Wednesday 31 August 2011

Plan D or is it E??

OK but no cigar.

We met Monsieur outside this house and he welcomed us in. He had got there earlier and opened some of the windows. This is the house of his parents. He moved there when he was two and to him it is his family home and therefore perfect. It is an old stone house almost next door to the ancient church. It must be very old although he didn't know how old. (All questions would have to be referred to his sister who had all the paperwork.) Everything of any age has been covered up in carpet, hardboard or peeling flowery wallpaper. But they can't hide all the signs of 2 foot thick walls, curved wooden staircases and wood floors.

It has potential. The garden is small but there is one. There is a modern, plastic garage at the back of the garden but how you would get a car in it is debatable. There is a well but it had been blocked up because as a little boy it had been dangerous - I wonder if they just blocked it off or filled it in??

What still tickles me is that when we went upstairs to see where the large rooms had been divided up with hardboard and a bathroom somehow in the way, we had to ask him to open the shutters. This revealed the lovely view down the valley that would be from the master bedroom. No, no, don't show them the wow factor..............................

He made a special point of telling us that the boiler was old (ancient) but the heating worked fine so we wouldn't need to replace that, there was a kitchen so we wouldn't have to do that would we and the bathrooms were old but hey (gallic shrug). Therefore it was priced to be lived in, not as a renovation project. Yeah right.

Friday 26 August 2011

Plan B

Thank you Fly for your advice. Blogger is being a real pain about not letting me comment. I write beautiful, well thought out, comments, now copying them before I start trying to get them to show up (I do learn some things eventually) but no luck.

Rang the agent yesterday to get some info on what was happening with the house that we would like to see. The owner is (as we knew) very old and ill. Moving backwards and forwards between Maison de Retraite and Hospital. He has always dealt with the Notaire of the village of our agent - not our village. He has always dealt with this notaire back to the previous one and his father and will only deal with this notaire. She is on holiday - it is August after all. The man has up to 4 sons, number varies but however many, he doesn't get on with any of them! Notaire will be back next week and will sort things out then. So we wait. Patiently. And hope he stays well.

Today we went to see this house

Being french particulars, it looks nothing from the picture but it is actually a very sweet little house.  Completely done. But in a very very quiet green valley just below the house that we want. With small, very steep, very chalky garden, 2 beautiful walnut trees and lovely views. So in one sense not what we are wanting at all but it is in Belves (just) and we could see ourselves living in it and it allows Him Outdoors to be day dreaming of canal boats and Camper vans.......................

We have also arranged to see another one next week and then that's it. Just wait patiently. I will try.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Oh that's better

Much more normal feeling of things not going well :-)

or maybe I should have sacrificed the stairman as Fly suggested..............................

Off to the estate agent who during the afternoon turned from the wonderful Monsieur to 'Him Who Speak with Forked Tongue'.

In France the buyer pays the agent's fees - and they are enormous - so there is a huge element of desparately wanting to be the one that shows you the house first because if you do buy it they will get the fee. Him Outdoors says that we haven't signed anything saying we are seeing a property with this agent but I just know that that won't matter, if we've seen the house first with him, he will get the fee.

So, of course, Monsieur Barde also wants to be the one that tells us that he is The Man for the House that we want.

He says that he hasn't got the key at this moment but he was just going to get it that afternoon and if we went to see these other houses by the time we had seen them he would be able to get the key. OK ......................(doubts beginning to creep in).

First we go off to see

Which looks like a possible. An enormous muddle of ancient stone buildings but is in the middle of the town, has a garden, garage and view. Too much, too money pit and whatever you did you'd still end up with a house next to a pizzeria. We met another neighbour that walks with Him Outdoors who said that of course that did not matter because it was only in the summer?? Umm is not that when you sit outside? I thought that maybe it wouldn't matter quite so much if all the pizzeria chatter was in french - it would add to the ambiance. But of course it isn't in french is it, what french food tourist would eat pizza. It's all smoking english and dutch. Anyway no to that one.


This is the house that everyone we have mentioned that we are looking for a house in Belves with a garden tells us about. We've peered over the wall at this. Good garden that stretches between two roads and lots of garage. It's very small but has room to do up the roof and the cave is lovely with two flat bottomed boats for going on the river - and the old septic tank that hasn't been got rid of but hey. But it's so dull. And overlooked. And no view.

Beginning to lose heart now. (and remember the downside of all this househunting lark.)

Off to his third one

Lovely garden, lovely view, except that by being this side, it is above the only factory for miles. No garage. And guess what, the house is on the corner but the bit of house that is for sale doesn't include the bit on the corner so it is absolutely tiny. And peeking through the windows of the bit that isn't for sale, one of the rooms has a full set up drum kit! Umm is that better or worse than a pizzeria?

So now all that's left is the one that we want. And I know I lose quite a lot in the translation but suddenly he doesn't have the key for that. But if we pop in next time we are in Belves he might have..........................

Ho hum, trusting soul that I am.

I am determinedly of the opinion that there is always another house. And this morning I am back on that track but last night was full of 'we're never going to make this happen', 'there just aren't enough houses'.

But this one looks possible.

The one that we really really want is on here.

About mid way down the picture about a third of the way in from the left with a horrible conservatory thingyand all the garden you can see in front of it and two garages on the other side of the road at the bottom of the garden. Off to daydream.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Propitiate the Gods

I feel the need to sacrifice something this morning! All my fingers crossed/too good to be true/can't possibly happen/what have we done to deserve this feelings are in full flow.

Nothing logical about it, just have a huge feeling of too much good is happening and we will have to pay for it somehow.

Doesn't help that today has dawned with dark grey threatening clouds of the sort that would have an alien spaceship decending from them in a Steven Spielberg film!

Monday 22 August 2011

Heat and house hunting

Wow it's hot. Today is better in that there is a breeze but it is over 35 all day. There was a blissful moment at 3 o'clock this morning when I felt a cool breeze but until then it was very sticky.

I don't function well in this heat. A minimum of housework and shopping.

Today we set off reasonably early to the supermarket. I went shopping and Him Outdoors walked the dog by the river. I joined them at the bathing place when I had finished. It was deserted, shadey and cool. Very very lovely. Not nearly as much water as usual but we have major storms forecast by the end of the week. C'est normale after heat.

Whilst I had been shopping I met Maurice who is the loveliest local man. We had missed the 100th birthday party of Madame Cassan who is still living at home with her daughter in law, reading the paper every day without her glasses and only recently given up her garden. The event went well apparently - I hope they got my apologies letter - and Maurice was telling me that the Felibree had made so much profit that there was going to be a very good meal for all those that helped shortly. I love that that is the main way of celebration. I hope it isn't tete de veau like last time. Probably more duck.

I told him that we hope we had sold the house and were looking to move into the village. He seemed to think that that was an acceptable plan. And surprise, surprise, of course he knew the man who owned the house that we wanted to look at, the man's son was his neighbour.............

The tourist office lady has just rung to say that there is another house that we should see but don't go to the agent, the number is on the door..........................

And so the net widens.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Paying the Parking Fine

Whilst we were in a peaceful haze after our luxury house, we went into the nearest town to try and get my glasses mended and buy some more nail scissors that one of the kids had gone off with - back to reality.

Beautiful wide main street lined with lamp posts festooned with flowers.

Unfortunately some of the flowers obscured the fact that you had to pay for parking. We've obviously been living in France too long. Pay for parking???

Back home to sort out the parking ticket.

Long strip of purple paper with black writing on. Tiny tiny numbers not quite printed in the boxes provided.

After both peering at the numbers, under the light and at the window, and finding the magnifying glass, we establish the numbers that they must be looking for.

Go on line and enter the number and then find it wants the car number. Oh bloody hell, what the hell was the hire car number.

More searching through papers.......................... Eureka.


Well that's odd it's the same number as the ticket number???????????????????



Look for more numbers. And eventually they manage to take 40 euro off us.


On the way back to Dublin after the wedding we stayed in a house that was part of the Hidden Ireland scheme.

Over the years I have read articles in magazines about Irish country houses that open their doors to visitors without really becoming hotels in the traditional sense. They share their home.

I want some of that.

So we booked for one night in Mornington House in County Meath. This was mid way between Donegal and Dublin and looked perfect. And it lived up to all expectations.

It is a large house with more recent Georgian frontage that has been in the family since it had enough staff to keep it immaculate and enough land to provide the income. It is still lovely but with a slightly faded elegance that perfectly suits my idea of Lord Peter Wimsey. Yay, I'm living in a novel!

Tea in the drawing room full of slightly mismatched furniture with fading covers. Lots of family pictures, interesting books and magazines. The bedroom is perfectly proportioned with huge comfortable bed, windows overlooking the lawn and complete silence.

Drinks back in the drawing room meeting the other guests and then dinner at a large table in candle lit dining room with sparkly silver and glass. Excellent food.

The gardens look as if they only have a gardener once a week to help out and that's enough to help keep the vegetables productive and the grass cut but not enough to tidy the corners. That untidy tidiness that I love.

Huge full moon rising behind the enormous old tree in the middle of the lawn.

Walk down to the lake before another enormous breakfast and then back to the reality of Ryanair.


Memories of the wedding are much more confused.

I love:

being part of a large family party staying in several places that get together in the evening.

being the one that feeds them............and the one that doesn't.

meeting new members of our family and getting to know them

meeting old members of our family and spending time with them

spending lots of time with our new grandchild (and his parents)

being part of an enormous Irish family party

having a house full of gorgeous young men in morning suits

being at a catholic wedding (which was a completely different experience) with humourous priest, beautiful flowers, beautiful bride, handsome groom, gorgeous ushers and bridesmaids, and a splash of sunshine

watching Him Outdoors crying before the bride had got down the aisle

seeing dear daughter as the best looking bridesmaid

having a best man that sings his speech with the chorus line that our son is the nicest man he knows - still makes me cry

being part of such a delightfully happy occasion

Friday 19 August 2011


To Ireland for middle son's wedding.........................................

Lovely bus conductor at the airport telling us how to get to our hotel without having to wait another hour.

Kind gate man at a music festival pointing us in the right direction for the hotel after we turned the wrong way out of the Dart station.

Lovely helpful girls in the shoe shop buying black wedding shoes for Him Outdoors - just happened to have some that I 'needed' too.

How perfect a mug of tea can be.

Walking along the pier in bright sunshine at Dun Laoghaire (sp?) watching the storm clouds over Dublin.

Getting soaked on the pier at Dun Laoghaire listening to the band that were playing in horizontal rain.

First curry for ages in a pub trying to understand the vagaries of Irish football on the telly.

American foursome in the B and B. Two well travelled and name dropping, one just got his first passport and totally overwhelmed.

Young student Gavin leading the historical walking tour of Dublin. Extremely elderly American woman who arrived for the walking tour pushing an oxygen cylinder on a trolley! Watching Gavin trying to suggest that perhaps a 2 hour walking tour wasn't quite what she needed to be doing. (she managed half of it).

Fish and chips in the garden of the cathedral.

The amazing treasures at the Chester Beatty Library.

Eccentric book shop owner telling tales of James Joyce

Meeting a chinese waitress who looked about 15 and turned out to have 2 children and an Irish husband so was probably early thirties. She goes back to China for a month every year with the kids so that they can see the family.

First sight of the spectacular beaches of Donegal.

Sold the house!!

I have just looked at the date of my last post and what a lot's been happening.

The house is sold. In a month. For virtually the asking price.

I'm sorry, I know I'm delighted with this but 'everyone' said that it would take at least two years to sell the house and we're in shock.

We have sold to an english couple who have enough money to get a mortgage to buy our house to use it as a holiday home for 8 weeks a year - and they can't move in until after Christmas because they are already committed to a ski ing holiday. Perfect buyers. (Too good to be true??) All fingers and toes crossed.

With hardly time to draw breath we are on to looking for the next one. I dug out the list of things we were looking for when we bought this one and interestingly what we are now looking for is a selection of the things this one didn't have. I want to have more contact with people, a garden that you don't have to drill holes in the chalk to plant things in, still need a view and Him Outdoors needs another project.

We had a property in mind when we started this process but the guy who owns it is very old and is now in the local maison de retraite. The french friend who found this out said that that was ok, you just go along and see if he's senile and then talk to his family. Ooooooh that's not a very english way to do things :-)

I find all these things more difficult when the temperature is in the high 30s. What little brain I have left ceases to function!