• Alice Scott

Found the house, aka Money Pit.

Early September, 2007, probably 13th or 14th, don’t know, weeks and dates all merge into one

Dear All, hope you are all well

Here’s an update from France, should you be interested in reading it. We have a house ! More on that a bit later. At the moment we're renting at a pony club. It's a funny story that involves an estate agent running after a speeding Megane towards the tabac. This estate agent also said to us when we first met her "Don't mind the lamb on the back seat, she doesn't bite". This estate agent doesn't steer with her knees while juggling two mobile phones and didn't show us a house with 22 uninhabitable rooms one of which had a tree growing in it. Georges in the Gironde did. The landlady teaches scary gymnastics on horses, there's no outside sitting space to speak of and the farm dogs have fleas. Don't confuse these dogs with the handbag dogs you'd associate with sophisticated French ladies with the lovely bag. These dogs are not to be invited into the rental to share a bit of a hugely expensive Frey Bentos pie. There was a 6 day war, woman v's fleas in the small village we're in, not that bit of a spat in Israel 40 years ago, has been won by woman.


It lasted 6 days because nothing is open on a Sunday and Monday is just like a Sunday, so we were stuffed with regard to sourcing the weaponry to tackle the beasts. Contrary to what Bush and Blair said, these “WMD’s” aren’t that easy to get hold of. Life here was supposed to be Darling Buds of May, but it felt like a yard scene from Steptoe and Son with Hercules the carthorse and its “deposits” taking centre stage.


To get rid of the fleas, we bought "puce bombes" and went for complete overkill. One would have done the job, so husband bought three. It’s a bit like a toxic fog and you can’t return to the house for four hours, so we went to the launderette to put everything on a boil wash. We returned via the Tabac/Bar/Presse and had a beer. With no pubs, it’s the only place to go in the evening - and do the lottery. The village is pretty rocking at night with all those crazy kids, at least three of them, drinking coca-lite and playing table football, in the Tabac, which extends its opening hours in the summer and is open until 8.30pm, instead of 8pm.


Our fellow drinkers are local farmers all drinking demi-fraise which is half a lager with strawberry syrup sporting “man-bags”, which is similar to the Radley cross body bag we all needed. Our Franglais seems to get better with every glass consumed. While sitting outside very French Tabac, we spotted an estate agents, looked in the window and found the Money Pit. More on that another time.

Being here longer than two weeks on holiday, you start to notice things about France and its people. Order meat at your peril in a restaurant – we’ve both ordered the duck, safer than the beef and chicken, but when it arrived it was so under cooked that a good vet could have had it on its little webbed feet in no time. The French method of cooking meat is to briefly introduce it to a moderate heat source and then slap it on a plate.

Another week and so Sunday comes around again and there’s bugger all to do, if there’s no bric a brac, so we went to the show-jumping, which was organised by our landlady. It’s a bit different up close than watching it on the telly (we haven’t got one of those either). There were teams from all over France competing. We arrived at 3pm and by 5pm we’d seen 2 ambulances, 5 falls, 1 unconscious rider, and 10 horses refusing jumps. The French “first response” medical people are the Pompier’s, not to be confused with a Plombier (a plumber) which husband frequently does, so if I need urgent medical attention chances are I’ll end up with a guy with a bag of spanners turn up in two weeks time.

We also went to the Tour de France, which was pretty good, again nothing to do so it seemed like the only thing to do. We’ve accidentally ended up in with the “Cheshire Set” here, every event looks like a scene from Footballers’ Wives, except for me on the end looking a bit crumpled (add an ironing board to the list of things we haven’t got).

However, there is good news – we’ve had a three week holiday in the Dordogne, we needed to look at other areas, this is such a beautiful, vast and varied country. House prices however, out of our budget. Back in our gite, and the big problem, not the lack of washing machine and wifi, it's the flies. Glorieux might be a fantastic horse but the flies, we just can't sit outside there. An excuse to go to the bar in the local small town that Saturday evening brought something very surprising, an estate agents office facing the terrace. There is was, tucked away at the bottom corner, price reduced and dreadful photos, but it was there, a detached maison d'maitre, in a quiet village with a large garden and it was attached to the property too ! Monday could not have arrived soon enough, we needed to see this house. We saw it, twice, we drove around the village at all hours of the day and night. It looked perfect, idyllic, established garden with figs, vines, plums, cherries, a huge walnut tree. Best thing though - private, big gates (keep with villagers with pitch forks and flaming torches out when they hear us murder their language) and nothing facing us just fields.


On the 1st October we are the proud owners of our new place in France. It needs work, quite a bit of work, but we’re still at the very naïve stage where we have confidence we can pull this off within budget. We’re planning to move in, or rather camp out in the house, on around 15th October, after the place has been treated for woodworm. We’re a bit spoilt here at the gite in that we have a cooker. Yes, you guessed it - there are no cooking facilities at all in our new house so we will borrow a camping stove from friends. Unless you have spent any time in rural France, the addresses don’t make sense. Our new house doesn’t have a number. It doesn’t even have a road name, so we will have to rely on the post lady knowing who we are to get our mail. This will make things tricky when the time comes to get the builders in to do the quotes, but we can give them directions and they go something like this; “Take the X exit off the N road, follow the signs for X. When you get into our village, go past the Mayors, turn right at the enormous statue of Jesus’ crucifixion, then take the second left after the commune’s notice board where there is a mirror mounted on the wall for Pascal’s blind spot as he drives out of his gates, and we’re the second to last house out of the village.” Now if I can just learn all of that in French... I'll keep a bucket of water by the gate, douse the flaming torches, a glimmer of hope though, the neighbour is adorable.

Bye for now, sorry if I have bored you. If anything happens which might give you a giggle, I’ll write again.

Thinking of you often, Alice X

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