Well, as it transpires, things are never that easy.
We’d hoped to buy Chez Blanchard, my father’s ‘spare’ property, and set up a visit at half term to arrange stuff. But, we were pipped to the post. A young couple put in a bid, got it and my father had to sell, despite having mentioned protestations from ‘la belle-mere’ (really, a daughter, desperate to buy)
However, I’m not convinced it’s all bad. The front wall was coming down and the floors were rotten. There were no windows. It was huge. Absolutely huge. The kind of huge that’s horrifying and amazing at the same time. The barn could seriously hold a 1,000 strong rock concert. You could have built three houses inside it and not felt crammed. There were five gargantuan bedrooms and five massive rooms, two other houses…. the barn. Oh my word, the barn. I’ve never seen Steve look awestruck until that moment. Walnut trees, apple and pear trees, in the countryside. Perfect.
But not ours.
It transpires later that there were ways my father could have got out of it, simply by saying he had another buyer who’d made the asking price, and decided to accept that offer. But it wasn’t to be. I’m a fate-believer, so I kind of hope for the best, but Steve looked crushed.
I spent the rest of the week searching for estate agents, spending 20 euros on cheese (really 25, but don’t tell Steve. I did get a free saucisson, but I still think he was horrified. The saucisson made no difference whatsoever….) and being taken about by lovely lovely estate agents.
I did the recce trips, on account of Steve feeling obliged to look after Jake (really being too phobic of the whole process)… saw some marvellous places. Some too expensive (why do estate agents think your upper limit is negotiable??!) some too much work, some with not enough land… I saw one I’d fallen in love with in Brettes, but really the house was too small and it was attached to neighbours… not quite what we wanted!
Then it was off to La Rochefoucauld.
I LOVE La Roche…. the castle is immaculate, totally French Chateau, perching on top of the hill (La Roche, I’m guessing), overlooking the sleepy Tardoire river, teeming with fish, with its converted watermill ice cream shop, row of beautiful boutiques and its delightfully French town feel. It’s a little traffic-busy, needing a by-pass to Limoges, but beautiful nonetheless. Thibaud was a friend-of-a-friend, and he was delightful.
First house: a ruin. Totally ‘a renover’, no barn and no land, really. I’m sure he showed me that to make me think I wanted the next one more….
Second house: an endearing little patch of houses cobbled together, inhabited by an old lady of 86, with her ferocious dog in his ‘chateau’ (cage!) It was beautiful. Stream at the bottom of the garden, trees, back roads, in the middle of the Foret de Braconne. Four bedrooms, five other rooms, two workshops, several stores, a barn and a hangar. And a cabin at the bottom of the garden. Amazing. I wanted it. She keeps chickens, makes soup, called me ‘courageous’…. I loved everything about her. Bless her.
Third house, two minutes from La Roche, but more derelict. More converting. Maybe if Steve would have looked he would have said ‘oui’, but my heart was with the less-renovating, more-refreshing mode of purchase.
And so it was that we came to see the place for us.
Now, it’s crossed fingers and toes to ensure we get it.