Au revoir et Bienvenue ; part 2

Written by Simon Renfrew

It’s been an eventful journey. Having waved goodbye to relatives various and successfully negotiated the M25, the fun started when you let the dogs out for a final wander on British soil. Scampering around the back of the last service station before Ashford, both found something uniquely disgusting to roll in and the next 20 minutes were spent trying to clean them off – using up your entire supply of bottled water and kitchen towel in the process. Then south of Paris, sometime in the early hours of the morning and more than a little bleary eyed, you half filled the petrol tank with diesel – then had to siphon it out. With your wallet unnecessarily lighter and the lingering stink of gasoil in your nose and mouth, the autoroute kilometres thereafter glided by and all seemed well.


Right up to the point where you got pulled over and issued with a fixed penalty fine for speeding. Which was a bugger. Although not as much as it might have been had monsieur le plod realised you were now resident, and then demanded you swop your UK permis for the French equivalent (in order that points could be deducted from it). Strange, I know. Welcome to the inverted logic of le system francaise.


But with the sky lightening in the east, your trusty sat nav brings you to your new home. Stopping at the foot of what passes for a drive, the kids turn off their consoles and you all ease your stiff limbs out of the car.  As the dogs spot a rabbit and head off in pursuit, you lead the family through the knee high grass to peer through the ground floor windows of your new home. The morning sun is now high enough to warm the stonework, and the hundreds of masonry bees who’ve been hiding in the joints are now buzzing in the honeysuckle which covers the porch. Swallows are swooping in and out of the somewhat knackered barn across the courtyard and the place already feels as comfortable as an old pair of slippers. And you’d love to go inside – not least since it’s already getting hot and you’re desperate for a pee – but you won’t get the key until you sign the acte, and that’s still 3 hours away.

By lunchtime though it’ll be yours, and as the kids head off to play with some suitably dangerous old farm machinery, you set up camp in the shade of the lean-to, rest your road weary eyes and await the arrival of the removals lorry. And hope there’s a loo at the notaire’s office.

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