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Vendre dit vendredit: Part Three – The merit of all things consists in their difficulty

An occasionally regular series charting a seemingly endless search for the perfect maison familiale.  You can catch up on previous installments by typing Vendre dit into the search box if you are so inclined.

I have to take a deep breath and cast my musty mind back more than three years for this part three.  And there are, appropriately three parts as it turns out.

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The Mairie, Champs sur Tarentaine-Marchal

It was the beginning of Winter and we had flown from London for a fleeting visit to this place that had welded itself to our collective heart.  We had much to do.  We were to be interviewed by the Mayor of Champs sur Tarentaine to see if he would agree to marry us.  He did.  So we then booked lunch at the very nice restaurant just outside the village.  It was a lovely lunch, followed by an in depth discussion of the arrangements for our Wedding Feast.  To take place in the garden (under the pretty, rustic awnings if it was too cool or too sunny) and to consist of a wonderful array of food (mostly what Madame dictated since our English notions of Wedding Fayre where frightfully outré) with delicious wines aplenty and beautifully decorated tables.  We sat and chatted with our very good friends and discussed the invitations which she insisted on designing for us and he explained the etiquette of the vin d’honneur mariage at the Mairie immediately following the ceremony.  All was glowing rosily in our world.  And fired up with our joie de vivre and the sure knowledge that we were entirely unassailable in our love-bubble we rang an immobilier in Aurillac and asked if we might see a house he had on his books.  He was called Eric.

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We arrived at Eric’s office and Eric was no-where to be seen.  We took our seats and I glanced at my mobile.  A hysterical note from a daughter indicated that I needed to send her money.  I did this instantly and seemlessly on my iPhone and congratulated myself on my epic grasp of modern technology.  Whilst cursing the downside of raising children on ones own which is that when they are in need there is only one point on their compass.  We waited some more and eventually Eric surfaced.  During the wait, his glossy assistant had gleaned that we wanted somewhere with a decent patch of land but that it would be a maison secondaire so needed to be reasonably practical until we collectively retired.  She had punched this information emphatically into her computer and not for the first time in my life, I marvelled at how it can possibly be that some women are able to maintain a perfect manicure and type whilst I need never bother with polish unless chipped and distressed become nail haute couture.  We christened Eric, Eric the Fish on account of the Monty Python sketch in which Michael Palin wants to buy a licence for his pet fish, Eric and the shop-keeper is also called Eric.  He’s an halibut.  Eric lives with a dog called Eric and a cat called Eric.  And so it goes on.  Anyway Eric the Fish bid us follow him out of town to view the house.

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Now it should be noted that our friend Eric (not Eric the Fish) is a motor cycle cop.  In fact he is known as Eric Motard.  That means Eric the bike-cop.  Eric had assessed the house we were going to see with a single sentence – ‘I know that place … I often have a speed trap almost outside it’.  Eric is a hero.  Later, at our wedding all my daughter’s will fall in love with him and announce he is a French Bruce Willis.  Eric keeps tropical fish.

We sped out of town behind Eric the Fish.  Two Brains was tangibly agitated behind the wheel, convinced that we were going to meet Eric Motard and his speed gun at any moment.  Imagine the embarrassment.  Our Gendarme friend Philippe (you may recall that all our friends are called Philippe.  Except Eric) had the ultimate embarassment when he was stopped for speeding in his own village.  Twice.  At the time he was the station sergeant.  On a particularly nasty bend we spied the house and beyond it a layby into which Eric the Fish shimmy-ed adroitly somehow avoiding a speeding truck bearing down the road in the other direction.  We creeped and peeped, took a deep breath and our lives in our hands and turned across the road to a white-faced halt next to the immobilier.  He waved nonchalantly at the house and said there is a garage underneath but it would be madness to park in it given that this is a route nationale and  known for it’s accidents.  He didn’t seem to think this fact might in any way put us off.  We walked down the road, backs glued to the bank and staring death in the face.  We dutifully entered the house which was clearly a maison secondaire for a family with teenaged or young adult children who took advantage of the skiing just up the road at le Lioran.  The basement garage was full of snow boards and skis and it was all very sportif.  The house itself was an interesting patchwork of purples, puces, violent ocres and magentas interspersed with the occasional and presumably strategic accent piece in lime green or scarlet.  Not to my personal taste but châcun a son gout.  It has to be said that the views out over the valley were beyond magnificent notwithstanding the road between house and view.  But we explained to Eric le poisson that really we couldn’t live on such a fast highway, even if it was not our fixed abode.  That we have five young adult children and the idea of letting them stay, go into town for a night out and negotiate the road in high spirits was unbearable and that as nice as the elevated garden was you would need to have your mountain goat Boy Scout or Girl Guide badge to get up and down those steps in the dark.  He suggested we follow him back to his office to discuss.  We should have sneaked off into the yonder the other way but being polite and English we did as bidden.

He said he had two houses that were just the ticket.  No pictures of either because they were new on the market but we would be foolish to let the opportunity slip.  We went and had lunch in the town.  Aurillac is the prefecture or capitol of Cantal and very lovely …. small with only 28,000 population but beautifully formed and very artsy with  strong bias to music and in particular, jazz .  We chose a restaurant quite badly and managed to attract an extraordinarily surly waitress who told us the menu du jour was finished and then proceeded to serve it up to several tables who came in after us but what she did deign to serve us was very nice if twice the price.  It happens.

Back at Chez le Fish promptly at 2:15 we set off and I could not begin to tell you where we went.  It seemed to take an age but eventually we arrived in a tiny hamlet.  We entered a small, rather dark house midst an explanation that it came with about a hectare of land on which the owner kept a couple of goats a cow and some poultry.  And possibly a horse and donkey.  How you can have any misunderstanding over the latter, I silently pondered as we walked straight into the main piece to be greeted nervously by a stooped very elderly man standing pointedly poking a weak and clearly freshly laid fire.  ‘I did as you said’ he said to The Fish and to us ‘The fire makes the house much nicer. That’s what he told me’.  The Fish (who it should be noted looked rather uncomfortable and had some sort of coughing siezure as this nugget was being imparted) had clearly told him that if he lit the fire all of a sudden the house would take on fresh and beguiling personality and we would be possessed of a passion to buy it.  I’m surprised he hadn’t told the poor soul to bake a fresh loaf and grind some coffee beans as well. It was a sorry little place.  Jaded and neglected like it’s sweet old owner.  He told me he was a widower.  His wife had died a little while ago and he had continued as best he could (I don’t know how old he was but I would guess either side of eighty) but now all he wanted to do was move to Toulouse where his son and daughter were.  They were too busy to come and see him but if he could sell, he could move near them and then he would be happy.  I walked quietly round the house and said his wife had pretty things.  She did.  Very few but they were pretty.  He said he missed her still but it was time to move because he now struggled to cope and it was a long way for his daughter and son to come and see him.  And they were busy.  He told me this over and over as though by referencing them enough times he might magic them up.  If we’d had the money we would have bought the house then and there and driven him to Toulouse and found him a place where he could be warm and cosy.  Near to other elderly people and people that might deign to talk to him.  I was not convinced his daughter and son would have time to spend time with him  even if he was next door but maybe I surmise unjustly.  I felt hollow when we left because I knew we could not and would not buy it and I wished I hadn’t put him to the trouble of lighting his fire fruitlessly.  As I’m very afraid it will always be.

The Fish then escorted us to his other gem.  The most bizarre house I had ever been inside though now I know it is not at all out of the ordinary.  Being a beady eyed bird, I spotted instantly that this was a décès (deceased estate) the clue being in the assertively placed post-it notes in sundry lurid colours on all the furniture and fittings presumably being code for the various beneficiary’s spoils.  The house was positively cavernous.  It was reached by a path that a toddler could traverse in two steps.  In other words it fronted directly onto the road – it was in a small and rather disconcertingly quiet village.  It had a sort of brooding silence.  We imagined that the garden which was about an acre must all be to the rear.  It felt rather Kafkaesque inside.  Arrow straight corridors with several doors either side all opening onto seemingly identical rooms.  Square, wallpapered by a latterday lunatic and gloomy.  Obscurely it had two kitchens one on either side of the corridor.  Both completely kitted out identically to include twin past-their-sell-by and quite possibly extremely dangerous old cooker, huge chipped enamel sinks with rusting taps, ancient cupboards (not lovely antique cupboards you understand, more hoary unsalvagable cupboards)  bow fronted vintage refrigerators each big enough to store a body and formica topped metal table and chairs.  This mysterious arrangement was not explained and we were too polite to ask … We were not, however, too polite to ask to see the garden.  ‘Certainly’ said The Fish.  ‘Hop in your car and follow me’.  ‘No.  The garden.  We just wanted to see the garden.’  ‘Yes – it’s about a kilometre down the road.’  This was our first experience of a phenomena which is commonplace in France … terrain non attenant where you have land but it doesn’t join your house. Sometimes it’s in several different locations but none of them ajoin, let alone surround, your house.  I had visions of lovely leisurely lunches on a long table under the trees and wondered at the sheer logistics of planning such a meal in your two kitchens.  In fairness, the reception rooms though sombre would wake up and smile with some care and there was a sweet little parlour that would make a cosy office and there was  running water though it was unclear whether hot water was a consideration.  But no cellar which is odd in such a once grandiose place. And to take coffee in the garden would require a thermos flask and to take a glass of wine would require a cool-bag.  Or alternatively a footman in full livery, obviously, to push his trolley down the road and convince the invisible neighbours that the English really are all mad dogs.

PS:  When we returned to the restaurant that was catering for our wedding party less than a month before our big day Madame had never seen us before in her life and had no record nor recollection of taking the booking AND unfortunately was now catering for a bit of a do – another do taking the entire restaurant and garden and couldn’t possibly fit us in.  That she also lost the Mayor’s dinner booking for himself and several other frightfully important local dignitaries did nothing to salve the sore.  But that is another story ….

By the way, the title is Aramis to Athos and d’Artagnan in Dumas’ ‘The Three Musketeers’ because this is a story of three and I have always rather agreed with him. 

And another thing:  When I am writing stories of houses for sale I think it a matter of decency not to feature photos of the actual places.  Therefore, the pictures illustrating  each story are just that – illustrative.  All taken by me, of course.  However,  as it happens one of the buildings featured in Aurillac is for sale … it’s an ancient presbeterie and has a beautiful courtyard garden probably best suited to conversion as flats.  In case you were interested in a bit of light property development in le Cantal ….

77 Comments Post a comment
  1. Weird Guy With The Dog #

    A bit of a culture shock here in America I bet! Someday I will sail to France, and I will be expecting a grand tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 29, 2016
    • Definitely shall we say a teeny bit different here! And as for your tour … I am absolutely the girl to guide you – it would be my absolute pleasure to show you France 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 29, 2016
  2. You r bravery in buying in France is awe-inspiring. I couldn’t imagine half the things you have written about their real estate system – I don’t think I shall complain about Australian Real Estate for a while now (well, maybe about the actual salespeople – but not the system).

    Liked by 1 person

    January 29, 2016
    • My experience of Estate Agents in England is pretty grim too … grim, but different. It remains to be seen what I feel about them here in the US where we have a house to sell! In the end you live and learn – that’s what life is for, I think 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 29, 2016
  3. yes I agree you giving a tour would be amazing! What an adventure you have been on!!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 29, 2016
  4. What an amazing life story! I would not have attempted to buy a house in France (or get married there), despite living in Egypt. The only similarity to Egypt would be Madame forgetting your wedding booking. Fantastique!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • Thank you, Kerry! The wedding booking was memorable …. I was so stunned I didn’t even contemplate several slow deaths for her! I’m about to attempt to get your book actually …. I’m pretty sure your memoirs will be memorable!

      Liked by 1 person

      January 30, 2016
      • I have had a few good reviews for the book but it is as much a journey through mental health as it is through Egypt. You are an excellent descriptive writer.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • Thank you – that means a lot coming from someone I admire as a writer. Mental Health journey appeals too (if that doesn’t sound entirely off-beam and sinister) and certainly doesn’t put me off taking a read 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • It’s much like my blog, Osyth. It flips from hilarity to poignancy at the drop of a hat. Very light reading and short (I have a short attention span). Starting to think about the companion book I planned with all the anecdotes I left out. Isn’t it strange that most of us are surprised that other people feel we are good writers? Humbleness is a lovely quality.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • I think most creatives lack confidence and are amazed that people like what they do. Plan that companion …. and get onto it. I know how hard it is – people think writing a book is a doddle and it is quite the opposite (note to self – invent word for opposite of doddle). I’m looking forward to the first 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • Jeez – it took me 10 years to write the first one and it still will never be the book I intended it to be. I am hoping that the second one will enhance it somehow and add another dimension. In the meantime, I sent my husband to Waco for the weekend before I went insane and now feel much better. I have some good ideas for us getting into a new routine and setting up a company. No matter how much you love your husband, it is difficult to adapt when you have spent much of your married life apart.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • I’m living with my husband for the first time and was uber relieved when he went off to Chile for a week! I absolutely understand what you are saying. Take the space, clear the head and try and get into your own routine. I remember saying to my dad when he retired and he and mum found it hugely difficult to adapt to him being around all the time that he needed to make his own routine in the day and she needed not to expect him in for lunch which he had never been except at weekends. Once they both accepted that maintaining their own new status quo was essential I diverted a divorce though neither of them ever thanked me for it 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • I remember my parents in law struggled with retirement and my mum helped divert a separation if not a divorce. I have just written a Teddy and Bunny list that will drive him insane! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • By the way, if you are on FaceBook you should join a group called ‘We Love Memoirs’ … it’s hugely active and varied. The only rule they have is no self-publicity but it is a way of finding kindred spirits. Many are readers rather than writers. It’s a closed group and was introduced to me by Susie Kelly (also a writer with several very good books under her belt) …. I find having communities that sort of understand that writing is part of me and important to me helps me. Particularly when the black dog haunts my shoulder 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • I am secretly on Facebook but don’t like it. That sounds like fun, however, and I may have to rethink Facebook.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 30, 2016
      • Facebook is horrible (I well remember your piece on the work of the devil) …. I got it to stalk my second and at the time elusive and evasive daughter. The group though is entirely private and you only need interact if you feel like it. I probably join in with a thread once every 2 or three weeks for a little while and then disappear back under my cloak of invisibility. How I wish that was real!

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        January 30, 2016
  5. France!!
    I rest my case……………..

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • Un peu speciale that’s for sure 😉

      Like

      January 30, 2016
  6. What fun looking at homes in France….get in your car to go to the gardens…love it…that would be a deal breaker for sure….I love your writing…hows the east….do you have snow???/ Hows the remodel coming along on the house….kat

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • It’s taken the form of a more than mild obsession, Kat and it certainly provides a mixture of emotional treasures from the comic to the pathetic. As for the gardens – really …. they see nothing odd at all. I’m not French! No snow at the moment in fact forcast to be a giddying 59F at the end of the week but the lovely and slightly bonkers weatherman says it will get colder again. As for the remodel …. it’s progressing. You know that thing – all the endless turning out before you can turn to the fun bits. That’s about the sum of it right now. x

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      January 30, 2016
  7. Thanks for the great read that broke the monotony nicely at stupid o’clock this morning.I loved this – our house hunts were along similar lines. I was struck by your description of the widower – you read people well. In our hunt, the old man scenario was replaced by a middle-aged husband in tears whose wife had left him with their two children and who wanted to escape from the home he had renovated for them. So sad. And the fireplace was replaced by an overriding stench of disinfectant to mask the smell of an incontinent dog in the stairwell… we bought the place anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • Very happy that you enjoyed it though concerned you may have been delirious at stupid o’clock …. in estate agency they talk about the three D’s – Divorce, Death and Debt … seems we have ticked two of those boxes between us – its hard to stay objective when confronted by other peoples tragedy. Though clearly the pong of dog pee was the clincher for you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 30, 2016
      • The clincher for us was the huge Vivian Westwood staircase; I got rid of the smell eventually. The poor dog was locked inside all day whilst the owner was at work, and was apparently put down ‘for old age’ when she bought her spanking new home. So sad.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • Animals are so often discarded when homes fall apart … it’s very sad.

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        January 31, 2016
      • Vivien Leigh, not Westwood.

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • I share your Tara fixation … Vivien Westwood would make a mighty fine staircase too, I think 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • With lots of class jewelry hanging off the banisters. Oh, yeah, baby!

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • Been happily imagining this Vivienne Westwood staircase, slightly disappointed to find it wasn’t !

        Liked by 2 people

        February 1, 2016
      • How about a Vivienne Westwood staircase dressed as Vivien Leigh? We just have to find a few well-dressed gents to hang around at the bottom twiddling their ‘taches and muttering “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. They’ll then get a VW handbag in the crotch. Deal?

        Liked by 2 people

        February 2, 2016
      • Deal, but where/how do we fit in the retro post -punk motifs?
        Maybe the gents could idly finger their safety pins?

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        February 2, 2016
      • Or play with their handbags. After all, this is France.

        Liked by 2 people

        February 2, 2016
      • Perfect – how I love VW … absolutely batty. I was in a wonderful antiquarian eastern artifacts shop in Portebello road once and she bore down on me and asked if she could take my child. The child in question was about 2 years old and bit. VW was not even slightly put off … she wanted a ‘mascot’ for her upcoming runway show. I declined …. her look of total derision stays with me to this day. What a dame! I love the idea of all these Rhetts tiwddling and muttering … to music do we think?

        Liked by 1 person

        February 3, 2016
    • PS. Have just visited you blog. Have ascertained that you are a Mr Bricolage drill-wielding expat by the name of Trevor, so you may not be interested by dressing up in a red ball gown or toting a VW handbag in the above scenario. You do however have advanced warning if you choose to be a mustache-twiddling Rhett Butler.

      Liked by 1 person

      February 2, 2016
      • Not exactly. Trevor has recently been persuaded to contribute, it has only taken me six years to get him to do this.
        I am blog author and the official Renovation Stress-Witch. I could certainly have rocked that exact outfit circa 1975.

        Liked by 2 people

        February 2, 2016
      • I am secretly a little disappointed about not seeing Trevor at the bottom of the staircase in a ball gown with a designer drill. Ah well.

        Liked by 2 people

        February 2, 2016
      • Trevor asks if high heels are involved? The ball gown would certainly be good for padding the old kneeling knees when screwing the new floor down.

        Liked by 1 person

        February 2, 2016
      • I can lend him a pair (I have big feet). They could be good for putting holes in the French plasterboard if your UK drill doesn’t work.

        Liked by 2 people

        February 2, 2016
    • She wanted to use your child as a mascot? Brrr. She was probably most surprised that you weren’t thrilled at the idea of such famous arms holding your child and using him/her to further her career. Well done for standing your ground. Sounds borderline Cruella Daville to me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      February 3, 2016
      • Very strange woman …. just look at the arsenic maquillage and crazy orange hair. The child in question is now 29 (girl) and married last summer and assured everyone that Westwood would have created a one off couture robe for her if only I had allowed the tot to be the mascot. My daughter has yet to have children. I rest my case m’lady 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 3, 2016
      • I’d love to believe that VW would have done that, but I suspect that your tot would have simply been fodder for the attention-seeking machine…

        Liked by 1 person

        February 3, 2016
      • Without doubt … used, metaphorically abused and forgotten again. Quite repulsive actually but worth it to see the look of bewildered rage on her face that she got an instant knock-back … it’s etched nicely somewhere in my tired and tiny brain 🙂

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        February 3, 2016
  8. Great story and how it reminded me of my own house-hunting in France particularly the terrain non attenant – it was the first time i’d met this phenomenon too. Thanks for reviving the memory. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • It is quite bizarre and even more bizarre that they seem to think it normale! Very glad you enjoyed the story and thank you for taking the time to comment. My father looked at 102 houses before finding the one I was brought up in … I worry that I will be 102 before we find ours (though of course we do have our little house already so I am frankly a spoiled brat!)

      Like

      January 30, 2016
  9. Lovely. Eric sounds like quite a catch!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • I’d rather catch Eric Motard myself 😉

      Like

      January 30, 2016
  10. Unless there’s a monumental cock-up, we did it!
    https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/microfiction-georgette/

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • Felicitations … I will take a look over the weekend – have a pile of catching up to do 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 30, 2016
  11. Love it and so true of house hunting in france. Our maison secondaire which we still own and let out as a gite has a parking space two doors down and across the road. Clients never fail to be bemused! We once looked at a house with a kitchen at either end. We surmised, correctly, two houses had been joined by knocking down the dividing wall. Still on the subject of kitchens, an expat friend and i always laugh when we hear about a uk housebuyer wanting a french style country kitchen. Formica surfaces, equipment in the oddest places, loops of elderly electric cable and always a tv taking pride of place. But no matter, we have been here 12 years and wouldn’t swap back. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • I’m very happy that you enjoyed it! Your story of the UK buyer wanting the dream french country kitchen reminds me of a house I sold in England that I had successfully transformed from its actual past as a Local Authority home C1950 to looking and feeling like a country cottage. The buyers (American) told me they were delighted with everything except that I had replaced the original windows to double glazed georgian bars. I wondered silently if they would really have loved the original metal casement single pane delights. But I didn’t want to disillusion them that they had bought a historic cottage 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      January 30, 2016
  12. I did enjoy this…you took me back to my house hunting days in France….though when I first bought there the agents rarely shifted from their offices.
    They gave you a heap of keys with illegible labels (where keys existed at all) and marked up your map in a rather ‘we are here and the enemy is there’ sort of fashion. You would report back at the end of the day, the keys were slung in a drawer and it was on to the next…
    I did not meet any living clients though….but saw several places with the mummified remains of meals on the table.

    Liked by 2 people

    January 30, 2016
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it and thank you, thank you for sharing yours – I can always rely on you for a) education and b) laughter which are the stuff of a good life, I rather think 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      January 30, 2016
  13. Wonderful read Osyth. You’ve made my Saturday and the liveried footman wheeling the tea trolly down the country lane is pure Python. Hope all is going well. Warmest wishes from a cool rainy day here in Vancouver 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    January 30, 2016
    • Thank you so much, Andrew …. I’m glad you enjoyed it and am humbled by the comparison to Python as you might guess 🙂 All is well here … been a bit of a mad moment in world of me but I do seem to be settled now

      Liked by 1 person

      January 30, 2016
  14. Your househunt reminds me why ended up building – twice. Oh the horrors of the French real estate market! Our dream of tastefully renovated character quickly evaporated into the practical new build in small lotissement. Not without its own adventures – if I live to tell the tale! Very nice read, Ms. Osyth. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
    • I’m very impressed … husband built two houses in the 80s in Grenoble but naively thought this would be easier! Hope you are keeping on the right side of sane – your choice which is the right side and I look forward to reading about it one of these days!

      Liked by 1 person

      January 31, 2016
  15. Your experiences bring back vivid memories of our own house-hunting trials in France, almost 19 years ago! I don’t know how they train French estate agents, but they managed to show us houses that were diametrically the opposite of what we were searching for. I remember countless fruitless visits to houses that we would never have bought in a million years. We did find what we were looking for eventually, though. So, like you, we had a happy ending. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
    • I think they breed them as some sort of cruel laboratory experiment to inflict of naive fools. Perseverance and a sense of humour are crucial 🙂

      Like

      January 31, 2016
  16. Super post – and I shall have to back track, as it has all been ‘Nut Bush City Limits’ here in the Pool……..need to tell you in person as too much going on for on here – let me know when you are ‘in town’ x.
    Your Eric anecdote put me in mind of when we had two bathrooms fitted in our house in Wales by a series of ‘Stans’ (four in total) all equally as incompetent as the other….pass me that monkey wrench Stan, This one Stan, not that one that Stan has……you couldn’t make it up!
    Love your phrase welded to our collective brain, one of things that you read and wish that you had written it first…. I actually don’t mind the idea of le jardin loin, if you become old, like the poor gentleman alone with his deceased wife’s pretty things (how sad……) then you can rent the garden out without having strangers mowing the lawn outside your kitchen window – just a thought x

    Liked by 1 person

    January 31, 2016
    • Thank you Lindy and it’s great to ‘see’ you. I’m presently with Two Brains in Boston and will be here most of the year with occasional trips back to France and England. The first trip back will be the end of March so I imagine I’ll be in Liverland sometime the first half of April. We shall meet and take coffee and talk the rears of donkeys 🙂 I like your idea for a jardin loin actually – it does make sense … I will share this wisdom with The Brains 🙂 x PS: The Stans … now that I would have loved to see (though not in your shoes, I rather think!)

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      January 31, 2016
      • End of march / beginning of April I will be here apart from a 2 day ‘hop’ to Bratislava – don’t ask, one of my daughter Kate’s schemes, she has bought me the flight for Mother’s day and the hotel/hostel? for my birthday (which is in May!) having never expressed a desire to visit Slovakia, I think I am the stool pigeon…..actually she has discovered that you can get to Vienna from here on the train in 30 minutes and 12 euro, so Viennese coffee House here we come!!!
        This is thee 6th-9th please dont say that this is when you are here….

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • I haven’t firmed any plans yet except that I fly to Paris on 24th March (with The Bean and The Brains) – we will then spend a little time in France after which he (and probably dog) will come back to Boston and I will head to England. I will try and cost in your hop to Bratislava and necessary Viennese whirl (love this – a real ‘as you do’ moment – Slovakia!!) so that I can meet up with you too! What fun 😀 x

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        January 31, 2016
      • And forget coffee – you are eating chez moi xx

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • How can I resist ….. 🙂

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        January 31, 2016
      • How does Beaney travel? In a crate? poor Beaney …

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • She travels in the cabin with us hence flying to Paris. She can’t fly into the UK as anything but cargo and we won’t put her through that. She is allowed in the cabin but has to stay in her soft-sided carrier. It proved quite stressful on the outward but at least she isn’t in the hold. She will be writing of her experience quite soon because there is really surprisingly little advice out there for flying with dogs and she feels she can be of use by hi-jacking my blog 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • It is bad enough for us having Willow 13 hours isn the car from Paris to Liverpool, poor little bugger was out of the car and int a cattery fr over two weeks while we sorted the flat out. then we picked her up and brought her to a strange place, with new bed, scratch post, bowls, litter tray. Sheused the tray fine – thank goodness, but would not eat out of the bowls, was scratching the sofa and wouldn’t set foot in the ed for three days – I had three leepless nights with her wailing and scratching at the bedroom door, but I held fast, as she is not a cat used to sleeping on the bed and when allowed in just ‘frapped’ me on the head in anger.
        Finally she settled down and seems even happier here now than she was in France – as she has one to one from me….and all my family and friends make a big fuss of her….I’m going to see Madame Bovary on the Everyman next weekend so being back has sits compensations as I really missed the theatre…..

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • I had a Bouvier des Flandres dog once called Flaubert because she was Madame Bouvier’ 🙂 Enjoy the theatre …. it’s the biggest thing I miss when in France and I am about to check out what is going on in Boston in the next month 🙂 Poor Willow – The Bean sympathises though she copes quite well on the long car journey from home to my mother in Oxfordshire (overall probably about the same distance). I was in Liverpool last summer with my eldest daughter visiting the youngest and a lovely typically friendly scouse flagged the car down (French plates) – I thought I was going to get some abuse which I have had further south from one or two drivers who just assume I’m foreign and which I find insufferable. But no. He said ‘are you from France?’ ‘yes’ ‘how the ‘ell did you gerere?’ ‘ we drove’ ‘all the way from France. That’s mad but you are brilliant!’ A lovely memory. Moving cats is notoriously more difficult than dogs – buttered paws I seem to think – so I’m very pleased that Willow likes it in England and is benefitting from the 1-1 attention. That is, of course why The Bean likes France so much because much of the time it’s just she and me 🙂

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        February 1, 2016
      • ‘gorra’ love scousers……
        Missing France a bit this evening……had an evening listening to Zazz.
        Yes theatre was what I missed most – but I did go to see ‘Cats’ in French at Theatre Mogador near Opera in November xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        February 1, 2016
      • That is such an amazing show. France is hard not to miss some of the time …. I still have to read Journal des Femmes online everyday to make sure I’m in touch with the low level gossip! xx

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        February 1, 2016
      • Just back from Wales- had a bit of a traumatic experience, but not for open discussion on here – will mail you at the weekend when I have more time and distanced myself from it xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        February 3, 2016
      • Oh golly – please do feel free to mail me anytime. Sending love and hugs xxx

        Liked by 1 person

        February 3, 2016
      • P.S. I would LOVE to visit Boston

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016
      • Boston is really fabulous and if you can find an excuse …. well just DO – would be a hoot to have you here!

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        January 31, 2016
      • OMG if that was at all doable, I will be there like a shot…..

        Liked by 1 person

        January 31, 2016

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