Sunday, February 28, 2016


Friday 26 February 2016

Sunny and cool  14 degrees

After the torrential downpours of the week, and the persistent odour of damp dog, the day dawned cool and clear and for the first time this week, I was awoken by birdsong.  The sweet notes of a blackbird and chirruping sparrows accompanied the thin ray of sunshine piercing the darkness of my room.  In Summer, I never close the shutters but Winter always.

OH went down to the new rental unit to carry on with the endless small finishing off jobs and I looked at the kitchen.  It was the most terrible mess.  We had had words this morning.  OH refuses to have a cleaner but does not cleaning and is very, very messy.  He had agreed to hoover this afternoon.  I spent three hours cleaning and putting stuff away and then made a lemon and marscapone tart. 

OH arrived back and said most of the lights we had were not suitable for the walls and he would need to go to Ikea.  He then started on the 'have you done'ing.  Had I rung the clients on the list, had I rung the plumber, had I made the doctor's appointments.  He did not notice the gleaming kitchen, or the cake baking in the oven, and he dumped loads of stuff on top of the newly cleaned Godin (French version of an Aga).  We had more words.  He said why didn't I ring them now and I said I was getting some lunch, a shower, preparing paperwork for this afternoon and then I was going out to WORK.  I also said that if he wasn't so bloody useless at French, despite being over here 12 years, he would be able to ring them himself.  He said he couldnt manage over the phone, but in reality he cant manage face to face either.

We have an appointment at the podologue this week.  OH went on his own last time because the woman said she spoke English.  When I rang to make the appointment for this week, the doctor insisted I also attended the appointment. She said that OH had understood strictement rien and had spoken to her in some kind of English which she hadn't understood. OH had been speaking to her in his version of French which is strictement verb free and with a strong Lancashire accent.  He is currently learning Spanish and so throws in some Spanish words for good measure.  He doesn't pronounce those correctly either. He is verb free in Spanish also.  Interestingly, when we are in Spain, he throws in French words...

I headed out into the bright afternoon and the mountains were glorious and capped with the most perfect Royal icing.  The village in which I was meeting the clients is small and is a medieval walled city.  From the battlements, there is a plunging drop to the river and a horizon filled with glittering mountain tops.  I was early and stopped to admire the view.  There were two English couples chatting animatedly and I went over to discover if they were my clients.

The jolly couple had, unfortunately, already bought.  I liked the look of them. Unfortunately, I had drawn the other couple who were almost too posh to speak.  The woman had sheaves of paper and the man looked bored.  I drove them up to the first house and they didnt like it so we were there about five minutes.  We then went to a house in a village, one which I show regularly. They didnt like that one either.  Poor Russell, I do wish someone would buy his house.  I must have shown in about 40 times over the years I have had it.  No one likes the village and the house is strangely organised with bedrooms and bathroom directly off the kitchen and a loo in the living room.  I have only had one offer in seven years and it was 40% below the newly dropped asking price.

Finally, we went to a house which I had suggested and they warmed up rather as we went around the garden.  The owner was in the dining room, her clothing bristling with pins, and in the middle of a knotty upholstery problem.  Her springs were misbehaving and the horsehair made her itch.  The woman client asked about the drainage system and did it conform to modern standards.  It is mains drainage, said the vendor.  Yes, said the woman client, but does it conform?  The vendor's eyes narrowed.  She is from the Dont Take Fool's Lightly school.  It is MAINS DRAINAGE she repeated, eyes narrowed and eyebrows raised.  Hmmph said the woman client.  They traipsed around and then disappeared to torture another local agent.  They are looking at houses all over France and will, no doubt, be annoying people over a wide area of the country.

I said goodbye to them and went back to thank the owners for letting me show the house today.  The vendor looked dispirited, even when I said that the clients had not objected to the fact that there were adjoined houses and no shops in the village.  I know we will never sell this house.  They will carry me out of here in a box ...  she said glumly.  Basically, it is not a problem with the house.  It is delightful and has a beautiful garden.  The problem is the village.  It is no where in particular and is on the route for a lot of lorries.

I left and went to see my lovely friend Rose who bought a couple of years ago and is in a neighbouring village.  We sat outside and enjoyed tea and chat and then the sky darkened so we went inside and looked at her button collection and then it was time for home and OH had cooked.

Rain hammered on the roof all night and I could hear the river rushing along our boundary.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Monday 22 February 2016

Sunny 12 degrees

Yesterday was a warm and sunny day and we had gone out to start to tackle the great green beast which wraps around our 1852 stone farm house.  The grass was bristling with new growth, buds are appearing on the trees and there are some totally confused Midwife toads which have started their evening chorus three months earlier than normal.

The brambles are a knotted mass in the slimy remains of last year's canna lilies and there are grass and dandelion everywhere in the long main borders.  I used to love my garden but now it just makes my heart sink when I think of how much work it will take just to get it in shape for the season.  Fortunately the weather was good in December so I am well ahead of where I am normally at this time of year.  OH played pick up sticks on the lawn and I hacked at the roses and pulled out dead stuff.  He then came over and manhandled the brambles out of their knots.  Made good progress.

Today it was Monday again.  I was not in the mood for it.  9.01 the phone rang which could only be my Austrian seller of the scary chateau with the massive renovations.  He asked if I was well and I had to lie.  He said he had something to tell me which was not altogether good news.  

The chateau, built originally in the 15th century, has belonged to the King, the church, assorted wealthy individuals and then, as is often the case, was bought by a foreign buyer who loved and renovated it and lived in it for many years.  It sits at the end of a now badly rutted driveway.  Massive stone columns guard the now gateless entrance and then the  chateau reveals itself; massive and statuesque.  There are three owners - the mother - the doyenne - who is now unhappily ensconced in a flat in Austria, the younger brother who lives in Austria and the elder brother who lives locally.

It transpires 'the not altogether good news' is that the elder brother has already put the kibosh on a couple of sales, by refusing to sign any of the paperwork or give his agreement to any previous offer.  Now they tell me.  He then follows up by saying that if the EB decides to be awkward again, he and his mother will go down the legal route.  As 66% shareholders, they can force the sale.  But this may very well put off the buyers as they may be reluctant to be involved in a long and protracted purchase.  Oh bugger.

Every year, I have an epic battle on at least one of my dossiers.  Here is this year's one, presenting itself nice and early so it can torture me over a lovely long extended period.  The difficult brother has asked for yet another week to make up his mind about whether or not to accept the latest offer.  My buyers cant come over until the beginning of April, so that is good as it gives the EB time to think that he is not being pushed.  We have yet to sign any written offer.  OH thinks I should get the buyers to sign what they offered originally and then at least we would have a starting point.

On the good side, I always have one sale which is plain sailing.  The rest involve average amounts of wrangling.

Miss Tea's purchase is proceeding smoothly.  Mr Wearing is planning on coming back over within the next month.  Mr Chips and Mrs Chips to be are back in the US and want to come back and see the chateau when the awful locataires have moved themselves and their junk out and into their new house.

Went out in afternoon to see a house which didnt look too inspiring from the outside - plain facade and rather Soviet looking grey tiles everywhere.  It was at the end of a very very long country lane.  The GPS had no idea where it was so I was running on plain faith.  Miraculously, the house appeared at the end of a woodland dell and what a joy it was.  The couple, from Monaco, had taken an uninspiring 1950's house and made her beautiful.  We drank coffee from delicate Limoges china and were warmed by the sun flowing freely through the large patio windows.  The garden was extensive and full of beautiful old trees and massive stands of bamboo.  On the top of the bank a plateau of land and there the swimming pool with wide views of the surrounding woodland.

Drove home feeling good.

Friday, February 19, 2016


Thursday 18 February 2016

Sunny and cold with early rain showers
11 degrees

I seem to be emitting more clock confusing electricity than normal because neither of my alarms are working now.  My iPhone winds down altogether if I leave it switched on and the alarm on that doesn't work unless it is switched on. OH has nabbed my old and trusty Blackberry with which I had an affinity and never failed to play The Entertainer at the requested hour.  In any event, I opened my eyes and it was 9.15 and I had to run and bring tea to OH, cram in some cereal and put lots of buttons into my capacious handbag and down town.

Two ladies from the Craft group were already on the market and examining the stalls.  We enjoyed looking at the frippery and then to the crowded coffee bar to get to know one another and catch up on news.  They bought gratifying large numbers of my buttons which cheered me up no end because despite posting new items regularly on Etsy, tweeting and pinning and putting on other groups, sales are very slow.  My items are not expensive.  My photos are decent.  My stock is interesting.  So why are other people selling hand over fist and every day of the week?  Some more sales would cheer me up.  As for house sales, I am used to them being periodic (or non existent).

All too soon it was time to go and meet the young teacher couple who bought in a village south of our town.  They came in July of last year, when the sun was glorious and the 17th century house looked cool and welcoming and the garden was well ordered.  The owner moved out in November and I think we were all wondering what it was going to look like inside and out.  They were in the garden which, surprisingly, hadn't grown a lot over the winter.  I gave them the keys and switched on the water and electricity for them and we looked over the house and miraculously, it had not sprouted mold or damp and there was no water infiltration.  It is probably not well insulated enough to be damp....  The couple looked much relieved and gave me a box of Lindt and the most heart warming note of appreciation.  The electrician then arrived and we went around and he said he would do a quote and then we all said goodbye and they would be back in July, during which time the garden alas will have become a jungle...

Back to our town and because it is France and nearly 2 pm, there is no where to have anything to eat.  I settle for a hot chocolate and a chat with the delightful Mme E from the central bar.  They are putting their house back on the market when, and if, the English builder who is always drinking in their bar ever finishes the work.  OH suggested they are paying him in beer...

Then to do an estimation.  One of the benefits of being self employed is that I am not sitting in an office, doing permanences and obliged to take on the properties of people who come in through the door.  The GPS is confused and I drive up and down the road.  The owner of the property had said it was 1.5 kms back from the busy route nationale and on the right hand side.  I finally find it and it is barely 200m back and on the left.  Still, it doesnt look TOO bad from the outside.  A man comes out from a side door.  He has a badly broken nose and a very scarred face and is difficult to understand.  Not a local.  Lives alone. He lives alone in a place which would delight a set hunter on a Hardy novel.  I am there barely ten minutes.  No heating and cold as the grave.  Planks nailed to the walls.  The neighbouring farmer has the right to drive through the garden.  Part of the garden belongs to the neighbour.  I run away as soon as I politely can and go home and make fire.  Our house is not a Palace but at least it is edging into the 21st century in terms of comfort.

Make a strange chicken dish which the internet site claims is wonderful.  OH not impressed.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Thursday 11 February 2016

A little sun and blue sky!  11 degrees

Mr Chips says he doesn't believe the sun actually shines in our part of the world. He is however, thrilled with his little town house and they have been busy shopping in the local brocantes* and trocs**.

We roll south and the Pyrenees come out on parade, crisp with a new blanket of white snow and we find the chateau at once, largely because I stop OH driving up the wrong roads.  He did show this property when I was in the UK last year. He couldn't get in because the owners were out, so he left the client at the property to go and get the keys from the agent in town (a woman who shares my husband's ability to speak another language in an almost unrecognisable form) and then he couldn't find the property again.  I was in a quilt making class with my cousin and he rang me up and I had to tell him to calm down, put the address into the gps on his phone, go back and get the client and ask the father who has Alzheimer's to let them in.  And good luck.  Sometimes the father is living in this world and sometimes in his own.  And then I switched my phone off.  I was having enough trouble sewing in a straight line...

I had made an appointment and emailed both renters and copied in the owner and spoken on the phone to the woman renter, so I was fairly confident we would get in.  The skies were dark when we arrived, and rain was hissing down on the gravel.  I noticed some broken glass in the basement windows and no doubt the clients did too.

The man renter let us in and then went back to his computer.  OH had spent many hours here with the other client, so I let him lead the visit.  He went rather speedily so I took over.  The problem with showing a large and complicated property is that you often cant remember what is behind every door.  You have to say 'and this is', have a quick peek before throwing open the door 'the xxxxx room'!  The grand hallway was piled up with boxes and one of the doors was locked so we had to get around to the other half of the building by going back around by the kitchen.

Upstairs has various wings and because I was in charge, we visited them methodically and counted up bathrooms and bedrooms as we went.  Frankly, it was a mess.  There was a lot of water damage on the ceilings and I don't know how the renters had achieved it, but quite a few of the chandeliers were parted from the ceiling and hanging down on wires.  Perhaps a little light swinging on them during the long winter nights?  Curtain rails had come out of their moorings too.  The curtains and rugs were dirty.  Stuff was piled up everywhere. The family renting is only four persons.  Why are they in an eight bedroom place?

Things deteriorated further in the cellar, where there was a frog swimming in the new pond in one of the chambers.

Ms Chips-to-be was not impressed.  She looked aghast whilst still smiling. (This is a feeling I recognise.  It is how I feel when I get an eye wateringly low offer). Mr Chips still loved it.  We went back to our town and arranged to meet up on the morrow.  I would be out with some Brits from the Far East.  The game was still very much in play, with no clear winner.  I think it will have to be slogged out between Mr and Ms-to-be Chips.

*brocante - bric-a-brac shop 
**troc - shop selling items belonging to individuals, where the shop adds its commission to the estimated value of the item and sells it on their behalf


Wednesday 10 February 2015

What, more rain?  Alas yes   9 degrees

Miss Tea was waiting with her mates outside the big Hotel.  The rain had corralled them into the shelter of the wrought iron fan porch.  They leaped into the car and we drove about 300 metres before parking and haring over the bridge and into the apartment block.

There was a smell of cat pee which was not hidden by the recent mopping of the staircase.  Newspaper was liberally distributed, evidently to stop people sliding about.  Miss Tea and her mates were not familiar with this practice.  Something my mother used to do as well.  Had a pang.  How long it is since she went and shuffled off this mortal coil. 

Up the stairs and into the flat which is as black as pitch as the owner has helpfully removed all the light bulbs.  Throw open the double glazed windows to reveal a flat with living room, kitchen, bathroom with loo, bedroom and front balcony overlooking the church with the scary crack and the raging river.  We were there a while, during which they went out onto the balcony and didn't plunge to their deaths whilst I enjoyed a little vandalising of the peeling wallpaper.  Five layers of garish flowers, topped by a little paint.  Nice.  They were not too impressed, I was relieved to discover.  The mates then went back to their never ending painting and we went back to the flat over the shop.  She definitely preferred this and made an offer and signed it.  Excellent.  Just hope she doesn't change her mind when she gets back home.  The river had come right up and was nearly at the front door but it didn't put her off.....

OH meanwhile, had been out with Mr Chips and his fiancĂ©e and had shown them a couple of houses in town which Mr Chips had seen on a previous visit.  He thought the Belle Epoque town house could be a real runner.  I think Mr Chips is still very keen on the chateau with the ghastly renters.

Went back down town and got the owner of the flat to sign the offer.  Bitterly cold and lashing with rain.


Tuesday 9 February 2016

Rain - biblical amounts of the stuff
14 degrees

There is a river flowing through our town.  In Summer, it passes tranquilly through the deep cut central channel.  In Winter or early Spring, if the weather is mild, as it is today, the heavy rainfall combined with the snow melt, make it a raging torrent which beats at the ancient stone walls and threshes flowers out of their boxes.

Miss Tea was waiting for me in the foyer of the Grand Hotel.  For once, a client on time and sur place.  And another novelty, all the houses were visitable on foot.  The rain had temporarily abated and we walked along and met my colleague from another agency who had three properties to show.

The first was in the heart of the town, in a pretty road bright with floral window boxes and pots of small trees and shrubs.  The house cut across two streets and the ground floor was deep and wide, with exposed stone walls and large hearth. Three bedrooms and a black hole and a bathroom.  Sweet.  My colleague didn't open the shutters.  They apparently are VERY badly behaved and wont close again.  Then on to see a second floor flat with two beds and two bathrooms and two absolutely beautiful terraces overlooking the town.  It was the same price as the town house and I realised that it was the one which had been bought by the people from out East whom I had had as clients a number of years ago. They will have real trouble selling it for even the price they paid, albeit it the fact that it is a lovely flat.  Lastly we went to a rat hole where two English people were camping out, pending the completion of the renovation of their property on the edge of town.  Their cat tried to escape.  I knew how he felt.

Then onto my properties, the flat over a shop which the lady had withdrawn just after New Year, a beautiful townhouse with shop and a far less beautiful town house, with shop and dog odour.  Surprisingly, the lady loved the flat over the shop.  We stopped for lunch and I went back home and filled in OH on the details.

Round two, afternoon.  Showed her our flats.  Alas she didn't like them because they were too modern and this was her feeling about the flat in the former cartworks, which is beautiful and shiny.  No, she wants old French gothic, apparently.  She also wants to see a flat belonging to another agent in town. She went back to the hotel and I hammered on various neighbours' doors to see if I could find the name of the owner.  I find a cleaning lady who tells me the owner is in a home and I would need to go via an agent.  I look at the boards on the balcony;  my former agency where the boss lady still isnt speaking to me because I had the temerity to leave four years ago and an agency in town run by a man who did me out of a sale last January....  The latter seemed the more attractive option and he was actually in his office and showed me the flat. Overlooking the river, it was surprisingly large and very, very cheaply priced.

Back home.  Rain absolutely lashing down.  Cold.

Friday, February 5, 2016


Wednesday 3 February 2016

Torrential rain
10 degrees

Round two with Mr Wearing.  He was waiting outside the hotel, rucksack in hand and he got in and said Good Morning and he had been comfortable at the hotel. I put on a classical music station to cover the void and off we roared to see a house which I had taken on, against my better judgment.  It is near a very busy road and the owners suggested that I approach it by the side in order for the client to appreciate the quietness of the house from that direction. What they didn't tell me is that the side road is very narrow and the numbering eccentric. I really hope I can get the car out of here again in one piece.

The best feature of the house is the pool room.  It houses a large swimming room, wall length mural and a bar and BBQ.  It makes you feel that you are in Martinique rather than a small and boring town, whose shops only open when they feel like it.  The rest of the house is a bit of a rat hole, with small rooms stuffed with furniture and effects, only two bedrooms and a strange add on kitchen and conservatory.  The owners talk a lot, which for once is a bit of a relief, and they don't seem to notice that Mr W is an elective mute.  They even offer him coffee which he accepts and so we sit in the pool room and admire the mural.  The palm trees almost seem to wave in a Summer breeze and the beach is inviting.  Alas, all too soon we are back in the car and going to see the second house.  He says he quite likes this one.

The rain is so heavy that the car is being power washed and I note it is cleaner now than when I took it to the car wash the other day.  A rainbow arches over the town.

It is now lunch time and I find a boulangerie and we have some small quiches and then press on to the afternoons viewings nearer the mountains.  The first house is one I absolutely love and where normally the man scowls and says nothing and sucks on his electric cig and the lady is lovely and effusive.  I don't know what had transpired during lunch but they were both very withdrawn. Only the spaniel was pleased to see us.  Mr W asked if he could take pictures and they said no.  Oh dear....  He liked this one too.  I then took him to see an empty house and ran out into the garden to get some fresh air.  He smelled of old man today.  The car was full of it.  Sprayed around some air freshener. Then back to my town and he picked up his car and said would I please not drive fast and lose him.  Was amused as OH says I am the slowest driver on the Planet.  I tell him that is what it is like to respect speed limits.

I get in my car and open all the windows to let out the old man smell and put something more funky on the radio and OMG he is such a slow driver.  We eventually get to the last house and he really likes this.  He says he will do a run through with his wife, who works in the public sector and is presumably more eloquent, and then they will be back.  I ask him to just briefly rank the houses we have seen in order of preference and he replies that it is hard to concretise his thoughts.  FFS how am I supposed to transmit that to all of the sellers, who are now waiting for feedback!!!

He goes slowly down the hill and I admire the wild violets and primroses flourishing on a sunny bank.  Back home and take dog into the woods.  OH still down the rental unit, battling with some handles which are refusing to go onto the kitchen units.  Oh to win the lottery and have someone do it, where you cant see the joins.  The first hellebores are in full flush, their strange green petals and yellow stamens standing in stark contrast to the dark woodland floor. Glorious.

green hellebore flower

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Tuesday 2 February 2016

Rain and sunny periods and then lots of rain

12 degrees

The floor of the rental unit is covered in tiny spots of paint and I am down on my knees, scrubbing.  I have commandeered OH's padded knee protectors and they are wonderful.  My knees are crunchy and have started complaining when I go up steep stairs.  I ruminate on the urges of my great grandmother.  She belonged to a great household, a cherished daughter.  She ran off with the coachman because of her urges.  Unlike Downton Abbey, where the coachman becomes part of the family, my great grandmother was exponged from family history, lived in a minuscule cottage with her husband and ten children, one of whom was my maternal grandmother.  I scrub and think, I could have been in Burke's Peerage still, but because of my sodding great grandmother, I am on my hands and knees in a small flat in the arse end of France.  The sun comes out and lights up the beauty of the floor and my phone rings and it is the office confirming that the afternoon visits are on.

The client is a man of very few words; the sort who doesnt get through more than one adjective an hour.  I wait for him in the car park of the Great Hotel in town.  Two pm arrives and there are only local cars coming and going.  My phone pings and it is Mr Wearing.  I am in the Hotel car park, he says.  In a Fiat of dubious quality.  There is a silence.  It is green, he adds, eventually.  I look around.  There is a custard yellow fiat in the distance.  Perhaps he is colour blind.  I cant see you anywhere.  Ah, says Mr Wearing, the GPS took me directly to my hotel.  I suppose I could come and find you.  No, no.  I say, I will come to you.

When I make an appointment; I go to the appointed place at the appointed time.  Why is it so hard for others to do the same?  I find the hotel and the car park where he has decided to stop and there is a man resembling Jeremy Corbyn standing next to a strangely coloured small car.  I get out and he says nothing so I shake his hand and say shall we go and see some properties.

I have had clients from all over the world; the nervous and the garrulous, the reticent and the mean, the sarcastic and pompous and occasionally, absolutely charming but I have never, in twelve years, had a client who said absolutely nothing.  We would arrive in a property and he would stand in the centre of the house and turn to stone.  Minutes would pass.  Was I in an alternative universe? Was this my version of hell?  I always think everyone has a Hell tailored specially for themselves.  But no.  Eventually he would move and take one photo a room and we would get out and I would say, in as bright a tone as I could manage, 'well, what do you think of that one?  Once, he did actually say that he liked the house.  That was it.

We got back to the hotel at 4.30 and my face ached and I felt very thirsty.  The door was locked but a light was on in the back room.  I hammered on the door. I needed my sofa and a nice cup of tea.  I hammered again.  I rang.  The phone shrilled in the back room and a woman appeared and closed the door.  Mr Wearing said he would go for a drive around so we arranged to meet tomorrow at 10.  Got home and OH said the dog needed walking and I said he could have a walk around the garden if he wanted some fresh air.  Dog didnt like the look of the persistent rain and went and briefly watered some shrubs.

Watched the Great British Interior Design Challenge which was somewhat bonkers with a woman called Holly wanting to put dog wallpaper with a deep blue background onto some people's living room wall.  They resisted strongly. They did not want the sort of alternative universe where spaniels abound on one's walls.  The charming guy from Taiwan, Frankie, did a beautiful room.  My money is on him to win.  OH stayed in the kitchen and did Spanish on Duolingo. The voice was saying one thing and OH was repeating it slightly differently.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Monday 01/02/2016

Rain 11 degrees

It so happens in February that you get bored with doing the same things every day.  Getting up.  Doing the dishes.  Sweeping the floor.  Kicking the dog out the back door to do his business - dog is in his basket with one paw over his eyes and is pretending that the day has not yet started.  Cleaning the ashes out of the wood burning stove.  Sweeping up the floor where the ashes decided to burst out of the grate.  Plumping the cushions.  Picking up socks.

And you think to yourself, this is like Ground Hog Day and when you look; it is.

My aim of sweeping aside the competition for entering the most mandates in January and February has faltered, largely due to obdurate sellers who say they have enough agencies.  I have never had so many people say no.  Do they not know I have a challenge en cours?  I finally manage to get one person to say yes and drive out today to have a look at it.

The address is Place du Fronton which sounds like it would be in the middle of the village.  It is a very, very long village and it turns out that the Place is right on the very end of it, and next to a busy road, which probably accounts for its not having sold in two years.

It is a solid looking house which has grown over a period of time.  It is painted a very solid colour which is somewhere between Suffolk Pink and Blood Orange. Two dogs the size of small ponies erupt from a side barn and invite me to come in and be eaten.  The owner comes out and assures me that they are gentil and have yet to breakfast on estate agent.

Yet another divorce and it looks like the lady took all the nice furniture.  We sit down in the kitchen at what looks like a former painting table.  The dogs smile at me and take up most of the floor space.  He gives me black coffee and the dogs insist on having half my sugar.  Their breath is atrocious.  We then do the tour and it is a substantial property and will do for a client I have at the start of next week.  He signs the paperwork and I go into town to have a look around.

It is the Annual Rusty Tractor Fair.  For those not interested in rusty tractors, there are many other rusty items to admire.  A loudspeaker voice informs the confused people, milling in the town centre, that there is a vide grenier and exposition extending over five hectares.  He doesn't enlighten us as to where exactly that might be...  I finally find it at the very far end of town and it is starting to rain; the light and persistent kind which makes you extremely wet almost without you noticing it.  There is a stall selling strange jewellery and, oh joy, very reasonably priced jewellery findings.  I pocket 10 sachets of various items for just a fiver and head home.