Tag Archives: estate agent

Wednesday 1st September 2021 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… I’ve had a much better day today. In fact, I’ve been feeling somewhat sprightly today and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that, hasn’t it?

With going straight to bed last night right after the football, I went straight to sleep and that’s exactly how I stayed until the alarm went off at 06:00.

More stuff on the dictaphone too. I was going to work in Brussels and it was really early – 06:00. I arrived at work which was the triangular building on the corner of the roundabout near where I used to work. I couldn’t find put which door to go in. I eventually found one, but it was the wrong one. It took me to all kinds of areas that I didn’t know. In the end I found myself back on the street on the other side and managed to get in. We were talking about cars and we’d just bought a new Austin Ambassador. We should have bought an Opel Ascona estate just to do casual running about but we decided against that in the end. I had my car keyrings on my private keyring and my private keys on the office keyring. Some woman came into the office looking for my car key, picked up the keyring with my private keys on it and walked off. I had to chase after her. When I reached her office it was empty. I thought “how am I going to go home now that she has my car keys? In any case, I’d been away from the office for so long that I couldn’t even remember where my car was parked

There are about 30 other files on there right now and I hope that my new keyboard comes tomorrow because this one is driving me bananas. There’s no NUMLOK the N only works when it feels like it, the CTRL sticks and the backspace eraser has problems all of its own.

Trying to do anything with this keyboard is taking about 10 times longer than it should.

After checking my mails and messages I sat down to write up yesterday’s notes ad was promptly interrupted by a whole series of phone calls from Estate Agents, restaurants, wrong numbers and Rosemary who wanted another marathon chat.

As well as that, there was an exciting debate going on in an internet chat room that took up a lot of time.

And so with all of that it was rather a late lunch yet again.

Once lunch was out of the way I had a shower and a general clean-up and the headed for town.

thora marite port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Down in the harbour there was a lot going on this afternoon.

Down there at the quayside in the loading bay is Thora, one of the two little Jersey freighters. Now that the Festival of Sailing Ships is over and the dockside has bee cleared, the freighters can come in and unload

In the meantime there’s something strange going on. She has one of her sails unfurled and I’ve no idea why.

And I don’t know which one either. In actual fact I’m pretty useless about sails. When the skipper of the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR told me that the sail was a mizzen, I told him that we had better find aother one.

galeon andalucia port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021And still in port today, a couple of days after her announced departure, is the Galeon Andalucia.

She’ll be putting down roots if she stays here much longer.

My walk up to the physiotherapist was somehow easier today. I only stopped twice to catch my breath going up the hill and that’s a sign of progress. I can’t remember how many dozen it was when I was on my way to Leuven.

He had me on his machine today for the whole half-hour doing all kinds of manoeuvres and I was glad to stop. But if it hurts me, then it’s doing me good.

On the way back home I stopped at the Carrefour down the hill. no point in going to LIDL just for a lettuce when they were only €0.99 in there. And I bought a can of energy drink for the climb back up the hill.

trawler returning to port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021By the time that I’d returned to the port, the harbour gates were’t far off closing.

That’s the signal for all of the trawlers out at sea to turn round and run for home, just as this one is doing.

I can see the green and gold strips on her hull so she is either Coelacanthe or Tiberiade. It’s not possible to tell which one she is at this distance looking into the sun and I only have the NIKON D3000 camera with the 15-110 lens.


This one doesn’t need any introduction though because we’ve seen quite a lot of her just recently.

Even if we can’t read her name painted on the wind deflector above the windscreen, we can tell from her colour scheme that she’s Monaco du Nord II.

She spent several happy weeks in the chantier naval a short while ago and regular readers of this rubbish will recall having seen her there in several of the photos that I took.

She’s one of the first to come into port this afternoon and she’s going over to the Fish Processing Plant to unload her catch.

chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Meanwhile, also in port this afternoon is the little Chausey freighter Chausiaise.

And I DO mean “in port” too because she’s actually in the inner harbour, not moored up at the ferry terminal.

That seems to indicate to me that her main work is now finished for the season and she’ll only be going out on the odd occasion from now on.

My work is almost finished – at least, my walk is. I’m going to head off home for a banana smoothie (I’ve finished the strawberry stuff)

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021But not until I’ve checked out the beach and seen what’s happening there this afternoon.

Still a few people out there braving what is left of the beach now that the tide is well in. And while I couldn’t see any swimmers out there today, the woman wearing a bikini walking back from the water is pretty suggestive, I suppose.

Back here in the apartment I made a series of phone calls that took me right round in a big circle and ended up back where I started. Yes, we have a new candidate for “Worst Estate Agent In The World’ today.

Tea was a curry of all bits and pieces left hanging around, and it tasted delicious.

After that, I came in here to type my notes but I was side-tracked and it’s now 02:11.

But the good news is that the keyboard that I drowned in coffee the other day – I now have it fixed and working. At least now I can type like I’m supposed to and I’ll have a lie-in tomorrow. I have a little visit to make in the late morning.

Saturday 15th December 2018 – WE’VE HAD A BIT …

… of an issue here today.

Coming back from shopping this morning I put on the coffee machine to make a coffee and the whole electrical system in the apartment went “bang” and cut out. Everything had gone and even when I switched the main fuse back on, there was still no current.

Down to the cellar to check the master switch but the door to the electric room was closed with a special lock which I couldn’t undo. And so I called up the Estate Agents.

She came round, showed me the secret to opening the door to the electric room, and I could then power up the apartment. But we had a chat about the electrical system and she said that she would arrange for an electrician to pass by after the New Year.

Last night wasn’t quite so early and as a result it was a struggle to leave the bed this morning. I’d been on an exciting nocturnal ramble too but by the time I’d sat up in bed it had completely gone from my head. I’m not doing too well here either am I?

After breakfast I had a shower and a clean-up and then went off to the shops. It was freezing cold, howling with wind and teeming down with rain.

We did the usual round of LIDL, NOZ and LeClerc, and bought nothing special at all. And on the way back I stopped off to pick up something special for a friend, more of which anon. Back here we had the electrical issues, and then I crashed out for a while.

After lunch I tidied up and put away the shopping. It takes me longer to do things like that these days as I’m slowly slowing up. And that reinds me that one of these days I must go through and clean the apartment from top to bottom.

Later on this afternoon, I hit the streets again. US Granville were playing AS Poissy and I’d bought a ticket for the game in the hope that the weather would change.

christmas lights rue lecampion granville manche normandy franceAnd indeed it had changed – it had become worse and it was dreadful outside.

But me no daft, me no silly, I’d dressed in my Arctic wet-weather gear and it worked to perfection.

I was comparatively comfortable squelching my way through the Christmas lights of the town and by the time that I reached the Stade Louis Dior I was hot and sweating despite the freezing weather.

football us granvillaise as poissy stade louis dior granville manche normandy franceAfter about 20 minutes, the weather changed again. And I’ve never ever in my life been out in such a torrential downpour and felt so completely dry. The money that I had spent in Montreal three months ago was well-worth it.

For the second half of the game, the weather changed yet again. The rain stopped, the wind dropped and the sky cleared. The stars appeared and the temperature fell.

As for the football, it was a good match. Poissy were better than their league position suggested and Granville made heavy weather of a narrow 1-0 victory. They had bags of chances too, most of which were blazed over the bar.

We had a peculiar incident too. A Poissy player was badly-injured and rolled off the field. And so the game went on. But the Poissy trainer then dragged him back onto the pitch so that the referee would stop the game. A yellow card at last for the player and the trainer, the former for stopping the game and the latter for entering the field of play without the referee’s permission, but the referee simply stopped the game for the medical treatment and ignored the sanction.

The referee also got a throw-in wrong. A Granville player kicked the ball out of play, but then took the throw-in. I noticed it, and so did the linesman who waved his flag like a chef de gare. The referee took no notice but a minute or so later, ran past the linesman and said (and I heard him correctly) “I know – I know”.

christmas lights avenue des matignon granville manche normandy franceWalking back through the town in the cold but dry weather, I could take some time to admire the Christmas lights on the way home.

We saw this decoration here at the same spot last year at the roundabout at the start of the avenue des Matignon.

We seem to becoming quite festive all over the town now. it’s a shame that I won’t be here to enjoy it all but it can’t be helped.

Back here at home there was more football. On the internet this time.

Newtown v Llandudno in the Welsh Premier League. Newtown are a mid-table side and Llandudno are bottom of the league. And it’s easy to see why because Newtown swept them away 3-1 without too much difficulty.

Tea was out of a tin at half-time.

So I’ll be in bed in a minute. It’s late but it’s Sunday tomorrow so I’m having a lie-in. And about time too.

christmas lights avenue du marechal leclerc granville manche normandy france
christmas lights avenue du marechal leclerc granville manche normandy france

christmas lights place de la gare rue couraye granville manche normandy france
christmas lights place de la gare rue couraye granville manche normandy france

Thursday 12th July 2018 – WHAT A HORRIBLE …

… afternoon!

Sat down on the sofa at about 15:00 with a nice cold glass of lemonade. Next thing that I remember was that it was 18:45 and all my ice had melted.

And I’d been on my travels too. Out in Canada. In another setting that I have visited in the past too. This time I was doing a circular tour of some area, and I had some kind of deadline to meet too, so I couldn’t afford to hang about and I was relying on the dashcam for photography, thinking that I’ll take some stills of my voyage from the videos. But I arrived at an area with a huge girder bridge going over some water, with a big main road like a motorway. But for some reason the motorway came to a dead stop before the bridge and there was a ferry announced. For some reason or other it reminded me of the set-up at the Confederation Bridge from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Isle in the old days. The ferry was leaving in 10 minutes and I had 8 miles to travel (we’ve had a couple of real circumstances like this on our travels) so I didn’t even have time to check the map to see if this was the correct ferry. I just had to put my foot down and get going, and look pretty silly if it turned out to be the wrong ferry.

Yes, the exertions of the last couple of weeks have really got me down, haven’t they?

A late night last night didn’t help much, but then again that was balanced out by the fact that although the alarms went off as you might expect at 06:20 and 06:30, I just turned over and went back to sleep again. 09:00 is a much more reasonable time to be out and about.

After the usual medicine performance I had breakfast and a shower and general clean-up, and then off out. Just outside, I bumped into one of the neighbours who told me that the remote controls for the new barrier are ready, so I added that to my list of things to do.

First stop though was LIDL where I stocked up with a few things – nothing special. Next stop was the remote control, and then across the road to LeClerc, where I wasn’t quick enough with the phone camera to catch an old Renault 4CV that was driving around the car park.

Nothing exciting in LeClerc so I came home and, picking up the coolbox out of Caliburn, packed everything away and put the coolbox soaking with bleach to clean it out.

My lizard was there waiting for me on my wall when I went for a rather late lunch, and then back here, well, you know the rest of the story.

Once I’d come round, I had a think about tea – for the first time in a week or more – and made myself some pasta and vegetables tossed in garlic powder, pepper and olive oil.

While that was doing, I assembled a couple of little things that I had bought in IKEA and tidied up the first part of the European Cardboard Box Mountain.

Once I’d washed up, the rubbish went into the bin across the road and I went for a walk around the headland. I need to restart my good habits.

jersey ferry port de granville harbour manche normandy franceWhile I was walking around, I was miles away with my head in the clouds, as is my usual situation.

But my reverie was interrupted by a rather loud reversing siren coming from down one of the boats down in the harbour.

It turned out that one of the ferries, Granville that go over to Jersey was in the process of reversing out of its berth at the Gare Maritime.

victor hugo jersey ferry port de granville harbour manche normandy franceIt seemed to me that it was rather a weird time to be going out on a ferry crossing, so I watched it for a while.

However it wasn’t setting off out, but moving into the inner harbour to be tied up next to its older brother, Victor Hugo.

We must be having a very low tide tonight for them to want to move it inside. There will probably be crowds of people out on the sands tomorrow at low tide.

Back here now, exhausted and ready for bed despite all of the sleep that I had had. I dunno where this is all going but I can’t say that I’m enjoying any of it.

Saturday 23rd June 2018 – I’M NOT HERE

But then you knew that already – at least, in the sense that I’m not all here most of the time.

The morning started off with me being well and truly here – up and about again nice and early which makes a change two days on the run.

And once breakfast was over and I had had a little relax, I went and assembled the coffee table.

once the coffee table was assembled, I went downstairs to fetch the desk. And by elephants that was heavy. I really struggled to get that up the stairs.

Assembling it wasn’t easy either. It was quite a complicated piece of furniture and very heavy tomove about. To have it finished, in position, vacuumed up the stuff on the floor in the bedroom where I wanted it to be, that was a task of a couple of hours.

I can certainly now understand why “old” people have to sit down for a cup of tea so often.

There are still some things left in Caliburn but I can’t bring them up by myself. It’s going to have to be a job of opening the packets in Caliburn and bringing up the stuff in two or three trips like I did last time.

But not today. It wore me out just doing that. But at least the place looks as if someone lives hers, and that’s certainly progress. Although the European Cardboard Box Mountain is blocking just about everywhere.

I managed some tidying up, but not a lot, and then I began to lose interest.

Instead of putting the clean clothes away in the cupboard, I put them in my suitcase, grabbed a few other things and then Caliburn, Strawberry Moose and I hit the road.

First stop was the estate agent’s. The barrier here to the car park is broken so we are having a new one installed. But the remote controls need to be handed in to be reprogrammed.

After that, we didn’t come home, we carried on driving.

tinchebray normandy franceHaving a look at this sleepy little town here, you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s the back of beyond and there’s nothing whatever exciting about it.

And if you were to rely on the French Tourist Board and the French Ministry of the Interior, you’d still believe that.

Because there is absolutely nothing whatever to tell you that one of the most crucial moments in English history took place here at the town of Tinchebray.

tinchebray normandy franceWhile you admore some of the beautiful buildings and scenery here, let me tell you a little story.

And for this, you’ll have to turn your clock back 950 years.

William the Conqueror was Duke of Normandy prior to becoming King of England in 1066. And when he was King of England, he still retained his title to the Duchy of Normandy.

tinchebray normandy franceThis was only a temporary solution. He had three surviving sons and on his death, he bequeathed his Normandy lands to his eldest son Robert Curthose.

His Kingdom in England was bequeathed to his second son, William Rufus, or William II. His youngest son Henry Beauclerc was given a suM of money.

William Rufus died childless (and regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous incarnations will recall thatwe once visited the scene of his death) and Robert being the oldest son expected to add the Crown of England to his titles.

tinchebray normandy franceUnfortunately Henry beat him to it and had himself crowned as Henry I, much to Robert’s dismay.

He gathered up a small army and invaded England, but the population refused to rise up to support him and he was obliged to return to Normandy.

There were continual intrigues as each brother tried to undermine the other, and there had been several skirmishes in Normandy between Robert’s supporters and Henry’s supporters.

Henry had already led an army there in a campaign that had ended indecisively, but in the summer of 1106 he was back again.

possible site of Tinchebray castle normandy franceLate September saw him besieging the Castle here at Tinchebray.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no trace of the castle today. All that I know is that one contemporary report of the battle desribes the castle as “on a hill above the town”.

So if I were having to have a wild guess as to where “a hill above the town” might be, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever, that is the most likely-looking “hill above the town”, over there.

battle of tinchebray normandy franceRobert led an army down from Falaise to try to break the siege, and the armies clashed on some flat land at the foot of the castle.

The site was constrained, and so the knights had to dismount and fight on foot, and if my guess is right as to the site of the castle, then the only constrained flat land at the foot would be that field there.

The result was a tragedy for Robert.

In less than an hour, his army was smashed and he was taken prisoner. He lived for the rest of his life, all 30 or so years of it, in captivity.

Normandy was united with the English crown and remained so until 1204.

And you won’t find a word of this anywhere in the town.

During the Royal Progress of Saint Louis, King Louis IX in April and May 1256 to consolidate his Kingdom, he is said by the Chronicler Eudes Rigaud, the Archbishiop of Rouen, to have visited the town.

This didn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere either, as far as I could see.

ford probe tinchebray normandy franceBut here’s something exciting.

When was the last time that you saw one of these?

I saw one in Leuven once but you won’t have seen on in the UK for a while because only 15,000 were ever sold there and the last time that I checked, there were only about 700 still on the road.

ford probe tinchebray normandy franceIt’s the Ford Probe of course, a badge-engineered Mazda that was intended to be the replacement for the Mustang and the Capri. But honestly, who would want to be seen in one of these?

That was the general Public’s response and the car bombed spectacularly. It was on sale for just three years – 1989-1992, and whereas the Capri was always in the Top 10 in the UK? this one was well stuck in the bottom 10.

Finding one on the roads today is something of a rarity.

So now I’m in a flea-pit in Alençon. When I’ve finished kicking out the bed bugs from between the sheets I’ll be hopping in.

I’m carrying on along the road tomorrow – I hope.

But I’ll just mention my tea, which was supposed to be chips with a tortilla wrap with nothing in it but vegetables.

And so the guy behind the counter thought it was funny to fill it with meat. He wasn’t laughing when I finished telling him what I thought of him.

It’s amazing how much French I know when I want to be offensive. Working for 15 years with a bunch of French-speaking chauffeurs did come in quite handy.

Tuesday 3rd April 2018 – I HAVE BEEN …

… out to visit an apartment today.

Not that I have all that much intention of buying anything, but when you see a one-bedroom duplex apartment with sea view and private parking for just €70,000, you have to go to look (at least, one of us does) otherwise I shall always be wondering about it.

It was on the edge of St Pair sur Mer so I met Liz in the town and we met up with the estate agent who took us on a scenic tour of the town until we found it.

And much to my surprise, it wasn’t as much of a ruin as some that I had seen at much more of a price. But it was small and inconvenient and there was no way that the accommodation could be rearranged to make a decent kitchen and fit the washing machine in. And so I politely declined.

Back at the Estate Agent’s office, we found that the Estate Agent had locked himself out so we left him to it and went for a coffee at the bar on the corner where we encountered France’s entry in the “World’s Worst Waiter” competition.

st pair sur mer manche normandy france The coffee was followed by a walk along the beach in and amongst the groups of schoolkids having their “classes découvertes”.

And there’s a lot more to St Pair-sur-Mer as I discovered as we walked along the beach. Although I’ve been here on many occasions this is the first time that I’ve walked along the beach, and I never knew that there was a river here.

Yes, I may be none-the-wiser but I’m certainly learning a lot.

And having made a conscious decision earlier today to take all of the old cardboard boxes to the dechetterie on the way back, I promptly forgot, and had to turn around halfway home to go back.

This morning it was a struggle to leave my bed at 06:30 and I failed to beat the second alarm. So a slow steady morning during which I caught up with some of the weekend’s undone work and assembled my new chair (which doesn’t seem to be as comfortable as it was in the shop). But then again what do you expect for €36:00?

Tea was stuffed peppers (with too much hot spice in the stuffing) and spicy rice, followed by my walk during which I was waylaid by the long-haired black cat.

So I need to organise myself so much better tomorrow. I have a lot to do and it won’t ever be done at the rate at which I seem to be working right now.

Thursday 25th January 2018 – THE DIE IS CAST

All last evening, part of the night and for the early part of the morning, I had a long think about the letter that I wrote yesterday.

To say that it’s an incendiary epistle is an understatement and at one stage I was thinking that maybe I should calm it down somewhat. And then I thought again.

I remembered Gotthold Lessing, and his quote, crudely translated by Yours Truly (and if there’s anything that needs doing crudely, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m your man) “A man who does not lose his reason over certain things has none to lose”.

What’s been happening to me at the Crédit Agricole over the last 9 months has long since passed beyond the point of reason and one day I’ll tell you all about it.

And there are also the words of Sir Walter Raleigh – not the Elizabethan adventurer but the early 20th-Century author – who said “he is thrice armed who has his quarrel just”.

And so with this letter being the perfect lead-in, there’s no time like the present to start to wage a war, and so I made a couple of minor amendments, posted one copy off to the Bank’s Head Office and took the other one to the local branch where I instructed the receptionist to place it in the hands of the Branch Manager.

As I said, I’ll probably regret writing it, but I need to bring this sorry affair to a conclusion one way or another and there won’t be a better opportunity.

Last night was another bad night. I ended up going to bed late because I couldn’t sleep, and I was awake before the alarm went off too. There’s a lot going on in my mind right now of course.

So I medicated and breakfasted, had a shower and then went off to town and my letter deliveries.

It was a struggle to make it to LIDL but I made it in the end. And then I couldn’t think of anything that I needed. I bought a baguette, some rice and some pasta because that’s the kind of thing that you can always use.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that I’ve encountered another problem. I need to send in a “proof of residence” with my driving licence, and as my annual electricity bill is outside the date limit, I was intending to send a rent receipt for my apartment. But on examining the latest rent receipt, they have the address wrong!

And so while I was in town I went to the estate agents and they revised the details and very kindly printed off a new receipt. So that’s that problem sold.

hotel des bains casino granville manche normandy franceJust by way of a change, I came back from LIDL a different way – along the plateau to the south of the town and then down the steps right into the centre.

And from the top of the steps there’s this nice view across to the Hotel Des Bains (the big building right of centre) and the sea, right by where the Casino (the turrets poking up left of centre) is.

And you can see that just for a change we were having some fine weather. And it wasn’t cold either.

Back here I made a coffee and then sat down to recover up until lunchtime, when I finished off the rest of yesterday’s vegetable soup.

Having done that, I attacked the driving licence. And start as you mean to go on – a piece of paper jammed itself in the printer and I was there for an hour dismantling … "disPERSONtling it" – ed … it to solve the problem. It was only a tiny fragment too, but it would have to be just big enough to cover the sensor, wouldn’t it? It’s a good job that that didn’t happen when there were important things to do.

But eventually all of the paperwork was completed and having deleted all that I can off my telephone, I had enough free space to receive the texted code from the Bank to authorise my payment.

So that’s gone off and I have the receipt. But by heck it isn’t half a complicated procedure.

square maurice marland granville manche normandy franceI was late for my afternoon walk but I went all the same. And I went once more around the medieval walls.

My route took me past the statue of Maurice Marland. He was a schoolteacher and leader of a cell of Resistance fighters here in Granville. Despite having been arrested and tortured in 1943 he carried on with his Resistance work but was captured again on 22nd July 1944.

No-one knows what happened after that but a couple of days later his body was found in a ditch with five gunshot wounds.

His Resistance cell was broken too and several membfitbiters were likewise executed. This is a monument to all of them.

Another coffee and a session on the guitar, and then a chat to TOTGA on the laptop. That led up nicely to tea which was another frozen curry from the batch in the freezer. Potato and chick-pea, this was.

The day finished off with another walk, and I’m now at 120% of my day’s activity plan.

No sign of the Bank but it’s probably the calm before the storm. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday 18th April 2017 – IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME …

old car morris 1000 minor traveller leclerc granville manche normandy france… since we’ve featured an old car in this rubbish, so here’s one to be going on with.

Parked on the car park of the LeClerc supermarket at Granville at lunchtime is this rather nice Morris 1000 Traveller. It’s a left-hand drive one too, so how rare is that? (Not quite as rare as my left-hand drive Vanden Plas of course) but it’s still a beautiful vehicle.

And thinking about it, I never owned a Morris 1000, or even a Morris Minor come to that. I must have been slipping.

So despite everything that I said last night, I didn’t have a very good night. Not only did I manage to watch the film all the way through, I had a great deal of difficulty dropping off to sleep afterwards. At one point I did remember it being 00:45.

And I was awake early too – at 06:30 to be precise. That gave me plenty of time to have a good shower, a shave and a tidy up of my room. Then at 09:30 I cleared off.

It’s market day in Jullouville today so I went for a prowl around. And while the market might be better than that at Pionsat, that’s about all that cam be said for it. Rather disappointing.

I went to see an Estate Agent about the possibility of buying a place. Let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that my budget is €70,000 (which it isn’t, but it will do). So I told him that – and he immediately sorted out the properties at €68,000, €70,000 and (of course) €75,000.

“What about that one?” I said, pointing to one at €45,000.
“Do you want to see that one too?” he asked.

Yes, I knew exactly what I was going to get with this estate agent. They are all the same, the whole world over.

So he showed me various photos of various piles of ruins, one with damp clearly visible streaming down the wall underneath the window.

“There’s nothing here that really tempts me” I said.
“You won’t find many where you want at your price range” he said
“I don’t want many” I answered. “I only want one”.

I had a pile of phone calls to make after that, and so I headed off to Granville. Apart from those, I needed some stuff for butties for lunch too. That’s where I saw the Morris 1000.

I found the Centrakor which cheered me up. For the benefit of UK readers, it’s rather like a Wilkinsons but slightly better quality. Lots of nice stuff in there for when I (eventually) find somewhere to live.

NOZ granville manche normandy franceNow here’s a sight that should gladden your hearts. Here we are, the day after Easter Monday, and there’s Christmas items already in the shops.

Actually, this is rather a cheat. There’s also a NOZ here in the town. Not as big as the one in Montlucon but it’s here just the same and worth noting. Stuff in here is, well, end of lines, end of series, all of that, and hence the Christmas items, left over from last year I suppose.

Still, it’s a good photo to cheer you up. Only 250 days to go, you know.

I went up on the headland above the harbour to eat my butties this afternoon. It was beautiful up there, even if the wind was blowing a gale, and I … errr … had a relax for a couple of hours.

Later on, I drove out to where I’m staying for the next two weeks. There’s an old saying that “you can’t win a coconut every time” and given the good luck that I’ve had when I’ve been hotel-hunting, I’m bound to come a cropper every now and again.

I’m in a place called Bricqueville sur Mer which, despite its name, is about 4 miles from the coast, one of two bedrooms and I share a kitchen and bathroom with the people in the other room (it’s empty at the moment). It’s a farmhouse-type of place and it could be so nice if they tried, but it’s furnished in the worst of the 1950s bad taste and it has that horrible, damp, musty, unaired smell that I hate so much.

Still, it’s the cheapest place that had a vacancy for all of that time (so I’m not really complaining), breakfast is included and there is a cat. Old, creaking and grey around the edges and loves his cuddles – but that’s enough about me for now, let’s talk about the cat.

So I’ll have an early night, watch a film and see how I feel in the morning. I hope that I can cheer myself up.

Tuesday 23rd August 2016 – PHEW! I’M WHACKED!

I’ve been on my feet all afternoon and tramped all the way around Leuven. And on the hottest day of the year so far too!

And it hasn’t been without its incidents too – some of them good, some of them bad.

The bad incidents concern the attitudes of various estate agents who, in many case, quite frankly couldn’t care less about potential clients and make no effort to give any assistance to anyone calling at the door.

Not only that, I doorstepped the Tourist Information Office about potential holiday lets lying vacant over the winter that might be let out profitably on a mid-term basis. But to give you some idea of what I’m up against here in Belgium, this was met with an outraged “but that’s illegal!” And so you see – trying to do something out of the ordinary here in Belgium is a waste of time.

But there has been some good, positive news. And it’s been a long time since I’ve had any, isn’t it?

Firstly, I found some information about a couple of flat-hotels in the city. And so I went off on the prowl. The first one was right out of town on the road to Kessel-Lo (you can see how far I walked), and the second one was, quite appropriately, right next door to the Nick, so I won’t have far to go when they find out about me.

The first one was the cheaper of the two. It looked rather like a barracks and the rooms were rather spartan, but it had everything that I would be likely to need. The second was in a much more beautiful setting and I really liked the look of the place, but this too was rather spartanly-finished and I could smell the damp. However, the price worked out at less than I’m paying here, and that’s with all of my own facilities. Consequently, we are starting to pull ahead a little (and about time too).

But I turned up trumps in another estate agent’s that I discovered by accident. The guy there downed tools and took me round the corner to show me a studio. On the third floor (with a lift) of a small building in the pedestrianised street between the city centre and the railway station was a small (and I do mean small) furnished studio – nice and clean with a wooden floor and with modern furniture. It’s basic I suppose but it’s there and while I don’t like the situation much, I’ve learned that I can’t afford to be choosy.

Another possibility is a flat by the seaside and some estate agent in Oostende has come up with something too. This was a long shot – something round about Plan Z I reckon – but once more it’s an option.

And so I’ll keep on trucking, but I’ll see what this place is like tomorrow afternoon. If it muts the custard, I’ll be taking that one seeing as how it’s situated near to the hospital. But if it’s no good, I’ll be going for the one in the town I reckon.

It was a long way back tonight and I was thoroughly exhausted. And soaked in sweat too. after a coffee and a little doze I went and had a shower and a change of clothes.

Tea was quite exciting too, especially after I dropped almost all a bottle of hot spicy tomato sauce into my pasta tonight. And the garlic bread was delicious too.

And I wish that these Flemish girls would stop wearing these skimpy skin-tight shorts in this hot weather. It isn’t ‘arf interfering with my breathing.

Thursday 18th August 2016 – THAT WAS A LITTLE BETTER …

… last night.

In bed and falling asleep during the film, I was awoken by a party of my co-residents returning from an evening out, but I was soon back to sleep. I had a couple of trips down the corridor but not so much that they awoke me too much, and it wasn’t until 06:20 that I awoke properly.

Even so, I managed to drop off back to sleep again until the alarm went off at 07:15.

I’d been on my travels too. I was delivering parts for competition cars to outlying addresses in the Wrexham area and at one place the delivery was not all that simple because the road signs were confusing. It involved turning off to the right at a road junction and then left to a housing estate on the edge of a small town, where the town (the postal address) was to the left on the main road, and this caused a few complications. We had a discussion about the repairs to the car, and I said that the driving age for this vehicle was 18 whereas the owner said it was 15 and his girl of that age was driving it. In the end we agreed that 18 was the age for driving on the road whereas 15 was the age for driving in off-road competition. We also ended up talking about a famous Welsh pizza which involved buying the base, travelling around the country picking up the individual ingredients for the toppings from each of the farms that grew or produced them, and then returning home to cook and eat it.

It didn’t take me too long to eat breakfast, and once I’d organised myself (such as only I can do), I went off to the launderette and the internet access. having done the usual, I then started to contact all of the addresses that I had been collecting for accommodation. And it didn’t take me too long to do it either, with each enquiry producing the same result – “if you aren’t a bona-fide student, we aren’t interested”. I’ve been here before, haven’t I?

I even took to the streets and the estate agents, but that produced similar results. One place, which had three in the window, said that they had all been booked already (so why leave them in the window?) and another place was completely and utterly disinterested. I can see that I’m going to have to plan a new line of attack.

While I was out I took the opportunity to do a quick shop at the Delhaize in town and then had lunch. Afterwards, I crashed out for an hour (despite my reasonable night).

Apart from that, I’ve not done too much else. I’ve been to the launderette this evening and had tea – the stuff that was left over from last night together with some fresh rice. It might be early but I don’t care – I’m going to have an early night with a good film.

But I’m fed up of this accommodation issue. Flats, studios, rooms, all kinds of stuff. The city is crawling with them and with “to let” signs. But can I rent one? This is just totally crazy.

I shall have to see about enrolling myself as a student.

Wednesday 19th March 2014 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… good day today.

And not only was I awake before the alarm went off, I was up and out of bed like a lark too. Such are the benefits of being in bed before midnight (just for a change).

After a spell with the computer I was off the Cécile’s for this visitor. Cécile had asked someone from an Estate Agency to come round and look at her house and Yours Truky has a set of keys. This visit took ages too – the person was certainly thorough.

Cécile was on the phone this afternoon for a progress report and we had a lengthy chat. Pascal, Marianne’s son, also rang up. He needs some help in his apartment in St Eloy so I won’t be doing much on my house and garden tomorrow.

You’ll notice how I’m including the “garden” in the descriptive too. I did actually manage to have a couple of hours out there late this afternoon. The bed that I was digging over and weeding yesterday – that’s now finished, potash has been added, it’s been hoed and raked over a couple of times, and now the cabbage that I bought at the weekend has been planted there. We’ll see how that lot goes on.

I started a third raised bed too – I’ll be putting the onions in there. And the soil in that one is beautiful, nice, dry and crumbly. It’s a shame that the rest of the soil isn’t like that.

Tuesday 10th September 2013 – I HAD THE MOST UNEVENTFUL …

… drive down to Fredericton that I have ever had. There was nothing going on and nothing to report whatsoever … "hooray" – ed

But in Woodstock earlier a few things happened.

Zoe and I picked up her price list and stuck it on the wall of her salon where it looks pretty good and effective. We did a few more things (and I’ve still forgotten to fasten her cupboard handles) and then I wandered off to see someone about another little project that I have in mind.

However, that won’t be happening, said he with deep regret.

A small piece of land that I’ve had my eye on for quite a while, well, they want a telephone-number kind of price for it. Its situation is such that it merits a few extra shillings, to be sure, but the price that they are asking is simply delusional. Even half of the asking price would be expensive.

In Fredericton I went to Value Village – the charity shop – to scan the books.

Here in Canada, there isn’t a variety of different charity shops as there is in the UK. All of the charities have joined together and have a charity megastore, and all of the items are colour-coded, the purpose of this I suppose is to tell which charity each item belongs to.

I always visit it because it’s a really good source of books on Canadian affairs, history, grography and the like, and I wasn’t disappointed. Six new books have found their way into the Dodge and now this place looks more like a library than anything else.

strawberry moose harvest jazz and blues festival fredericton new brunswickI picked up my Media Pass from the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival offices at Regent Street (it helps, having your own media outlets back in France – good old Radio Anglais).

And Strawberry Moose was in his element – not only were there floozies to admire but they even dressed him up in Festival Gear and allowed him to be photographed with them.

What more does any Moose require?

Lunch was at the side of the river near the boat ramp and for some reason or other I crashed out here. And for a couple of hours too. It’s not as if I’ve been overdoing it or anything just recently.

What woke me up was the book sliding out of my hand and crashing down to the floor of the Dodge. I’d probably be still there now otherwise.

So off to the camp ground – this is at a place called Mactaquac about 20kms outside Fredericton and close to the big dam for the hydro-electric power station. This has created a huge lake and the campground is on the shores of the lake.

deer camp ground mactaquac provincial park new brunswickIt’s a wilderness campsite run by the Province of New Brunswick and so there is a good deal of wildlife hanging around and because it’s protected, it doesn’t have too much of a fear of man.

Consequently there was quite a deputation of Strawberry Moose’s friends and admirers from previous years awaiting his arrival, all keen to continue their acquaintance.

So I’ve emptied the Dodge and tidied it out, and made tea. Now I’m off to bed for an early night. Of course, you can guess what Strawberry Moose will be doing.

Monday 12th August 2013 – THIS BLASTED ESTATE AGENT …

… is thoroughly and completely getting on my nerves now and I’ll be resorting to violence if we have much more of this, I promise you.

We were all at the notaire’s today and ready to sign up when the purchaser requested a six-week delay (usually a delay of 10 days) of the final act in order to confirm the acceptance of the loan.

Yes, that’s like forever, but he wasn’t willing to budge, that was clear, so I wasn’t all that bothered. So I’ll have to pay another month’s service charges on the place, but that’s a small price to pay.

I was confident that given 10 minutes with him afterwards I could have managed to persuade him to shorten his time scale no matter what he had signed up to.

But this blasted agent immobilier went on and on and on at him for about half an hour (and I had an attack of cramp while she was doing it) and wouldn’t leave him alone.

In the end I had to tell her three times to put a flaming sock in it. Then once the meeting closed she had another go at him, and then she had another go at him in the hall and then a further go at him outside.

I tell you now, I shan’t ever be doing any more business with her – it’s appalling.

We didn’t sign the compromis because yet another snag has surfaced. Marianne and I have told everyone that there’s a cellar included in the deal. And indeed there is, and Marianne (and now I) has the keys for it.

But nowhere in the deeds of the property is there any mention of the cellar. Maybe the owners of the apartments don’t own the cellars and only have the enjoyment of them, but that needs to be cleared up.

So this morning I had another exciting dream. I was part of a team of people going exploring, and we were on a kind-of converted fishing trawler on our way to some remote spot somewhere. But the guy leading the expedition was something of a martinet and at he first sign of dissent he sailed to the nearest port and offloaded the dissenter. I remember chatting to a young guy who was working on the deck above me, an open deck, and I climbed up onto his deck to have a chat, but he informed me that he was being put ashore at the next port.
The trawler had in fact turned back and after a while we sailed into a harbour in South Western Ireland just as three small Ro-Ro car ferries were leaving the harbour in line astern. We sailed up the harbour wall and onto the car park and across the car park to a building on the far side (it’s a dream, of course).
A little later I was driving a taxi with a woman passenger in the back. I was taking her somewhere where I was sure that I knew the way but at the end of the road (on the outskirts of Crewe) I couldn’t remember whether I turned left then right, or right then left. I went right then left and I was sure that it was wrong, and how I wished that I had made sure before I set out.

brussels belgium bruxelles belgique grand boulevard basilique de sacre coeur de koekelberg
So up long before the alarm, and into town. I’ve paid the outstanding property tax and that wasn’t without excitement. I also had to deal with some issues about Marianne’s succession –
Belgian Civil Servant “you don’t pay that here”
Our Hero “where do I go then?”
BCS “where it says on the letter”
OH “well you’ll have to tell me because you have the letter”
BCS “it says here (pointing) – Rue de la Regence”
OH “where’s that?”
BCS “I don’t know”
Further enquiry from a security guard (of an ethnic minority, not a Belgian) revealed that Rue de la Regence is the street at the side of the Tax Office.

Yes, you can’t make up rubbish like this, but everyone living in Belgium will tell you all about it. The whole lot of Belgians, especially Civil Servants, DiT shop workers and agents immobilier should be stood up against a wall, preferably at the tir national, and dealt with accordingly.

The same at the Post Office. I have an account at the Post Office, still registered at my Belgian address, and I want to change the address to France. Armed with a passport and French driving licence you might think that this would be easy, but I promise you that it isn’t.

She had to ask three different colleagues how to do it and none of them knew, so when she had a go on her own the computer system crashed. So that was that.

But it’s a good job that I went to my bank though. While I was activating my card (only one of them – I’ve flaming well forgotten to bring the other, haven’t I?) for Canada, the bank clerk noticed that my credit card had expired.

Luckily there was one awaiting me and so I picked that up and we activated it then and there, but by God I was lucky. I could have had a major embarrassment about that.

And then all of this flaming rubbish with the agent immobilier.

And Cecile and her mum are setting off for Brussels tomorrow. That means that, knowing Cecile, they’ll arrive some time in April 2016.

And in a master-stroke of organisation, they are taking the bus to Nantes and picking up Cecile’s car there in order to come here, rather than coming from door to door in Cecile’s mum’s car.

That means, of course, that they can only take back with them whatever they can carry on the bus rather than a whole car-load of stuff that is otherwise heading for the tip, and that defeats the whole purpose of coming here, doesn’t it?

Friday 9th August 2013 – WELL …

… this apartment might be sold (again).

Someone who visited it yesterday has made a written offer via a promesse ferme d’achat and, being fed up of things dragging on (and on and on and on) I’ve accepted it.

Of course, I’m not vending the peau of the ours before I’ve tue’d it. I’ve enough promesse ferme d’achats to wallpaper the living room, as you know, but it’s something at least positive. I just hope that it comes off.

But it wasn’t all roses today. I was just about to step into the shower this morning when the doorbell rang.

One of the people from yesterday wanted to take a couple of measurements. And then he offered what in th common parlance would be described as an offre bidon in cash underneath the counter, take it or leave it.

Of course he went out of the door with my boot up his nether regions. I hate people who totally waste my time like that.

And what with the fracas I forgot about my shower. Mind you it does remind me of that famous cross-examination in a British court in the 1960s during a trial on a charge of affray
Barrister “and you were kicked in the fracas?”
Witness “oh no – I was kneed in the bÛllÛcks”.

And so the amateur came round to make the offer and what should have been a 15-minute task turned into 90 minutes and more and in the end I had to shout at the agent immobilier to run off her battery of mobile phones so that we could flaming well do the flaming task that we had flaming well come here to flaming well do without a flaming interruption every 30 flaming seconds.

Rude, impolite, unprofessional, pig-ignorant, call it what you will, but it wasted everyone’s time and both the purchaser and I have better things to do than to listen to her on the telephone.

I’ll be glad when the apartment is finally sold and she p155es off.

But she didn’t go yet because she came back with 4 or 5 clients at 16:30 and was here until gone 19:00 and my day was totally ruined. I didn’t even have time to do any cleaning up and that annoyed me greatly.

Mind you, it wasn’t all bad.

I finished my magnum opus, all 41kb and 7700 words of it – enough there to keep us going for a lifetime I reckon – the second longest script I’ve ever written (apart from the Christmas Specials of course).

But there’s a lot to be said on the subject I’m discussing and there are some surprising issues that will have a few British people gripping the edges of their seats once we get well into the issue.

Apart from that, the Football Association of Wales, which features regularly in these pages, has shot itself in the foot yet again and has been humiliated in the courts.

Basically, the FAW expelled Barry Town from the league because the secretary tendered the resignation of the club.

However, the secretary doesn’t have the authority to do so – it’s only the owners or the Board of Directors who can do that and the secretary (who was formerly the owner) had relinquished control to the supporters earlier.

Nevertheless, the FAW accepted the resignation.

And despite all of the FAW’s pleading in court today, the judge ruled that “the FAW council had acted unlawfully in refusing the club full FAW membership and entry into the Welsh League in June this year” and that the FAW’s decision was “flawed and irrational”.

Yes, a right bunch of miserable pleaders, the FAW. Never mind anything else, it’s the members of the FAW Council who are bringing the game into disrepute if you want my opinion, and it’s high time that someone charged them with misconduct.

And so, in honour of the FAW’s achievements today in dragging Welsh Football through the mire and into the gutter, here’s Oliver Cromwell’s speech to the Rump Parliament, and as an address to the FAW, I couldn’t have put it any better myself –

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!”

Thursday 8th August 2013 – I HAVEN’T FINISHED …

…my magnum opus for “Radio Anglais” as I had hoped.

I’m not too disappointed though – because I haven’t by any means been idle. The notes that I had prepared from last time ran to something like 15kb.

By the close of play today I’ve more than doubled that to 32kb, which is he equivalent of about 800 lines of text and over 5770 words.

Usually a radio programme’s “technical notes” bit runs to about 3.5kb so I’m looking at an equivalent of 10 programmes and maybe more (because I’ve still plenty of stuff to go at) and that will suit me fine.

Yes, 5 weeks to record just before I go and 5 weeks to record as soon as I come back.

Some more furniture might be going too. Someone has been round to look at the big wardrobe and made an offer.

I was hoping for more but I want to empty the place as quickly as possible so I shall gnash my teeth and let it go. She’s coming back for it on Tuesday – I hope she won’t have changed her mind.

Apart from that we had a pile of visits of people to look at the apartment. Some are clearly timewasters, of course, but one or two look more interested. We shall have to see.

I’m not too discouraged, though. In order to find a prince you need to kiss a lot of frogs.

I had another good dream too. I was at a product fair somewhere in the UK selling stuff related to my business but throughout all of the day I didn’t sell a tap, which was disappointing. A short while later I was wandering around Wistaston Road in Crewe near where the old timber yard was, which by now was all closed up and weed-infested, and I was following a couple of girls who were looking for old cars – Morris Oxford MO-type and pre-Farina Austin A50s and the like. And as I came to the bottom of Delamere Street where it joins Flag Lane round by the Old Vine, a pre-Farina A50 estate turned up into the street in front of me. I remember thinking to myself “how lucky – the only abandoned cars you see around here these days are old Morris Minors”

Yes, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, is it?

Wednesday 7th August 2013 – Yum Yum Yum

home made apple pie brussels belgium august aout 2013Yes indeed – tonight’s tea included a generous slice of home-made apple pie and soya ice cream.

I have to be honest and say that the apple pie is not one of my best – it’s overcooked, unfortunately (not burnt).

I am the first to say that I have a lot to learn when it comes to baking, but I’m never going to learn if I don’t have a go and at least it’s not an absolute disaster like my pear tart on the Ile D’Yeu.

The agent immobilier came round this afternoon with a few clients but no-one interesting.

One of them implied that he would make me an offer, but his sickly, smarmy smile told me everything that I needed to know about the kind of offer that he was likely to make so I told him not to waste my time or his time.

Someone else has made an offer on the place but the agent immobilier told them to save their breath.

The thing about offers of this nature is that the market is rather stagnant and there are people in Brussels with cash, so they wander around and make derisory offers, waving the used oncers under the nose of a suitable victim in the hope that he will crack.

Not that I’m complaining about this – that was exactly how I bought Expo, except that I only pretended to have the cash. If you were a follower of the old Xoom blog you will recall the panic that I had and the efforts that I had to make when my bluff was called.

Apart from that, I was up waayyyyyy before the alarm and I’ve done the additional notes for the next batch of Radio Anglais recordings and I’ve made a start on the main text.

With a bit of luck, God’s help and a bobby, that might be finished tomorrow and so I can crack on with other things.