It’s extraordinary to think we’ve been here for twelve years, even though, in some ways it seems longer. We left the Lot at the end of 2004 when the world was a different place. Now that move was quite something.
We sold at the peak of the boom. When we look at current prices, that seems incredible. However, it wasn’t an easy sale – the notaire ‘neglected’ to tell us prior to signing the compromis de vente (exchange of contracts) that there was a clause suspensif(a proviso if you like) that the prospective buyers would only go ahead if they could get planning permission to raise the roof! The guy was 6′ 4″ and the first floor was the attic. We were livid but decided to go ahead as buyers weren’t queueing up. The permission came through a couple of weeks before the due date for completion. How we managed to get the place cleared, even though we’d done a lot of work sorting our belongings, I will never know.
On the final day of 2004, we completed on this house. We’d bought a fort! Well that’s what the agents’ details said – ‘More of a small fort than a house.’ Who could resist such a description? The main house and barns surrounded an enclosed courtyard with huge entrance doors. Actually I was sold on the place because there’s a stone heart over the front door. I christened the house La Cour du Coeur, not that we ever used that name as our address. We’d bought a fort which was also a wreck, so we had to rent a gite until the weather warmed up and we could move in. Our new home hadn’t been lived in for 32 years and had no bathroom, no plumbing, no electrics and no kitchen. Basic work had to be done to make it habitable. Yes, we were mad and, looking back, I’m amazed we took it on.
I thought the conversion would take Leaf three years, it took ten! And even then there was much more we could have done but, age has caught up with us, which is why we’re downsizing. Looking back, the move from the Lot to Hautes Pyrenees was long and arduous. We had to distribute our furniture etc. around various friends and transport it bit by bit in our Renault Traffic van. Thirteen times we left the three cats to race around the gite and with our dear dogs, Mitch and Tommy, (both have left us now) curled up in the back of the van surrounded by furniture, we drove 250km south. We seemed to spend all our time loading, driving and unloading but we did it.
To keep warm overnight, we bought a wood-burning stove and lined the walls of the salon with packing cases and slept on mattresses. One night it was -13C! We found a commode seat in the attic which sat neatly on a bucket, cooked on camping gas and the washing-up water emptied into a dustbin. It was fun but not something we would ever want to do again, in this lifetime anyway.
Assuming our current sale and purchase go through, we will be moving into a fully restored and furnished house, thank goodness! We have permission to store our stuff in the garage so, once more, we are back and forth on a regular basis. However, this latest demenagement in our trusty Renault van transporting furniture and effects is far shorter – we only have to drive 20km.
I’m taking a break from blogging now and will be back in the 2017! In the meantime…
HAPPY CHRISTMAS to everyone.