Guest blog by Fruitcake @barjan
I was awake at 4am on our first morning back! I rang the agent for Paula, they assumed we’d sold to the Association so nothing had been done. I rang the agent for the Association to ask if they were in a hurry, they thought they might be, so rang their surveyor to make an appointment. The reason we didn’t jump at the chance of selling to Association, desperate as we might be to sell, is because we had become good friends with our neighbours Carol & Jim (not real names) next door and knew that they weren’t too happy about the Association buying it.
The agent dealing with Paula rang, her sale is on and no chain so we decided that, if she could get her mortgage sorted we would go with her. We felt exhausted!
The following day the surveyor came for the Association and we received a letter from the solicitor asking us to confirm that we were going with the Association – we had to commit to one or the other – we had no calls from either agent!
I was awake at 5am the next morning and Mr. F. not sleeping well either. I rang the mortgage advisor for Paula, the application had gone off, he thought he should get a reply by the end of the week. I rang the agent dealing with the Association, he advised that we couldn’t stall them much longer, pointed out the pitfalls of the other buyer and indicated that he thought we were slightly mad for even contemplating it under the circumstances – he was probably right! I rang the solicitor to say we would instruct them by the beginning of the following week and rang both agents to say that I would call in on Friday – hopefully with a decision!
We spent the evening chatting about the decision we had to make – if only we didn’t have the hang up of morals and consciences! We were so tired, confused and uptight that we ended up arguing!
Meanwhile I concentrated on sending a registered letter off to the Consulate with the translated documents to get them authenticated.
Friday 11th October I rang the agent for Paula and asked if the mortgage advisor could get information ready for my visit in the afternoon – on said visit, mortgage advisor looked at me blankly and muttered something about early days yet. Called into agent dealing with Association, the guy was off until Monday – phew! A bit of breathing space! Friday evening I rang Paula and said that if we had nothing definite from her by Saturday evening we must go with the Association, she understood. Saturday came, agent rang to say Paula had passed credit checks but Paula didn’t ring with news of her buyers!
Sunday we were awake at 4.30am and deliberated long and hard, as we seemed to have been doing for weeks and decided that if we’d heard nothing from Paula by 11am we would assume the worst and have no option but to go with the Association. We didn’t hear so made the phone calls to both agents. We both felt unsettled and churned up needing to visit the toilet several times at the prospect of telling Carol & Jim. We went next door to tell them, resulting with me in tears, they said they realised we’d tried as hard as we could. At home we felt traumatised and wondered if we could now dare to get excited, somehow we couldn’t.
At 8.20pm that evening Paula rang, we had to tell her of our decision, she was upset of course, said she would have to cancel her sale or might end up homeless!!!
Monday we were again awake at the crack of dawn feeling even more traumatised than ever! I rang the agent for Paula and recounted the whole story, Paula’s property needed underpinning so was causing complications, after several more phone calls the agent for Paula advised us to stick with the Association, even though he was losing a sale!!! Our final decision was made, phone calls were made to solicitors, agents and Paula, who was really sweet and wished us well in France. And I recounted all to Mr. F. on his return from work, we both felt happier and hope that we now wouldn’t have long to wait for it all to happen!
Surveys were done, inspections for gas and electricity were done. Heard from the Consulate, the paperwork was all being done and on Wednesday evening, after seeing some ads in the free paper, we bought a mangle, a sideboard and some tower scaffolding and got very excited, however, the mood was soon dashed when Jim from next door came and said we had devalued his and the neighbour the other side’s property (they had discussed it) by selling to the Association! Was there anyway that he could take over the mortgage or find a solution as he didn’t want junkies living next door – we were back to being upset! This had to be the most traumatic time we’d ever had, people thought we were going to face challenges in France, we thought it would be a piece of cake after the trauma of selling the house!
Our solicitor said we could tell the neighbour that there was no way selling to the Association would devalue his house and that she herself had lived in a housing association house and could assure him she wasn’t a junkie! After I’d spoken to Carol Jim rang to apologise and said he wished he hadn’t said those things but the neighbour the other side had panicked him!!! I felt very shaky and like a wet rag. I rang the agent to ask if he could soon get us some dates. I recounted all to Mr. F. on his return from work, he was angry! We were due to go to a dance at the church hall with Carol & Jim and neither of us felt inclined to do so.
Friday we both felt depressed and exhausted, which was wrong, we had sold and should have felt happy. I spoke to Carol and clarified a few things, she said they didn’t want to fall out, would we please go to the dance. Agent rang, probably be late December to finalise.
In amongst all of this trauma two of the dogs and our daughter’s budgie had been ill, resulting in trips to the vets with Peter the budgie, fortunately all three recovered. We went to the dance Saturday evening, which we did enjoy, Jim made a song request and announced our move to France. Mr. F. and Jim had a chat and cleared the air! Could we now get excited about selling the house?!!!!
The rest of October and into November was a giddy time. I bought and wrapped Christmas presents and I was walking another neighbour’s two Labrador dogs twice a day, as well as our four, as she’d had an operation. We continued to gather “bits”, a mangle stand for the mangle amongst other things and we bought a small caravan, which we got reduced from £250 to £220 and which would prove very useful to us once moved. Mr. F. and Jim from next door sorted out a good deal on some bulk plasterboard, bought directly from the docks.
Everything was moving so slowly and we couldn’t get anyone to give us a date, one reason we were given was that the person dealing with it was delayed in India due to a hurricane! We were suffering with sleep deprivation and untold stress! Trying to sort out different transport options of which there were three – Option one : – hire a 7½ ton for one of our friends to drive with the furniture and Carol’s son-in-law to take the materials in his lorry – Option two :– hire a bigger lorry for the lot – Option three: – see if Carol’s son-in-law could do two runs!
It transpired that we couldn’t hire a bigger lorry as individuals, only as a company – we ended up with option three, however, Carol’s son-n-law could only have the lorry on a Friday
We at last had a provisional date Friday 13th December!!! And it could only be completed on a Friday, which meant the sale had to complete & sort finances on the same day as the furniture was loaded, and then get to France to be there when the lorry arrived!!!!!!
Lists were made of what was to go on the lorry, what could go on the van, what could go in the caravan. Everyone wanted us to go for meals to say their goodbyes, paperwork had to be completed for the transportation of the four dogs. A “Christmas” to fit in with the family (still extra dog walking being done!) Packing constantly. Getting Mr. F’s accounts up to date. Exhaustion was a permanent condition for us both.
By 27th November there was still no definite date – France was at a standstill with a lorry blockade, the lorry was on stand by but needed to know a date. We finally got a call to say that exchange was hoped for 6th December and completion should be on 13th – should we book the lorry? We decided to take a chance and do so, leaving Carol’s son-in-law to sort out his part of the crossing and tell us what the total cost for him, lorry and crossing would be.
!st December – Still packing, social arrangements were all sorted for the goodbyes and the family Christmas. Had a good chat with my Dad to be sure he understood about everything and promised him we would get a phone connected as soon as possible, I think he felt he could cope as long as he could speak to me.
Monday 2nd I made several phone calls, the accountant, to finalise accounts for the end of Mr. F’s work in UK – the bank to make an appointment to arrange a temporary overdraft, the DVLC about the van export – the ferry line for the crossing – The Prudential for a surrender value of the endowment – the 2nd hand dealer for the furniture.
From then on days were filled with, as always, packing, keeping washing up to date, emptying cupboards, walking 4 dogs + 2 extra. Sorted with accountant, signed forms at bank for all that was to happen whilst we were en route.
Friday 6th Extra dog walking finished! Last day of work for Mr. F. who was somewhat emotional, guys he worked with had signed a card! I gave him a framed enlarged photo of the cottage. I called into solicitor – the approval had been delayed until 11th – we were booked to go on 13th !!!! It took all my self control to not burst into tears right there in her office!
We had a lovely family Christmas, said a very emotional goodbye to Dad – my throat felt closed up!
We managed to fit in goodbye meals and during the following few days had a last check up at the doctor’s. Mr. F fitted a door that he’d promised to do for Carol’s son-in-law, went to Argos to spend points from petrol and the money made from scrap, buying amongst other things a battery operated cassette player so that we could have music on Christmas Day! Eat fish & chips bought on the way home.
On Wednesday 11th December we heard from the Housing Association it was all sorted and okay for 13th! We hugged each other and cried! Went to the vet’s for the export certificates for the dogs and got their tranquilisers for the journey.
Were we really going to be moving to our beloved cottage on Friday 13th December 1996?