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Hurry up & wait!

May 11, 2013

Cars in France have to have a vehicle safety check every two years (after they are four years old) – this is called the Contrôle Technique. Mine was due for renewal in May so I decided to get it done as early as possible in case of problems. The car is also very dirty so I went in search of a good car wash, found one on the internet a few miles away with a testing station next door. Off I went on Monday only to find the car wash was the regular semi-automatic variety, but I put the car through it anyway. While that was going on I strolled next door to the CT station and asked the guy for an appointment – Tuesday afternoon at 3:30. I also asked him if there was a real car wash anywhere, even in Vannes, but he looked at me as if I was from Mars and said no. Further on-line research revealed he was right – the nearest “proper” car wash is in Rennes.

On Tuesday morning our English agent brought a couple from England (Mr & Mrs H) to see the house – they spent a lot of time going through everything and clearly liked what they saw. They even liked the cows and went across the road to talk to them! After they left the agent called and let us know that they did indeed like it and have looked at one other they also liked but it is about 70 minutes north away from Vannes. We do know they wanted to be close to Vannes so apparently they now have to decide how close – they also have one more house to see before returning to the UK to sell their house. We wait some more.

In the afternoon I took the car for its Contrôle Technique (MOT to the Brits). It’s been a long time since I subjected a car to the rigors of such a test, and even the old MOT that I remember didn’t seem so exacting.

First off, they opened every orifice and tried to shake the car to pieces by twisting and bending doors, boot lid and bonnet. Then they started with violent tugging on the seat belts followed by more twisting and shaking of the seats. Then they turned all the lights on and checked them with a beam sensor – including the low-level fog lights then tried to get each light to fail by tapping on it fairly hard. This part was finished off by checking indicators, wipers, washers etc.

Next up is the emission test – they plug a machine in, stuff a sensor into the exhaust, turn the revs up to red-line deafening and wait two minutes – this is repeated several times.

Then they roll it forward so the front wheels are on two pads – these then vibrate and shake the suspension to pieces, roll forward again onto a set of rollers and try to make the brakes fail – repeat for the rear wheels.

Move it over a pit and using jacks, hammers etc try to prise loose anything that might look as if it might move.

Finally they gave it back with a broad grin and a new CT. Very mixed emotions watching this and a huge sigh of relief at the end. A California smog test is nothing in comparison.

The rest of the week went by fairly quietly, the French people who contacted us for a visit on Friday or Saturday vanished into thin air and the internet leads seemed to have dried up as well. An email to our French agents met with two responses – one didn’t bother to reply for several days and the other just told us to sit tight and wait – apparently the market is dead and the only people looking have very limited budgets. Also our style of house is not what the current French buyers are looking for and we are too far from the shops (2km) – my timing always was awful.

We finally established Skype contact with our friends in Norfolk and their (very knowledgeable) opinion of real estate is that nobody is buying anything right now anywhere. The UK rental market is going gangbusters as a result so it looks as if we are going to be here for a while yet.

The weather is showing real signs of summer arriving – up to 20C this weekend so I decided it was time to finish the fence and gateway and get all the BBQ and patio stuff out. By the time this was finished and the grass was cut I was ready for a rest and the patio chairs are still as comfortable as the day my parents bought them in about 1968!!  The chairs were recovered by us in 1992 and I have also re-varnished the woodwork a few times but they are still good. Still a bit of a chill on the wind and as we had already bought the Sunday dinner actual BBQ grilling may wait a few days.

Garden 001

Garden 002








We were sitting out on Sunday afternoon when the peace & quiet were disturbed by Mme J starting up her lawn tractor/mower – she kept this up for an hour or more followed by weed-wacking and then the leaf blower. This is all totally illegal; use of power tools is regulated by the Mairie from 9 – 12:00 on Sundays and also 2 – 6 on weekdays. But then they are farmers and are (or believe they are) exempt from this stuff. I’m not going to do anything about it as I do not wish to fall out with the only neighbours we talk to and who have been amazingly helpful over the past 18 months.

The other estate agent finally responded and let us know that they had 474 enquiries for our house on their website but no-one was interested in viewing when they found out where it was and how much it was – even though both pieces of information are on their website!.  I find this incredible that they could not get one visitor out of that many enquiries. They also think the market is absolutely dead at the moment – who knows when it will pick up? The UK council election results have also put the FUD into UK potential buyers of property in Europe. In the event of the UK exiting the EU we stand to lose our rights to live & work in Europe. Like I said, timing is everything.

There are two public holiday days this week in France (Wednesday & Thursday) and the French like to save up a few vacation days to tack onto such occasions; consequently everything is shut so we did a quick shopping trip on Tuesday. It was a really nice day although the weather forecast said it should be raining – we took the opportunity to have lunch out and went to a favourite crêperie we haven’t been to for some time. It had changed hands, our friends were gone! The food was almost as good and we enjoyed it but it wasn’t quite the same. Wonder where they went to?

On Wednesday Malcom came as usual and his first job was cementing in the final steps he had chipped out when doing the fence posts. Of course it started raining almost immediately but he carried on and did a marathon weeding session on the garden by the patio/garage and on the arched hedge. There is no way June or I can tackle this as well – it would take us days to get this much done. I got rid of the seven sacks of weeds on Thursday morning.

We also had potential buyers visit at lunchtime – English couple (Mr & Mrs M) who have sold their house near La Rochelle and are looking for a larger place closer to the UK. Very interesting visit; it turns out he is quite well known in the film business and is also an amateur inventor. Our sous-sol workshop really got his attention as he has lathes & mills he needs to house. They really liked the place overall so we have our fingers crossed we’ll get some news soon.

We did get news from the other English couple – not only did they prefer the house much further away but have now changed their minds about moving to France at all!

During our weekly shopping trip we noticed that Carrefour had a stack of white resin patio chairs for €7.50 each – while this is still above the prices we paid for them in the US they do fill a need for eating at our outdoor table. They fitted so well we went back on Saturday and bought two more! We also acquired a set of cheap wine glasses – our old ones had been slowly falling by the wayside and we refuse to use our good quality ones outside. Pity all the plastic ones we bought for pool-side use are packed away. Anyway, should the weather ever improve to the point that eating outside is possible we are now prepared. Right now it’s more like March/April with showers and cold winds; we even lit the fire on Friday evening. It also rained just enough so the grass is too wet to cut.

Ah well at least we have a GP to watch this weekend.


David & June

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2013 20:52

    The chairs are a European bargain… if not a USA one.. 🙂

    Hope that one of the viewers decides that your property is *just* the one for them!!


  2. Annie Snowbarger permalink
    May 13, 2013 22:15

    Hi DT,

    I sure enjoyed your last few posts – glad to see the sun is returning.  Your place looks glorious with everything so green and in bloom.  I know it’s hard work, but hope you get time to smell the roses!

    I just returned from Thailand and Cambodia.  What a great trip (incredibly hot!).  Do you remember Mr. Somchai?  He hosted us and continues to be a good friend over the years. 

    Michael broke his leg and has been down for a few weeks but is feeling better.  We’re hoping he can start rehab in another 4 weeks or so.

    I think you have a birthday on the way?!  I hope it’s a wonderful celebration!

    All my best to you and June!  Annie


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