28 September 2014

When I first started writing this blog, I didn't know anyone else who wrote one. I merely felt the need to record some of my feelings about living in France as an English expat.  Now, 6 years later, it reads like an encyclopaedia of things that went wrong and what we did about them, albeit with Him indoors' unique comments!  I sometimes forget that other people are reading them and am quite shocked when I receive feedback - often from different parts of the world.  On Thursday I heard from an English lady called Amy who said they were house-sitting in France, didn't speak a word of French but had read my blog and found the bit they needed, and could I help them find a chimney sweep? Was only too happy to oblige.  Where we used to live in Tarn et Garonne lives a lady called Val who really helped us when we first arrived. She has a successful blog called tag-on-line.blogspot.fr . She acts as a marvellous link for all who live in the area, giving news of social events and much else, giving any proceeds to charity.  So, for whatever reason you write a blog, it's a great FREE resource. Of course, Him indoors says that's no way to run a business - but he would, wouldn't he?

21 September 2014

What a week of political turmoil! Thursday night the Queen went to bed not knowing whether she'd have a PM when she woke up. Was she singing:'They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace; Cameron down with Scottish malice?' But Friday morning, sense prevailed. Whew. And in France, with the President's ratings so low they're off the scale, he's tried to raise his own standard by punching above his weight abroad - allying with the US in bombing ISIL.  He must have thought 'that'll do it. Now I'm a global superstar, the French are sure to love me again.'  But no. Along comes Sarko to spoil his plans yet again by arriving - some would say in the nick of time - to spoil Hollande's plans by throwing his hat in the political ring again.  You can hear the cheers from French business everywhere and, it must be said, to beleaguered home-owners throughout the land.  Sarko may have his annoying bling, but at least he has charisma and that indefinable je ne sais quoi which might just lift French confidence and the economy again.  Let's hope so. One week's a long time in politics.

14 September 2014

Wasn't it Bros who sang When will I, will I be famous? Thought my time had finally come when I received an email from the Producer of BBC's Escape to the Continent programme:  '.. I have read your blog, which seems to be a brilliant source of information for those who wish to move to France and I was hoping to talk to you to see if you would be able to chat to our house-hunter on camera about life living in France.' However, rejection was just around the corner in the form of 'scheduling constraints'. Story of my life! So, I watched a few programmes and was struck by the mistakes being made - not in the glossy production but in the whole tenor, so here's what I told her:  '..not sure you are correctly focused on who your intended audience is....comes across as a holiday destination or somewhere to buy that second home in the sun. If it's intended purely for people planning a permanent move to another country - which I believe it is - then: 1. Include important websites on health care, English-speaking notaires in the area, tax info. etc.; 2. In France it is essential to have completed the sale of your English property BEFORE making an offer on the French one. So, ascertain this has happened BEFORE making the programme; 3. Include the living costs per month. Too much emphasis on capital, not enough on required income. Is intended gite income realistic? France is saturated with gite properties. 4. New property must have broadband - essential to transfer funds, communicate etc. Don't close that British bank account - opening a new one in the UK is impossible without a UK address! 5. Absorb the continental view: summer heat requires you to keep the place dark and cool - not with 'lots of light'. 6. Integrate and learn to speak the language, but still look for some English friends nearby (to keep you sane).S'pose I should record my own song 'Never will I, will I be famous, but still I can pack a literary punch!'  

7 September 2014

World news is full of Obama's visit to Stonehenge, a structure transcending man's struggles since time immemorial. Nearer to home, several weeks ago French news was full of a battle between two neighbours in the village of Brugairolles in the Aude. Newsworthy because the combatants were not French, but English!  The 10-year dispute revolved around privacy and access, one house's front door and window overlooking the driveway of the other. When you buy a house in France, the notaire is expected to explain all such things, which left me wondering.  When we bought our first French house back in 2005, the notaire didn't speak a word of English. I, foolishly, thought my French was sufficient. It wasn't until we bought our current home, with a bi-lingual notaire, that I realised.  At every stage, she helpfully explained in English the various nuances and potential problems - absolutely invaluable. Did the two Brugairolles use a bi-lingual Notaire?  Suspect not. And there hangs the tale.  Understanding leads to discussion. Discussion leads to peace. If only world leaders would discuss things that bind them together, rather than their differences. Let's hope that NATO has moved the world a little further from disaster. Unfortunately stonehenge literally means precipice.......