It was the 1st March 2009, we packed up the car, left Castres, and we headed for the Aveyron in the Midi-Pyrenees. Tom had a heavily bandaged foot, to protect his frost-bitten toes, I worried about his pain and about the fairly long drive ahead of him. But, Tom didn’t complain at all, he just said quietly, “Think about the log fire that’s waiting for us, we’ll get there, we’re not missing that!” Bless him.
We arrived at Skye’s farmhouse around 4pm and were greeted with a wonderful pot of tea and biscuits. The house was set in the rural beauty of rolling farmland not too far from Carmaux, a typical farming community, tranquil until the cows were being brought in from pasture! In a small paddock to the left of the house as we approached the front door, there was a huge pig snorting and snuffling in mud and grass, Skye cautioned us that it was being fattened for market, and the pig wouldn’t be leaving the sty (next door) alive! Not quite the best bit of news for a vegetarian to hear, but I made a mental note to buy earplugs!
That log fire worked overtime during the spring, and even into early summer, the weather was unusually inclement for much of the time we were there. Nevertheless, we loved the area, despite Tom losing his wallet to a pickpocket in Carmaux market! The wallet was found very quickly by a market stall holder, nothing missing except cash, of course. But, the inconvenience of reporting the theft, cancelling bank cards, ordering new cards, well, many will know all about that. Then, there was the added complexity of needing new cards and PINs to be sent to an address that wasn’t the address recorded as our home address! Thankfully, our UK bank listened, put us through a robust verbal security check, and we received new cards and PINs within a few days. We had to drive to Tulle, in the Correze, to collect our new French bank cards. Our wonderful friend and former neighbour, Madame ZC, phoned through our new PINs when they arrived a couple of weeks after we collected the cards. This is France! C’est la vie!
We were sad to say goodbye to Slinky, Sky’s pretty little cat, when we left the Aveyron in June to move on to the Dordogne. Another pet/house sit, just outside Montpon-Ménestérol, for a lovely couple with whom we have become close friends since the summer of 2009, Sue and Rick. It was during our initial sitting period at Sue and Rick’s that we discovered how badly our avocat, Monsieur MA, had let us down, betrayed us, robbed us in effect.
I telephoned Monsieur MA’s office to let him know we had moved from the Aveyron to Montpon-Ménestérol, the office secretary politely informed me that Monsieur MA was no longer in employment with the company. I asked to speak with the senior avocat, I was transferred straight through to Julia. During our long telephone conversation, it was revealed that Monsieur MA had not collated the evidence from a number of our prosecution witnesses. As he had never even contacted those witnesses, very little evidence had been filed at the initial Tribunal the previous December. No wonder the judgement was awarded against us, despite the notaire having put up her hand to the fact that she knew the hairdresser’s Lease had been sold before we purchased and she had not informed us. Julia had only recently discovered how little evidence was presented at that Tribunal, she had immediately dismissed Monsieur MA and had written to let us know. She had no idea we were not able to live in the house, she had no idea about how we were living. Julia was clearly shocked, and we ‘worked’ together, via emails and telephone conversations, to prepare for the filed Appeal that was due to be heard that November.