We fell in love on the internet. It’s the modern way. The one touts their promise, the other falls under their spell and happily ever after they both live. House and owner. You didn’t think I was talking about Two Brains and I, did you? You got that I am talking about our fragile hearts being ensnared by our Maison Carrée?
The house was advertised all over the place – every single immobilier in France seemed to have it on their books. Clock forward two and a half years and hindsight and a bit of experience has taught me that this means nothing. Often an agent will have grabbed the content from an unprotected site and will be advertising it as his own. But we knew where it was and we knew it was the former Tour Seignoural for the perfect little city it sits plumb central in. And it is officially a city even though it would appear to be a small village to modern eyes, and we simply swooned when we found the website for the proprietor who was currently running the little jewel as a Chambre d’Hotes. The description, down to the seductive promise that he is an accomplished masterchef and would cook you local food magnificently if you wished and that breakfast was all conjured from the local boulangerie, epicerie, charcuterie, fromagier, had me wondering why he was selling at all. After all this three bedroomed beauty, including the miraculous bathroom all newly fitted, was kitted out with the most elegant antique country furniture clearly snaffled from local houses of some note and auctions and brocantes and the owner certainly and assuredly had excellent taste. Hold that thought.
Beware the power of the picture! Beware the interweb! What greeted us when we arrived was entirely a different picture. What on earth induced us to go ahead and buy I am not convinced I will ever know. A certain madness unexplained. Assuredly bull-headed stubborn-ness and a sense that this disaster of a place can be, will be, really special and an uncharted recognition that we should be the people to return the house to it’s former unpretentious glory. And give it a properly appointed bathroom rather than what greeted us which I have flatly refused EVER to use. And a kitchen that does not stink in that sickly sweet way of festering food complete with maggots and fresh fly-eggs – sadly it became clear that this was the state that unsuspecting visitors who had booked in on-line found the house in and I sincerely hope that none ever took their host up on the opportunity of his unashamedly trumpeted home made meals – rather they hot-footed it to the Mairie to complain loudly and threaten nasty reviews on the very internet upon which we had found the house languishing apparently so alluringly.
Once we had bought the place, once the place was ours we were hit with the reality that HB² is mostly on the wrong side of the Atlantic and that I, although more than once invited to row that ocean on account of my once-upon-a-time Olympian prowess as an oar puller, I was simply not equipped to begin, let alone complete the task of emptying the house once the ancien proprieteur had taken what he wanted … you guess that bit surely – anything nice, anything pretty. Well, he would, wouldn’t he! There follows the account of the next nine months in which we, collectively being Winnie the Pooh, never lost heart.
…. In the meantime, here I am looking somewhere between despairing and disgusted in the best of the bedrooms the day after we took ownership.
PS: The quote is Twelfth Night – Helen declares of her Demetrius that ‘Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is wing’d cupid painted blind ….’