined into a relatively glutinous mass which then set in the fridge and was topped by delightfully thick and glossy meringue.  How difficult can that be?

First off, the French condensed milk was very runny.  I had the three egg yolks and then put in the juice of one lemon.  I couldn’t find the zester, mysteriously disappeared from the cutlery drawers, so didn’t bother with that.  The mix did magically thicken but then it didn’t taste very lemony so I put in the juice of half a grapefruit and then the mix was nowhere near as thick and, despite being in the fridge many hours, was not going to support the weight of the meringue.  I decided to bake it, hoping the eggs would set the mix, and served it with an apricot compote.  OH didn’t realise that he was eating LMP gone wrong and was very happy with the result.

Went down town and hung around in a dentist’s office and got her to sign the paperwork to drop the price of her house and then went to see another client to get the energy report on his property.  Without this report (like the sticker you get when you buy a fridge, showing energy rating from A – E) I am now allowed to put the house on market.  There is a shop on the ground floor and I didn’t realise the person behind the till was the owner and he didn’t know who I was either and the upshot was that he had no idea where the paperwork was so I have to come back tomorrow.

Back home and ran through the various buyers.  One Frenchman who needs to buy in the next two months but is very fussy.  One guy from Stockport who seems a brilliant runner. One man who is not answering the phone.  One lady on Friday who is looking for a chateau but doesn’t really have enough cash.  Must find something for the Frenchman – he thought I was my colleague which means he is in contact with her too.  Sent over some offers and he rejected all of them.

Speak to our buyers and they say they are coming down to sign on the flat on the 3 July and can we do it at my notaries.  Well, at least it will be done.  OH is not happy and says he will have to go and paint over the brown stains on the balcony.  I will have to clean up the pigeon crap and I am not thrilled at the thought of that.  Last time I was there, the pigeons had laid some tiny eggs in a nest at the far end of the balcony and tiny ‘cheeps’ were coming out of the delicate structure.

OH makes me ring up clients from 7 onwards.  I hate ringing people at night when I am tired.  One of them is a real weirdo.  I have spent an age ringing and emailing him and finally get through tonight and he says he was out last week with one of my colleagues (nothing registered on the system) and has found a lovely house but doesn’t know whether he is going to buy it.  Well, at least he has been wasting someone else’s time and not mine. Registered him for currency.

Six months already…

20 June 2015

Six months ago I was mad, bad and desperate.  I was losing days and weeks and obsessed by work.  I started this blog to track time and to appreciate the minutiae of each day and think of beauty and laughing.  At the end of six months, I am in a better place in my head. The work demon is back in its box.  I am still in the same place physically and itch to move on.  I am in the same place as me, still doing what is not me, which I have spent all of my adult life doing.

This is what I wrote on the 20 December 2014

There is a picture doing the rounds of FB with the words ‘if you aren’t happy with what you have got, how can you be happy with more ?’  True, I am not happy with what I have got – with the shite work, money worries, the bastard clients, the crap that circles around my head.  I need a change of reality.  I need to leave normal.  2015 is looming and I must do something different if I want this year not to be a repeat of the last eight years.

OK what do I want – lets focus on the positive

1.  Spend six months over winter in Paris in somewhere good with views of the Eiffel Tower and paint.

2.  Spend six months over summer in Provence and paint in all the places that the romantic painters painted.

3.  Do Strictly Come Dancing

4.  Make Angels and become well known for Angel making like Little A Designs and Mr Finch.

5.  Sell all properties in bastard, bastard town where I live (I have probably sold one of them)

6.  Build grand designs property overlooking the South Coast of England.

7.  WF gets job which makes him happy and they both get decent caring girlfriends.

8.  End the year knowing I am on the right road.

Positive things about this year

1.  Have done level 2 reiki

2.  Link up with other agency means I wont be alone

3.  FB group going great guns – could it be Andorran version of the WI

4.  Have actually lost over a stone by giving up dairy and bread

5.  Apparently have had a lot of weeks away and have forgotten virtually all of them because have spent so much time stressing about work.  I take pictures on iPhone which faithfully records where I have been and when.  Completely forgot about Cordoba and Seville.   Heat was murderous and choosing to go to a spa (hot salt pool) and drink Turkish tea was unfortunate.  Combination of excessive wine, snoring disturbed sleep and over tapa-ing usually leaves me longing to get into my own cool bed and sleep twelve hours.

6.  I have got to the end of this year in one piece and avoided nervous breakdown.

Football blasting through the floor of my bedroom which is also ceiling of the front room.  Battery on laptop about to run out.  Not feeling inspired.  Here endeth Day 1 of 365 days which will be different.  Normal will be eradicated.  Leaving launched.

No, we definitely do not sell that….

Saturday 20 June 2015

Hot 26 degrees
National Fête de la Musique day

All over France, today is the day when each commune hosts live music.  Brilliant idea.  We only tend to go when we have visitors.  I am so short sighted that I hate driving at night now. I have real trouble seeing where I am going and need full beam.

Woke up so early that I had time to load a very large property, write, answer emails and do and lose a to do list before going out to find jewellery findings, parcel tags and walk the dog. The crystal shop sold me some bails to glue to the resin pendants but I came up with a blank at the Post Office.  I asked for the parcel tags as etiquettes and as tags.  Finally I drew the shape on a piece of paper.  ‘What do you want those for’ barked the man behind the counter ‘for putting on parcels’ I said.  I didn’t mention craft because he would have just shown me the door.  ‘We aren’t transporters’ ‘Why would we have items like parcel tags?’. Because you are the sodding Post Office?  Walked dog along the railway track and there were many dogs and joggers and dog had a lovely time sniffing and peeing on things.

Back in the car, I attempted to find the items for a lovely lemon meringue pie which I had seen Mary Berry constructing on telly last night.  The base is biscuit and butter pressed into the base of a pie dish and the top is condensed milk with lemon and egg yolks.  Top with meringue et voilà!  Texted a cooking friend to ask what condensed milk was in French ‘lait condensé was the quick response.  Less rapid was the attempt to find it in the supermarket. The staff flatly denied the existence of condensed milk.  Never heard of it.  Never used it. Definitely dint stock it.  I finally found it next to the UHT milk.  French don’t drink a lot of fresh milk – they have the UHT which is rich and creamy.  I stopped drinking cow’s milk some time ago now.  Cows milk is for cows.  I love rice milk but recently it is becoming more and more difficult to find.  Almond milk is thick and separates in tea.  Soya is bad for my thyroid.  The other milks are cereal based.

Next challenge was to find the equivalent of digestive biscuits.  There were biscottes and galettes and petit sablés.  A myriad of biscuits – breakfast ones and midday ones and savoury ones and teatime ones and aperitif ones.  We don’t eat biscuits.  I started feeling manic and texted my friend again.  She said to use galettes or biscottes.  Thank God the staff were ready to admit the existence of lemons and I found them immediately.  They are called citrons.  Limes are calledcitrons verts…..

Dropped dog off, quick lunch and then to get a mandate signed by a couple who live in a lovely contemporary home with pool.  The lady was ironing and stopped to make me a coffee.  She says she is starting to feel desperate.  Their home has been on the market for over two and a half years now.  It is a lovely house but not in my town, which is very popular, and unusually has no views.  Left with the mandate.  I don’t think any Brit would buy their house because Brits have a dream of a french house and this isn’t it.

Went to neighbouring town on advice of texting cooking friend who said I needed to check out Actuel Bureau.  I have driven past this place, a prefab cube on the outskirts of town, for the past eight years.  Actuel Bureau says to me, boring office stuff, desks and printers, and shredding machines.  It is a haven of crafting – not as big as Cultura but definitely bigger than Truffaut.  I said to the woman why on earth doesn’t she indicate on the signage that she sells craft stuff – like the neighbouring cube which is garishly decorated with dancing crafting people.  I said I am a passionate crafter whose custom she has missed out on for eight years.  How many other people have no idea what she sells.  ‘Oh I know, she signed ‘I must change the signage’.  I bet you a penny to a pound she doesn’t.  I enquired if she does courses – once a year and I have missed it.  Do these people have no idea how to run a business????  Found the parcel tags and a lovely heart shaped punch.

Came back and turned out the resin pieces and all but one had formed perfectly.  They are little pieces of still life encased in shining medium.  Delighted with them.  Still slightly sticky. Wonder if this is correct.  Seed buttons are gorgeous.

Knitted a clanger.  Eyes crossing with effort of doing mattress stitch which is like weaving together the end seams.

What is French for customer service?

Cloudy with showers 23 degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On a flight of fantasy?

Thursday 13 June 2015

Cloudy with torrential rain later
23 degrees

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

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

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

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

‘Whose money was it?’

‘Well, it was in my bank so it was my money’

‘Where did it come from?’

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

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

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

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

‘Well I am going for a little cig’

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

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

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

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

I will never eat foie gras

Overcast and fresh 25 degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am wound up

Monday 8 June 2015

Hot – 32 degrees with thunder later

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

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

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

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

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

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

Splurging is good!

Sunday 7 June 2015

Very hot 31 degrees

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

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

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

600 pound course for 19 pounds! E careers course online

Have also ordered the following book from Amazon

Carrie Schmidt – Painted Blossoms book

which looks like the sort of painting I can do.

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

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

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

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

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

Dark clouds and a sudden bolt of lightning

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Overcast 24 degrees

Spent morning loading a property and chasing people on the phone and by email.  Took dog for a walk and found a house which I used to have for sale – bought by Russians not long ago.  Wonder if they have not fitted in?  Took a photo of the house and their name and address for reference – found them in the phone book so will ring tomorrow.

Came back and had lunch.  Must stop eating bread, feel bloated.

Got email from yesterday’s people saying they had changed their mind, dont want to revisit and will come back with their son later in the year to consider buying at that time.

At six pm a bombshell via Skype – the American lady’s husband has filed for divorce.  A month ago they were over here, signing papers.  They had found a buyer for their house and all was en route.  Now, dreadfully, it has all unravelled completely.  What a terrible, terrible mess.  Tomorrow I will have to tell the seller.

Real estate is a symphony of tragedy, in many movements.

Resumé 2015 so far

25 degrees overcast and ‘heavy’

The French sigh and blow out their cheeks in weather like this.  They say it is ‘lourd’ or heavy.  The stickiness and heat make you feel tired and lethargic.  Duvets feel too heavy and when you open the bedroom windows in the morning, hot and bored flies come into the room in search of a cooler corner.  They spend the day dancing around the lampshade and covering the surfaces of the bulbs and mirrors in Morse code.  They leave a lot of messages in particular on the window sills and even wiping it off leaves a yellow residue.

OH blows out his cheeks and says he needs to paint.  He doesn’t feel up to painting so he decides to concrete some pots onto the posts in the garden.  Last year they all blew off in a high wind and I dumped the broken lilies on the border at the side where, to my surprise, they took root and are about to flower with their feet safely in the ground.  He spends about an hour and fixes the pots in place and it is so hot that the concrete dries to sand and the pots now have a rim of friable material which, fortunately brushes off.

We do some emails and run through tasks and have lunch.  OH says he needs five minutes – he has a headache – and goes to bed for nearly two hours.  He looks glassy eyed when he gets up.  I go to colleague’s house to pick up some keys.  Her husband is an artisan and she has a garden full of broken tiles and a play house which is lurching over at a 30 degree angle.  It makes me laugh every time I see it.  It looks like an abandoned dog house where the dog had some effort to pull himself free.  We have a cup of tea and I recount the story of the imploding US sale.  She has been busy bringing on mandates and now has over 110 properties.  She is overtaking me on our website.  I need to get my act in gear.  Back home and walk the dog and don’t feel brilliant myself.

Other colleague rings up and says that client who blew him out this morning now wants to see a house which we both know and can I show it for them tomorrow?  Fortunately my planned visits are in the afternoon.  I have one client whose name sounds like sicky and another one called puker.  Hope this is not an omen.

Read a comment on my blog saying they love my style but find events hard to keep up with. Time for a run through?

1.  Dead as dodo – AA/SC – showed this house New Years day – AA people made an offer and then withdrew.  Didn’t hear any more until March when the seller SC rang to say that AA had come back in with very low offer after seeing the house on a private seller site. Seller asked me to contact them.  AA informed me that as they had ‘negotiated’ the sale themselves, my fees should be 50%.  I informed them that they had tried to cut me out and the seller was too honest to play their game.  (Once I show a property to a prospective buyer, they are no longer permitted to buy that house privately).  A couple of weeks went by and AA then came back and said they would go via me and we were in the middle of wrangling over fees when another agent came onto the scene.  SC had forgotten that she had arranged a private visit and LB came to the house with her sister.  No sellers at the house so LB and her sister went into town and got another agent to come out with the keys.  LB made an offer which SC accepted and went in and signed the offer document.  AA went nuts and offered more money to SC who then tried to renege on the deal with LB.  LB threatened to take her to Tribunal as did AA.  Went on until mid May when suddenly AA backed out.  She is now over in mid June and OH is very keen that I have nothing to do with her as he thinks she is duplicitous bastard.

2.  Madmen – the Russians who drove over to see the llama farm over 1.5 hours away from where I live.  How often do you get a llama farm with gites?  Not very often, which is why I took it on.  The Russians loved it.  They drove home and rang me up and made a full price cash offer.  We thought it was Christmas in March.  They drove back again for the compromis.  They asked for three weeks to pay the deposit.  Everyone went away very happy.  A week went by.  No one was worried.  Two weeks went by and I went with OH to Spain for a holiday.  The sellers rang me incessantly and went nuts.  I rang the buyers and they said there were no worries but there had been a little delay.  I tried to reassure the sellers who then started talking about pulling out of the deal.  It transpired that the ‘big amount of money’ arriving by the end of May just didn’t exist.  The Russians had no money at all, the compromis became null and void and they never did want to tell me where the money was coming from or when it would arrive.  Meanwhile, another couple who had just missed out on the property came back in.  They were thrilled with the second bite at the cherry but not so thrilled as to make a decent offer.  They made a lower offer which at first the sellers accepted and then later backed out themselves and said they didn’t want to sell any more. Well, not for a couple of years.  My buyers were distraught and said they would wait for as long as it takes.  They did not up their offer.

3.  ST/PSC – English couple.  French sellers.  Compromis signed before they went home, deposit received, coasting smoothly to Acte end July.

4.  MD/KC – these are NZ ladies who came over on boiling hot weekend in April.  They made an initial offer on a house where it transpired that the owner had not paid attention when he signed the mandate and wasn’t in fact selling the two flats with the house: the price was for the house alone.  He said he had a better offer for the house and flats and wouldn’t sign mine, even though it was the full price of the mandate, where officially we should have been able to force the sale or ask for fees.  I left a copy of the signed offer with him.  Big mistake – I wont be doing that again.  I was running around with ST/PSC so left the ladies with OH who took them to see the lovely Villa and they also loved this one.  They then made an offer on the Villa which was accepted and signed the offer letter.  To my amazement, and horror, the owner of the first property came back, announced that his various other better offers were all dependent on large amounts of financing, and therefore he would accept the ladies offer, providing we took a huge hit on commission.  I told him that they had moved on and were buying something else and he showed my offer letter to his advocate and tried to force the ladies to buy his house. Fortunately, the offer letter was so incomplete that it was not valid as a legal document. One of the owners of the Villa died.  The notary took forever to complete the paperwork.  The ladies came back when it was cold and wet and insisted on having quotes before signing the compromis.  I drafted in AW who is an excellent builder and they felt reassured by his confidence and assurance that the work was mostly cosmetic.  There were termites but very localised.  Compromis signed last week and Acte for end of July.  Have started to breath again on this one.

5. YMR/MD – MD came over when we were on holiday so I asked SF to show the house and the couple made an offer and we have only just managed to extract the draft compromis out of the sellers notary.  Very rude etude on the coast.  A few modifications to make but that is all.  Compromis set for 16 June.

6. me and OH/LPMR – when oh when will the draft compromis be drawn up on the sale of our big rental unit.  LPMR went to see their notary three weeks ago and they have only just sent over the buyer details to my notary.  She is now beavering to produce the document for this week.  Am very keen to get this signed and the loan agreement accord received and then we will know definitively that it is sold.

7. About to implode spectacularly.  LM/PB.  LM is on her camino ( path ) a keen and dedicated pilgrim and very active Catholic, she blew into our local town from an easterly tip of the States last August.  I showed her a number of houses but only one fitted the bill.  A quirky property, full of staircases and rooms, built into the walls of the town.  A hidden courtyard, a rooftop terrace, a long garden, a deck.  A house that scared the crap out of the French clients I took to it.  LM loved it at once and made a low offer.  The seller lives in the Middle East and we had some difficulty catching up with one another.  An agreement was thrashed out.  LM had a guy check out the heating and electrics and plumbing.  It transpired that the boiler was 35 years old and didn’t turn on – not what I had been told by the seller’s mother who lived in an uneasy upstairs/downstairs relationship with her husband; who hates his drinking, smoking and volatile behaviour. (she lives upstairs, he lives downstairs).  The house smells of dogs and fags and the kitchen ceiling is yellow like a Pub Snug bar.  I was amazed when LM offered on it.  She wasn’t even put off by the neighbours, most of whom are unemployed and spend the time hanging around, letting their kids run off, and smoking.

There was a lot of very tedious wrangling over non disclosure of various faults by the seller’s mother and the complete refusal of the seller to communicate directly.  Finally, a deal was struck and the compromis was signed on 17 December.  The seller’s mother then went off to NZ to stay with her daughter and if I wanted to go into the house I had to ring around all the bars in town to track down the seller’s father.  He never answered the house phone and sometimes in the bars he would answer and sometimes he would just run out of the bar.

LM had to sell her house in the States in order to purchase here.  In March the snows started – metres of the stuff.  The town was immobilised – in fact most of the State was immobilised.  It went on for weeks; her roof and driveway were damaged and it was too dangerous for people to visit the house.  March turned into April.  No sale.  April turned into May and LM decided to take on a big agency and they brought a buyer and the house was sold last week.  Last Thursday to be exact.  It was on walking out of the signing of the house that LM’s husband suddenly announced that he didn’t want to sell their house, he didn’t want to buy in France, in fact he didn’t want anything to do with France and if LM left, their ten year old son would be staying with him in the USA.  This burst like an evil, smelly bomb last week.  At the same time, the seller had informed me, in a very tetchy email full of upper case threats and exclamation marks, that if LM didn’t sign on the due date of 30 June, it would be the Tribunal for them.

Yesterday morning, LM said that her husband might refinance the house and give her the money.  At lunchtime she wrote and said that she wished the seller’s mother could know that it will not happen on 30 June.  In the evening she said she wanted the sale to go onto the end but it was a long shot and her husband was being unreasonable on all fronts.  The seller still knows nothing.  His mother has taken a flat nearby and is moving the stuff out for the end of June.  As soon as I let them know things are about to fold, things will get very nasty, very quickly.  We need a miracle on this one.

8.  Signed and relief that I will never have to see these people again.  AR/SDH.  AR came over with her French husband at about this time last year.  I showed them a number of properties, including one in a lovely village with Chateau and river.  It was on the top end of their budget but didn’t really fit their criteria as, at that point, they were buying with the lady’s sister.  They left, made an offer on a town centre property in our town and I really ground my teeth because I also had that property and hadn’t thought to show it.  The sister then backed out of the deal and AR could no longer afford the house.  I rang them up to see how they had gotten along and she updated me and said that they had really loved the village house but it was too expensive.  I said I would get them a deal for the price they could afford, negotiated it with the owner who was thrilled and delighted, but had just let the house for nine months.  AR refused to buy before the tenants were out.  As it turned out, they left before Christmas because they said the house was like a freezer.  The buyers started going on about the septic tank, which couldn’t be found, and I went around with a technician to get a quote.  The house interior was in poor repair and, alarmingly, there were big cracks in the kitchen.  It took some arm wrestling to get the seller to sort them out and redecorate.  We signed on this one in January.  Since, I don’t think the buyers have passed a month without going in to see the notary and complain about something or other.  The notary says they are frightful.  The latest thing they have is that she has stolen a stone trough from the garden. This was never on the list.  So glad I wont have to see the husband again, although the wife is charming.  But not as glad not to see as no. 9

9.  AM/DB.  I thought DB would push me over the edge.  For the first time in my career, I walked out of a notaire’s office, slamming the door behind me, and burst into tears.  I passed it over to the business manager who confirmed my estimation of this particular buyer’s character.  AB – absolute bastard.  DB came over in the middle of the year and was accompanied by his wife and small child.  They came to see a house which had  been for sale for over ten years.  Overlooking the river and with a huge terrace and medieval arches, the location was superb.  Inside was a war zone where the owner had been doing DIY for 15 years.  It was a total and absolute mess.  The small child attempted to throw himself over the edge of the terrace and plunge down the vertiginous slope to the river pounding along, far below.  Negotiations were very, very long.  About five months.  DB argued down to the price of the mats in the hallways.  I developed palpitations and a twitch in my eye.  I rang the agency and asked for help which is how the business manager got involved.  He finally thrashed out the deal whilst I had a week in my garden to calm my nerves and get some sleep.  The day of the compromis arrived and it was at this moment that the seller chose to announce that either I could reduce fees by 20% or he was walking out.  I was forced to agree and it was at this point that I left, doorslamming, and tearful.  I never, ever want to see any of these people again.