So, we arrived at the gîte late Saturday 14th December 2013. We didn’t have much to unpack since the removal lorry wouldn’t arrive until Monday evening. Our neighbours made us welcome with a much-needed cup of tea and gave us some milk for breakfast… UHT 🙁 but still welcome. Wallace hid and we went to bed (more or less, tbh its all a bit of a blur after so long on the road that day).
The next morning the gîte seemed light and airy. The main living room kitchen had a very high ceiling, and gave a great sense of open space. We hadn’t appreciated, at that point, the two aspects that would come to dominate over the next few weeks… the fact that the only windows were velux skylights and that the only heating was a freestanding calor gas fire. Sunday morning and a trolley dash around Super U grabbing random novel looking things though I did remember the milk. French cows produce UHT milk only – that’s why there are pallets and pallets of UHT milk 6 packs – I did manage to locate the handful of semi-skimmed fresh milk hidden amongst the two thousand varieties of cheese.
Monday, internet access organising and the house surfing recommences. Cat eventually located behind the kitchen units, he dashed upstairs to stay under the bed for the next few days. That evening the removal lorry arrived with an extra trailer (that wasn’t there when they left us!), so big they can barely get up the road let alone park. Anyway, much manoeuvring and traffic cones later the road is successfully blocked for the night!
Lordy lordy but we had a lot of stuff! – we filled up the barn to the roof then proceeded to fill up the gîte. We arranged the boxes in the main spare room by building corridors so we could find anything via our precisely labelled, numbered and computer catalogued boxes. Later in the packing process though the system got a bit lax… Hence ‘where’s the kettle?’ meant an hour of humping boxes (and not in a good way).
Two days of settling-in and making appointments and Thursday 17th December arrived for our first viewing and, as it turns out, the house we eventually bought but not without checking another 20 houses to make sure. It was a long drive to Haute Vienne, an area we hadn’t previously considered.
Delia had been emailing me properties – quantity depending upon how bored she was at work – for years. And we had actually looked at 5 or so on a holiday back in June 2013 to the south of where we were currently. So why Haute Vienne? Delia’s sports masseuse’s sister was an estate agent in Northern Limousin and she knew someone who had some good housing prospects for us. So obvious really.
I distinctly remember walking into the house and delighting in the spacious kitchen and the huge main bedroom… Lovely house, good price but not in an area we really wanted. So the search continued (me little knowing it was already over).
Now… Enjoying the Aussie summer. Lots of rellies – survived a 5 hour trip to Geraldton and getting stuck on a sandbar with Uncle David, as well as Boxing day and winning Boules (they called it bocci) and I kept quiet about how big a French sport it is – winning, less because of my (non)acquired native skill but more because my team-mate Peter practised every free moment the previous year just so he could beat his nephews. We won despite playing against Christine who cheated by playing with excess support (walking frame, spare leg, and transformer-foot à la mode)