Fruitcake’s French Adventure – Part 9

Guest blog by Fruitcake @barjan

Stress pic (Medium)

After returning from our Easter trip we were very down and despondent and immediately began discussions with a friend who could organise the use of a lorry with the thought of a trip in July. Our younger daughter said that this time her and her boyfriend would like to come and help, the elder one to take her turn at dog sitting!

I continued to titivate the house, painting etc and coated the garage doors and gates.

Mr. F. was excited about being able to have a wonderful staircase that he was removing – where do we keep it?!! I sold more bits and pieces for the French fund.

We went to the bank to discuss how the finances would be organised once the house is sold as we won’t be here to do so, due to us sailing across the briny as it happens, when it happens!

I was offered my old job back but, as I’d sold the car for the French fund, had no means of getting to it! Not good for finances but I had to say no.

Another viewer was arranged but cancelled, it was all very stressful! I spent a lot of any spare time continuing my research on what to expect of life in France and carrying out more of the administration side of moving there.

We actually had a viewing which resulted in an offer of £37000, we debated what to do and finally decided we would accept £37500. We couldn’t believe we’d actually had an offer! We waited until we got confirmation from the agents before telling our two girls, being unable to sleep until we’d got it! The girls were excited for us firstly and then tearful as realisation dawned!!

Between Mr. F doing extra work for the pennies and me wading through all the mountains of lists I was making, to do with the administration side of moving and neither of us sleeping very well, we were becoming quite exhausted, not helped in any way by having to keep chasing the agents for any updates, the van needing new tyres, one of the dogs being poorly resulting in a vet’s bill, Mr. F. needing new spectacles and the exchange rate greatly reducing the amount of francs we were going to get for our pounds!!

May & June passed in a frenzy of frustration and stress, between the buyer’s mortgage applications keep being refused and the incompetence of the estate agents and their mortgage dealer, we were no further forward. The lorry was booked for the 26th July but we didn’t know if it was just taking materials and furniture for storage or if we were moving lock, stock, 4 dogs and barrel, if we were moving we’d only need a one way crossing, if it was just a visit we’d need to book a return, the girls didn’t know what they were doing, so couldn’t book holiday from work – it was a complete nightmare. On one occasion, after repeated promises of phone calls which didn’t materialise, I stormed into the agents office saying “You do realise don’t you that I’ve got to book a ferry? This is not a move to another town, it’s the other side of the bloody channel and I’ve got dogs medications to sort out too so what’s happening?” To say I’d lost the plot was a bit of an understatement!

By the 12th of July it was obvious that the house was not going to complete by the time our trip was happening, so I told the agents to put the house back on the market and booked us a 5 day crossing and we decided that we would take as much as we could. Mr. F. was very despondent.

Saturday 13th July the crossing was booked, the agents sent viewers round without notice,  I was confused! They weren’t interested – too small and the “buyer” still couldn’t get a mortgage, I felt quite depressed!

Over the next couple of weeks I did lots of packing, Mr. F. did lots of work, sometimes out from 7am until 8.30-9pm, he suffering with bad neck and head, me with pulled back muscles.

Thursday 25th July was loading day, we spent the morning doing last minute packing and sorting, in between which Mr. F. went off for an X-ray on his neck. The afternoon and most of the evening was spent loading the lorry, finally having to stop when no more could be loaded on. A great deal of timber was on board, which pleased Mr. F. Then the van had to be loaded and we eventually ate our evening meal at 10.30pm and got to bed at 11.45pm.

Friday the 26th we were up at 3.15am and away by 3.50am. After a good crossing and arrival in Calais we parted company with the lorry and each made our own way, us arriving at the cottage by 4pm, which was a sorry sight on arrival! Waist high grass obliterated the doorway and no flowers were visible through the weeds, but a quick swipe round with the strimmer by Mr. F. and we could find our way to the door. All was well inside apart from a little lodger making himself at home, I’m afraid Mickey was evicted!

The first day was spent unloading everything and all but the big pieces of timber was stored. Jean-Paul the young farmer called by and said  that we could store store the huge lengths at his farm and he would unload it there with his fork lift – everyone was so kind to us! The lorry was parked at Jean-Paul’s farm and everyone gathered at ours where we had a BBQ to finish the very hot day.

The second day, another hot one, the timber was unloaded and the lorry and our two friends went on their way. We spent the day stacking timber, clearing undergrowth and weeds (with lots of stops for mopping brows and drinking water) We thought it was dark rather early when we cooked our evening meal and realised it was 10pm!

The third day involved more storing, after finishing emptying the van, covering up the stored timber at Jean-Paul’s, preparing a nursery bed for the plants we brought, in an effort to prevent them either dying of thirst or being strangled by bindweed! Planted plants, more use of the strimmer until it was too dark to see and finished at about 10,30pm.

The fourth day we were up at 7am both with many aches and I’d hurt my back. We finished storing everything, Mr. F. pulled a load of water up from the well with which we soaked the plants that we’d planted, deciding to take some back with us, rather than leaving them to die. We said goodbye to the neighbours, coming away armed with peaches and headed for home, not feeling quite as bad about it this time as we were convinced that we would be returning for good very soon.

Once we were back we didn’t feel so optimistic. No news from the agents, the buyer still not got a mortgage, I contacted a mortgage broker who told us he felt that we’d been given the runaround! We went multi agency and advertised everywhere! I kept telling Mr F. that everything would be alright. Neither of us were sleeping and Mr. F. resorted to sleeping tablets as he was exhausted (hadn’t had a “holiday” type holiday for about 3 years by then!)

August passed badgering agents and being messed about by them. We both got viral infections, Mr. F. trundling off to work feeling at death’s door, as self employed gets no sick pay and taking to his bed at the weekend. Results of Mr. F.s X-ray showed a badly damaged disc, shouldn’t be doing the work that he is!!! The sooner we sell and move the better!!!

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8 Responses

  1. Blue velvet
    | Reply

    Blimey Fruitcake, what a load of stress you both had, plus all the back & neck problems. It’s the it daft how when we’re not used to this type of work, we chuck ourselves into it all those dinners at 10pm or later, madness and going to bed on a full stomach! When we did up our first house we lived on porridge in the morning, , loads of tea, and had a slow stew on the go on top of the wood burner, with everything in it , so I didn’t have to cook at 10pm !
    But a lot of the stress you had was the run around with the potential buyers, with their aborted mortgage offers! 10/10 for staying the course, all the illness etc, I always get bronchitis when I’ve had long term stress, so not surprised you both succumbed to similar. It’s the trying to organise all the loose ends, is the thing. Well done anyway. :rose:

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  2. Fruitcake
    | Reply

    Yes Blue we did that much later on, once we’d moved and eventually had a woodburner, but at this stage we still had an open fire, no electricity and a two burner picnic stove, hence the late meals!

    Yes I’m sure it was the stress that lowered our resistance and left us open to the viral infections. :rose:

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  3. Stinky
    | Reply

    Lovely story, I can actually feel your despair. Upping sticks and crossing the water is no easy feat and when we did it what could go wrong did in monumental fashion. Days before the completion we are still in England, and get an email from Bank Tarnaud, the Tresore had frozen our account and siezed all our money. They had mixed us up with another English person and then refused to speak to us. It took a lot of sorting out and sleepless nights. Eventually got our money back, but no apology, they said they do not make mistakes and had acted correctly!

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  4. Blue velvet
    | Reply

    Ah yes Stinky, had that in reverse, when we came back, the notaries held on to our money for ages, then it was ‘lost’ in transit because they put the wrong account number on the electronic transfer, and they didn’t admit an error either, it was the banks fault! This was over £100,000 was stressed big time! :rose:

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  5. Fruitcake
    | Reply

    That sounds a nightmare Stinky and Blue, very scary where those sums of money are concerned! How awful that in both your cases the banks didn’t admit making a mistake and apologise!

    I’ll get on with the next episode! :rose:

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  6. Eva
    | Reply

    Great story Fruitcake. Just reading this after arriving back to the UK from another trip to France moving more of our stuff out (the joys of French lorry drivers and farmers blocking Calais…..never mind).
    It makes me feel better reading this. I know I’m not alone in the battle of solicitors and agents. Looking forward to episode 10.

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  7. Liz
    | Reply

    Another great chapter Fruitcake…….yes, I can feel every inch of your emotions in this piece. Stress can be a killer and as you say the immune system suffers. Anyway I hope you are both well now. I really do enjoy your work. :rose:

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  8. Fruitcake
    | Reply

    Thanks Liz, yes 20 years on and we’re in fine fettle thank you :rose:

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