So, this thing just doesn’t seem to be going away, does it?
We are still here in France, semi locked-down but, at present, free to roam if we desire. To be honest, we haven’t been far lately - I can't really see the point. Since we got our new camper it hasn't actually stopped raining and a month off the alcohol has dampened my enthusiasm to go to the bar. At least it is open, unlike other parts of this country, and UK for that matter. We are due to head to Scotland in mid/late November, but the jury is still out on whether we go at all this winter, such is the chaos and uncertainty brought on the country by its strident leader. For now it's a case of sit tight, light the fire, read a book or play Scrabble for a while longer yet.
Anyway, enough of the gloom. Considering the circumstances, we have had quite a good year with our Scottish holiday rentals which have been pretty much back to back since early July, although our American student, however, who moved into one of our cottages a few months ago has not really benefited from his St Andrews university experience, and is hence heading back over the pond for Thanksgiving. Not that I feel sorry for students having their festivities curtailed whilst they squirm under the spotlight of irresponsibility as the country shuts down around them. Let's face it, recklessness is the first subject on the curriculum for freshers the world over and the first lads to climb the local statue and put a traffic cone on its head are generally the ones who go on to be captains of sport and industry! So, the odd house-party is hardly heinous. It's just their Mums' having a gripe over the fact that little Johnny shouldn’t be cooped up his student halls, missing lectures and sleeping in till lunchtime curled up with Daisy from the next corridor that galls me, when she believes that he should be going to lectures and learning directly from mumbling professors who have as little wanton to be there as their undergrads. Personally, I don’t think anyone has ever had it so good. University is about learning about life, and where better to start than with a valid excuse to experience work-avoidance!
On the subject of holiday letting, this may possibly be our last year, since the Sturgeon (Princess Nicola to her friends) is putting the proverbial boot into our industry. From April next year a whole host of new regulations are being mooted in Scotland, which include requiring planning permission to let out a property. It is then up to the 'local government' whether they grant it or not, which in itself hangs a problem doused with corruption. Scottish coastal towns, such as the ancient fishing village of Cellardyke, were once awash with cash earned at sea until fish stocks dwindled due to greed, and restrictions were imposed by Europe. Over the last 50 years, the villages became desolate and derelict, as youngsters headed off to earn their living in the city and from other industries until no one was left but a few hungry seagulls. Then came the Scottish Tourist Board, a body who recognised Scotland's beauty and marketed it to the world, and the money arrived once more, this time from outsiders. Along with it brought a demand for modern living and in came the developers such as ourselves, restoring old cottages using local suppliers and tradesmen, so everyone got a turn. All in all, the cycle completed itself and generally everyone was happy, you would think? Except now the 'locals' are moaning, big time, about the number of cars in the streets so they can't get to park their 1990 Ford Mondeo in the same spot they have done for two generations, and have to queue at the corner shop for their bread rolls. And, as we all know, enough squeaky and malevolent voices together form a tribal minority whose small tail can wag an extremely large dog, especially with the hot air of the media at their rear. So let's pull on our blinkers and curb the number of tourists? What the blinkers don’t show, though, is that if they curtail the number of holiday rentals, these houses will get sold, and become second homes for the rich English and will lie empty for 11 months per year, as will the shops, cafes and pubs, whilst the tumbleweed of parochialism lives off its meagre pension. Oh, I do enjoy my soapbox! Am I too old and shameful become an MP?
Meanwhile, back in the fields of France, Shaun (the sheep) is out with the ewes, the grass is growing faster than France's national debt, and our house is on the market. Yes, after nearly 14 years in this lovely old farmhouse, it is time to slow down, downsize and perhaps enjoy a little more of what life has to offer, as we head towards our hexagon decade. Who knows, I might even find time to write a book!