Tag Archives: house hunting

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.

Friday 27th April 2017 – HAVING SEEN TWO …

… more ruins this morning, I have made an Executive Decision (and an Executive Decision is, as we all know, a decision that if it goes all wrong, the person making it is executed.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceI’d seen an interesting apartment not long after I came here and started to have a look around.

The building is out on the headland right by the old walled city and was formerly an army barracks. There are three of these buildings here and after having stood empty for many years they are being restored and converted into apartments.

And tastefully converted by people who clearly had a good idea about how a multi-occupancy building should be arranged.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThe apartment was 38m² and on the first floor, at the back unfortunately.

It’s those two windows just there, the right-hand one of which is just above the signs on the signpost there, and the small window around the side.

No balcony or terrace though, although there is private parking for Caliburn.

There’s a modern, heavy front door with al kinds of security fittings and an entryphone, which is really good.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceBut the steps up to the apartment itself are really impressive. Not very tall (of course people were much smaller in the 17th Century), very wide and made of solid stone. There are even carvings in them from the days when it was the French Army that was billeted here.

That’s my apartment from door right up there, on the first floor. There’s really two flights of stairs and a half-landing. There’s a lift too, but that goes from half-landing to half-landing and so that’s no good to me, is it?

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThere are two rooms here. One is a really big room that’s about 25m and tons of room to do just about anything I like in it. Within limits, of course, because it’s only to be used as a residential property.

It faces east and so it catches the sun in the morning, but not unfortunately in the afternoon. And that can’t be helped. And I do like the wooden floor

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThe kitchen is total rubbish, just like almost every apartment kitchen that I have seen in Granville. But it did manage to fire my imagination and I can do something with this for not very much money.

And look at the real stone facings on the wall. It’s a proper stone wall with insulation and plasterboard faced over the top. It reminds me of home and that’s another reason why it appealed to me.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThere’s a small bedroom, which is fine by me. I don’t want a bedroom except for sleeping in, and there’s only going to be me anyway so it doesn’t really matter all that much.

and I’m rather disappointed by the floor. I thought at first that it was a wooden floor but in actual fact it’s a false lamitate, and a cheap laminate at that too. But you can’t have everything (and believe me, I’ve tried)

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceHowever, another advantage of this place is that there’s a built-in wardrobe here, complete with shelves and a few hanging rails.

There isn’t much in the way of storage facilities, but I only have a few clothes these days anyway, so there is plenty of room left over to stock whatever else needs stocking and for which I’m not able to find any other place to keep it.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThe bathroom is the right size too, not too big and not too small. And it’s been refurbished quite nicely too.

I’m not impressed by the bath though. I would much rather have a shower so that I can use the extra space for something else, but I’m not prepared to argue about it.

There is plumbing for a washing machine though, and that’s quite useful.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThe toilet is separate too, but then that’s not going to be very much of an issue because of course there’s only going to be me in here.

But anyway, chatting to the estate agent, she told me that this place was still unlet although someone else had been to see it and quite liked it.

And it is I suppose the best that I’ve seen to date and the rental is within my budget, and being totally fed up of seeing more ruins, and living out of a suitcase in depressing surroundings, I took a decision and signed on the dotted line.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceAfter all, it is right in the shadow of the city walls by one of the gates. And I do love the building – it really has the right kind of impressive style that I want.

I could move in straight away too, except that there’s no electric. And for that, I’ll have to wait until Friday next week for that. and that’s dismayed me.

But not as much as the question of the internet. There’s a two-week delay for that, and that’s going to be difficult for me.

However, I set to work and managed to unload half of Caliburn today, as well as going around the shops in town.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThere is in fact a sea view from the apartment if you are prepared to do a little bit of contortionism, but just around the corner 50 yards away is a very lovely public garden right at the top of the wall overlooking the harbour.

This looks like the ideal place for me to go and have my picnic every day when the weather is good, and being in the lee of the buildings it’s actually quite sheltered from the wind.

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceThere are a variety of ways down to the modern town and shopping facilities. Apart from the three roads, there are several sets of stairs and ramps that lead you off in all kinds of directions

I took one set of stairs only to discover that this seems to be the longest way round. There are several ways that are much shorter than this.

And if I’m feeling the strain of the climb back up the road with my shopping, there’s a bus service and the fare is €1:00

batiment vauban place d'armes granville manche normandy franceWhile you admire the view from the top of the stairs, i climbed down to the bottom and went into town.

I organised the internet, changed my bank over to the branch here, and went to the Post Office to complete a redirection service for all of my post.

Hopefully that will end all of this confusion that has taken place over the past 18 months with my mail. What with one thing and another I’ve not been getting it.

hang glider granville manche normandy franceThe whole of Granville seems to be built on cliffs and rocks, and while I was out on the promenade speaking to the guy at the Electricity Company, this person came flying by overhead.

It’s not something that I would recommend around here with the roofs and chimneys and rocky outcrops either, and luckily he didn’t have an “unfortunate encounter” – at least, while I was there watching him.

drawbridge pont levis granville manche normandy franceThe walk back up the hill to the old down took me along the walls that surround the place, and there I encountered a drawbridge, or pont lévis as they are called around here.

But as for me, I can well imagine that with my reputation they will start pulling up the drawbridge and running down the portcullis now that they know that I’m moving in to the vicinity. Sentries patrolling the walls too, I reckon.

So having worked myself to a frazzle with half of Caliburn unloaded I came back here for a coffee and to relax before tea.

and now it’s bedtime. And I’ll probably sleep for a week.

Wednesday 26th April 2017 – THAT’S TWO MORE …

… ruins crossed off the list this morning.

Two new constructions of which I would have been the first inhabitant.

The first one was a nice apartment but the finishing was terrible. They had installed the kitchen unit and then painted the walls with the result that half of the paint was on the unit. And they hadn’t painted behind the unit either, which gave me a good chance to look at the plasterboard. It wasn’t “hydro” plasterboard but cheap 10mm stuff that wouldn’t last five minutes once it became wet (which is an odds-on certainty behind a kitchen unit). It wouldn’t have been so bad had they tiled it, or even painted it, but that was a load of rubbish and I’m not becoming involved with those kinds of issues.

The second one was a studio, nice and big, but with the black damp already rising out of the floor – and in a new untenanted studio too.

So no danger of me moving into anywhere here.

garden gnome brehal manche normandy franceBut I was disappointed about these apartments anyway, because there is someone living just across the road from here that has a similar kind of sense of humour as me, and that’s something quite rare in France, isn’t it?

This isn’t all that was on display either. The whole garden front, sides and back, was covered in garden ornaments. And I have to be honest and say that the idea of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, a pile of sprouting mushrooms and half a dozen tuinkabouwters living in the immediate vicinity is one that would appeal to me.

old railway station ancienne gare brehal manche normandy franceThat’s not the only exciting thing here in the vicinity either. This building is actually just across the car park from the building that I was visiting, and regular readers of this rubbish will recognise this for what it is.

It is of course a railway station.

Brehal did once have a railway service, on the line between Granville and Conde sur Vire. Opened in 1909, it was another one of these ephemeral local lines – a tacot with a narrow gauge of one metre.

Ephemeral it certainly was. Not quite matching the 8 years of railway line between Pionsat and Gouttieres, it struggled on for a grand total of 32 years, closing officially in 1941 due to “wartime conditions” and never reopening.

However, I have seen in someone’s memoirs a story that it closed in the mid-1930s and that the rails were removed some time round about 1937-38

I’d had a bad night again – not comfortable in my new bed. And far too much noise for my liking. Despite switching off the film early last night, I couldn’t go to sleep and that’s the thing that always puts me in a bad mood.

After breakfast I hit the streets to Brehal to see these ruins, and then wandered off to the bank for some money. And found myself passing a launderette. I was having a free morning, and I had a pile of dirty clothes in Caliburn and having found the washing soap when I had Caliburn stripped out the other day, I spend a pleasant hour in the launderette with a good book while my washing was going round.

Having picked up a baguette, I headed for the beach. Far too windy and hailstormy to sit outside but I did profit by pulling about 6 months worth of rubbish out of Caliburn and dumping it in a waste bin.

oyster beds coudeville plage manche normandy franceAnd having a good look at the oyster beds out here too. With the tide being quite low right now, you can actually see them.

While I was eating my butty I had an interesting exchange of text messages –
“Why didn’t you say hello to me?”
“When you walked past me just now”
“Did I just walk past you?”
“Yes you did!”
“Where was that?”
“On the car park”
“Which one?”
“The one right outside the sous-prefecture“.
“But I wasn’t there”
“Where are you?”
“Sitting by the seaside in Brehal in Normandy”
“Ohh dear – I’ve texted the wrong number! Sorry”.

Back here, I sat outside in the verandah with a good book and a coffee for a while. And then I made my tea in the kitchen in the garage.

But I’m really fed up with this. Not only do I have the landlady sitting watching me while I eat my breakfast, she came to watch over me while I cooked and ate my tea. And I’m not comfortable in my new quarters either.

I can’t be doing with this. It’s the cheapest place in the whole of Normandy and it’s easy to see why. I’m moving on on Sunday morning – and I don’t care where to – and it will be a cold day in hell before I ever come back here.

Thursday 20th April 2017 – SO THAT’S THREE …

… more ruins visited today. One at Carolles-Plage, one at St Pair sur Mer, and the third God-knows where out in the sticks somewhere and I’ve no idea where.

The first was right on the beach in a former hotel, but the building was falling down and the apartment was on the ground floor alongside a public car park in what had been clearly, despite the Estate Agent’s denials, a former shop premises. And badly converted too.

The one at St Pair sur Mer was also a former hotel, and there were several rooms combined to make an apartment. but it was filthy, disgusting in fact, and there had been a water leak (“the Insurance will fix this” so the Estate agent assured me, but we’ve all heard that before, haven’t we?).

But two things, apart from the disgusting dirt, turned me right off this place.

  1. the bedroom was right underneath the stairs going up to the next floor. I’m a light sleeper as you know.
    How much sleep would I have?
  2. The building was so badly converted that the waste pipe from the next-door toilet passed through into the kitchen of this apartment. That would make for a lively situation if ever there would be a problem.

We shan’t mention the dreadful tiling (or lack thereof), the abysmal plumbing, the damp stains underneath the windows – all of that.

It was a disgrace.

As for the one out in the sticks, that really was out in the sticks. and the yappy dog barking in the garden underneath told me straight away that this was a waste of time. The building was falling down too and there was no co-propriété – repairs to the building would be “by negotiation” and we’ve heard all of this before.

The kitchen was nice in this place, but the finishing was appalling (open chipboard on the worktop by the sink) and the tiling was even worse than I can manage to do.

Strangely enough, leaving aside the question of the estate agent leaving me waiting for 15 minutes, I mentioned to him that I didn’t want to see any ruins, any falling-down buildings, any dirty apartments and any where the vendors couldn’t even be bothered to remove the furniture. And so I got the lot today.

Mind you, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. I had spoken about my plans to my landlady here, and see took me to Bréhal today. There’s a new development of apartments there and several are still empty, either for sale or to let. One of her friends is the President of the co-propriété and she arranged to let me look round.

It’s not what I want and not where I want it to be, but it’s the best possibility yet, especially if I can make friends with the President. And so she arranged for the managing agents to contact me.

And as you might expect, I’m still waiting.

After my early night falling asleep during the film yet again, I was awake at 05:30 and had another early breakfast in the company of my landlady. a shower brought me back to my feet and then we went off to look at this place.

I’d forgotten my salad stuff and my knife and so on, so I ended up with a bag of crisps for lunch, sitting on the promenade at Jullouville (which I really do like). And then we had the estate agent.

I had to drop off some papers in Granville on my way back, and then came back here to sit in the sun and read a book for a while, with my mate sitting on my knee having a stroke.

Tea was more of what I had made yesterday, and now it’s an early night. I was too busy to crash out today, so I’ll sleep like a log tonight, I reckon.

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 11th April 2017 – I’VE JUST HAD ….

… the most extraordinary proposition put to me.

And no, Rhys, it’s not like that. And it doesn’t involve sheep either.

I went to see two more ruins this morning. And I was quite right too. One was really beautiful, with a magnificent view out to sea and the price wasabout right too. But it was furnished, and furnished too in the worst possible taste, and it was thoroughly filthy. Not even I as a tenant would leave an apartment in this kind of state. We shan’t talk about the kitchen either.

But it was the other one in the same building that really got me. It was another studio – which was superficially larger. But all of the difference and more was taken up by a totally pointless hall d’entrée and I didn’t understand that at all.

And worse was to come. For it had a balcony, which the one at the top didn’t have, but this was on the first floor and it had a stunning view of the car park and the high hedge that screened it from the view of the sea.

But there was one thing that totally shocked me – and it does take a lot to do that, I’ll tell you. There had been transfers or patches stuck on the wall, and it was impossible to remove them. "Don’t worry" said the estate agent. "The landlord will buy the paint and you can paint over them". At that, I turned on my heels and walked out.

Some, if not all of these landlords whom I have encountered, are living on a totally different planet than I am, and I’m sure that it’s not me who is devoid of reality. I expect a clean and tidy apartment in good order and good repair in a respectable building – that’s a prime consideration. But clearly many of these landlords – and many of the tenants too, I shouldn’t wonder – have totally different ideas than I have. Whatever is the world coming to?

So last night I slept the Sleep of the Dead and it wasn’t until the alarm went off that I staggered to my feet. 10 minutes under the shower soon restored me to life (well, sort-of, anyway) and I was glad that I wasn’t having breakfast because I wasn’t hungry in the least. I headed off instead through the fog and mist and the roadworks (of which there were more than just a few) for my rendezvous with destiny.

The esate agent had a bit of a moan about dropping me of at the railway station but then she can’t pick and choose her clients either.

sncf gare de granville manche normandy franceI had a long wait for my train so I had plenty of time to relax and buy a coffee – but then it was worth the wait because it was a very modern diesel mutiple-unit. A bit lightweight and it rolled around quite a lot, but on the other hand the seats were super-comfortable and there were plenty of power points all over the place.

My neighbours were a young woman and her two kids who were pleying an exciting game of cards all the way to Paris. It certainly kept them amused and out of mischief for a while.

Lunch was the baguette that I had bought last night for this morning’s breakfast, together with the bowl of mint couscous that I had bought from LeClerc on Saturday, washed down with sparkling water that I had brought with me. Very acceptable.

The Paris metro was the usual incomprehensible maze, worsened by the fact that one half of the metro station at Montparnasse is cloed for renovation – and it’s the half that I need. Consequently it’s a bit all round the houses to reach the Gare du Nord.

tgv paris gare du mord france bruxelles midi belgium We had an exciting few minutes of security alert as someone had forgotten their luggage in the waiting room, and then we were all ready to board out train – the one on the right of course.

There’s one of these stupid security checks that you have to pass before boarding the train these days – and that’s the kind of thing that gets on my nerves as you all well-know. But at least I had a comfortable seat on the train and I was quite undisturbed.

Imagine my surprise on arriving at Bruxelles Gare du Midi to discover that there was a train for leuven pulling in right at that moment. That involved something of a sprint but nevertheless I leapt aboard, as did another family who immediately discovered that they had leapt aboard the wrong train.

I was okay though and ended up being decanted in Leuven much earlier than anticipated.

verbond van belgische tuinbouwcooperaties belgium april avril 2017Walking around the ring road towards where I’m staying tonight, I noticed this sign on a wall by a door to a building.

Verbond is “Association”, tuin is “garden”, bouw is “building” and cooperatie is “co-operative”. And so I’m wondering if this building is the headquarters of the Association for people who share garden sheds with other people.

belgium march mars 2017My early arrival gave me time to visit the Colruyt supermarket down the road to stock up with breakfast material, which is good news.

And my trip down the road took me past a fritkot that advertised a terrace, so on the way back I stopped for tea. The terrace is hardly the most exciting terrace in the world as you can see, but it was nice to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air

I’m not staying in my usual hostel but in a flat-hotel place called the Condo Gardens. Here I have my own tiny little studio and although breakfast isn’t included, it’s totally self-sufficient.

And I do hope that the bed is comfy because I’m ready for it.

Monday 10th April 2017 – WHAT A SHAME!

I’ve actually seen a place that I liked today. It had everything that I wanted except for the kitchen of course (one of those really cheap units with the two ancient hobs and the fridge underneath so that the hobs take ages to heat up, they are pretty much uncontrollable, and they melt everything in the fridge).

And so why haven’t I signed for it then?

Two reasons really.

  1. It’s not free until the beginning of July
  2. It’s three floors up without a lift

And that’s that.

There was another apartment to let in the same building, on the first floor but without the terrace and the view of the sea. And that smelt as if the people living there had smoked 100 cigarettes a day for 20 years.

In other words, yet another wasted morning.

bad parking barneville carteret manche normandy franceBut on the other hand, it wasn’t exactly wasted because I did learn one or two things about the town.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, poor parking is a regular theme that crops up, and here, I regret to say, is yet another example of the dismal failure of other selfish motorists to respect disabled parking spaces.

This tells me more about the town than any other factor, and in this sense I’m glad that I’m not moving here.

But before I had left my little studio in Granville for my drive out, I had given the studio a quick clean-around and took some stuff down to Caliburn with me, and then we roared off to Barneville-Carteret to look at these apartments.

And then we roared back.

I finished off the tidying up and passed the inspection with the landlord, and then set off to find a place for tonight. And with what is befitting a holiday resort in the school holidays, there’s not a room to let anywhere in town.

After an hour or so of fruitless searching, we all took to the road and 80 kilometres and 80 minutes later we ended up in Cancale on the other side of the bay.

I had the last room here too – the Hotel le Chatellier – and at €60:00 it looks as if I have made a good choice. It’s quite comfortable and the shower is delicious. I spent half an hour in there.

No breakfast though. It doesn’t start until 08:00 and I’ll be long gone and down the road by then.

Cancale is beautiful. It’s nearly 30 years since I came here with Nerina and it’s changed dramatically in that it’s impossible to park by the sea.And it’s a hell of a climb up to the car parks at the top. And of course, all of the places to eat are at the bottom.

Luckily, on the edge of town was not darkness but a pizza van and we sorted something out. He came, would you believe, from Moisie in Quebec, so we had a really good chat.

Back at the hotel, I found a quiet little corner out of the wind and sat outside and ate my pizza. It really was a nice evening.

So now I’m ready for anything. Including two more ruins to visit tomorrow morning, and my train to Leuven at 11:50.

Friday 7th April 2017 – I MADE A CONSCIOUS …

… decision this morning and turned down the thermostat in the fridge. Much a I like ice-cold soya milk and fruit juice, I don’t like the racket that the fridge makes during the night. I can’t have the best of both worlds unfortunately – it’s one or the other.

But once I did finally manage to settle down I was well-away and it was the alarm that once more awoke me. And I’d been on my travels again, with some friends with whom I used to go and watch the Alex play in the mid-70s. We’d been to a match where they had been playing the Clayheads in a tense local derby and had won 2-1, although we didn’t arrive there until the final whistle (which rather defeated the point of going).

After breakfast I didn’t do too much – just chatted to a few people on the internet, and also spent ages (so it seemed) going through the old laptop removing duplicate files. It seems that I had let it get completely out of hand and there was about 15GB of duplicate files in there that needed removing.

I also made a few more enquiries about apartments and I have two more to see – one tomorrow morning and the other on Monday morning.They both look quite nice, but then again I’ve heard – and seen – all of this before and I don’t intend to count my chickens before they are hatched.

For lunch I strolled down to the promenade with my butties, my fruit and my book and sat at the same place as yesterday. If anything, it was a warmer day than yesterday and just for a change it was fatigue that drove me back to my little studio.

And just for a change, it was 17:20 when I came round, and made myself a coffee. I’m really not doing too well with things at the moment.

One thing that I didn’t forget (which was just as well) was to move Caliburn. One part of the public parking is reserved on Saturday mornings for the vans of the market traders and that was where I had parked him up. But across the road there were a few spaces and so he’s gone in there.

Tea was pasta with the rest of the lentil stuff that I had made yesterday. And it was delicious too, although it will be nice to get back to having a proper kitchen and doing proper cooking.

Now I’m having an early night and tomorrow I might even have a shower. Have to look my best for my visits.

Thursday 6th April 2017 – YES, DEFINITELY THE FRIDGE.

It took ages to go off to sleep again last night with the fridge whining away in the background. And I was awoken once more in the middle of the night by the rattling of the compressor.

But I did manage to go back to sleep and was awoken by the alarm, which is always nice.

I’d been on my travels too – something I’ve not really done for a while. I was taxiing again – this time in the white Volkswagen Passat estate that I own. And the wife of one of the people for whom I drove back in the early 80s put in an appearance too.

And that reminds me – I need to rescue the Passat and the Minerva next time I go back to the Auvergne and put them on the hardstanding. After all, that’s why I had it made.

I had a quiet leisurely morning. I’m not up to doing too much these days. What with chatting to Liz and so on, I was late for going to buy my baguette and ended up at the boulangerie across the road. I had a walk down to Caliburn too, to make sure that he’s okay and to pick up a few things that I need.

casino granville manche normandy franceAt lunch I went for a walk down on the promenade at the back of the Casino over there to sit in the sun and eat my butties. And sit in the sun I did too – for about an hour.

But the wind was rather wicked and despite the sunshine, it was really cold and there was nowhere to shelter. In the end, I decided that the only protection was “flight” and came back home.

Back here I carried out some more research about places to stay and made a few phone calls but no-one called me back. But then I’m not surprised. No-one seems to want to earn any money these days. They just want to sit at home and moan about how cruel the world is.

Tea was the rest of the potatoes, and I made a thing out of a tin of lentils, a tin of veg and a bottle of tomato sauce. It wasn’t too bad after. It was all washed down with some fruit salad and soya dessert which was nice.

So now let’s see what kind of night we have tonight. I managed to avoid crashing out so I should be ready for a good sleep. Watch someone come along and spoil it for me.

5th April 2017 – WELL THAT’S ANOTHER …

residence l'ermitage manche normandy france… complete and utter waste of an afternoon as far as I am concerned.

Somewhere in that big building down there on the seasfront in the distance at Donville-les-Bains is a studio to let.
Vue sur mer so they told me, and so I went to look this afternoon in the company of an estate agent.

Vue sur mer there certainly is, but not the vue sur mer that I was hoping to have, but I do realise that I shall have to make compromises.

It’s a old hotel by the looks of things that’s been converted into studios and apartments, and the first thing that I noticed was that the building has seen much better days.There’s been no process of renovation for about 30 years by the looks of things.

And then the front doors to the building were wide open. And in a holiday resort too. That’s not a good plan as far as security goes.

It’s also one of these rabbit warrens, with about 10 apartments and studios on the same floor. It’s not going to be quiet.

As for the studio itself, it is only small – 23M² – but that doesn’t bother me as it is less to clean. But half of that is in the bathroom – which is totally silly if you ask me.

And the rest is … well … derelict is probably too strong a term to use, but it’s definitely seen much better days as far as the decoration goes.

The kitchen is like something out of the 1950s. One of those silly units with the sink with cupboard underneath and the ancient cooker elements right on top of the fridge so the ice cream melts when you are trying to cook something. And there’s no possibility of inventing something different.

Don’t get me wrong though – the price was right at €280 per month, but I want something with much more style than this. My days of slumming it in all kinds of disreputable accommodation are long-gone. I’ve earned a comfortable retirement.

Last night was a slightly better night and although it took ages to go off to sleep, I was away with the fairies until the alarm awoke me. High time that I managed that.

I like the idea of the really cold stuff in the fridge. It’s beautiful for breakfast. And two mugs of coffee too. Luxury. And then I had a relax for a while.

Later on I had a good walk looking for another boulangerie and the baguette in this one is the best to date. Far from perfect, but an improvement on the others.

After lunch we had the appointment at Donville-les-Bains and then back here at Granville I made an exciting discovery. The ice-cream stall by the casino sells sorbets. expensive, mind you, but I treated myself nevertheless.

And then a climb up the hundred or so stairs to the old town. It took me a while with several stops for breath, but there I was. And I went for a walk around. There’s no boulangerie up there, but a very friendly and garrulous newspaper-shop proprietor up there is a dêpot de pain and he sells bread at 08:00 6 days per week at 08:00. That’s useful to know.

The walk down here, underneath the arch and over the drawbridge, was very nice too. But the climb had worn me out and I had a good hour or so crashing out.

for tea I had the last of my vegan burgers with spuds and mixed veg, followed by the last of the carrot cake and some more soya dessert. That’s a shame. I shall have to start to use my imagination now.

And an early night again. About time, too. Tomorrow is a new day, and we shall see what that brings me.

Monday 3rd April 2017 – AND I SHAN’T …

… sleep tonight either.

Last night was yet another miserable night, and I simply don’t understand it. It’s a comfortable bed, it’s reasonably quiet here for a city centre, there’s double-glazing and all of that, but I can’t understand why I just can’t go to sleep. I’m doing something wrong, that’s for sure, and I wish that I knew just what it was.

But anyway, I had a rather … errr … late breakfast (I’d heard the alarms but I didn’t actually arise) and then cracked on with some work – searching through a pile of adverts to extract some names of estate agents and the like who might have properties to let.

And there was only one, and that wasn’t much use, except that I did learn something. And this means that I am going to have to be a little economical with the truth and come up with one or two alternative facts about my position here in Granville. Still, if it’s good enough for British and American senior civil servants, it will be good enough for me.

I walked up the hill to the last of the estate agents, but they couldn’t help with anything. But she did suggest a caravan at a holiday camp until the season dies down. And I’ve been thinking about this, and even know where I can find a caravan too. If all else fails, that’s a fall-back.

Across the road is the railway station, and seeing as they were having their Senior Citizens Railcards on special offer at €60:00, I went over and bought one. It gives me a substantial reduction on my rail fares and if I’m going to Leuven every few weeks, it will more than pay for itself. The last trip home showed that I can’t rely on my own steam to drive distances like that these days reliably.

There are regular trains to Paris Vaugirard and the journey takes just over 3 hours, and trains also to several places in the vicinity.

When Terry had taken me home last night we’d driven past a few estate agents in Donville-les-Bains and it’s only a couple of kilometres walk from the station, so seeing that it was a nice day, I went for a walk.

One was closed and the second had nothing that its main office in Granville didn’t have, but it gave me an opportunity to look around the town. It’s a nice place and the views from upon the cliffs are stunning. I shall have to make further enquiries.

I walked all the way back to my little holiday studio and picked up my olive bread, some water, some fruit and a book, and then went off to the promenade to have lunch. It was beautiful sitting out there in the sun, but round about 14:00 I reckoned that I’d go inside my studio for a sit down for half an hour.

Next thing that I remembered was that it was 17:20. I’d been asleep for well over three hours. This isn’t any good, because I won’t ever sleep at night if I keep on going like this. But I needed some spuds so I nipped to the little Carrefour down the road.

Tea was potatoes, green beans, peas and carrots with the left-over vegan burgers from mast night, followed by carrot cake and soya cream ditto.

sunset plage de casino granville manche normandy franceAnd chatting to Liz on the internet, she suggested that I go for another walk down to the beach near the Casino to photograph the sunset.

And with it being a really beautiful night, I decided to do just that. I hurried up and finished the washing up, and then hit the streets just as the sun was starting to set. I needed to get a move on before it was too late. The sunset won’t wai for me.

sunset plage de casino granville manche normandy franceI wasn’t alone out there either. There were quite a few people loitering around on the promenade, including a group of break-dancers having some fun.

And not only that, I was engaged in conversation with a woman whose husband was also taking photos of the sunset. It transpired that they were here on holiday and come from Oostende in Belgium. As a result, our conversation continued in Flemish.

sunset plage de casino granville manche normandy franceThat probably took them by surprise, but then again, I need to keep it up, otherwise I’ll forget and that will be a waste of a year won’t it?

The tide was out (it had been right in at lunchtime) and so I was able to go for a perambulation on the beach. That was a nice way to end the day too. After all, it’s why I’ve come to (hopefully) live by the seaside, if ever I can find a place to live.

sunset plage de casino granville manche normandy franceAnd as it finally went dark, I walked down to the end of the promenade at the back of the Casino to take a photograph of the dying embers of the sun as it sank down over the horizon.

I wasn’t alone here either – there were all kinds of people out here enjoying the setting sun. And quite right too because it really was beautiful. It had been a gorgeous day for most people who have somewhere to live, but I’m yet to have that luxury.

rue paul poirier granville manche normandy franceI walked back along the rue Paul Poirier to my little holiday studio, which is just down there on the corner.

All of the washing up is done and I’ve had a wash. Nothing remains now except to make up my bed and go to sleep. Not that I’ll be doing too much of that after my mega-doze this afternoon.

But we’ll have a go and see where we end up. At least I’m by the seaside and that’s where I want to be. Tomorrow is another day and it looks as if I shall be having to cast my net a little further.

But I’ll find somewhere – I’m sure that I will. It’s just a question of time.

Saturday 1st April 2017 – CALL THAT A …

… Division d’Honneur match?

I’ve seen more exciting and more competent teams playing down in Division 2 of the Puy-de-Dôme League than what was served up here at Granville tonight.

La Patriote ST Jamaise were pretty miserable – another team that spent far too long hanging on to the ball instead of playing it out wide or over the top. But as for US Granville, they have to be one of the worst teams that I have seen. Far and away the worst at this level.

They had a red-headed guy playing right-back who was thoroughly, totally and completely useless. He was substituted after 30 minutes and judging by his contributions up to that point, he was on the pitch for 30 minutes too long.

But the centre-forward – a big bulky 20-stone guy that would make Akinfenwa look like a lightweight – I’ve never seen anything like it. He was easily the worst player that I’ve seen on a pitch in a competitive match. He didn’t run after the ball – just a leisurely saunter around when he could be bothered to move – and never looked as if he was going to do anything at all. US Granville could have played without him and no-one would have noticed the difference. Xavier, who used to play up front for Pionsat’s 3rd XI will be the first to admit that he was playing up front to enjoy himself rather than in respect of demonstrating any skill, but I would have had him on the field leading the attack any day of the week rather than this guy.

It goes without saying that, being the worst team that I have ever seen, Granville were 2-1 up at half-time. Two free kicks, two shots at goal, 2 goals. But honours were restored in the second half as La Patriote ST Jamaise scored two more goals – one from a dreadful defensive howler where they all stood around waiting for the keeper to come halfway up field to head a ball away. I hardly need to mention that he headed it just as far as a La Patriote ST Jamaise attacker who calmly lobbed it over his head into the net. And the winning goal was … well … I estimated about three yards offside from my perfect position in line with play.

But US Granville can’t complain. They were dreadful.

I’d had a much better sleep today and a steadier start to the day. With a few things to do (loads of files to update) and then I went for a walk around the market. Nothing of interest unfortunately, and the prices are, well, not what I’m accustomed to paying.

But going for a walk to buy bread, I found a notaire with a few letting properties in the window. One looks quite suitable so I have an appointment to see that on Wednesday.

This afternoon I was chatting to a few people on the internet and then Caliburn and I went off to LeClerc for a look around. Strawberries at €0:90 for 500 grammes and cheap soya cream too – that will make for some exciting puddings for the next few days.

There’s an electromenager bit there too and prices seem to be reasonable. That’s one-up on Montlucon.

Afterwards, I headed for the footy and then came back here for tea.

It’s a late night but it’s Sunday tomorrow so no alarm. Let’s see how well I can sleep.

Friday 31st March 2017 – I HAD A NICE AFTERNOON …

… out this afternoon. Liz and Terry, who are in the area somewhere, came to visit me. The first time that I have seen Liz for over a year.

But last night was an awful night; For some totally unknown reason I just couldn’t go to sleep. I’ve no idea why – it wasn’t that the bed here is uncomfortable or that there was a lot of noise – it must be my guilty conscience I suppose.

And it was a struggle to leave the bed though for breakfast. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have really cold soya milk, really cold orange juice and really cold fruit puree. I felt so much better after that.

There were things that needed to be done around here now that I have a reliable internet connection – tons of stuff that I need to download – and then I had an appointment to see an apartment. And it was a nice place too and it’s currently at the top of my list. It has one bedroom, private parking, well within my budget and in a beautiful stone building from the 18th Century BUT it’s at the rear of the building and so doesn’t face the sea. Had it been at the front of the building I would have signed for it on the spot. But there you go.

After lunch I had a doze – and then Liz and Terry came round to awaken me from my reverie. We had a good chat, went for a coffee and then for a drive up and down the coast looking at neighbouring villages to see if there might be anything suitable there.

It’s a beautiful coast just here and with the sun shining out it was a delicious afternoon. St Pair-sur-Mer is particularly beautiful. But I ended up having a “wobble” and so we had to come home. I crashed out for an hour or so as soon as I returned.

I’ve had my tea now – more of last night’s effort “lengthened” by a tin of mushrooms. So I’m having a little relax before bedtime. I’ve had a busy day and with my bad night last night I feel that an early night is called for.

Thursday 30th March 2017 – I’M INSTALLED …

… in a little studio apartment right in the centre of town here in Granville. I went into the Tourist Information Office for a brochure, found a list of holiday flats, and there was one just over the road. Free parking just a few hundred metres up the street and so here I am.

Next task was to look for somewhere more permanent, so I went off hot-foot to a place that I had seen on the internet. Parking close by and a sea view.

But what a disappointment that was! I could smell the damp as soon as I walked into the place. Not only that, the floor creaked dangerously and had some cheap lino thrown down over it. A glance out of the window showed that the garden hadn’t been weeded or the lawn mowed for about a year. And if the landlord can’t cope with simple jobs like that, what hope do you have of him coping with anything important? I walked away.

Never mind though. There are plenty of estate agents in the town and I have already visited three or four. The remainder are for tomorrow I reckon and we’ll see what happens then.

As for the town itself, it’s been 20-odd years since I’ve been here and I don’t remember anything at all about it. Either it’s changed dramatically or I have. I know that we stayed here a couple of times but I really don’t remember where. I don’t recognise a thing.

But no matter. I cooked tea tonight in my little kitchen and shortly I’ll be going to sleep on my little bed-settee. I’ve had a hard day and I’ve already crashed out for half an hour or so this afternoon.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings me.

Wednesday 31st August 2016 – FATE HAS A VERY STRANGE HABIT …

… of dealing with its own issues without very much input from oneself, no matter how hard one might try to interfere with things. And in the end, one quickly discovers that one didn’t even need to interfere at all.

And so it is with my accommodation, because the situation has resolved itself without any input from me, no matter how hard I tried.

I was told this morning that I can leave the hospital today. My blood count is back up (and over) to 12.2 – the highest that it has ever been, and there was no infection in my blood. And when do I come back? The answer is – 13th October – in 6 weeks time in fact. And then I’ll be required to check in every 6 months or so. Consequently there is no need at all for me to stay in Leuven and I can go back home.

Except that I am not going home at all. I have a cunning plan, and it certainly does not involve Belgium.

I had a bad night at the hospital, but then, that’s only to be expected. I always have bad nights at the hospital. I didn’t get off to sleep until about 01:30 and I was wide awake again by 05:30, tucking into a nectarine and a banana, followed by a coffee.

A blood sample followed (I didn’t mention the fruit), and then breakfast, and then we had the endless stream of visitors. And this was when the news was given to me about leaving.

Having had my lunch (I’m not going to miss out on this) I set off for home, remembering half-way down the hill that I had forgotten my vegan cheese in the hospital fridge. And when I arrived here, I had a phone call – could I go back to the hospital and allow them to take out my catheter? Yes, who forgot to have it taken out then?

So back up the hill to the hospital, remembering on the way that I had to collect my vegan cheese from the fridge. Sophie, my third-favourite nurse was there and she took it out without even a wince. The best one that I’ve ever had. Then downstairs and bumped into Evie who was going home, and we had a long chat.

From there, I walked back home, remembering half-way down the hill that I had forgotten my vegan cheese in the hospital fridge YET AGAIN.

Back here, I put things in motion and as a result I’m leaving here on Saturday afternoon, and leaving for goog too, 12 days before my time is up. And where I’m going on the train, you’ll all find out in due course. But it’s not back home to Virlet.

I’ve had my tea – mushroom curry – and now I’m having an early night. I have so much to do now for the next few days.