Monday, February 18, 2019

Multiple Choice Anxiety....

      It's Valentine's Day and I'm cardless again - not that I expected anything really. And I did make sure that Big Grandson had something to give his Mum, a card and a little presie, but I'm sure she will have had plenty of love tokens from the new bloke, who is very good at that kind of thing,
      I've had someone looking at my house again today, and it just made me feel worse. She was a busy woman, full of energy and undoubtedly looking for a bargain! I felt like saying that I didn't put heart and soul into doing this house to just  sell it off cheaply - I  didn't say it, but if she wants a bargain there are plenty of crap houses out there that need a lot of money spending on them to bring them up to this standard. So there.
     Anyway, the encounter has left me feeling like running off into the sunset (or at least as far as Barcelona), and I think I've got to get out into the sun while it lasts. I'll finish this later when I hope
I'll be in a better frame of mind.
     Well, I was in a bad mood, and just as well that I didn't hang around to depress everyone else. I'm feeling a lot better, it's sunny again, and I had a lovely lot of celebrations for my Birthday last week.
Last Sunday I had a champagne tea, courtesy of my friend Mary in Eastbourne, and Saturday was my Birthday lunch at Cote in Brighton, which was lovely too. So I shouldn't really be feeling as adrift
as I do. Perhaps because it was a "big birthday" it's inevitable. It takes a while to settle into one's new age and just get on with life. In my case, I really must jog on with the Memoir; leaving it unloved and unfinished is not an option. It's all part of general moving on, in life and in location. I'm faced with multiple choice anxiety and, where I  have always been a decisive person with a firm set of choices in place, this time I have far too much to consider. If only I knew what I really want to do and where I  really want to go. Simple? If only...

Thursday, January 31, 2019

In the bleak Midwinter

      We really are in the grip of a bleak Midwinter right now - or it is threatened hourly if you turn on the radio or the TV. Actually it's not too bad here, if you don't mind zero temperatures and wearing extra layers. But here I still am, blocked from moving in any direction until my house is actually sold. I say actually because firm offers are no good without a sale to back them up. Two very nice ladies are each keen to buy this house, but still have houses to sell. Stalemate. And meanwhile I haver and twist and turn, changing my mind in every possible direction while waiting for the dreaded Brexit to strike us all down.
      God knows what we will all be doing in a couple of months time. Running out of everything if some people are to be believed, and stockpiling cans of beans. Heaven knows I don't want to go back 40 years, which is what Brexiteers apparently find so attractive.I can actually remember what it was like; there were strikes and shortages and power cuts galore, and we hadn't long been free of War and Rationing. Oh yes, we still had our Empire, and all the ill-gotten gains that went with it, but surely we have come far enough to see that it was generally awful? I won't be one of the people gaily jumping off the white cliffs in a couple of months time. I'm just hoping we come to our collective senses before then and chuck Teresa May, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and the horrible Jacob Rees Mogg over the edge instead - oh and let's include Mr. Ghastly May too and may he take his Hedge Fund profits with him. I'd also chuck Jeremy Corbyn over with them - let them fight it out as they fall. Corbyn has missed his moment and his chance, all of us who want a say in our futures now that some of the facts are known, have been royally stuffed by the lot of them. In fact, let's tie them all together so that they go down with a proper thump. And good riddance.
      I'd have David Lammy for PM (I know he's MP for Tottenham, but that's just a coincidence), or Caroline Lucas - at least they each have an honest approach to politics. But my best candidate would be Gareth Southgate, England Football Manager and a man of Integrity with a capital I. As far as I can see, he would be our best hope: he thinks before he speaks, tells the truth in tricky situations and loves this country while appreciating the contributions made by people from around the world. The fact that he is not a Politician is, as far as I can see, a real advantage. That means he's not greedy, corrupt or dishonest. Bring him on..

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Taking a Slight Detour...

  Well, here we go again. I flew to Barcelona last week (Thursday to be precise) and immediately had a totally frustrating encounter with the Airport car park since I couldn't find the way out and Son was waiting outside in the car for me, ready to rush me to their new Apartment. Hah! Drawing a veil over that, we raced back to Barcelona at high speed and managed to arrive in time for Son and Partner to whisk off to a film presentation. It was something that Son had done the music for, so it was important for him to be there and I guess it was also a nice social event. Anyway, it meant that I had sole charge of Little Grandson for the evening (lovely) and he showed me round the new Apartment, including the outside space which has an enormous Avocado tree (with ripe avocados growing on it). I was pretty impressed with it all, and we then had soup and pasta for supper before collapsing in bed. Well, I collapsed and he went to sleep quite cheerfully after a Dinosaur story and a couple of songs.
     Next morning we were up betimes, as Grandson had an early hospital appointment, after which we were setting off to drive to France and look at the house I liked. Easier said than done of course, as the hospital appointment went on longer than expected  (they were checking him for Asthma and Allergies, which does take quite a while). And then the traffic going out of BCN was just awful.. Friday getaway I suppose. However, we did make good time, stopped for lunch at a French "Aire" where the food was excellent, and got to Bize Minervois just on time.
     The Estate Agent, the lovely Richard Pullen, was waiting most patiently for us, no mean feat  since he and his wife Chitra were planning to drive to  Barcelona (!) to visit their daughter who is at University there. Anyway, we all piled into the village house which I had loved at first sight. And Son did his very best to examine everything closely - as did I. I hadn't really done this the first time, and so needed to look at the details. I still  loved the house, and the space and feel of it, but I could see the impracticality of it. No central heating, no gas in the village, and the fact that the second floor was only accessible through the rest of the house - so not exactly right for letting or BnB. Son also spotted water stains in various places and was adamant that the small swimming pool, which is almost completely under cover, was not right either. All in all, a thumbs down for the house - which I had to agree with. And when we went out into the village for a walk about, at about 5pm on a Friday, and it was deserted! No shops open, no people about. So that was quite decisive for me - I  can't imagine living somewhere that felt so lonely. We walked by the river, and though it was really lovely, it was also deserted. And it was cold. In fact the whole weekend got gradually colder and wetter!
    To cut quite a long story short, we then found the Air BnB which Son had booked, and which was very nice and very comfortable. In the evening we drove to the restaurant I vaguely remembered in Le Somail (an organic restaurant right on the Canal du Midi). This was one of the highlights of the trip: lovely food and very welcoming. Little Grandson fell in love with our waitress Pauline and did drawings for her throughout the evening. And so to bed, knackered!!
    Next day, colder and wetter, Son decided we should take a look at Narbonne, which was only a short drive away. And lovely.. it is a beautiful small city which reminded me of Cambridge, and on the Canal too. So though I was disappointed about the house, I was immediately cheered by the thought of moving to Narbonne. Even the fact that it poured with rain while we walked around didn't deter me. We visited the Tourist Centre and looked in some lovely shops - and may I say Little Grandson was a pleasure to have around the whole time. We then drove around the area, and to the beach and the salt pans, where we tasted the different flavours of salt and then found the restaurant (which Son had discovered) in a derelict-looking wooden hut which turned out to be a fabulous seafood restaurant, crowded with French people enjoying huge platters of every kind of shellfish: we ate oysters, crab, prawns, sea snails (a bit too chewy for me) and all sorts of fresh fishy things - all mopped up with lovely french bread, and then topped off with ice dream for dessert. After that we drove back around beautiful countryside, past lovely vineyards and stopped to sample some of the wines too. A great afternoon even though the weather was awful.
   After supper at 'home' and a good night's sleep. we set off cheerfully next day, only stopping in Perpignan briefly as it was still very cold and  rainy. Perpignan, I have to say, was not a happy place. Everyone was so grumpy, and we met the archetypal bad-tempered French waiter when all we wanted was a warming cup of hot chocolate - no chance. The most exciting part was when Grandson discovered a market stall selling live snails - not that the poor things knew they were destined to be escargots! Anyway, we made a sharp exit from Perpignan and headed back to Barcelona!!
  Back in BCN, where incidentally it was also cold and rainy (it had been an unbelievable 5* there too) we touched base briefly before Son delivered me back to the Airport. Then a pretty unremarkable flight to Gatwick where Daughter was waiting to meet me. Home, to bed, and a couple of days feeling totally wiped out. Time to adjust, physically and emotionally, to a slight detour! 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Going where the Weather suits my Clothes...

       Well, this is another 'volte face' from me, and after another long absence. I'm moving, and not just back to Hove, but on to France! The last few months have been pretty stressful and I finally came to the conclusion that I need a complete change of scene: in fact a complete change of  Life. So in my absence from Blogging I've been exploring on the internet, in property magazines, and asking anyone who was willing for their advice and help. It turns out that people are mostly inclined to be very helpful, and so I found myself at the end of September whizzing off to the Canal du Midi area of France to meet some Estate Agents and look at a few properties. This entailed flying to Carcassonne, hiring a car from there and driving to Lezignan Corbieres where I was met by the lovely Lorna Roscow and her husband Jason, and sheperded to a dear little house in Fabrezan for a 3 night stay.
       ( I should say that the journey from here to Stansted was a bit of a nightmare, as the first train I boarded was cancelled before it even moved. Altogether the journey took more than 3 hours. And the train fare (£60.60 for a return) was more expensive than my return  flight to Carcassonne!! )
       Anyway, that aside it was lovely once I got to France  (after the unpleasant car-hire rip-off) and driving  in France was as good an experience as it usually is on their superb roads. Glorious weather, boiling hot, clear blue skies and friendly people. What more could I ask. The next day Lorna and Jason took me around and showed me 3 houses - one of which I had thought might be perfect and was a great disappointment - and a couple more which were nicer, but not quite right. ( I should tell you that my wish list contains 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a swimming pool, near the Canal du Midi.)  Thankfully they were happy to do the driving so I could look around at the villages and the countryside, and I'm absolutely sure that it's the perfect location...
      Next day I had another morning with Lorna and Jason, though nothing I saw quite hit the spot. And then the afternoon adventure began with a phone call from Richard Pullen (of Pullen Estates France) who was keen to show me 3 properties, and also to get me involved with a TV crew (French) who were doing a short piece on why English people might be buying property in France to escape from Brexit... Ho ho, I certainly fell into that category and so I was perfectly willing to be interviewed, tho' I didn't fancy the driving through unfamiliar territory to get there! Richard bravely and very kindly offered to come and collect me (and then drive me back) so that is what we did. And one of the houses I saw that afternoon may well be the one for me! I think the test for this is whether or not you can  picture yourself in the house and I can - I have been back here in boring Shoreham for nearly 3 weeks (18 days to be precise) and I am planning to go back to Bize Minervois very soon. Hopefully with Son who, if you recall, lives in Barcelona and is therefore only a two and a half  hour drive away from the house I like.  He has an unerring eye when it comes to property and I always value his opinion.  Fingers crossed....

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Another month goes by..

      I can't believe I have let another month pass without writing anything. And tomorrow I am off again to Barcelona, this time taking my Big Grandson for a family visit. I'm so looking forward to it
and so is he. Not only because it is still lovely and warm in Barcelona, but also because we will be staying with Son, his Partner and little Grandson (who is tremendously excited by the way). This will be Big Grandson's first trip to Barcelona, and we are going to do the street art walking tours and probably also going to the Picasso Museum, as well as going to the beach and swimming in the sea. All these arty activities are because Big Grandson is going to be starting his GCSE years when he goes back to school, and one of his chosen subjects is Art with a capital A. He  has even been painting and generally experimenting with paint in the holidays. Some of his canvasses are really good in my opinion: he has used feathers and paint in a very interesting way.
     Yesterday we even trekked up to London to see the Frida Kahlo Exhibition at the V & A Museum. It was a bit of a mission because our train to London was cancelled, so we had to go from Shoreham to Brighton and then change on to a Victoria train so the journey took us 2 hours. I had joined the V & A as a Member in preparation for our visit, as the exhibition was completely sold out and pre-booked. It was worth it because as a Member I can take up to 4 children under 16 for free, and use the Members' Room - and there's no charge for entry to special exhibitions. Brilliant as far as I'm concerned and it really made the visit easier. Grandson really loved the Frida Kahlo and was so interested in her life, He made notes in his little book and was impressed with her clothes and jewelry: her artificial leg was the object of much fascination for both of us. It was incredibly decorated and somehow symbolized her bravery. She must have been in pain every day of her life, and she died at only 47. It was an amazing experience seeing all this come together, and Grandson bought paints and brushes as well  as postcards. He intends to put together a project on her, so watch this space.
      When we come back from Barcelona on 31st August, Daughter and family are moving again, to a larger house in Hove, and Grandson will have his own room again. They are literally moving the day after we come back, on 1st September. And then School starts again on 4th. Here we go again...

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Bye bye July.

      I just can't believe we're at the end of July already. And the school holidays are upon us. Though this year my services have  not been required so far! Big Grandson, being now all of fourteen, has his own ideas of how he wants to spend his days and it's not exactly with his Nana doing nana-ish sort of things. He is going off with his (adopted) Dad for a week next week - they are going to be camping in France, just him and his Father's Father, which I'm sure will be fun. He will be doing French for one of his GCSE subjects, so hopefully they will be speaking a bit of French while they are there. When he comes back I'm planning a day in London at the V&A, including a look at the Frida Kahlo exhibition. He surprised me when I suggested it, thinking that he wouldn't know who she was, but he did and was delighted at the prospect of going. Art is another of his GCSE choices, and he has a pretty enlightened young Art Teacher whom we call Mr. Cool (mainly because he wears a cool leather jacket and rides a cool motorbike to school). I'm pretty sure that Frida Kahlo will be his cup of tea, and he will be interested in her life story. Anyway, that's a plan which meets with his approval so I need to book tickets. Otherwise he seems to be into "chillin" and meeting up with his friends, little Alfie, who comes up to his elbow, and big Kai who is the same huge size as Grandson and with whom he goes to Boxing  on Thursdays - so far so normal.
      Yesterday evening I went to look at a bicycle which was for sale, and  made the mistake of trying to ride it when I could see it was too big and too heavy for me. Haha, I promptly fell over, with the bike on top of me. I screamed and the sweet lady who was selling the bike looked very alarmed and
tried to help me up. I slowly felt around and discovered that I wasn't badly hurt. My chest was painful and I had a job getting up, but no bones broken and only a few bruises. That'll teach me - I really need to acknowledge that I am not as sprightly as I once was.
      Oops I seem to have slipped into August and that's typical of me - I start something and then wander off and forget about it. Ah well, happy August...

Monday, July 23, 2018

Stalled again..

      I don't know why but I can't seem to move in any direction at the mo! The possibility of selling this house came and went very quickly - though it was a positive experience because all the people who came to view were very impressed with what I have done. At least that's what they said after the Agent had shown them round (should that be shewn?), and there were 6 viewings in 2 weeks with one cash offer very close to the asking price. I felt that was a good result and though I definitely felt I couldn't move in a hurry, it did reassure me about the value of my house. After all I spent a great deal of money on refurbishing it, and in the current climate (what with Brexit etc) I wasn't sure about property values, even here in the South East, close to Brighton, which is usually a "hot spot". So a positive response, and I look around and feel that it was worth spending the money to make the house "perfect". Instead of spending a fortune on moving, I'm planning to spend it on nice trips and fun!!
      Big Grandson will be pleased anyway,  because although he would like me to be living next door  to Daughter and Co, he doesn't want me to sell this house - not surprising I guess because when he stays with me he has his own bedroom and bathroom, and I simply let him be which is important for teenagers I think. Yes he plays on his XBox a lot, but we always balance that with stuff we do together, like eating supper and watching a movie :)) - sometimes even playing Scrabble -  and his Mum does limit his game time, which is good. I was listening this morning to a programme on Radio 4 about children with addiction problems related to their phones, screens and social media in general. It's difficult to deal with and obviously something to be aware of and guard against..
      The first trip I'm planning is another Barcelona jolly with the very same Big Grandson. I'm just looking at flights and we are going for a week at the end of August, the week before he goes back to school. We are planning to stay with Son and family in Barcelona and will do some lovely things I'm sure. They are five minutes from the beach and the weather should still be hot. One thing we won't be doing is taking his X Box!
      P.S. I have been watching and listening to the golf over the weekend, as it sort of helps me through my football withdrawal symptoms! One of the commentators happened to mention that "Harry Kane, England Captain" was among the spectators. I felt immensely cheered by that - there he was, apparently wearing sunglasses, enjoying some time off watching the Open. What Larks!