27th March 2011

The pitfalls of selling your house - I suppose the same wherever you live, but in France the agony is much prolonged because there are no buyers!  First, I made a herculean effort to spruce up the place for the 'glossy' estate agent photos.. (I pictured in my mind the continuous annoyance of seeing washing-up permanently in the sink)...not realising that I would need to keep up this impossible perfection for ever in case that elusive buyer walks up the drive.  Every day I seem to notice something that makes me panic, ordering Him indoors to quickly fetch that brush to put a fresh coat of paint over everything bar the dogs; (he says he'll gloss over that, and anyway they already have distemper!).  I've tried to think of everything, should that longed-for phone call announce an imminent arrival.  Action-stations will include fresh coffee on the perk and dogs out of the way in the car. But, above all, I've got to realise that the French do things differently.  Let the agent do the showing around.  Make yourself scarce; hide in the garage if necessary. But first I need to find a buyer.  Take a look if you're curious. It's on http://www.agencedisc.fr/  (ref. 0211 8208). For a holiday home with pool in the sunny S.W. of France, it's a snip - no reasonable offers refused!

20th March 2011

Normally English TV is a good antidote for my depression. However, I've learned to restrict news bulletins to one a day. 
Yesterday my football team lost, so I watched the Rugby, only to see England lose to Ireland. Then, flicking through the channels - typical Saturday night rubbish - left me watching Dad's Army. I dozed off, only to wake suddenly and think I was still in war-time.  I blinked and struggled to wake up my senses as I scrabbled myopically for my glasses. In the foreground was undoubtedly the Elysee Palace in Paris, but there seemed to be a mix of historical figures standing on the steps between the gothic pillars.  The tall fellow to the left looked like the stately Charles de Gaulle, back erect, weak chin and sharp nose.  In the middle was, strangely, Napoleon!  Very short, arrogant stance, tiny feet, dark-haired and well turned out. Standing behind was none other than Winston Churchill.  Must have been him with that shiny bald head, short stature - and I'd know that voice anywhere.  I strained to hear him say '..we'll fight 'em on the beaches...' but the sound was too low for me to hear.  And, standing next to de Gaulle, was that Margaret Thatcher in the pink jacket and handbag, being wooed by that small 75-year old Italian Casanova?
Clearly I must cut back on all that Gaillac wine!

13th March 2011

In the Guardian recently was an article about publishing on the latest gadgetry. I suddenly realised that the latest Kindle might be a good idea - particularly for older readers of my 'Paradis' book.  However much you love books in their true form - which I do - you can't make the print any bigger!!  And many are the times when people sit on their wretched reading glasses or need a magnifying glass to read.  (Him indoors says: whatever you do, don't try to eat soup with it).  For all these reasons, the Kindle seems like an excellent idea if it enables you to increase the font size, and is less likely to get lost down the back of the settee.
So, I went to the Amazon.co.uk site to try and publish my work on their Kindle. They use what they term a Digital Text Platform (or something), but they guide you through each step of the way. You can even upload your own cover, if you're a whizz with these things, but it will only appear in black and white.  But, most importantly, it doesn't cost anything to upload your work.  I did try to fix a cheap buying price (you know, pile 'em high 'n sell 'em cheap), but the cheapest it would let me put was $2.99.  If you're one of my (many!) fans, you can take a look by logging on to amazon.co.uk and go to the kindle site and search for Paradis, Rose and the Ancient Temple of Petra or Tina and the Colosseum of Rome.
Anyway, while I wait to become a millionaire, I'll carry on regardless.

6th March 2011

Dogs always embarrass you - usually at the worst possible moments.
We went down to Gaillac, as planned. As usual, we were 'forced' to take Bruno and Tina with us in the car. (Bruno wrecks the house if left alone or leaps over the garden gate; Tina just sets off a plaintive cry....I know, I should be more masterful). We pulled into our new driveway and shook hands with the owner family, who were on their best behaviour. We were still within that nerve-jangling 7-day cooling-off period and they didn't want us to pull out. We went into the house and were discussing the relative merits of various items of furniture when Madame said 'why don't you let your dogs out of the car? They can run around the garden.' Foolishly, a trifle nervously it must be said, we did so. Both dogs raced around, then nosed their way into the house via the ajar French windows. We all ignored them until an unmistakeable aroma pervaded the room. OMG - doggie droppings all over their best rug!! Ironically, the owners couldn't complain for fear of putting us off the sale!
On the way home, Him indoors said laconically: '....wasn't quite the deposit the owners had in mind'. Quite.