Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Another message from Gill Jowers

Back in February 2009, I posted an entry here about Friends Reunited and the large number of people I remember from school who were mentioned on that site.  Two years later (!!) I discovered that several people had left comments on this blog entry, including Gill Jowers.  Googling Gill revealed a Flickr account which might have been her's, and I noted how nice the photos were.

And a couple of weeks ago, there is another message from Gill commenting on this.  How strange to have some sort of conversation with someone I haven't seen in over 30 years at the rate of 1 message per year!

Gill talks about her interest in photography and, after a slightly technical discussion of cameras, notes that her husband thinks she is something of a nerd!  I have to admit that back around 1980, I didn't consider Gill a nerd - but when you think about it, she was doing maths and physics A-level with me, so that does show some nerd-like tendencies.  No, back then, I always thought of Gill as one of the most gorgeous girls in my year at school, totally un-nerd-like in every way and totally "out of me league", to use a very unattractive phrase.  Though I suppose the chances of her accepting if I had asked her out were not strictly-speaking equal to zero, they did seem to me to be asymtotic to zero, as we maths and physics students would say. 

But then, what is this?  Gill goes on to note her interest in astronomy photography!  Did she have this interest in 1980?  I could have lent her my collection of astronomy magazines.  I could have invited her round to look at the stars through my telescope - yes, I was a proper nerd at 17, I had a telescope!  If there is one thing that my 49.205479 years on earth have taught me, it is that one of the best way to a girl's heart is through lending them your astronomy magazines and inviting them round to sit on damp grass and look at stars.  I'm now totally sure that would have worked with Gill

Gill goes on to talk about one or two other things I'd mentioned, then finishes by noting how lucky we were to grow up somewhere like Kenilworth.  I think that is very true.  As my own daughter has grown up, I have often found myself contrasting her life with that of my own.  She has also had a very lucky upbringing, but it is only now that she is 23 and is getting on with her own life, that I really appreciated both this and my own time growing up.

I haven't been to Kenilworth for a few years now.  Yet a couple of weeks ago I did pass close by on my way home from visiting my mum, who moved away from Kenilworth in 2002 and now lives near Stratford.  I was actually quite tempted to have a quick detour to have a look round.  Maybe next time.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Friday, 24 August 2012

This holiday I have been reading

Richard Wolin's The Wind from the East, his account of French Intellectuals' flirtation with Maoism in the late 60s / early 70s

Julia Kristeva's The Samurai, an autobiographically novel about French intellectuals in the late 60s / early 70s
Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, the first book I have ever read on a Kindle

Michael Foley's Embracing the Ordinary, the follow up to The Age of Absurdity and focuing on Proust and Joyce - not entirely convincing I feel

Susan Cain's Quiet, one of Daughter's favourite books of the year and one that helped her see some things in a new light

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

France Days 9 to 15


So we have made an offer on the house we saw yesterday.  An initial offer of E250k with permission for Dave to go as high as E260k without refering back to us.  We are hoping this works given the long time the house has been on the market.  At its peak in 2007, the house was probably worth E400k!

So with all these thoughts going on, it is off to the zoo at La Palmyre, near Royan.  This is superb, perhaps the best zoo we have ever been to.  It took us about 6 hours to walk round it in the high 30s heat.  Stupendous!  And I took some of the best photos I have ever taken, now I have worked out how to use my new camera a bit better. 

I am so pleased with the pictures that I have posted about 50 below!

But oddly enough, we don't hear back from Dave all day, though he did acknowledge the email just after we'd left this morning.  We had expected to hear from him at some point during the day.  I wonder whywe haven't?

Dinner at Saujon of pizza and pasta.  Then disaster as the little shop we expected to buy ice cream in is closed and so we drive an extra 10km to Royan after W has something of a tantrum about this.


Today we have a planned trip to the beach near Royan, despite the forecast that temperatures might reach 40 this afternoon.  Just after we arrive there, we finally hear from Dave.  He says that he went to see the vendors last night and gave them our offer which they rejected.  Then, we he called again this morning to increase our offer, he found that we have been beaten by an offer at E270k.  This is from a ffrench family and Dave thinks it may hit problems and we should not assume we have lost yet.  So from not having had an offer in 15 months, they have received two offers on the same evening and we lose out - so close.

After more thought, we are a little suspicious about this - is this a ruse to get us to offer E270k.  But Dave does some work and finds it is an offer via another estate agent, and that the buyers saw the property on Wednesday and again on Friday.  So it does seem to be real

Needless to say, we are annoyed about this all day.  If we had seen it on Tuesday, or if our holiday had been a week earlier.  After all, this was one fo the properties from our first internet search back in June.

As promised, the temperature reaches 40 just after lunch and we retreat back to the hotel.  Later that afternoon, I found us another property at about the same price as the one we'd lost out on, and have asked Dave to arrange for us to see this and any others of similar or slightly higher price that he knows of that we can see on Monday

Dinner back at Royan at a nice restaurant on the sea front.


Off to the nearby town of Cognac for the day so we can do the Martell tour.  This was where Daughter was back in late June.

So now we know all about how cognac is made and we have bought ourselves a bottle of the cheapest they had.  When Daughter was there, she was presented with a bottle of the E89 Cordon Blue cognac.

Back at the hotel by mid afternoon as we were having a meal there tonight - the full works.  Five courses of superb food for about E150.  As we have been eating cheaper than normal, we felt we could afford a blow out.  Two days ago, we hoped this might be a meal to celebrate our house purchase.

Dave has got appointment for tomorrow plus a couple of other ideas - we are meeting him in St Jean D'Angely tomorrow at 2:00


A lazy start as we have no other plans than seeing houses this afternoon.  I have downloaded a live recording made on the current Dead Can Dance tour.  Very pleased with this indeed.

We drove to St Jean via Pont L'Abbe where there is a market taking place.  We buy loads of local honey and get some ideas for house decoration from some of the linen stands.  Then it is off to meet Dave where we have another leisurely chat at the cafe in the centre of St Jean.

For the next hour, we are taken round at new house.  Priced the same as the previous one, this one is actually much better and at about 4:00pm our offer is accepted and we are buying a 7-bedroom Charantese farmhouse (hopefully)!!

More detail on this to follow!

So our meal out in Royan tonight is celebratory afterall.  So much so that Wife gets rather drunk on a couple of mohitos and then orders a huge plate of whitebait, which she's never eaten before but which it turns out she really likes.  Loads to talk about of course.


Travel back to Mousterlin

Fouesnant for dinner


Day by the pool,  reading

Fouesnant again

Le Forest de Fouesnant event


Concarneau for the monring

back to Cherbourg