Sunday, 25 February 2007

The hunt is on....again

Its time to start looking for our furnished apartment for May. I keep imagining all these bored Brits planning their spring/summer holidays saying "Annecy sounds nice, luv why dont we go to Annecy this year?" and booking up all the apartments. We've decided we need to allow about 6 weeks to find our home especially as the caution bancaire can take a month to issue. I doubt we'll find one furnished apartment that we can stay in for the whole time but we can try.

Jasper is doing great. David took him swimming today and he was just beaming! He is starting to put his weight back on his feet when he's on all fours. And he's finally starting to sleep a little better at night - at least he only wakes up screaming and unhappy one or twice in the early night. He's much easier to console and settle back to sleep after that. And I'm starting to feel halfway human again.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Adjustments

Day three of the brace and things are going surprisingly well. After being a bit clingy the first two days, Jasper is quite happy on the floor on his tummy for long periods today. He is really starting to master getting around and has started pushing right up on his arms again to drag his legs along. I think I've found the right size nappy to get us through the night without leaks and so far there have been no real problems there. But the issue is with sleeping. He sleeps for about an hour and then he wakes up very unhappy. It then takes about 3 attempts (about an hour!) to get him back down asleep. Then he wakes after another hour. Its no exaggeration to say I feel like a zombie today and I am pretty good at coping with sleep deprivation (after all I have had considerable training in that area!). I can cope if he wakes every hour so long as he goes straight back to sleep OR I can cope if he's up for an hour so long as its only once.... but combine the two, rinse and repeat all night long and I just cant function. I'm really hoping that as he has had such a good day today and is feeling more comfortable with the brace during the day, that it might equal less waking tonight... fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Facing my secret fear

What a great day! Daddy is home. It seems like he has been gone such a long time. I took Jasper in for his appointments. His cast took about 10 minutes to cut off - he screamed the whole time. The brace went on very quickly - he screamed through that too. Then I was able to pick him up and give him a cuddle and some boob. The shape of the brace will make nappying a challenge again for a while but it also means I can cuddle him close in an upright position - I have really missed that! I'd trade that for a few leaky nappies any day (she says on the first day!). He ended up having 2 xrays as the first one was not in a good position - he screamed through both of them too, of course. The surgeon says his placement looks good so we do six weeks in the brace and then get some more xrays. And then I asked the question I have been secretly worrying about ever since we got the news about Jasper's hips, "should we be having Lily's hips checked?" He offered to check them for us and she screamed while he did so, despite a jelly bean bribe. Her hips checked out ok and he said he'd be very surprised if there was a problem. That's good enough for me.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Another tick!

David has managed to open a french bank account. I think, like many things in France, it took a fair amount of persistence. The person who was supposed to return his phone call never did. Our french friend said many beaurocrats dont return phone calls and just expect you to chase them up! But he now has one and I think that will serve to make things easier in May. He also found out a lot more about the caution bancaire. Apparently they are more widely accepted than he thought - it was just unfortunate that we could not use one for our apartment of choice. They can take between 2 weeks to one month to issue so we will need to bear this in mind when organising our furnished apartment (or "furnitured apartment" as I saw them called the other day). In any event, there seem to be quite a few furnished apartments available for rent and that will give us a good base while we find our home. And typically french, many even accept pets! Maybe Puddy wont have to be in a kennel for long after all.


caution bancaire - bank guarantee

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Tuesday, here we come...

On Tuesday morning, Jasper gets his cast off and his brace put on. Then he has an xray and lastly an appointment with the surgeon to see how its all looking. It will be a big day but most importantly, Daddy comes home!

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Not meant to be...

We cant apply for the Vaugelas apartment. Our guarantor's salary is not sufficient. We will have to find an apartment through an agent who accepts a bank guarantee. Apparently there are plenty who still do. After sorting out through a few more bits of red tape, it will be time for David to come back. We will find our new home together in May.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

How did we survive without it?

David couldnt get through to Qantas last night to change his ticket so he sent me a texto just as I was climbing into bed. So there I was with the incredibly helpful Qantas guy on the phone tucked under my neck, Jasper on the boob, IMing David at the computer while we re-routed his return through Frankfurt to save lots of money. How did we manage before the internet?

un texto - text message

Monday, 12 February 2007

So far, so good

Its Monday morning in Annecy and no one has yet started a dossier on the Vaugelas apartment. The art deco one near the lake has been taken off the rental market and David will look at the one near the castle on Tuesday afternoon. He is off to meet J and her husband tonight and will head back to Annecy on Tuesday morning to hopefully start a dossier on the Vaugelas apartment. We have decided that if it falls through, he will not look at any others and we will just have to find one when we go in May. I dont think there is any reason to take a "second best" apartment at this stage when the money we would spend on rent over the next 13 weeks could be spent putting us up in a hotel for a couple of weeks when we arrive. I think his trip has been such a valuable experience anyway that it doesnt matter if he comes home without having signed a lease...but I'm not sure he feels the same.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Waiting, waiting

Not much news from Dav today. He wasnt able to get an appointment to see either of the new places on Friday. He will try again on Monday. We had a chat about the new art deco one and he feels the area is way too busy compared to the more quiet area of the 4 bedroom apartment near the railway in Vaugelas. I had been having some second thoughts about the Vaugelas apartment due to a number of comments made to David about the area being a bit dodgy at night. But he has been there at night and says it is very quiet. And realistically, it cant be any worse than the Valley, can it? Still it would be nice to be really close to the lake but, then again, everything is such a quick walk anyway.

So we wait, again. Weekends are a bit dull without David here. But we have a birthday party to go to tomorrow. It'll be Monday before I know it.

Back in with a chance

I'm amazed to say that my distant relative offered to be a cautionneur as soon as David mentioned he was having problems with his lease. He is going to stay with her and her husband on Monday night. This means we cant open a dossier until Tuesday but in the meantime David has 2 more interesting apartments to look at tomorrow. One sounds very desirable - right near the lake, in an art deco building. I think he will need to stay an extra week to finalize a lease before coming home but so far, we are doing ok at home. I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

cautionneur - guarantor

Thursday, 8 February 2007

A day of mixed emotions

What a day for David - excitement turned to frustration, anger and ultimately disappointment. Not only have we not been able to start a dossier on the 4 bedroom apartment, we have a major stumbling block that will severely limit the range of apartments we can chose from.

Renting a home in France is quite different to Australia and I thought we were well prepared for the amount of paperwork required. Real estate agents either find a tenant for the property and manage it for the landlord or simply find the tenant, take a finder's fee and hand over to the landlord. Leases are for 3 years in France and once the tenant is in the property there are many rights in their favour. Tenants cannot be evicted without a court order and cannot be evicted in the winter months at all. So landlords are, quite rightly, very choosy about who they lease to. A prospective tenant must provide a guarantor (who must be french and be able to prove they earn 3 times the rent as they are responsible for the rent if the tenant fails to pay). In lieu of a guarantor, the pratice has been to accept a bank deposit of funds by the tenant.

But it seems the practice is changing. Some tenants, who have paid their bank deposit, then refuse to pay their rent and remain in the apartment for the 3 years or until the lengthy court process eventually results in their eviction. So many real estate agents who manage properties are refusing to accept bank deposits and insist on a french guarantor. And this is the situation David has found himself in. It seems there is no way around it; he even offered to pay a full year's rent in advance. No go. We must have a guarantor to even be able to open a dossier on this property (and that's not to say we would be accepted if we had one). And we dont have one. The family friend who David is staying with has retired so could not even be her own son's guarantor. We have one distant relative in France who we have not even met, but we have decided to ask her if she or her husband would consider it. We would be prepared to deposit money into their bank account as some form of security. But it is a huge ask, of someone we have never met. So David has to face this embarassing task tomorrow and we end the day with not much hope at all.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Ok, now I'm really excited!

I feel like a Pointer Sister here - I'm so excited (ooo eee) and I just cant hide it (no no no no no).

David has found an apartment and he's going to try and start a dossier tomorrow. Strangely enough, it is in the same art deco buidling that he looked at the day before. But it is almost twice the size. It has 4 bedrooms and has a separate chambre de bonne* on the next floor up. So we would have enough room for the kids to have a room each when they need to and a playroom/guestroom. And David could use the chambre de bonne as his office. I really must stay calm as there is no guarantee that it will work out but, it just sounds so perfect! Ok, really going to calm down now....

chambre de bonne -
maid's room

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Better not get my hopes up...

Its lucky that its David over there not me. He has such a level head whereas I get excited about the first apartment that sounds even reasonable and get carried away making plans. He has seen about 5 or 6 apartments now. Two were in large modern tower blocks that, although liveable, were nothing special. And they overlooked the cemetary which he is not keen on, although it wont be as noticeable once there are leaves on the trees. One is in an art deco building and we have seen it advertized on the internet for a few months now. David was not initially keen on the area but seems to have changed his view on that a little. The apartment is not very big but has lovely high ceilings and he says it has a "homely" feel to it. It overlooks a small square and is very close to the school in the vielle ville. But another family has started a dossier on it which means unless they decide not to take it, we cant apply. Straight away, I started hoping they would change their minds or it would fall through for some reason. Then David told me that they need to find out if the small lift will accomodate their daughter's wheelchair. That brought me back down to earth for a bit as I contemplated how hard it must be to find a nice apartment suitable for a child with a disability....so I wish them luck and hope it fits....and hope that somewhere out there is the right apartment for us too.

Monday, 5 February 2007

Kindergarten is so fun!

I cant believe my little baby is at kindergarten already. Off she marched with her Barbie backpack (thanks Great Gran!) and her new cup inside - no waterbottles for these big kids! When we arrived we saw her teacher from 2 years ago when I first took her to the parent/toddler group - I still remember how she used to scream at morning tea time, when she had to sit on a chair around the table with the other kids and I was supposed to stand over the other side of the room with the parents. I watched her sit down with the other kids today to play with play dough and she did not bat an eye when Jasper and I left. I knew then that all those Monday mornings when I would wake up and dread going to parent/toddler group, wondering what sort of performance she would put on and what all the other mothers would think of me - that strange woman who *still* breastfed and slept in the same bed as her child - all those mornings had been worth it to get to where we are today. My little girl is growing up and it is wonderful (and a bit sad!) but mostly wonderful.

Friday, 2 February 2007

The word is out!

David Giorgi is in town! After speaking to a real estate agent and explaining what we were looking for, David was directed to their other branch in town to view a particular apartment. He popped in there the next day to enquire, only to be asked if he was "the australian"? Maybe we are such a rarity in Annecy that a visit from an australian is really noteworthy!

David seems to be making great progress. He's got all the info he needs from various departments about starting his business there. He has been all round the lake and decided that none of the villages are right for us but he hopes to find us a place right in the middle of Annecy. There are 2 schools nearby so all we need is an apartment within walking distance of one of them and we would be able to walk to the lake, the markets, the library, the parks and the vielle ville. Now if we can just find the perfect apartment in an old 1920s style building we'll be set!