So today, we decided that the lovely wall Marcel built for us when we were both sick in bed with the worst cold yesterday… needs to be moved 70 cm (28 inches) so that you can actually walk around the bed without taking a chunk out of the bathroom wall. He’s going to LHAO when I tell him in the morning!!
Yes, it is a bit like a French “Green Acres” I guess… except Holly can’t put all the blame on me – she was as keen as I was to buy this place 22 years ago… ah, that was back a while, wasn’t it…
1989: no kids, young and adventurous and fresh from delivering a boat from Florida to Portugal (we were a “captain and cook” team on private yachts back then), we back-packed through Spain and France to England to see my parents. Our hard-earned savings amounted to $25,000, and we thought we should “invest” in something solid and land-based, having learned the easy way that boats are great repositories of cash, but not so good when you need to touch any of it!
Well, we didn’t have enough to buy a house in the UK, so my folks suggested France, where the Brits were all buying up “old farmhouses” and renovating them. Sounded like a plan… fix something up and turn it around for a quick profit, like everyone else was apparently doing (according to the Daily Mail, at least).
So hot-foot to France with Mum and Dad in their camper van, and a little ridge tent for us, to pass a blissful week in the rain of Brittany… We arrived in a village East of Fougeres to meet a French estate agent (realtor), a partner of our local agent in England. We were actually a day early (a rarity for us) on a Sunday, so went to check around the area before our appointment on Monday afternoon…
Seemed like a nice area, lots of pretty farmhouses etc, plenty of tempting stuff in the agent’s window, so we went to the village restaurant for lunch. And found the menu in English. And a waitress who spoke to us in English. And realized there was not a single Frenchman in the place!
As it happened, said agent had another friend with an agency on the other side of Fougeres… after our lunchtime discovery we fled the scene to check out the offers in his window, liked what we saw, and managed to reach him and ascertained that he’d yet to show a house to an Englishman. So we made an appointment for early Monday – and never did make it back to the original guy…
So we bought the first house we saw, and paid the asking price. Mind you, we checked out about 25 more over the next few days with our friendly agent, and the asking price for ours was by far the best deal we saw. Best of all, the neighbors were all French! Nothing against the English – I am one, and proud of it – but if you’re going to live in France, what’s the point if the local newspaper is British and the corner shop stocks Heinz Beans, Marmite and Wonder Loaf and there’s no-one to practice your French on?
So we plopped down our $25K and became proud owners of a farmhouse with one cold tap and 2 lightbulbs. Two rooms; a kitchen with a concrete floor, open fire, wood-burning stove and above-mentioned cold tap (and one of the lights), and a living/bedroom with another fireplace and the other light – and a rather nice solid oak floor. Upstairs was an empty grain loft, adjoining was a 400 year-old 3-story “cellar” and there was a stable and hangar thrown in, along with a third of a hectare (about 1/4 acre) of field, planted high with corn.
And there, for now, I’m going to leave it… it’s somehow become 1 AM and time for bed. By the way, the wall is now moved, but since today’s minor drama of surgery on Holly’s ear in the Emergency Room followed by said decon-reconstruction, maybe tomorrow you’ll get that story, if I can stay on track!