Continuing saga of Fruitcake’s French Adventure – Diary of Events twixt Compromis & Acte

Blog by Fruitcake @barjan
Tree cutting (Medium)
Saturday 1st April
We have been back from our cottage for only one week – it seems longer – we speak of nothing else, our lives are spent either thinking of our last trip or planning the next, or wondering how long it will be before we can move there permanently – so much so that it excludes everything else from our lives. We have already watched twice the recording we made of our visit!

No word whatsoever from Roger, following our visit to the agency, so no response to the questions we posed whilst there.

Tuesday 4th April
Received a letter today from Roger containing the receipt for our deposit – it’s amazing how excited one can become with a receipt just because it comes from France! It just makes us feel a little closer to it all somehow.

Wednesday 5th April
Sent a letter to Roger asking several questions, some of which we had already asked the Monsieur at the agency to pass on and had expected replies to! So we’ll await his reply.

Thursday 6th April
Received statement from French bank showing deduction of deposit cheque

Monday 10th April
The weekend was spent with Mr F. working the whole weekend trying to earn extra cash for our F.F (French fund) and me decorating, so that we can get the house valued to see how soon we might be able to go!

Thursday 13th April
Received a letter from Roger replying to all my questions, needed to speak to him concerning his reply on the division of orchard (we not too happy about it) rang – he was out, left message for him to ring me.

Friday 14th April (Good Friday)
Mr. F. working – me painting

Wednesday 19th April
Spent all Easter talking of nothing else but our cottage – Mr F. feeling grotty with head cold (run down methinks) both very tired – just want to be in our cottage forever, but finances won’t allow.
Eventually spoke to Roger, after ringing and leaving another message. All okay with orchard. I asked if we could complete during our planned June visit – doesn’t see a problem!

Saturday 22nd April
Mr F. out earning some extra for the F.F. My calculations show that, with a bit of luck, we might just have enough money to pay for the cottage by the time we go in June! Every weekend we spend every moment talking of our cottage, our plans and dreaming of our life when we get there, which results in us both feeling pretty depressed by Monday wanting to be there!

Monday 8th May (V.E.Day)
Had a busy week worked extra hours means I can put £100 in F.F. Spoke to ferry company about 2 days lost in March, going to reimburse us £80 towards next trip – Just might have enough by June!

Saturday 13th May
Had a fruitful week for the F.F. – received the cheque from ferry company, sold a wardrobe for £55 and got my £100 overtime – Mr. F. out earning – no word from France.

Monday 15th May
Booked crossing for June!

Tuesday 16th May
Wrote to Roger to advise of our dates and request completion for when we’re there.

Tuesday 30th May
No word from Roger. – Carried on titivating house – still not enough money in F.F! Mr F. lost the job he was going to do at weekend, might have made it otherwise, about £200 short – Dad said will lend it to us.

Wednesday 31st May
One step forward two back – a stone went straight through passenger and driver’s windows on the van today, both smashed to bits! Cost of £180 not covered by insurance, means borrowing more money, didn’t want to do that as wanted a clean slate and buy materials as and when we could afford them, now will be repaying loan before we can do that!

Thursday 1st June
Misquoted for windows, cost is £240 – something is wrong with the front door handle, a spring I think – one more mishap to go? Someone came to look at Mr. F’s boat we advertised. No offer and mutterings about engine being old – hey ho!

Saturday 3rd June
Good day today Roger rang and gave us date when completion should happen – 23rd June – time to be confirmed. Had quite a chat with him, was actually informative about a few things! Have appointment with him for 19th at 10am to discuss matters and he will introduce us to insurance agent for house insurance. Both excited after the call!

The 2nd good thing was that the van passed it’s MOT with no problem. I rang two estate agents to have the house valued, to see how we stand. Mr F. laid stairs carpet.

Monday 5th June
House valued – not enough – no “For sale” sign for a while yet! Calculator out again! Also we can’t really afford to be without Mr. F’s wages for the week that we’re away, lots of bills to pay + covering for wages for Bank Holidays at this time, but – there is no way we’re not going to be there for completion! Upped the limit on the credit card, not paid some things this month (know we’ll have to pay double next month!) really scrimping on any spending and we’re going!

Friday 16th June
At last received Mr. F’s anxiously awaited adoption certificate, as I had read that the short form birth certificate he has “Simply won’t do” when we want to move to France, so am hoping that having adoption certificate as well will suffice!

Saturday 17th June
Last minute shopping – van packed for the off – bed at 9.00pm early start (3am) excited, day is here!

Sunday 18th/Monday 19th June
Off at 3.25am – sail 5.00am – lovely crossing, good journey. Arrive at cottage 3pm
Had a sweep out, quite a bit of damp come through walls, greener than ever! – Undergrowth at back grown so high!

As always when we first arrive, tired from the journey, we’re struck by the enormity of the task ahead, but once we started having a clear up and Mr.F put new panes of glass in the window, put a piece of old carpet down, put up the bed, set out the kitchen area, then, after a good night’s sleep, wake to the sound of the birds and marvel at the view again, it all gets back in perspective.

Went to keep our appointment with Roger, went to insurance broker to get quote and found out the time for the signing is 2pm, which will give us time to go into insurance offices Friday morning and by end of Friday afternoon she will be ours – warts and all! Spent afternoon clearing undergrowth from back.

Tuesday 20th – Thursday 22nd June
So busy no time for diary entries!
Glorious weather all days
Tuesday spent clearing more from back – Wednesday a start on extracting some of the apple trees from the huge tangled mess left by Jean-Paul – lots of pulling and heaving – cutting it up with the two handsaws we brought with us then dragging the cut logs all the way up the hill to stack them – considering all our effort the stack wasn’t that big!! – Thursday finished clearing back of cottage – cleared the bank up to ruin – in between I prepared a small plot and planted some of the shrubs we brought for boundary hedging.

Each day Marcel came and had a glass of wine and a chat and I felt honoured when on the first day and, of course, the subsequent days, he gave me four kisses! He brought his wife Alice one day, we found out he is 80 yrs old, such a lovely old boy and a really cheeky sense of humour and Alice is so sweet.

The retired farmer came along for a chat, as did the other farmer and also cut all the edges of our grass for us!

Marcel was insistent that we should cut down the walnut tree resting on the back of the cottage, which was on our “To do” list anyway, he was determined it was coming down then and there, came along with an axe and a saw and helped Mr F. do it and that was that! What a marvellous old boy!

Mr F fitted locks to the two doors, dug out in front of the main door and laid two large slabs there.
Signing day tomorrow!!!!

Friday 23rd June 1995 – Signing Day!
A leisurely start – cooler, some black clouds to start. but they went.. Jean-Paul came to spray Golden Delicious, invited us for an aperitif tomorrow. Mr F. asked, tongue in cheek, if he could have a job apple picking – he said yes!

We had an explore of a bit of the countryside, everywhere is so beautiful, a breathtaking view round each new corner. Into Insurance Company to organise insurance for cottage, as has to be in place when we sign. On to agency to meet with the French agent (Roger busy with viewings all day) paid for the cadastral fee and followed him to Notaire’s office,

The agent introduced us to the lady who is the owner of the “good” cottage, I offered our condolences for the loss of her husband a few days earlier, she seemed quite touched. We all trouped into the waiting room – it was half an hour before the signing proceeded! With his apologies for the delay the Notaire invited us, Madame, her daughter (needed to sign – hereditary rules as Father died ) and the agent to enter his office and we all sat round in front of his desk. He very patiently explained every detail of the contract as he went through it, then Madame, her daughter and us signed every single page.

Next was brought in the elderly couple representing the lady owner of the ruin, she who is confined to a nursing home. The Notaire again patiently explained in detail every page of this 2nd contract, ensuring we understood. The elderly couple were most concerned about us allowing access to an electricity pole on our land, and a conversation lasting about 10-15 minutes ensued! All was sorted by the Notaire and we all dutifully signed the reams of paperwork. The Notaire said he would be requiring a cheque for the properties and one for the agent, stating the amounts. I had a panic attack as, making mental calculations, I realised we had a shortfall of funds! I whispered to Mr. F. “We haven’t got enough money!” We had enough for the property, not the agent! I resolved to speak to him once outside. We all shook hands and two and a half hours after entering we were back outside in the sunshine and our dream had come true – it was ours!!!

Once outside I grabbed the agent by his arm and explained our current budget didn’t stretch to covering the cheque he had in his hand and not to present it please until I had spoken to Roger! No problem, he’d get Roger to ring me. Mr. F, said it had “Done his head in” and he was in need of a drink! It was all very traumatic, very exciting and we could not believe that we owned our beloved cottage – warts and all!

We returned to the cottage, with the makings of a celebratory meal bought en route (plus the candle for the table I’d remembered to pack) and while it was cooking we stood waving our arms about saying “We own this and this – it’s all ours!” We enjoyed our meal and generally got rather hysterical about the day’s events!

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5 Responses

  1. Blue velvet
    | Reply

    Oh Fruitcake, that bought back memories of our first purchase! The expectation, the excitement, the panic when you realised you hadn’t enough! When we bought our first house, we had to send all the money to be there a fortnight before the signing, by transfer! I too was in a panic because the bank had made an error on the long Iban number of the Notaire, so it was ‘missing’ for some days until I got our bank to correct their mistake! Several grey hair moments! It all seems a long time ago now! Lovely memories, looking forward to the next chapter! :rose:

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  2. Fruitcake
    | Reply

    Yes I think that first purchase has been an adventure for many of us Blue! :yes:

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  3. Liz
    | Reply

    Love it! :rose: Brilliant as always, so many of us can relate to your experiences.

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  4. Flowergirl
    | Reply

    Brought back so many memories of our firstbuy 14 years ago.

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  5. Fruitcake
    | Reply

    Glad it’s renewing memories for you all :yes:

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