Day 9 Beach, Chris Stewart and French TV licence

A brilliant sunny day with a frost overnight but bright, sparkling, and warming in the sun this morning. My exercise resolution was fully met by a gentle jog along the beach. The tide was out and the beach more or less deserted; just the sounds of small waves breaking and some oystercatchers squabbling noisily nearby. Perfect. There was a keep fit session in a local village hall this morning that had tempted me a few days ago but the beach/gym was by far and away a better option.

My happiness interlude was sitting in a sun-warmed conservatory this afternoon and finishing off a library book. It was called “Three ways to capsize a boat” by Chris Stewart. He wrote “Driving over lemons” an easy to read and amusing story about his adventures after buying a farm in Spain.

Entre Limones, Chris Stewart

Entre Limones, Chris Stewart (Photo credit: Witer)

The sleeve notes to the current book record how he was, at one time, the drummer in Genesis (an original member and on their first two singles according to Wikipedia ( Then he joined a circus, before learning sheep shearing, journeying to China to write The Rough Guide, becoming a pilot, and managing to fit in sailing the Atlantic and captaining a Mediterranean yacht for a summer. Quite a life! Apparently,  Chris has written 4 books. I have only read two of them but I would recommend both as easy and humorous reads. Anyone wanting to find out more about Chris and his life could take a look at his website

I had a minor victory today against French bureaucracy. In France, if you own a property (as we do a tiny one-bed flat), you have to pay two types of tax: taxe d’habitation, a tax determined by the local councils in the area, paid by the occupants of the property and fixed by the rental value of the property, and taxe fonciere, paid by the property owner. The clever French assume that everyone has TV so include the equivalent of the TV licence fee in the taxe d’habitation. This makes it very cost effective to collect and I suspect many foreign property owners just cough up whether or not they have a TV in their French property. I, however, don’t have a TV and have challenged my most recent bill, in French, and today I received notice that I have been successful and my money has been returned. Big smiley face!

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