Monday, 31 May 2010

One week on

What an awful week, weather wise that is. From stunning, hot days and stuffy evenings and nights we have gone back to winter! It has rained and rained, temperature dropped, and the weeds have grown and the grass is almost knee high again. Our farmer neighbour has said that it will be dry and sunny again in a couple of days. Merci! My knees, elbows and ankles have been 'popping' all the while it has been damp. Will be glad when it is dry again, so much better for me.

Tax forms are all filled and sent to Hotel des Finances. Not too difficult for us at all. I know that there are some who have all sorts of income from different sources and need the advice of accountants etc... I think that we are the only people we know that have a straight forward tax return. It was the same in the UK.

Am getting on with more decorating, slowly the house is taking on a new look. Got to make it acceptable to me let alone a prospective buyer!! When we first came here we concentrated on the getting the B&B half of the house up to scratch and left our own accommodation to be done 'as and when'. Well, 'as and when' is here so that is what I am working on now. I don't mind decorating at all, in fact I find it very therapeutic taking a paint roller to a wall or door. My man has given me 'carte blanche' when it comes to decorating (he even signed a document and was happy to do so!) so colours etc. are all up to me. Slowly but surely, between cleaning, doing bathrooms, changing beds, doing the laundry, ironing, baking, cooking lunch/dinner, sorting tax return, balancing bank statement etc. I am finding time to decorate as well as calling the children and grandchildren, getting in touch with other family members in the UK and friends out here in La Belle France. I do find a little time to check out bookings for the B&B and do my bit for ITA France (Admin) and more genealogy..

I have recently received a copy of David Hockney's book 'Secret Knowledge', what a wonderful book it is. I have always liked Hockney's works and he has been on English television recently and I have made a concerted effort to see the programmes. I find him a refreshing and open person and would dearly love to meet him, whether I will or not is another matter (I find him inspiring). His book is about his research into how the masters were able to create such accurate, almost photographic, pictures. It was with lenses. Caravaggio and others created some absolute masterpieces without preparatory drawings! Me, I sketch away and try to create something that will be appreciated, but they just put it on canvas - incredible. David Hockney wondered how and why they managed to do this and his book is his journey into discovering the how and why. I find the ingenuity used absolutely amazing. For me it is a book to re-read and when I visit museums or galleries I will look closer, just to see.

Yesterday we had some good friends come for lunch, we have not seen them for many, many months. What absolute pleasure it was to see them. I have a couple of favourite recipes that I know will go down well for lunch so they came to the fore. Baked eggs with creamy leeks followed by Moroccan lamb (the last of the mutton) and raspberry brulee for dessert. Food was thoroughly enjoyed, much wine was drunk and a lot of conversation and laughs took place. It was a delightful day! We brought our friends up to date with our news and they brought us up to date with theirs... Very interesting it was too!!

I have been invited to join some other groups - the total now is seven............ I have declined on all.. Am I being a bit of a ?

Maybe I should start a group 'Ex-pats- who don't want to belong to Ex-pat groups' group' - Nuff said!!!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Surviving the dream

What brilliant weather we are having at the moment, it is so very, very warm, this morning 26 degrees celsius in the shade. Too warm for me and it is only May. We are apparently going to have some wet and stormy weather arriving from tomorrow. We will see, although generally Meteo France are pretty accurate.

Hubby is fine, and so is the dog. In fact both are quite calm and happy at the moment, I must be doing something right. The car is now mended. The new tyres are on, the new power steering pump is fixed, all it needs is a bit of valeting! We have been to Puy du Fou and bought our season tickets and we took in one show, will only go during the week, the weekends and Wednesdays will be a bit busy up there I think with youngsters out of school!!

After waiting a couple of weeks to hear from the last estate agent I decided to email him to see whether he would be adding our property to his portfolio. He sent a very nice reply saying that he would not be taking us on. I don't like the fact that he didn't have the courtesy to contact me and let me know that he would not be putting the house on. I feel that it was very rude of him. Don't think I will contact him again.

Obviously I was brought up with better standards than him.. I have found that there are a lot of Britaniques in the area who carry a 'holier than thou' attitude around with them (and a lot of them are professional men). There are a couple of chaps I have met ages ago and both, it appears, were lawyers in the UK. I didn't ask them what they did before coming to La Belle France, they volunteered the information in the course of conversation. When I find people doing that I ignore the 'fact' that they give me as it is of no interest or importance to me. In a social situation I like people for who they are and not what they 'did' or 'do'. There are some really nice people I have met out here, quite a diverse crowd who I am really fond of from all parts of the UK. There are also those that I would not give the time of day to - it would be the same in the UK, you either get on with neighbours or work colleagues or you don't!

I remember being invited, a few years ago, to a young English girls (womans) birthday. I said that I would make her a cake. I did, it was a very nice chocolate and meringue confection that took ages to make and was absolutely delicious. A recent acquaintance at the party said to me "I'm surprised you made her a cake, she is a cook you know." I zipped my lips..Hrrrmph, I had been married x number of years and had been cooking longer than the birthday girl had been around. This person had no idea of my past at all, for all she knew I could have been a cookery teacher/writer etc..... I just smiled and said that it was a pleasure to make Xxxx a cake as I love to make cakes. What is it with the British abroad? I do sometimes wonder....

Mr Saistout moved in next door, he is 'living the dream' with his partner (who we rarely see), growing vegetables, keeping poultry and planting hedges right on the boundary line, not registering his vehicles and they are not working... Early retirees - methinks they will come unstuck in the near future, Mr Sanscolle eventuellement.

There is also Mme Je-sais-tous-les-gens-importants... well - we won't go there. Also Mme Coiffeuse (cash only please) and Mme Estheticienne. These people have all appeared in the last 5 years and feel that they could do me a service.... I don't want it!! It is not what I came here for.

I belong to a couple of associations here, one related to tourism and the other is a ladies group. I don't ask for this but I have recently been invited to join all sorts of 'France' related groups, things like 'Surviving France', 'France - the Dream' etc. etc. I think so far that there have been 5 I've been invited to join in the last couple of weeks. Are these sites set up for and by insecure people? I don't want to get dragged into the 'I'm an anglo ex-pat got to discuss it all with other anglo ex-pats' lifestyle out here, it is not what I came here for.

For us, we are 'surviving' France and we are not 'living the dream'(or the nightmare!) but are living our lives here, enjoying our retirement (when health and car lets us). It is what we came here for. Am I being a bit cynical about the other British living here (in my neighbourhood)?

I have found another immobilier, a French girl, absolutely delightful and she had, again, different ideas to the others. She suggested splitting the entire property up into two lots.... whether it would work or not I don't know. If we do sell the barns as a separate entity God knows what we will do with all the stuff stored in them! Maybe have a 'garage' sale and make a bit extra.. We will see

Friday, 7 May 2010

Hung Parliament

Whenever I hear the expression 'Hung Parliament' I have a mental picture of Members of Parliament strung up in a row by their necks. Am I the only person that sees them thus?

I wrote the first sentence a few days ago. We now have a new government in the UK, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg. It will be interesting to follow their effect over the next few weeks or months.

At last it is all done and dusted. We can all get on with our lives and hope that all works out for the good.

Here we have had rain, thunderstorms, lightning, power cuts, high winds and sunshine, typical weather this time of year. Ha! la Belle France, sunshine all the way - I think not. With the warmth and the wet the veg are growing - so are the weeds!! Extra work in the garden for we two pensioners ho hum. At least my Man is well and coping with it. He did have a little set back but he went to our 'Medecin' and she sorted him out with another large prescription of remedies. Nipped in the bud this time I am glad to say.

Not only has my Man had problems but also Jensen. Poor pup, he has a knack of finding all sorts of rubbish to ingest. He has also been plagued with intestinal worms... Not nice at all. We bought a remedy from the pharmacy, wrong move according to the vet. He went for the 'strong' option and also prescribed some antibiotics, gave him three jabs in his shoulder and also a laxative.... Poor boy! The following day (Saturday) he could barely move. The site of the injections was swollen and hot and had obviously affected his muscles in his shoulder. Sunday though, wow - he was back to normal. He would come up to me and give me a nudge, then he would indicate with a nod of his head to go outside. Then find his ball and drop it at my feet. "come on Mum, give it a kick! Please!!" Yes he is fine now, still has a little swelling in his shoulder but it is not stopping his play. At least if my Man is not well he can tell me so I understand but with a dog it is so difficult.

Car is on the mend at last. It turns out that our local garagiste told my Man that if he swapped the tyres on the front wheels that it would stop the 'wobble' that I have been experiencing. My Man thought that he didn't know what he was talking about. So, after a bit of a heated discussion (known as a row!) today, he changed them over.... Now the car drives without a wobble..... Hmmmmm 'nuff said. There is still work to be done on the car - I will be so glad when it is finished - I have plans!!! watch this space.

Monday, 3 May 2010

We are getting closer and closer to the general election in the UK. Strangely enough I was having a chat with a friend from Mauritius on Saturday evening and she said that the same is happening in her home country. They also follow the 'Westminster' example of government to the letter. I will have a look and see the outcome of their elections as well as the UK's. I wonder what will happen in the UK. So far, from what I have heard and seen, it seems that the Labour party days are outnumbered. I am so sad for the UK, the country I love has changed so much over the last few years... Will it ever be the same, who can tell?

The month of May has started with clouds.... lots of clouds, which are welcome. My man had planted seeds in the potager but did not bother to water them in - I think he was waiting for nature to take over which it has eventually done!! We now have peas showing their first shoots after a few drops of rain - goody, nothing like fresh garden peas. Love them!!

Am going to get underway with further decorating in the house, it really needs to be done. The last time it was decorated must have been 7 years ago and there is a lot of it to do, thank heavens for Magnolia paint!! There is so much to do but I would rather be putting paint on canvas or board rather than walls and ceilings. I have so many ideas flowing through my mind and would like to concentrate on those ideas than the reality of life. Ho hum..... maybe later.

Garden is looking pretty reasonable. Bulbs have finished and now seeds and the perennials are making their mark. Boy does the grass grow quickly, just finished mowing and it has grown another half an inch! Such a time consuming chore but it has to be done otherwise we are waist hight in grass in no time at all. I have had to cut back really hard some shrubs that were affected by the long cold winter but they are now throwing out new shoots and coming on very well. Clematis are fine but one has to go as it is truly dead in spite of all efforts to get it going again! Will have to find a temporary replacement, maybe a canary creeper to take up the space. I have a small pomegranate shrub that I grew from seed in a pot, it looks as though I might have lost that as well. I keep having a look as it shows its leaves later than other plants, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Saturday, 1 May 2010


Had an estate agent visit last week. He was recommended by someone in the village who sold through him at the end of last year. I had heard of him as having a good reputation and as one who sources houses for buyers, not buyers for houses, so we thought we would try him out.

What a strange visit I must say, well, compared to the last two agents that I had look at our home - but then - we are all different and have our own ways.

He arrived at the time he stated after lunch. We explained our situation and the reasons for selling. He then asked for proof of ownership of the property. I had already found the 'house file' and had it at the ready. He checked the documents, remarking on the number of the 'sellers' children and lack of their signatures on the papers. We explained that they were represented by the original selling agents.... OK! I then told him that we had made other 'purchases' and also some 'sales' regarding the land. Out comes folder no 2, then no 3 and then no 4 and 5. And so he sits and calculates the amount of land. Lots of pluses some minuses and voila - a grand total. This took absolutely ages because after the 1st addition of land and then the 1st little sale of land the numbers changed. By the end of this mathematical exercise he did not really know where he was.

He then took a look at the house and also the partly completed one next door. He again seems to have got confused. We carefully explained the situation with the house next door and he seemed to think that it was to be finished and let as a holiday home. 'So how much income do you generate from the gite?' he said. 'What?' we said. 'It is a house.' 'But as a gite how much?' I just picked a figure out of the air and gave it to him. 'I know of people selling their gite properties with incomes in excess of £50,000 per year. What!! was our 'mental' response. We said hmmmm. and left it at that. He took a few photos and then left saying he would get in touch. He didn't even go and have a look at our barns...

The first agent that came to us was a bubbly French woman. She knew her stuff and enthused all the time. She is confident for us and also said that she can check with the Cadastre plans to check our land measurements.

The second agent was an English representative of a French firm. He was fine and could also see the potential of what is here. He also said he could check with the Cadastre plans as well.

So what was with no 3 then???

Nowt so queer as folk.

Pic above is the river....