I have moved… domains!

You can now find this blog at the following address: http://mavieenfrancaise.com/

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Why I hate the Summer!

I have many reasons why I hate the Summer… people think I am strange, who doesn’t like a bit of sun now and again?

Well I didn’t have that problem in the UK, partly because the summer is pretty non-existent anyway, but also because I didn’t have a dog… that needed walking… everyday, come rain or shine. I guess I hated the summer in the UK as well, having to commute to work everyday on the hot, sticky bus, that couldn’t have been very nice.

These days… in France, I hate summer for other reasons.

1. It’s hotter than the UK

Temperatures over the last few weeks have reached 33 degrees, it’s usually around 28 degrees most days at the moment… even though my weather app tells me it’s going to be a cool 23. I have a weather station which tells me differently.

Photo 05-08-2014 10 47 15

The nights are warm, I don’t want to leave my windows open because I live on a main road and at around 6am I would be woken up by traffic. Plus, I don’t want all the bugs coming in and biting the hell out of me all night… which leads me onto my next problem nicely.

2. Bugs!!!!!

In the summer I have to walk the dog while it’s cool, otherwise I’m likely to kill him. I never go out after midday because it’s just too hot… if I go out at midday (like I did today) I will generally choose a walk under the cover of trees or somewhere where I know there will be water (stream/pond/lake) available if he needs a drink. But by going somewhere like the woods or forest I am surrounded by bugs… I hate it, today I spent the whole walk spinning the extendable dog lead in front of me to keep the buzzy things at bay… and it doesn’t seem to work. They get in my hair, my face, up my nose, in my ears… it’s horrible! I actually need a bug repellant suit on when I go out walking the dog in the summer.

Photo 05-08-2014 12 29 33 Photo 05-08-2014 12 29 46 Photo 05-08-2014 12 29 53

Luckily I hardly get bitten, but that’s because I am constantly batting them away. I have some citronella spray at home, which is meant to be good for keeping the bugs at bay… It seems to actually attract them to me, so I have stopped using this for outside use and stick to spraying it on at night as I think it must only really work for the mosquitoes.

3. I can’t dry my hair…

Unless I get up very early and wash my hair, by the time I’m ready to dry it I’m already needing another shower. If I don’t dry my hair and leave it to dry naturally it looks like a birds nest. I have three choices, I can either wash my hair everyday and let it dry naturally, or I can blow dry it at 6am… or dry it and then take another shower to cool down again.

Here are some more photo’s of summer here…

Photo 28-07-2014 20 13 50

Photo 31-07-2014 21 07 49

P.S. I am single again… and will be blogging more no doubt.

No longer célibataire en France… oops!

Oh dear… I haven’t updated this blog since September 2013! So much has changed since then, so much so that my domain for this blog is no longer relevant. Yes I am 4 months into a relationship, so no longer célibataire… I wonder if I can change my domain?!

I have also moved house (in December), to another rented place about 15 minutes from where I used to live. It has masses of space for the dog, inside and out but it’s on a main road so the noise is pretty rubbish. And yesterday a diversion was put in place somewhere which has directed all traffic past my house, including a shed load of lorries… not just during the day, but all night as well, when usually it’s very peaceful.

Lake.jpg

The new man in my life is French, he doesn’t speak any English and he lives over the road from me. It all started with a ‘bonjour’ each morning, a ‘bonsoir’ each evening… we have been together 4 months now and are off to Paris for 3 days in July… and then a week on the coast in August with his 9 yr old daughter. So all going well, and it’s nice to have someone around again… and someone who is nice and wants to do things for me. It was great during the winter because he really helped me with bringing in wood and starting my woodburner for me, I had been struggling for a couple of months before we got together.

My best friend and her husband are arriving this afternoon, my first visitors staying with me since I moved to France. The cleaner came on Tuesday and blitzed the house, but I still need to put the hoover round as Hatchi & Alfie have messed the place up already. Bit disappointed that the weather is taking a turn for the worse later, we’re expecting cooler temps and thunderstorms the whole time they’re here… oh well, maybe we’ll just spend all our time eating out and being French.

Ok… so that’s a pretty short update, and I am sure that everyone that follows my blog knows all this anyway so maybe I will try and keep it up to date from now on. My life is pretty uninteresting which is the reason I fail to update it all the time.

It’s hard being single and self employed!

I am still alive…

Je suis toujours célibataire…

I would like to be able to say I have been really busy with work, I am making huge amounts of cash and I am going to buy a house outright, but that’s a lie. I have been busy, with work, but not making bucket loads of money, in fact things have been a bit tight on the money front.

The beauty of being self employed, and single… I have to rely on myself to bring in the money to pay the rent and bills, no fall back, no splitting the bills down the middle. It’s pretty hard, definitely harder than when you have an actual job where you get paid the same each month.

Last month my biggest client reduced my hours by half, just for September, but it’s put me behind. What with the cat going to the vet’s and that costing me a fortune, and now his ongoing medication. Oh and the time I managed to smash my iMac screen to pieces, again more money to pay out. I also paid out a lot of money for marketing materials for the Foire Commerciale I attended earlier this month, here’s my stand…

Les Dames de FER Foire Commerciale

My brother gets married next month, I have to go to the UK for a week, get all excited and put on a dress. I can’t afford to go, I can’t afford to take a week off work and I couldn’t afford the dress I bought.  I sold my Kenwood KMix so I could afford to put the dog in the kennels, and the cat in the cattery, I’ve hidden the cash!

But I have to go… he’s my brother after all.

Money makes the world go round unfortunately, and it also makes Jo a stressed person, more so now I am here on my own. I did get €500 from the tax people a couple of weeks ago, but winter is approaching and I need to use that to buy oil. Without oil I will have no hot water or heating.

Anyway, this isn’t really a rant… just an observation about my life at the moment, waiting for that next client, waiting until my food has properly run out before going shopping, holding out an extra few days before putting petrol in the car.

Hopefully next month will be better!

Computer (or on this occasion, the bank) says no!

What’s the worst thing that can happen when you have announced to the world on your blog that you have bought a house and hope to be in there by October? Posting lovely pictures of the house, the area, all excited for a new start in France…

Yep… the bank turned down my mortgage application!!!

When I initially went to the bank with my ex to enquire about a mortgage, the conversation was in French, so I didn’t really follow it properly. In the weeks that followed I went merrily along, looking at houses, making an offer on a house assuming that the bank would be happy to lend me the money. They sent me away that first time with two scenarios’ of what I could borrow, how much it would cost etc…

Then came the offer… that was accepted, so I made an appointment at the bank. In the meantime I was given the details of a mortgage broker in the UK who deals with French mortgages and had a discussion with them on the phone. That’s when I started to wonder whether this was actually going to happen. They told me that they would find it very hard to find someone to give me a mortgage as I am an Auto-Entrepreneur and I don’t yet have 3 years of accounts.

So this is when the doubt creeped in… and then after my appointment with the bank, when the manager didn’t look so confident (my ex was not there on this occasion and he had to speak mostly English with me), it looked highly likely that this wasn’t going to be an easy ride.

I haven’t spoken much about my ex on here, and I don’t plan on bringing him up a lot because that’s in the past and I would like to move on from all that. But I do want to explain some things about him…

  • he likes to think he knows everything
  • he is extremely persuasive and tends to manipulate people to get what he wants
  • he is a negotiator and always gets things cheaper than they are
  • he likes to be in control
  • his favourite line is “it’s all going to be ok Joanna”

The mistake for me was to let him take control over this house buying process at the beginning. He created a false sense of security for me, and actually when I took back the control the reality was that I was never going to get the bank to agree to lend me €70,000.

The upshot of all this, is that I need to keep my income up to a level which means when I go to the bank next time to ask them for money they can see a steady income. The issue really is that they took an average of my income since December 2011 when I had only just started out. If they had taken just the average of my income over the last 12 months then I would have easily squeezed into their little box… The loan amount cannot be more than 35/40% of your net income, which it is now, but averaged out over nearly 2 years it wasn’t, it came out at 53%.

Back to the drawing board… I still want to move out of this apartment I’m in because I really want a bigger garden for the dog. I will continue to look for a rented place and see if anything turns up, but I’m not going to rush into anything. I am in a routine here now, it would have just been nice to have a place of my own so I could make things how I want them instead of having to adapt all the time.

So if anyone has €70,000 they can lend me, I won’t say no!  And who knows, in a year’s time the house I want may still be for sale… nothing moves fast in France!

 

The Search is Over!

Remember this house? Could this be the one?

Well it’s going to be mine… once all the paperwork is signed anyway! My first offer was declined, it was a low offer. The asking price with the agents was €81,000, the vendors offered it to me for €75,000 after the exclusivity with the agents ended. I put in an offer of €55,000 and was willing to go up to €65,000. They were holding out for the local Maire to buy the home, but he put in the same offer as me, I think to help me secure the house. I must remember to thank him!

On Friday the vendor called and said I could have the house for €57,000!!! I immediately agreed and now I need to start the process of purchasing my very first house… not only in France, but ever. I did buy a house in the UK back in 1998, but that was a joint thing with my then partner, so this one really is my first house!

Here is a picture of the front, taken from Google street view:

Front House

The first job in my new home is to secure the garden with fencing, so that the dog can come and go as he pleases and I don’t need to worry about him. It will be so nice for him to have a big garden to run around in and investigate. It will also need turfing, which is going to be a difficult thing to do in France as it’s pretty rare to be able to buy turf here, and by the time I move in grass seed just won’t take.

So what is there to know about my new village… well it’s a lot smaller than the town I live in at the moment. In 2007 the population was only 256. There is a small church just down the road which dates back to the 11th century, and a lovely little cemetery. Lots of places to walk the dog, and some great views, as the village is on a slight hill.

View

This is the view from the carpark next door to the Mairie, you can see the church and all those trees in the distance. Might be spending some time up here in the nice weather…

There are no shops, no boulangerie, no pharmacy, so a car is essential. In fact the house I am buying is the old village boulangerie, obviously when the population was a bit higher.

I’ll try and update this blog throughout the process, and hopefully in October/November I will be moving in, possibly sooner if all goes to plan.

Music festivals and sunflowers…

It’s been a hot couple of weeks in France, and unfortunately I’ve not had much opportunity to enjoy it. I have been super busy with eBook formatting and virtual assistance for my clients. I can’t complain because my bank account it looking very healthy and now I am living alone it means I am not stressing about paying my bills.

I put an offer in on the house I liked last week, it was turned down flat which I pretty much expected. The vendors are playing a little game with me saying that the local Maire is interested in the house too, so I have walked away for the moment and will see what happens, then put in a higher offer in a few weeks. I am looking at another three houses tomorrow, two of which are a bit further out, but in a nice area with a kind of beach on the river. The one I am particularly interested in which is on my budget is next to the local pub… you don’t really get pubs in France, it’s just a bar pretending to be a pub.

So around working and house hunting I haven’t been up to much. I went out last Saturday without the dog to a small music festival in the village of Barrou with a new friend who is over here on a work exchange from Australia. I met some of her local friends and spent a pleasant couple of hours chatting and listening to music. Due to the 45 minute drive and the fact I had to get back for the dog sitter (my Irish friend up the road) I couldn’t stay until the end, but it was good all the same. I am hoping to go to the Yzeures ‘N’ Rock festival at the beginning of August, if I can find a dog sitter.

I’ve also been trying to grow some vegetables, but what with the amount of rain we had in May/June I lost my courgettes and the tomatoes are looking a bit worse for wear. Here are some pics of what I do have growing…

Potimarron

The first potimarron flower…

Tomatoes

A blurry tomato…

Cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes, taking a long time to ripen

Strawberries

I will be picking these today!

Red peppers

Red peppers once they are ripe!

 

 

 

 

 

And this morning while I was taking Hatchi for his morning walk up in the fields I noticed that the sunflowers are getting ready to bloom. I didn’t get any photo’s last year because I hadn’t found this particular walk, so this year I will be taking lots of photo’s. This is the sunflowers this morning, I think it will only be a few more days before they’re in full bloom.

Sunflower field Sunflower field

I will try and find some time this week to update my house hunting, the viewings tomorrow and the others I have seen over the weekend which I’d like to view. Now I need to get back to work before getting out in the garden to remove all the weeds before Hatchi decides to take it upon himself to eat them for me.

Bon weekend!

Early Morning Walk!

I am trying not to neglect this blog like I did with my others, but it’s proving difficult with so much work I have on at the moment to have time to write here… as well as my business blogs which are also being neglected!

Anyway, I took some lovely pictures this morning while I walked the dog. I took him up to the fields about 10 minutes away in the car, normally I save this walk for the afternoons because he runs a lot and then sleeps for most of the afternoon. Today is going to be a scorcher, so I thought it would be best to walk him up there before it gets too hot.

Hatchi out walking

There isn’t much to see on this walk, lots of fields and few houses/farms in the distance. The road I park on is pretty quiet, and for the half an hour I was up here I didn’t hear a single car which was nice. I wanted to get Hatchi to lay among the poppies so I could take a nice photo but he wasn’t having any of that today.

Hatchi out for a walk

Fields

More fields

Not much to see eh??

The house hunting has slowed a bit the last couple of weeks, still checking online each day but nothing else has come up in my price range which is worth looking at. There’s a possible in the larger town where No. 3 is located, so will arrange a viewing of that this week maybe. I am going to go and have a look at the Could this be the one? house again this week, before hopefully putting in an offer at the weekend.

It’s my birthday on Thursday this week… yep 4th July! I will be 36 years old… just another year and I still feel as though I’m in my early 20’s. 🙂

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here yet, but a friend of mine who I met back in 2007 when I moved to Folkestone for that new start is coming to visit me in August. We have quite a bit in common, we are both in our 30’s and single again… we both have young dogs, and she is considering a move to France early next year. You can follow Paula’s blog here – Paula’s Work

Looking forward to having someone over to explore with, along with the dogs I am sure we’re going to have some great fun! I don’t know whether there will be enough time to show her everything in the area, or even manage to go on all the walks I’ve found over the last year since I got Hatchi…

Sheep Dog (Literally!)

The dog has been sleeping on my bed lately, it started because he missed Xavier and was crying at night… then we had the thunderstorms and I thought it would be easier if he was in with me. But now, he is waiting for me at my bedroom door each night ready for bed. Tonight I plan on putting him back in his own bed, which is the cage in the living room.

I have a good reason why I need to do this, today Hatchi went to the farm. He managed to find a patch of grass by the side of the road which a dead sheep had been left for collection (yes they come along and collect your dead cattle in France). He not only rolls in fox crap, but he enjoys a roll on dead animals… usually it’s tiny mice which don’t tend to leave a smell. But dead sheep bodily fluids? Oh my god! He was washed at the farm 3 times with the hose… and then was given a bath with tomato ketchup (this works well on fox crap smell) and then nice strawberry shampoo.

HE STILL SMELLS OF DEAD SHEEP!

Not only does he smell, my poor car also smells of dead sheep… I really hope the smell will eventually dissipate, it’s not nice.

House Hunting Update

I viewed another house today (No. 3) in the town of Montmorillon. It’s a nice town, but busy and this particular house was very near the main road which would have been really noisy. The house also needed a lot of work doing to it which was not mentioned in the advert, and also the photo on my previous post is quite deceiving. The garden isn’t that big, and the house is pretty tatty. So that’s another one crossed off the list.

No. 1 hasn’t called back to arrange a viewing, which is odd considering the difficulty people are having selling their houses over here at the moment. No. 2 has disappeared from the website I have been looking at, so never managed to call them at all.

I am still excited about the house I saw on Friday morning though, and after a conversation with the mairie in the village today (not me, I don’t speak French that well yet) it seems Internet is the same as I have now… and the taxes are not that high. We have two taxes here in France, both kind of similar to council tax in the UK. One is Taxe d’Habitation – Residence Tax and Taxe Foncière – Ownership Tax, I don’t pay these at the moment as I am a new Auto-Entrepreneur, although I think I will be sent a bill this coming October.

I haven’t stopped looking online for houses, but I think I will be asking my French assistant (Xavier) to start the negotiating on the house on 6th July for me. I just hope I can get the price down enough for me to be able to afford it, as I am very excited about the potential of the place!

Could this be the one?

I am glad I waited until this afternoon to post this, because after having an awful afternoon working on something I hadn’t planned to, my excitement level has come down and I can now think clearly about my viewing this morning.

Just a correction from yesterday’s post, the price with the agent is €81k, plus their fees… but if I wait until the exclusivity with the agent is finished (5 July), the sellers are saying I could have it for €75k. Still over my budget, but there could be some negotiations.

It was nice… it was huge, but there was some bits that would need doing, which is why negotiating the price will be important. Here are some pictures I took of some of the house.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Bathroom

Bathroom

View of the back

View of the back

The Garden

The Garden

The garden would need to be fenced in immediately, otherwise the dog would have the run of the neighbours gardens. I would also need to buy kitchen units, there’s a sink unit but that’s it. But the kitchen is huge and has loads of potential, and free standing stuff would look good. The electricity is old, and I expect it would need replacing at some point. There is plenty of space inside the house, as well as a few outbuildings. This house used to be the village boulangerie, so there is an area at the rear where the oven was for cooking the bread. Next to this is an old section of the house which could be turned into an extra living area, maybe a self-contained gite/room for guests.

It has potential, and if I can get it at the price I am looking at spending then great… but if not, then I think I’ll have to continue the search. I don’t want to overstretch myself financially, especially as I will need to spend some money out at the start.

Now I need to wait until 5 July, when I’ll go back and view it with the parents so we can all take another look and work out what would need doing. It’s just what I am after, it just depends if I can get it at the right price. In the meantime I’ll keep looking and viewing other houses!