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Losing A Friend And Meeting New Friends

06 Feb

Nothing else is more clearly defined in my mind than receiving the news about the death of our dear friend, step-mother to my three eldest children from my first marriage, in December 2008. Although we could always be contacted by mobile telephone at that time, we didn’t receive that shattering text message until a week after the funeral. Obviously, death and a funeral do take precedence over all other events and considerations, but, that was when we started to discover just how much family opposition there was to our fight for justice in France. Immediately after receiving the text message, I contacted my sister, I didn’t know if she had been informed. She had been informed, before the funeral. My sister was verbally disappointed in me for not returning to the UK, for choosing to fight for justice in France, and that was the last time we had mutually agreed contact, she has no wish to have further contact with me. But, we send her and my brother-in-Law birthday, Christmas and Wedding Anniversary cards, and we send them postcards each time we move to a different commune. We must respect the wishes of others, but two wrongs never make a right.

During January, Tom duly returned to Champagnac to help load our furnishings onto the lorry for Troc to take and sell. Unfortunately, the village was snowed-in for ten days, so we didn’t see Tom for nearly a fortnight. It was an unnerving period of time, being apart reduced our team strength and our focus. We were much happier when Tom was able to return from one thawing village to another!

Mid-February 2009, we packed up the car, said fond farewells to Jacques and Natasha, after letting them know we hadn’t packed the teaspoons! They both laughed with us, we had shared the story with them, weeks earlier, over mugs of steaming hot chocolate in their wonderfully traditional, rustic, farmhouse kitchen! Then, once again, we were on the road, leaving behind us the towering, snow-encrusted twin peaks of Les Mont d’Olmes, heading to Castres in the Tarn Department.

Through the forum, I had found another camping site on the outskirts of Castres that remains open throughout twelve months of the year. We arrived in Vielmur-sur-Agout well before dark, booked into the camping site and had the tent up, car unpacked, meal cooking, and we were drinking mugs of hot tea as the sun disappeared from sight. The Vielmur-sur-Agout camping site is run by a lovely, warm-natured French family. They allotted to us a pitch opposite the children’s playing area, where we were protected from the icy winds by tall, dense hedgerows on three sides of the pitch. Just as we have always found in France, wherever we have pitched our tent, the shower blocks and toilet facilities were immaculate. We have landed on the Vielmur-sur-Agout camping site, often without giving prior notice, several times during the past three years. We are always warmly welcomed, and that same pitch is never booked to anybody other than to us!

Finding an internet café in Castres, I visited the forum to find other camping sites closer to Albi. Tom and I, with my sister and brother-in-Law, had visited Albi in September 2003, during an extended holiday spent mainly in the Midi-Pyrenees. We had promised ourselves that we would return to that magical City one day. But, that had to wait until a later time, through the forum I found another member asking for a pet/house sitter in Department 12, the Aveyron, I contacted her immediately, and she booked us for five weeks starting on the 1st March. We couldn’t believe our luck, a house, a log fire, beds, a cooker, a bath, and a super little cat to make it all just purrrrfect! But, first, we had to get through two weeks of camping in February’s unforgiving, harsh weather.

The worst time during that two weeks was right through a night when the temperature dropped to -18C degrees. Two of us in the car, two in the tent, three of us didn’t sleep at all throughout that long, extremely cold night. By the time the sun rose, we knew Tom had at least two frost-bitten toes. Despite obtaining medical treatment that same day, Tom suffered almost continuously with pain in those toes until gangrene set in; He finally lost one and a half toes to amputation in February 2010. Surgery had become urgently required to save his leg. But, that’s another story!

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6 responses to “Losing A Friend And Meeting New Friends

  1. PigletinFrance

    February 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Hi! I found your blog via a recommendation by another blogger (Merewoman) and I am absolutely horrified by what you have been (and are still going?) through! I am so, so sorry that you have had to live through these nightmares and I sincerely hope that you are writing your story now having had a positive outcome on your courtcase. I have also experienced the French justice system and conclude that there is no justice, it’s just a money making machine to keep avocats and tribunal staff in employment. It’s great that you’re getting your story out there, I cannot believe what a strong, resilient woman you are, I am in awe. I hope that writing helps relieve you of some of the pain and horrors you have been through and I am sorry your husband lost his toes.

     
    • hobosinfrance

      February 7, 2012 at 12:37 am

      Hi Sharon, thank you very much for your comment and support, both are much appreciated by my family and me. Yes, I think you are quite right when you call the French justice system “just a money making machine”! We were told a couple of years ago, by a guy who had many dealings with the system, that France is looking to update its archaic, Napoleonic laws, but there isn’t the money to do that. So, people like us are ‘failing’ to be awarded justice in order that we must go on through the levels until we reach the Cour de Cassation, that is where laws are repealed when found to be inadequate. It appears that you, also, have not received justice in France, you have our sincere sympathy because we know exactly how that feels. No, we haven’t had a positive outcome! We are still waiting for a Hearing date to be set by the Cour de Cassation in Paris, we have been waiting since November 2010. Warmest regards, Chrissie

       
  2. Petra Martin

    February 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    We have also ended up with not-quite-our-French-dream, but nothing compared to your story – at least we have a roof of sorts over our heads and we’re not having to share it with any strangers, not human anyway. I must admit it makes me feel better knowing that not all other Brits over here are sitting pretty and smug in fantastic renovated French pads. There seem to be so many like that – ‘money no object’ – that when we explain our problems, in an attempt to explain away the manner in which we live, most people just say “Well, it wouldn’t take that much to put in new windows/new roof/new floor joists/new floorboards/new electrics would it?” Some people just don’t have a clue.

    On this post I was reading about your doing a house-sitting… I don’t know if you’d be interested, and it would probably be only for a week at a time since my husband runs a business here so can’t take too much time off, but we find it very difficult to get away because we have 2 dogs, 2 cats plus some chickens and ducks, and we don’t like to just abandon them. Plus I have my mother who lives just down the road from us and who is very dependant on us emotionally and in terms of language. Basically she says she never wanted to come to France but didn’t have much choice when my father ‘sold the house from under her’. He died here in April 2009 and she has been incredibly lonely ever since, she’s trying desperately to sell her house so there would be money to do up a small outbuilding at the side of our house for her to live in.

    So, if you wouldn’t mind the job of looking after all our animals (most of them are pretty self-sufficient and undemanding), plus speaking English to my Mum, and it wouldn’t be a nuisance for you just for a week at a time, perhaps there could be some mutually beneficial arrangement in all this? We are in Lot & Garonne, near Penne d’Agenais which is between Villeneuve sur Lot and Fumel. The house is ‘interesting’ to say the least, but we have managed to live in it almost comfortably for just over 5 years now! If you want to message me I’m on facebook.

    I really hope you’re managing to stay warm in this awful cold weather and I wish you all the best of luck with your ongoing battle…I’ll be following your progress.

     
    • hobosinfrance

      February 7, 2012 at 1:02 am

      Hi Petra, thank you very much for your welcome message of support. To be honest, we have been very fortunate, a wonderful couple contacted us to offer use of their French holiday home during this winter and between booked pet/house sits. One very positive outcome from our situation has been the fact that we return time and again to folks for whom we have pet/house sat several times. We try to take long term ‘sits’ because, otherwise, we end up back in the tent many times during the course of each year whilst waiting for the next ‘sit’. However, I’m sure we will be able to sort out something so that you and your husband can have a break! I will contact you via FB. Keep your chin up. Warmest regards, Chrissie

       
  3. Pip

    February 8, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Hi Chrissie,
    Thanks to Susie I too have found your blog. I had wondered how you were getting on with your fight. I had noticed that you had not posted on a certain forum since just after Christmas and had meant to send you a PM there. But things got in the way as they so often do.
    I have followed your fight for justice and had hoped you might have won the fight but alas not yet.
    Like so many who know your story I find it unbelievable that this sort of fraudulent behaviour can go unpunished when you have so much proof of the wrongdoings.
    A lesser family would have given up long ago.
    I will come here regularly to keep up-to-date with it all.
    You have all my good wishes and only wish that I could do more than just support you verbally.
    Good luck for the next round.

     
    • hobosinfrance

      February 8, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Hi Pip, it’s wonderful to hear from you. Suffice to say, I was ousted from my role at that certain forum due to internal politics that were beyond my control, c’est la vie! I haven’t visited that forum since I was ousted from my role without notice. The forum helped to keep me sane and focused, supporting others is a good way to keep one’s mind off own issues! But, to use that old adage, as one door closes another door opens, I am now involved with the administration of another forum, working alongside good friends who are like-minded. It’s truly heart-warming to know you are there, Pip, still supporting us. Thank you. Warmest regards, Chrissie

       

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