Done well, with just the right air of long-suffering humour, this kind of English moaning can be remarkably convincing, and highly effective in deflecting envy. I have found myself sympathizing - genuinely sympathizing - with the beleaguered new owners of just such bijou cottages and grand chateaux. Even if you are not convinced, and indeed even if you are boiling with envy, resentment or righteous indignation, the correct response is to express sympathy: 'How infuriating!' 'You must be exhausted!' 'What a nightmare!'