Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The key to my success

When you have guests in a rental property, it is always a good idea to be there when they leave so they drive off smiling and thinking what a lovely polite host you are - and you can check that they haven’t trashed the place!  Obviously when their travel plans involve leaving at stupid o’clock in the morning I tend to trust to luck (and their security deposit!) and ask them to leave the keys in a safe place.  In the case of an apartment in Perpignan, that safe place is the letter-box in the main hallway.  There are 40 letter-boxes, arranged in 4 horizontal rows of 10, and mine is clearly marked as being the one on the top right of the set.  The system has worked perfectly except for 6 weeks ago when I found 27 items of junk mail but no keys.  I quickly got hold of the clients who assured me that they had posted the keys inside and they could not understand what had happened. 

Unfortunately I could.  When you open the letter-box there are 2 holes at the front and I could only guess that the keys had slid off the pile of junk mail, down a hole and into the box below.  Peering in I could see that it was full to the brim with junk mail so obviously belonged to an unused apartment -  so no chance of ringing the owner to ask them to open the box and check for my key.  My next option was to try to open it myself but none of my keys fitted and unfortunately I don’t carry safe-cracking equipment or a crowbar in my handbag. 

I then went upstairs to the apartment (I had the spare keys – I’m not completely stupid!) and panicked for a while, then had the brilliant idea of ringing the Concièrge.  10 minutes later he called back to say he had managed to get into the box below mine and yes, he had retrieved the keys!  I dashed downstairs and nearly kissed him – but he seemed happier to accept a bottle of red wine!

So that should be the end of the story, except I am ashamed to say that this week I found myself in exactly the same situation.  Yes I had followed his advice and stuck tape over the holes, but it was just normal sellotape and the apartment keys are quite heavy so unbelievably they had managed to unstick the tape and drop through again.  But even worse, they weren’t in the box below mine (which was wide open because ‘somebody’ had damaged the lock …).   Cue another urgent (and very embarrassing) call to the concierge who once again saved the day - the keys had somehow dropped all the way down into the 3rd row of boxes!  He accepted my effusive gratitude and several euros, and also very kindly lent me a big roll of orange gaffer tape and some scissors.  I hope never to have to call him out again, but who knows …

Monday, 18 November 2019

Out to lunch

It is very unusual for me to write a bad restaurant review on Trip Advisor but I was so furious yesterday that I could not stop myself!  Just for a change of scene we sometimes go to Narbonne for the Sunday market; there are some great street stalls and also Les Halles, the indoor food market with tapas bars etc.  We then like to have lunch in a nice restaurant on the canal bank.  The restaurants are often busy on Market days so as we were passing one of our favourite places we thought we would stop and reserve a table for 1pm.  It was 11.50, there were tables laid out outside, lights were on inside, but the door was firmly shut.  Another couple turned up with the same idea and we all peered in and could see the staff eating their pre-service lunch at the back of the restaurant.  They could clearly see us and hear us when we knocked on the door to ask if they were open, but totally ignored us.  The other couple started noting down the telephone number so they could ring and reserve but we decided nothing would induce us to eat there after such an unfriendly and rude reaction.

We ended up in a new place that we had never tried before – nothing to write home about, and nothing to write to Trip Advisor about – but a good atmosphere and not bad food.  It was what happened after the meal that made my day.  There was an elderly lady eating alone at the table next to us and when she got up to leave, she flung her scarf around her neck with such a flourish that it knocked my wine glass over, drenching the table.  She was absolutely mortified but we assured her that it was absolutely no problem and when my partner jokingly said that the ‘punishment’ would be a ‘bise’, she kissed us both on the cheek and left the restaurant smiling.  10 minutes later she returned with a little posy of flowers that she had picked in her garden, tied up with a pretty red ribbon!