We were up at 3am Sunday morning and, after a quick bowl of cereal, made our way to Dover to sail at 5.30am and thankfully we had an uneventful journey and a lovely crossing to be followed by a very calm and problem free journey when we arrived in France, at last! At 2.30pm we rang home from a call box to let them know we had arrived safely in the local town and then made our way to the house.
Mr. F. was disappointed to find that the front wall of the house had moved out a bit more and we were both gutted to find that the front wall of the stable had fallen down. We decided to move all that we had brought with us, which included some 2nd hand kitchen units, that we intend to use temporarily, etc into the house (well the one room with the green slimy walls) though I was a bit nervous about sleeping in it with walls moving!
Meanwhile we had a wander about and Mr. F. seemed rather despondent, there was even a brief talk (perish the thought!) of not signing! Knowing Mr. F. well enough I knew that this was just him dealing with his disappointment, not to mention, I imagine, the enormity of the task ahead! I let the negative thoughts dangle in the air for a while. Whilst we were examining the back (the lane side) of the house the old gentleman who lives in the next cottage up the lane and whom I’d introduced myself to when we came to look (frightening his wife and himself as I strode up their driveway, hand outstretched, fat dictionary in hand saying
“Bonjour” with a confidence I didn’t feel!) came along the lane with his dog. We said “Bonjour” and had a “chat” (I use the term loosely as I was still at the schoolgirl stage of the French language!) He remembered us from before (once seen never forgotten!) and even remembered that we had four dogs, bless him, a dear old boy.
I suggested that we may as well clear out the room anyway, so we removed the brambles that had crept across the floor and were determinedly making their way up the chimney in a concerted effort to reach the light, the bird’s nest on the mantelpiece and all the debris and detritus on the floor, revealing the wonderful terracotta tiles.
After that we decided to investigate the well – what joy, it is a wind up one and has water!! As we started to unload the van we saw another man walking up the lane and I shouted “Bonjour Monsieur!” he called back and wandered over to introduce himself and we discovered that he lives the other side of the first old chap and it is he who owns the passage! He said he’d be happy if we wanted to re-route it to make us more “tranquille”. Showed us that we had a cave underneath all the undergrowth. He doffed his capto wish me a happy birthday when we said it was the next day. Mr. F. decided that, as the neighbours are so nice and the well has water, we’ll sign! (Give him time and he gets there, bless him!)
We finally got the van unloaded just before dark, built a fire in the hearth, made a bed up in the van and sat in front of the fire on our camping
chairs eating a bowl of stew cooked on the old caravan cooker we’d brought with us, amongst everything else!
Monday morning arrived – my 50th birthday, the day of signing – so excited! We had not slept too well in the van as we got quite cold, but it was such a beautiful morning that we didn’t care! Mr. F. lit the fire and we had breakfast and got washed and dressed (we’d brought water) We made a decision to put the bed up in the room for that night as we didn’t think the house would fall down!
With great ceremony we signed the papers after breakfast and while we were doing so a young man came along on a tractor, he introduced himself as Jean-Paul and could speak some English. He farmed the orchard of which we would own half and asked if we knew where it was divided. We said it didn’t matter as he could still have the apples, perhaps letting us have a few and he said that we could call into his farm and see him whilst here to get some now. We find it is all so lovely! We finished the signing – what a wonderful birthday present!
We took the papers to the agency and paid our deposit and really felt like it was almost ours! Our friends came from their holiday cottage to share my birthday and investigate our “cottage”. Whilst they were with us the old chap (Marcel we discovered) came with a long handled sickle for us to use, stopped for a little
while and had a glass of wine and a chat. After our friends left we worked on uncovering the well, stopping to watch buzzards wheeling over the trees the other side of the valley. Mr. F. lit the fire from bits that we’d cut from the well and, after eating our meal, we sat before it chatting about our day, feeling lovely and cosy, unseeing of the green slimy walls and then to bed in “our” cottage. Definitely a birthday to remember!
Guest blog by @ Fruitcake