Guest blog by Fruitcake @barjan
There then followed many months of uncertainty and stress, viewers getting our hopes up then coming up with bizarre reasons for not going ahead (one decided, after two visits and a coffee morning, it was too cold in the area! – Another said he couldn’t live in a house where dogs have lived, we had viewers that cancelled etc, etc)
A follow up mammogram for me resulted in a biopsy – I made no mention of this to neither Mr. F. nor our girls until the biopsy had to be done – I knew they would worry and I knew there was no need. They did and there wasn’t – scar tissue from a previous operation.
In between we enjoyed Christmas (receiving Christmas cards from both Louis & Gisèle and Marcel & Alice, the latter pressing some flower petals in the card – we were so thrilled & touched ) and we alternated between the excitement of our plans and the despondency of not being able to make them come to fruition.
We continued to save every penny we could and amass what materials and bits of furniture we felt would be of use, cheap plants when we saw them, including any cheap shrubs and fruit trees. I continued with my private French lessons and with researching every aspect possible of living in France. We planned another trip at Easter, this time accompanied by a “work party” of our eldest daughter, my nephew, his wife and their 3 yr old boy Mike (Mr F’s Godson)
We set off at 5.15am on 4th April 1996.. We had a good journey, without mishap and on arrival we all cuddled and cried with the joy and excitement of them seeing our little bit of paradise for the 1st time! We collected a caravan we were borrowing for Nephew, wife & little Mike to sleep in.
It was another labour intensive trip and everyone did their bit, digging, getting wood from the grubbed out apple trees, building a buttress, planting and finally completing the clearing of the stone staircase at the end of the ruin, revealing it in all of it’s charm. A little wren greeted us each morning and sung to us all day flying from one building to another. The weather was mostly glorious although we had one day of rain in between. Mike discovered the big pile of sand, a source of much fun. As was me giving him rides in the wheelbarrow in between work! He had a lovely time!
We made time for a little leisure too, the “boys” went fishing in Louis’ pond and Mr. F. and I went to introduce ourselves to the Mayor, who took us out the back of the Mairie, where a boules game was being played, one of the players being Louis, who made a big show of telling his friends we were his new neighbours and we were invited to partake in a couple of glasses of wine! Mr. F. asked what about the gendarmes? This was met with guffaws of laughter! Of course we had some leisurely mealtimes together too and we did an Easter egg hunt for little Mike. Marcel, bless him, brought down some eggs for him too!
All too soon our 9 days were over, we returned the caravan & packed all away and on the evening Mr. F. and I, together with our daughter, went to say goodbye to our neighbours. (Little Mike being asleep, his Mum & Dad stayed with him) Marcel & Alice first, who offered me and daughter some lethal, homemade prune liquor, urging us to eat the prune at the end, the potency of which made us suck our cheeks in and squint our eyes up! While Mr. F. was urged to have some equally lethal, homemade brandy and, after a 2nd helping, it was with glowing cheeks that we then went on to say our goodbyes to Louis & Gisele – then out came the wine! The three of us eventually giggled our way, arm in arm, back down the lane in the pitch blackness trying to avoid falling into the ditch on either side of the road, to join the others who were by then ready for their bed! With our apologies for our lateness, we all bedded down together in our sleeping bags in the one room with the green slimy walls and eventually got to sleep, but only after we all had a massive fit of the giggles! Each time we said “Right we’d better get to sleep we have an early start” There would be a brief silence and then someone would titter and off we’d go again!
The next morning we were up at 5am and away by 7am, after packing everything away, to make our journey home, all feeling decidedly fed up!!