Tag Archives: rants

Things that make me go Grrrrr

Late last night, I got into an argument on an ex-pat forum with a woman who was trying to sell her horse. That bit was okay, except she was trying to do it without papers. The horse has no legal recognition in France. Its identity is not known to Haras Nationaux or the IFCE. Its owner is not registered.

She admitted in her first post that it was going cheap because it had no paperwork. Therefore, she realised that not having paperwork was something she really should have. If she had spent 40€ to get the paperwork, her horse would have got double that she was asking for it.

This drives me up the wall. It’s 40€. That’s all. It’s just cheap. I’d have paid it to get her horse registered if she’d have asked for charity. If she can’t pay because she’s too poor and that’s why she’s selling the horse, why the hell did she arrive here 5 months ago with several horses? When you have animals or kids, they have got to be your first responsibility. They HAVE GOT TO BE because they depend on you. No matter how poor we get, the boy, the chickens, the dogs and the cat come first. I’d have the internet cut off first.

It brings me to two questions. Why are people so reckless when they decide to move? And why are people mad at you when you’re right, coming out with the most ludicrous arguments?

As to the first, this woman can’t possibly have checked out the regulations in France. This means one of several things. Either she’s too lazy and irresponsible, or she can’t read French. I take it to be the first because even Google Translate makes a fair job of translating the right pages and takes one click. In fact, Google Chrome’s extension will do this automatically for you. And still on the recklessness, though she says she’s been here five months, she can’t have (and she admitted this) seen a vet.

Her logic for this when I challenged her was that she ‘knows’ horses. Really? I asked if she was a vet. No, she said. Just a keen horsewoman. Really! I work with people every single day and I’m not a doctor. But because I know people and I’m a keen student of the human form (well, Sean Bean’s, anyway) does that make me qualified to know whether the boy is ill or down in the mouth? Am I able to decide whether his tummy ache is appendicitis or wind? Obviously, according to her logic, I am.

Not only that, but the boy can talk. Or grunt. If he’s sick, he tells me. Animals don’t. The first thing I did when we got Tilly and Saffy was take them to the vet. Unfortunately, with Saffy I wasn’t quick enough to get her to the vet and that’s something I’ll always regret. Even with Tilly, her ears smelt a bit manky and I took her to the vet. It was a ‘catastrophe!’ according to him. She wasn’t bothered by them. She wasn’t itching or rubbing them. She’d seen him in December and again in February about them. By May they were really bad.

Now I’m not saying that this woman’s horses are ill. What I am saying is that you need a vet’s opinion of things and diagnosis shouldn’t be just done by someone who has no training. In all fairness, the horses in her care could be like Molly who is rarely ill. She just needs her jabs (done) and flea treatment. Also, in fairness, you CAN tell SOMETIMES when an animal is ill. But like Tilly, sometimes you can’t tell when something has gone from fairly normal in spaniels to being a ‘catastrophe!’

I’m also saying that a horse is a bit more than a dog and needs more specialised care. And if I’d brought a horse over a thousand miles, I’d want to know it was okay and I’d probably ask a vet to come out and have a once over. All of these things are expensive, which is why I don’t have a horse, though I’d really, really love one. I’d also love more dogs and more cats and more chickens and goats and sheep but I can’t afford to feed them and have them checked out.

I think the combination of lack of vet care and lack of simple fact checking means that I’d – perhaps erroneously – put her into the ‘lazy’ and ‘reckless’ category.

I pointed out (to my disadvantage, because I got really insulted!) that horse registration is compulsory because it protects the owner, the buyer and the horse itself. More importantly, it creates a way for the French bean counters to estimate stuff and work out what to tax and so on – but that’s by the by.

For an owner, the transfer of paperwork means you know where your horse is going. I still can’t believe there are people who don’t check out the homes their animals are going to, but that’s perhaps just me. The cats’ previous owner was sooo concerned about where they’d be living and how, and wanted to see photos. I’d be the same. Tilly’s owner couldn’t have given a stuff. We could have been a vivisection laboratory and she wouldn’t have cared or bothered to find out. I could have been a psychotic taxidermist looking for new subjects. It also means you know your horse is still in the system and that should something happen, the new owner can be prosecuted for it. A horse without papers can be sitting in a field, ill, and should the SPA come and enquire, its new owner can deny everything.

For a buyer, it means you know you aren’t buying a stolen horse. Would you buy a car without a VIN and without the paperwork??! You just KNOW there’s no good reason for a car not to have a VIN and not to have any paperwork. If there were no paperwork, I could sell any horse in a field and run off with the money. It’d be a great way to make a few thousand quid.

But it was her reaction that really got to me. She’s doing something she knows isn’t right – otherwise, she wouldn’t have said ‘it’s got no paperwork, hence the low price’ and when I say it’s illegal to buy a horse without paperwork, she says I’m rude and have a tone.

Her post said this: “however since him coming over to France I haven’t obtained French papers for him, hence I’m asking a fair price for him to go to a loving home. Price: 400 Euros” – so she knows she’s supposed to have French papers – that such things exist.

I said: ” I suggest you get him registered. It’s illegal to sell a horse in France without registration.”

She then asked if she could give him away… I kind of think money worries are at the heart of this, which makes me feel for the three other horses she still has.

Someone else added:

You can’t legally give him away either, as you can’t complete the ‘change of ownership’ papers, if you aren’t the registered owner in the first place!

It is a legal requirement for all equids in france to be micro-chipped and registered with the HN – and for every horse ‘keeper’ to be registered as such as well. When an equid is sold (or given away…) the relevant change of ownership forms should be completed and sent to the HN, in order for them to update their records. Every registered ‘keeper’ of equids (which is a seperate registration and that person may not necessarily be the owner) has an on-line account with the NH, where information as to the location of each animal is recorded – this information must also be updated if the animal is moved and kept elsewhere.”

But then we were both accused of being unhelpful and that our comments were ‘useless’ – and that she was looking for advice. Well, excuse me for pointing out that someone trying to SELL a horse, not someone looking for advice, is doing so illegally. I’d pointed her in the direction of IFCE and HN and she said she wanted more ‘hand-holding’. I’m sorry that someone who trades in illegal horses wants their hand holding. Shame the horse hasn’t got someone who cares enough about it to find out what the situation is. Hence why they NEED registration.

What really got my goat was the ‘well I didn’t know’ line of argument. And the line of argument that said ‘I didn’t need to do this in Holland’.

Oh, I’m sorry! I’ll start selling marijuana on the site then, shall I? After all, it’s fine in Amsterdam. What about selling cars with no VIN? How about guns?

You might think I’m being melodramatic. I probably am. In the eyes of the law, though, illegal horse trading is the same as illegal weapons trading or illegal vehicle trading. They’re all ILLEGAL and punishable, if not by fines and restrictions, then by prison.

FFS. Where the hell is common sense when you come down to it?? It really, really gets my goat when someone acts all hard-done-to when they’re in the wrong and someone else points it out. Oh poor me. Hold my hand.


La confiture de raisins

Or grape jelly to you and I…

Our grape vines, all 130-odd of them (and then some!) are all in various stages of coming to fruition. I like that word for fruit being ready. It seems somehow appropriate! Yet, what to do with such a harvest?! We aren’t in the ‘wine producing’ stages yet. Our grape  press, for one, is out of commission, though I think I could manage well with a bucket and a drill bit for stirring cement (make do and mend!) to get the juice out – and the rest, as I can see, is about killing off some of the natural yeasts, adding your own, then letting it do its business. I might have a go anyway.

But in the meantime, it’s grape juice and grape jelly a-plenty. I have a new-best-website find, the cottage smallholder which is an amazing site not unlike one I’d hope this will look like in a few years! I’ve been using this site, along with BBC Food (of course!) which negates the need for recipe books at all, especially if you love James Martin and the Hairy Bikers as much as I do. I’m a fan of Nigel Slater, too. I’m a fan of chefs who like to eat as much as they like to cook – they cook because they love what they produce. Not a fan of Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey, though most of my dislikes of both are about their character rather than their cooking. Jamie Oliver needs about 2 inches shaving off his tongue on each side and needs to get over his ‘faux-pukka’ persona. Steve told me yesterday his son is called ‘Buddy Bear Maurice’ – which is either a Care Bear or a gay moniker. That’s a seriously evil thing to do to a child. That child will one day be a 50 year old bloke wondering where his life went wrong. Poppy – okay. I get that. That’s fine. Petal? Not really. It sounds like a detergent. Daisy Boo. Just no. No. No-one should have ‘Boo’ as part of their name. He makes me NOT want to use my British supermarket of choice, Sainsbury’s, because I don’t want a single penny of mine to go to him. Extreme, I know. Buddy Bear has enough issues without needing to be a trust-fund-pukka-wallah.

Gordon Ramsay – I just don’t like him. The arrogance of the man, the ‘sleb’ friendship with the Beckhams, the endless books written by other people with his name on them. The fact he probably hasn’t cooked for 10 years. The fact that he isn’t even EXECUTIVE chef at his own restaurants. Not only doesn’t he cook, he doesn’t even decide what should be cooked! The pretentious recipes, the endless books, his misuse of the word velouté, the pretentious names he gives to his food, his misuse of the word ‘custard’, which to my mind must have some kind of egg or egg based product in it. That’s the point of it. His sidelining of Marcus Wareing and Angela Hartnett, the real names behind his restaurant success.

Anyway, my top 10 – since top ‘whatevers’ always rock – of catering giants & then my worst cooks ever…

1. The Hairy Bikers. It might lead to coronary heart failure, but it’s constantly reliable and very, very British and Northern in good ways.

2. Nigel Slater, for his ‘plot-to-pot’ stuff and his simple suppers, even if some of the recipes need a little adjustment. A good cook would realise what needs sorting!

3. James Martin, for never, ever having failed to produce a recipe I’d want to cook and eat

4. Nigella Lawson, whose recipes are also a bit hit-and-miss, but she makes great, inspired puddings.

5. Simon Rimmer for also making good food you actually want to eat

6. Keith Floyd for his exuberance, simple recipes and use of wine in cooking – which is perfect!

7. Antonio Carluccio because he always makes simple, wonderful food that’s just wonderful. Italian food, like British food, is all about the carbs – with lots of  lovely vegetables these days!

8. Gary Rhodes, if for nothing more than the giant jaffa cake!

9. The WI for their fantastic baked goods, chutneys and jams

10. Ching-He Huang, like Ken Hom, for fabulous, simple oriental food

I must admit I like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Heston Blumenthal as well. Heston’s Christmas smorgasbord was fabulous – I can aspire!!

And with the Golden Raspberry of chefs going to:

1. Gordon Ramsay. Urgh. My worst nightmare would be to be in Indecent Proposal with Ramsay as Redford and me as Demi Moore.

2. Jamie & his Ermintrude tongue

3. Lesley Waters – don’t know who this is but they have far too many crap recipes on the BBC site. I haven’t seen a single recipe yet that I’d want to cook.

4. Delia – because none of her over-complicated recipes EVER work – and I can’t fathom why. If you want to cook ocelot’s earlobes, Delia’s supposedly-simple ‘How to Cook’ books are the place to start. They should be simple, but when you need a whiff of a kaffir lime leaf, or Grape Nuts or some other peculiar ingredient, then they aren’t. I made a key lime pie once for Steve based on her recipe. Grape Nuts are vile. Vile, I tell you!