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Forever Friends

04 Mar

‘A Forever Friend’

Sometimes in life

you find a special friend;

Someone who changes your life

just by being part of it.

Someone who makes you laugh

until you can’t stop;

Someone who makes you believe

that there really is good in the world.

Someone who convinces you

that there really is an unlocked door

just waiting for you to open it.

This is Forever Friendship.

 Suzin Polish Schwartz or LaurieAnn Kelly (Author unknown)

Very late one night shortly after Christmas 2011, totally without warning, I was summarily dismissed from my forum moderator role. I was stunned! I had thrown myself into the role, despite our complex hobo existence, and helping others through their own difficulties and often life-changing experiences had become a way of life for me.  The forum was also my personal outlet, a place for me to immerse myself in good humour and light-hearted banter and, always just for a short while, put our house Case to the back of my mind. People often ask us how can we hold onto humour and equilibrium! Quite simply, we think along the lines of, ‘there’s always somebody else who is worse off’! That’s so true, as I discovered through the forum during my 2 years and 8 months period of moderating. If I remain positive, my menfolk remain positive.

But, there was another reason why family and I were deeply saddened by my impromptu, enforced exit from the forum, it had given us our much needed avenue for finding pet/house sitting opportunities. Although, we now have a good number of friends who can, and do, call on us to ‘sit’ for them throughout the year, we still have fairly long periods where returning to living in the tent has been our only option. Filling those rather large holes in our ‘sitting’ diary was mainly achieved through the forum. But, due to the way I was ousted, and the puerile nastiness directed at me behind the scenes, I will not return to that forum. End of an era, time to move on!

In the meantime, an even more pressing priority had come to the fore, Tom had developed yet another serious chest infection, or, the most recent deep-seated infection had not totally cleared and had returned, and he required more antibiotics, steroids, closely monitored care, breathing aids and rest. Dear, oh dear, could things get worse? Well, they could have done, but they didn’t! Out from the mist and murkiness came a wonderful woman, Nettie, and her super husband, Charlie.

Nettie and I have never physically met! We were colleagues through the ‘old’ forum, have become friends via emails, and we are now colleagues on our own forum, the forum that was set up by Nettie, my son and I, a young forum that runs on self-moderation, toleration, and good people skills! There are five administrators on ‘our’ forum, Nettie, my son, Sam, Jen and me! The five of us are like-minded people, and that is what makes the young forum work. Nettie had walked away from the ‘old’ forum, acting according to her principles, and supporting me. Prior to the last two or three weeks before I was ousted, Nettie had no idea about how family and I have survived as hobos – for that matter, neither did anyone else know anywhere near the full history, and definitely not about the ongoing saga! As soon as Nettie became aware, she and Charlie offered us use of their holiday home in the Gers,

Nettie and Charlie’s French house is where family and I have been living since we left Sue, Tchica and Elmo on the outskirts of Royan, in mid-January. Tom has now properly recovered from the chest infection that had taken a grip by the time we arrived here. We are all thoroughly rested, and we have enjoyed, immensely, our weeks in this wonderful environment of rolling fields and forestry, the foothills of the Pyrenees in the distance, with a solid roof over our heads and a huge, open log fire warming our bones! We love being here, we are so very grateful for being able to live here, especially through the cold, dark hours of yet another winter.

However, we will soon need to move on, at least for a while. We have pet/house sitting bookings, people who are relying on us to be there, to care for the most vulnerable members of their families. That’s what we do best!

During the past few weeks, other friends have also offered us comfortable, stable housing in different parts of France, all have offered us use of their homes. Jane, Joy and Sue, if our house Case saga continues for much longer, you might just find us on your doorstep one day!

Family and I are, without doubt, rich in friendship; we have more than one forever friend, that is a certainty!

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12 responses to “Forever Friends

  1. Sarah

    March 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    There’s no doubt about it that through adversity your life has been made extremely difficult but it has also been greatly enriched. It’s heartening to read that the balance swings towards the wonderful people you’ve met over the absolute b*****ds. The latter have made your life a misery but the former have kept you afloat.

     
    • hobosinfrance

      March 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      Hi Sarah, you’re absolutely right, the number of truly good friends that we have found – or, rather, who have found us – far outweigh those few who have seen us as a sad family who could be used and abused! Family and I have learned to move on quite quickly during our hobo years, but moving on doesn’t always mean forgetting. Some things can’t be forgotten, that’s part of human nature, and we are only human. However, even today, through the unconditional support of highly valued and valuable friends, we still feel that our glass is half full, never half empty!! Warmest regards, Chrissie

       
  2. fly in the web

    March 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I am so glad that you have had such good friends to help you along.
    As far as the other sort is concerned…I find I can forgive (eventually) but I don’t forget!

     
    • hobosinfrance

      March 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm

      Hello, good to e-see you.:) To be honest, I think we might have had more input from the ‘other sort’ if we hadn’t put up a protective barrier after the first unfortunate incident! Sadly, although we never expected it from our own countrymen and women, we learned quickly, and that has made us rather cynical in our thinking when we meet folks for the first time. That’s why we were so reluctant to publicise our situation for so long, we were concerned that the publicity might attract more bad than good. In fact, the opposite has happened. The support we are now receiving is out of this world, we feel very humble. Warmest regards, Chrissie

       
  3. Perpetua

    March 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Chrissie, I’m so glad good has come out of some of the bad that has happened to you. Sadly, people bring their basic nature with them when they emigrate and if they were nasty back in their home country, they are likely to be at least as nasty in their new. Thanks goodness the nice are starting to outweigh the nasty for you.

     
    • hobosinfrance

      March 5, 2012 at 12:09 am

      Hi Kathy, we certainly are getting a lot of sincere practical and moral support nowadays – that’s possibly the reason why we feel physically and mentally shattered!! When we knew we had to just buckle down and get on with life as best we could make of it, we did that. During the past few weeks, we have been able to live normally, haven’t needed to be watching the calendar every day, trying to fit in ‘sits’ that overlapped, ‘sits’ that meant we either split up or went back into the tent. Survival tactics! Not being able to ‘share’ our experiences with others, for fear of leaving ourselves open to abuse, has been a major drain on our resolve at times. But, it’s possible that it made us stronger too, at the end of the day! Warmest regards, Chrissie xx

       
  4. Nettie

    March 5, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Just wish we’d offered you the house sooner Chrissie, really stupid of me not to.

     
    • hobosinfrance

      March 6, 2012 at 1:02 am

      Not at all, N, there was so much you didn’t know, so much that nobody knew, apart from my menfolk et moi! Also, the grossly unfair and weighted French laws do not inspire confidence where property is concerned. I remember when we first pet/house sat for Diane and Brian in the Dordogne. When they arrived home from their holiday, Brian told us about comments that several of their friends had made when Di and Brian had told them they were having sitters, rather than putting their pets into boarding accommodation. Some of their friends were convinced that Di and Brian would return to an emptied house, or worse, that we would be well established as squatters! We have since often laughed about that, but it must be a genuine concern for people. In fact, that is one aspect that France has got right, and the UK would do well to consider the way France deals with that. France has ‘house-napping’ laws, nobody can legally squat in somebody else’s house here, it is a criminal offence – the actual terminology used is ‘house-napping’ – and the Gendarmes and Courts act very quickly! It’s such a shame that France can’t get it right where tenants are concerned. Nettie, you and Charlie are the bees’ knees where we are concerned, thank you both very much. Chrissie & menfolk xxxx

       
  5. Anonymous

    March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Chrissie. I’ve been reading your story for a short while and shaking my head at the unfairness of the whole mess, and it occurs to me that should you need accommodation I have an empty house in northern France that you would be welcome to use. If you would please contact me I can give you the details and then you can decide if it would be useful.
    Kind regards…
    Anonymous

     
    • hobosinfrance

      March 6, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      Hello, thank you for reading my blog and for your welcome support, very much appreciated by family and me. I have emailed you. Kindest regards, Chrissie

       
  6. Life with Lizzi

    March 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Hi Chrissie, thanks for passing by my blog, your life for the last 5 years has been so unfair, but at least you take joy from the enriched and beautiful friends you have met along the way in France. That is something that the French bureaucrats can never take away from you. I promise to follow your story through the summer, and if after the letting period season we can in any way help, I’ll let you know. The only problem is our place is very small and you sound like quite a large family group. In the meantime, enjoy the first signs of spring, and try to stay healthy and happy.
    kind regards
    Liz

     
    • hobosinfrance

      March 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      Hello Liz, thank you very much for your support, that means so much to us. No, indeed, the French bureaucrats can’t take good, caring friendship away from us, they can only take away material things, and we have long realised that materialism is irrelevant! Today, after being off-line for the best part of a week, we opened an email that we have waited 4+ years to receive! I will be blogging about the contents of the email tomorrow morning. There are 4 of us, Liz, well, 3 and a half, to be precise, the ‘half’ is our young grandson – he who calls himself the ‘Junior Hobo’! :)) Kindest regards, Chrissie

       

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