[Ben Reeve Lewis is back from his holiday …)
Well I had a blissful week in La Rochelle thanks for asking, walking the mediaeval streets, stuffing my face with the local seafood and cycling around the gorgeous Il de Re, a dreamy, sand and village covered island a mile off the coast
Life in La Rochelle
Our fave discovery was the Café de Paix (see pic) a watering hole not decorated since 1900. I half expected to see Toulouse Lautrec hobble in with a dancer on his arm and order a bottle of Absinthe.
Went out to watch the Wales v. Portugal game for a bit of local atmosphere and for some bizarre reason ended up in what is probably France’s only Portuguese gay bar, so we sat huddled in the corner trying not to cheer Wales on or look too disappointed when they got trounced.
Some of those lads were on the big side, drunk and somewhat fervent.
I tried to avoid reading anything about housing news whilst away but I did fall across this rather incredible story of weird Nimbyism about a Kiwi couple who relocated for a dream existence on the Il de Re only to be driven out by the locals when rumours went around that they were catching and eating cats by the hundreds.
One French newspaper dubbing them ‘Animal Lector’ which I thought was quite cool.
Brexit and the housing market
Back in the UK I was not surprised to see that the dust still hasn’t settled on the Brexit furore. As a soon to be house seller I was worried that things would dry up but according to various articles this week its business as usual so far and my plan to escape the horrendous money pit of private renting in London paying for other people’s retirement plans is still an achievable dream,
Personally I would trust an industry blog over the Guardian any day.
Apparently the US dollar is the best currency for buying a house now, so all we have to do is entice a monied up yank to see the potential of a two up two down on a South East London ex-council estate blighted by drugs and burglary as a prime investment opportunity and certainly an attractive alternative to getting shot by your police if you are of a different hue.
Renting and the over 50s
Saga, more known for its holidays for the elderly and TV adverts offering a carriage clock and the promise that “No unpleasant salesman will call’ have been venturing into surveys of renting amongst their client group.
Apparently, a third of over 50s now rent privately with the biggest increase being amongst those aged up to 54.
No surprises there as for most councils the kick-in age for being eligible for sheltered housing schemes is 55 but this knocks on its head the notion that private renting is mainly for the young and mobile, rather than the not so young or mobile, prey to creaky knees and piles, the lot of the real Saga lout.
I love this new social group outlined here:-
“Divorce is creating the demand for renting as silver splitters have to divide the family home.”
Silver splitters ha-ha-ha. This is presumably the same kind of people appearing in another advert where a middle aged dude sits on a beach, wet suit half off and ripped muscles waiting for the perfect wave for his new surf board, while his well stocked pension fund runs smoothly in the background……as if.
I did surfing for years, long short of being 50 and trust me, heaving yourself up on a board in the split second needed to catch a wave is something you only manage 1 in 10 attempts when you leave 30 behind.
And who are the silver splitters splitting for? Are they looking for younger replacements or just to be alone enough to buy their singleton uber-statement Harley Davidson they could never afford when they were 25 and shepherding the kids to Ikea in a Mondeo?
Social trends eh?
Universal credit and evictions
A sobering view and an entirely predictable one was the news reported on 24 Dash this week that the advent of the much reviled Universal Credit system is forcing social landlords into eviction mode.
People are getting knackered by the new system but landlords cannot get rent direct until the tenant is in 2 months arrears and the DWP ain’t exactly swift on the uptake when it comes to changing payments….Government department dragging their feet?…..no surprises there then.
Housing Partnership spokesman David Phillips said:-
“After two months of non-payment, we can apply for an ‘Alternative Payment Arrangement’ so the Job Centre pays the rent directly to us. And this is what the tenants want because it’s easier for them but the Job Centre that runs the system can take many months sorting this out, by which time there are huge arrears and ultimately we have to evict. We are finding it extremely difficult and very frustrating working with the new system that is simply not doing what it should.”
Of course, nobody predicted that did they? Or do I go back over 4 years of warnings by people working with tenants on benefits that were shouting at government from day one that this system would be a disaster, only to be ignored?
But then the electorate don’t know Jack do they? It’s the politicians who know whats best for us and I say this with a deep sense of sarcasm and having written this column before Angela Eagle gets thrown on her arse for being the back stabbing elitist she is .
Or in the alternative Jezza getting excluded from the ballot, in which case I will be the first to rip up my Labour party membership card.
What made me smile this week
Well, La Rochelle and Il de Re in short. Only 55 minutes flying time from Gatwick.
A friend of mine attended the Weymouth Seafood Festival at the weekend. I had a look at the website and the photos of the stalls offering the bog standard crab, whelks and prawns and they were put to shame by just an average French Marche with produce in abundance.
Why don’t the British understand how to do food?
A few years back I read Bill Black’s funny but depressing book “The land that thyme Forgot” about British attitudes to the celebration of our national food heritage, which is about as inspiring as Universal Credit.
But France!?!?!? They really get it and I was part of it for a for a short time.
See ya next week.