The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Thursday, 23 June 2016

In or out!

Whichever way it goes, I can't wait for the "Brexit" issue to be decided. I don't even live in the UK and I have found it so tiring, though to be honest, living in France I consider myself to be one of the people most keenly concerned in the event of an "out" vote. If it comes to "out", I think there will be tremendous chaos as there will be so much change and so much to be sorted out. For me, for instance, I would have to ask for a residence permit for France (carte de séjour), something that neither my son nor I need currently as citizens of an EU member State. Then what happens to all the EU citizens (think Polish nationals, for instance) currently living and working in the UK? While I'm pretty certain anyone already living there would have an automatic right to stay, just like I will in France, administratively it will be a nightmare.  Then there is the issue of "reciprocity" of health care systems, pension funds etc. I know one thing, I wouldn't want to be the one having to sort all that out.

For me, personally, getting residency in France wouldn't be a problem as I have been here 27 years already, and can get it through my employer anyway. In fact, I intend to revert back to my maiden name in the coming months (not looking forward to all the extra work that will involve) and once that is sorted, and if necessary, I would probably ask for French citizenship, but in my new name, should the UK vote out.

Still, it hasn't happened yet, but like so many I can't wait for tomorrow morning to find out the results and for the whole thing to be over. Personally, if I had the vote (and that's a whole different issue), I would have voted "in". Purely from a trade point of view, with the UK having almost 50% of its trade intra-EU (and therefore tariff-free), I think it would be an economic disaster from that point of view alone. Now I know the big issue in so many minds is immigration (it is here in France too, by the way), and I'll be damned if I know the answers, but I would have voted "in" if I had got the chance. And there is my biggest bone of contention.  I am a born-and-bred Brit living in France and have NO say or vote on an issue that can affect my right of residence in another EU-member State because I have been out of the country more than 15 years! How screwed up is that!

Now I know there are idiots who think (if you can use the word "think" in their case) and have even said outright that if you chose to live in another country, well then just take that nationality and "bugger off". Well it isn't actually that simple. Quite a few countries do not allow dual citizenship (as was the case when I was living in the US some years ago) and there is no way I would give up my citizenship to take on another nationality. And what if I have no desire to take on that country's citizenship anyway, or what if I happen to be living in another country because of work commitments, or if said work commitments mean I have to move around? To be told "just leave" is simplistic and idiotic and in any case I don't see why anyone else gets to decide what I should or should not do regarding my citizenship (think armchair critics of the DM)! (Gets down off the soap box)!

Anyway, like I say, only time will tell. My gut feeling is "remain" will win, but since when was my gut a good economic indicator! That being said, during the Scottish referendum on independence, again I hoped that they would chose to remain part of the UK, which in fact they did but as in this case, I think it would have proved very, very interesting had they voted for independence, to see the reality of the outcome, as opposed to the predictions of the scaremongerers and doomsayers on both sides. The honest truth is, I think, that nobody knows what will/would have happened unless and until the vote is counted.  But like I said, I think everyone will be glad when it is decided one way or the other and the "incivilities" can stop.

In other matters, the weather has finally picked up here after a particularly crappy beginning to June. Wet, wet, wet - a little bit of sunshine then wet again. The upshot of that of course is that my bloody lawn grows like triffids and I can't get out there to mow it for ages, but when I do I end up feeling like a great explorer, machete in hand, slogging my way through the overgrowth. I don't have that much land, but being on the side of a mountain it is not flat (to put it mildly) and the bloody grass bag gets so heavy. Yuck. My neighbours mentioned something about getting a lawn service in to do theirs - I must ask them about it because I am getting to dislike it more than ever now and between the two homes it might be worth it.

That being said, my peonies were a riot of colour recently too, although peonies, unfortunately, don't last that long and all the bloody rain we have had has tended to bash them about a bit.

Another positive last weekend was that my youngest son installed a new kitchen sink for me (after me nagging him for ages). Jordan did a couple of years of bilingual office studies after school with thoughts of looking for work in one of the multi-nationals here in Geneva but didn't really like it. Still, it's not a bad skill to have in any case. So as his friend's dad was looking for an apprentice for his plumbing business J made the hop over to an apprenticeship. He has just completed his second year as an apprentice plumber for the mind-boggling monthly salary of half the minimum wage. But, despite that, he is very happy - much happier, I think, than if he had ended up working in an office. So while he is a bit older than most other apprentices he probably has the maturity to handle it better. He has just finished his second year exams (finals for this part of the diploma) and the first exam was English oral!  Ha, ha, how great is that. He doesn't have his results yet but fingers crossed.

He had never installed a sink on his own before so what better way to figure it out than to practice on his mom! I must admit I kinda blackmailed him a bit since as he is on such a low wage I told him I would continue to take care of his car expenses and I just had it serviced and new tyres put on the other week. So really, you see, he had no choice did he! Still, he made a good job of it and I must admit I am so pleased to get rid of the old sink. My oldest son had been doing his usual enthusiastic washing-up routine some years ago and banged a hole in the old one. To rectify that my ex put something which looked like a big gob of chewing gum over the hole to prevent leaks. Over time, of course, the "chewing gum" got dirtier and dirtier and was really looking disgusting, so I am pleased to see the back of it.

Jordan (and the most spoilt kitten in town)!
So if anyone needs a bilingual plumber, very conscientious (only a small commission payable to me) and highly recommended by yours truly just let me know!

When I took the old sink and tap fittings down to the tip, the guy there nearly jumped on me and took it over to their little hut rather than dumping it in the bin. I don't see them being able to get much use out of the sink, to be honest, but I reckon they can probably salvage the tap fittings and make someone a few euros and/or very happy.  A win-win situation as far as I am concerned.

In other news, where I live I have to cross the one-and-only bridge from our little town over a river up to the village. Well the "good" news is that that bridge is going to be undergoing major works shortly and will be closed for around a year! Bloody hell. Because of the layout of the surrounding area, crossing that bridge is pretty much the only way to get into town, to the train station and onto the highway to Geneva. It will entail quite a lot of traffic now having to go through backroads and tiny villages to get across the river. I'm sure no-one is going to be too happy about this dragging on for a year. It will be a royal pain in the butt. I was talking to one of my neighbours who is a hunter and he said you can actually go further up the mountains to get on the motorway to Geneva but it is not an easy road and in winter is pretty miserable anyway so I guess we will all have to put up with the inconvenience - like it or lump it so to speak.

Last Monday night was my end-of-year dinner with my patchwork club, and very nice it was too. I have to admit I am still in awe of what these ladies (and one very talented gent) can do, and am looking forward to the time when I can take more of their courses and learn new techniques, but for the time being I am stuck with "evenings only" meet-ups.

Moving seamlessly on, my friend sent me a link today to an article in the UK press which states that about 100,000 people over the age of 50 are set to receive the bad news that they will not be eligible for a UK state pension through not having contributed to the pension scheme for a minimum of 10 years. I'm not sure of all the facts but of course there were the usual "outraged" citizens mouthing off about how unfair it was (probably all the fault of the "bloody immigrants"). But one thing I don't get, assuming you are not disabled, or that you have not made the conscious decision not to work for whatever reason, I can't understand how you can get to your mid-fifties having actively looked to work and not managed to get 10 years of contributions in. Maybe I am missing something but really? (and that applies to me BTW - not enough years of contributory service).  I am now 57 (soon to be 58) and could technically take early retirement from my job here (full retirement for me is 62 but I could also stay till 65). However, having gotten divorced at age 53 and taken on a new mortgage I can't afford to retire until my mortgage is paid off. Now I reckon I can do that in another four years (so paying off a 17 year mortgage in 7) but without that I can't afford to retire. Even selling up would make no sense because I don't have enough equity in my house as yet to be able to buy a decent apartment for the money I would get from the house. Moreover I love where I live, my neighbours are great and I am not going to buy a pokey little apartment in exchange for my lovely house. So stay I will, and if that means carrying on working for another four years then so be it. Another reason for me to hope they vote "in" today in the UK is that if I do "flip" and get fed up of working my other thought might be moving to Spain where it is much cheaper and warmer than here - but then I need to be/remain an EU citizen. Catch 22 I suppose. I don't think I will actually end up moving to Spain even though I love the country but it is just something else to think about as to where my future lies.

What the thought of retirement does do though is make me realize that lately I have been very, very busy at work and I really like it (my work is every cyclical). If I want to do other activities outside of working hours it means quite a bit of running around, but I love it. So it has really brought home to me that while I would like to quit work (I am so tired of the 3-hour commute each day) I want to have a retirement in place with quite a few activities/commitments scheduled or I think I would just get depressed. I haven't exactly worked out what all these "activities" will be but I do know I won't be stopping work before I have more concrete plans in place. One madcap idea is to get a dog when I retire, meaning a commitment and getting out walking every day, but I have to give serious thought to that before doing the deed, since I still want to travel.  Who knows. I guess only time will tell.

Talking of "busy", this Friday I have the end-of-year dinner of my other sewing club (this is the one where all I do is yack)! They had planned to go up the mountains on the Saturday lunch time like last year but since I am off again to the market in Turin on Saturday they kindly brought it forward to Friday night. So that's out Friday night, up at the crack of dawn to head off to Turin Saturday, and then our annual "clean up the lotissement" (housing plan) followed by communal BBQ on Sunday! I will be on my knees. Then Monday after work back to sewing and Tuesday my final lesson in my once-a-month patchwork club. Goodness, I was saying I like to be busy - let's see if I am as keen after all this lot. (Oh, and I have to get my lawn cut tonight because I just won't have time before next weekend otherwise - great fun)!

So there you have it, another chaotic but happy week. Can't wait to see what the referendum holds so until next time - à plus!


  1. How nice to have a son who can do the sink installation! Isn't it funny how long we can put up with imperfections in our homes until "that day", and on "that day" what we had always lived with is intolerable.

    I guess the Brexit is decided, but certainly not put to rest. I just saw that Chapman has resigned. Wishing everyone peace, but I have a feeling this will not exactly be a peaceful transition. I see similar polarization and division here in the States, and it is difficult.

  2. Well I think we are all just digesting the news this end right now. It will take at least two years for things to begin to get sorted after Brexit but it is already so uncertain. My son's girlfriend was worried he would be deported!!! I told her to calm down and at the worst he can ask for a permit and otherwise he can (and probably should) ask for French citizenship. We'll see. Sterling dropped by 10% overnight against the euro and the Swiss franc started to shoot up (great for me as I earn Swissies) but not good long term. What a bloody mess. Anna