vendredi 29 janvier 2016

The case of the missing money.....

Yesterday, with our business tax payment imminent, we went off to the nearest town to transfer some funds into our French bank, Credit Agricole.

As it was lashing with rain I chose the cowards way out  -and stayed in the car whilst Mark dashed around the corner to make the deposit.

As Mark got back in the car he mentioned how the paying in process had altered and the paying in envelope was in such a different format that he had asked the assistant to help him. The assistant had obliged and even took the bank card off Mark to open  the automatic deposit flap and placed the money inside. Job done.

This morning we checked online that the money had gone in ( it normally happens within 24 hours) but the account showed that it hadn't.  We just assumed that the usual service was running slow, so we went out truffling as planned.

By lunchtime the deposit was still not showing in the account  so we went in to another branch of Credit Agricole to find out why. The clerk agreed to phone the branch we had paid in to and would make sure it was recorded.

By 4 o`clock there was still no sign of the payment in so we decided to drive to the original branch in Carentan where Mark had deposited the money to see what was happening.

As we drew up in the car opposite the bank Mark let out a groan of dismay. Well - not quite true. The air turned very blue!!

On the right in the picture is Credit Mutuel bank ( who we do not bank with);  next door is our bank  - Credit Agricole. 

Mark had suddenly realised that, in the rain and with his head down against the wind, he had gone into the Credit Mutuel bank the previous day, and had deposited the money into the wrong bank! My heart hit the floor.  French bureaucracy can be hideous and I knew that we would probably have to jump through hoops to get the money back.

What amazed me was the fact that our Credit Agricole bank card had opened the Credit Mutuel safe deposit box - and the clerk had used it to do so!

We crossed the road, walked into Credit Mutuel, explained the error to the bank clerk and he directed us to some seats to await one of his colleagues. We sat there for what seemed like a lifetime with me making my feelings known to Mark:  " Well, I am not leaving here without the money". With us not having any receipt or proof  I looked to see if there were security cameras trained on the cash dispensers so at least there might be a record of him paying the money in. To my relief I saw several.

Finally we were led to an office where a very official- looking lady explained that she had seen the envelope but had been unable to recognise the strange account number written on it. She had checked her records and , to our surprise, informed us that there was in fact someone who banked with them  who had the same surname as me - and they were thinking of simply paying the money into that account.

My heart hit the floor as I have heard of internet payments being directly transferred to wrong accounts and the money never seeing the light of day again!!

We explained that her colleague had used the card from the wrong bank to open their deposit box. She simply advised us that any card, even a French health card, would have opened it!!

We tried not to make too much of the fact that Mark had actually entered the wrong bank and had not noticed his mistake!!!

Much to our relief she produced the envelope with the money still inside it - but then asked us for some proof of identity.  Mark shot out to the car like a brocanteur at a chateau sale, returning in less than a minute with our driving licenses.

Phew! We were saved! She handed over the envelope and we sheepishly left, immediately going next door into Credit Agricole to pay the money in.

The only saving grace for Mark is that the lady who had returned the money to us admitted that she, too, had turned up at work one morning and had walked into the wrong bank!

And so the tax man will be happy after all  - but as for Mark...........................!!

A la prochaine, mes belles


mercredi 20 janvier 2016

Just a perfect day....

A wonderful day of truffling in the most divine attic and it may have been freezing cold but I was in heaven!!!

Lots of delicieux treasures being listed tomorrow.

We arrived home shattered and dusty to the most wonderful sunset over the marsh.

A perfect day!!

A la prochaine mes belles

samedi 16 janvier 2016

Au revoir my bohemian friend............

It has been a sad start to 2016 with the loss of Jill, my close friend.

Mark and I had just to moved to France some eleven years ago and we were standing in the queue at the post office when someone said "Are you Simply Chateau?" It was Jill who was also in the queue. I had written on my blog of our move to Normandy, she saw us both laden with parcels and guessed ( correctly) who I was. From that day we became firm friends and saw each other every few days or so.

Having a unique and wonderful creative spirit for painting and drawing , she was also an amazing textile artist. She taught me that art is a personal thing and you create it purely for yourself and no one else.

 I would occasionally try to fish out some delicious creation that she had discarded into her waste bin, unhappy with her work. On those occasions when she was persuaded to exhibit some of her creations, she was always genuinely surprised if someone asked the price of an item with the intention of buying it, which was not uncommon as her work was stunning! She was so talented but, at the same time, was very humble - and I am quite sure she had no idea how fabulous her creations were.

Her studio is a haven of absolute heaven, filled with period textiles, trims and paints with drawers full of vintage paste jewellery pieces, beads and corsage flowers. The walls are lined with prints, paintings, books and treasures that Jill had collected over many years. The room is purely " Jill", and it was here that I would often find her totally absorbed in her latest project, oblivious of the time and sometimes forgetting to eat. I spent many hours sitting opposite her simply watching as she worked whilst we caught up with each other's news.

She was an absolute inspiration to me. We laughed together, cried together, made mad plans together, swapped velvet and linen clothes - and often put the world to rights!

She did everything with style and panache and no more so than one early morning when, whilst  walking through an antique fair, her skirt slipped down around her ankles. Unperturbed she simply stepped out of it, picked it up  and carried on walking as if nothing has happened!

She was a voracious reader and made me read books I would never have chosen for myself . But I am so glad she did; they were the kind of books that, once I had started reading,  I simply could not put them down!

I feel privileged to have listened to her talk of her own life experiences. From being a teenager in London in the swinging 60s and her very first job being an usherette at the Royal Opera House, Convent Garden to her travels and the people she had met. She had been a photographic model and had rubbed shoulders with many famous people of the time. When I began to call her my Bohemian friend she immediately looked up the word "Bohemian" just in case it was a name she would was not entitled to!!!

She told me in minute detail of the time she had lived in India on a houseboat on Lake Kashmiri - and her recollections were so vivid that, when I closed my eyes, I could almost feel the warm breeze on my face, hear the water lapping against the wooden hull and see tiny glimpses of silver as tiny fish darted between the reeds.

There was recently a fascinating TV documentary about the oldest and most famous hotel in Mumbai - "The Taj Mahal Palace". As I started to tell her about it I was amazed when she interrupted me by saying "When I stayed there in the 70s I asked a maid to arrange the dry cleaning of my beautiful fine silk dress and later, as I looked out of the window, I saw the maid beating it against a stone in the river to wash it!"  If I had known that she had stayed there I would have watched that documentary with even more interest!!!!

 As her illness progressed and she became weaker we talked of what wings we would have in heaven. We decided that mine would probably  be made of carved wood, shabbily painted and with bits of wood missing and harbouring woodworm! Jill`s wings on the other hand would be made from rich silk patchwork in Kingfisher blues and deep purple and embroidered with her own signature dragon flies.

To Tony, her family and friends who sat with Jill to watch over her twenty four hours a day,  I can only say that no one  could have cared for her better; you were all amazing.

And the next time you catch a glimpse of a Kingfisher across the water you know who it will be !!

                With the fondest of memories

vendredi 8 janvier 2016

Filling up the shop....

I have so many boxes of small treasures from a recent manoir attic clearance that I am going to spend the weekend filling up my Etsy shop. The link is opposite...bear with me!!

Bone Weekend mes belles