Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pound beginning to bounce back?

Just seen today that the pound has hit a seven month high against the dollar.

It's also trading at €1.15 which is the best it's been for a while.

My father-in-law and I were talking about investments last week and I said that if I had the guts I would chance my arm at currency trading as I think it may hit €1.30 later this year.

Sadly I chanced the wrong arm and bought some Land Securities shares which promptly fell by 25% the next day....ho hum.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Faith restored

Sometimes you get days that fully restore your faith in humanity.
I spent Monday & Tuesday with clients, driving all over SW France showing them some houses I had found. It seemed that everyone we met were just the politest, friendliest bunch of people on earth.

Let's start with my clients. These were two "full on" days with barely time to stop for petrol and grab a cold drink & sandwich for lunch - yet they were charming, courteous and fully appreciative of all the hard work I had put in to the search. More than that, they were simply good company to be with and we had fun.

Then there were the vendors. Firstly the typically French old boy, beret included, who insisted we drive round the boundary of his property. Everyone jumped into my car and instead of reversing towards the lane he said "straight on through the (three foot high) field and if you turn left just before that wooden stake you should just about avoid the hidden ditch".

Next there was Mme T. This was a private sale (pictured) so no agents involved. "I'll be at work" she said "but I'll give you the keys and you just make yourselves at home". I called her last night to explain that my clients wouldn't be buying her house as it wasn't quite right for them. "No problem, thanks for all your efforts" she said cheerfully then kept me talking for 20 minutes on everything from the local schools to her English neighbours.

Finally there were the estate agents we met. Without exception they were on time, professional and knowledgeable which makes my life so much more pleasurable. Take a bow Jerome, Stéphanie, Rachel and Marjet.

Sometimes all the bad news on the telly seems overwhelming and it's nice to put it into perspective...there are plenty of lovely people out there and sometimes you're even lucky enough to meet many of them at one time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bleak headlines.....but charente houses prove popular

More economic doom mongering has been hidden away by a swathe of corrupt and immoral politicians. Question Time was spikey last night.

The fact that the UK has so many "leaders" who clearly lack integrity is mind blowing and I feel sorry for those who have done no wrong and who are currently tarred with the same brush.

I read this morning that the EIU say that the "brutal slump" shows no sign of abating with the housing market set to slow further.

On a micro level though I have seen a sharp increase in enquiries for property in the Charente and am now searching for four different clients. This is just about capacity for me as I couldn't do a thorough search of the market if I took any more on.

I realise that, given I'm such a small business, statistics like this are meaningless but it does give me cause for optimism (not that I ever need an excuse).

MP's may live in cloud cuckoo land and Rupert Murdoch may still be raking it in by churning out bad news but it looks as though the man in the street has had enough of putting his life on hold.

Here in France the sunshine beckons, the cherries are out and I even had a handful of strawberries from my plot last night. There are some bargain houses to be had and it looks as though the market is returning.

Bon appetit, don't let those buggers in Westminster give you indigestion.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Just googled "cognac" and Cognac Property Services are top of the second page....yay.

Just one step further and I'll be on the front page of nearly 10,000,000 results.

I then tried "cognac property" and amazingly had the first two results out of 350,000....yay again.

Who cares if it brings me any business it still makes me feel good to know that my marketing programme is working.

Now if only this blog had a similar reach.....

Snakes alive....

Just seen a simply whopping grass snake in my garden (miles bigger than the tiddler shown above).
It was basking in the sun next to my strawberries and slowly slithered away when I got to within 6-8 feet.

Sadly I didn't have my camera with me (don't usually carry it around when I'm digging) and there's no way in the world that I'm telling Paddy or he'll never volunteer to help dig & rotovate the piece of land I've just rented from the commune (800 square metres on a 99 year lease for €100 pa but that's another story).

Cognac Blues Festival

This year the Blues Passion festival is 21-26th July, headline acts are BB King and Duffy.
If you've never been in Cognac during blues week I'd heartily recommend it. The sun usually shines, the squares, parks and bars are packed with live bands (usually free) and the whole atmosphere is friendly, welcoming and how a festival should be.

I'd love to see Duffy (I know it would have been cooler to say BB King but hey ho) but at €50 a head it's not cheap. Still, what price excellence.

Last year we went to see The Commitments play on the small island opposite the Courvoisier chateau in Jarnac and it was simply spectacular from the setting to the ambiance to the music itself.

Anyone else fancy a trip to Warwick Avenue?

£83,000 per week

That's how much Ledley King is reported to earn. Seemingly most of the officers in his local nick now know that too.

For those who don't know he's the captain of my football team - many's the time I have stood on the terraces and chanted his name.

He's a great player, and I don't use that term loosely.

Sadly he's been caught out in a nightclub yet again. Totally hammered and alledgedly giving racial abuse to the bouncer. It was so bad he was arrested and is now awaiting charges. His defence of "Do you know who I am & how much I earn" won't get him very far.

Now, I don't want to appear pious or hypocritical and I apologise if I am. I've certainly done things I shouldn't and there have been times when I've had way, way to much to drink....particularly in my youth. I've never been arrested though and as captain of Tottenham Hotspur FC Ledley has a responsibility to be an ambassador for the club.

He's blessed with a talent that makes him a role model and he gets paid handsomely for it. Surely his agent, manager, friends and family can get it into his thick skull that constantly being pictured by the tabloids drunk in nightclubs is a bad idea.

Ledders - on the pitch I'll cheer you as long as you wear the shirt. Off the pitch though you're a disgrace.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Time to fix your mortgage rate?

Believe me when I say I'm no expert. I used to sit in my Economics A level class totally bewildered just waiting for the English lesson to start (and even that was just because the English Literature class was full of the prettiest girls at Esher College and I had a huge crush on Denise Knox).

So, with that caveat in place I'd suggest you have a quick scan of this article from The Times.

In the last paragraph it says that HSBC are offering a 3 year deal at 3.99% and that you can get a five year deal from Brittania at 4.24%.

All I'm going on is gut feel and the bitter experience of at least two previous property slumps but if I were in the market for a mortgage I'd be tempted to fix.

I guess that I should finish this post with a disclaimer about not offering financial advice etc but suffice to say that I was able to use this line in a wedding speech once:

"In 1981 I passed my A levels with ease..........well two "E"s actually".

Let's show a little respect

OK - let's start with the words from the FA website.

Respect is The FA’s programme to address unacceptable behaviour in football – on and off the pitch. On average, 7,000 referees quit football every year because of the abuse they receive from players and from the sidelines.

Now, I've got no problem with Ballack, Drogba et al shouting, swearing and physically intimidating the ref as long as they get suitably punished. If the players and even the club were banned from European competition and fined meaningful amounts then maybe the message would become clear that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.

However, if the powers to be are too toothless to take proper action then shame on them.

How can we complain about the behaviour of our children when these sporting icons are left to get away with such abuse of the rules and laws.

Sadly, money rules and the leaders of the game are soft. Don't expect decisive action any time soon.