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Dare We Even Begin To Hope?

This morning, we received a letter from the Ordre des Avocats at the Cour de Toulouse, aka the Regional Law Society that is investigating the incompetence of our first and third solicitors, Maitre MA and Maitre AB, respectively.

We were very surprised to receive the response so quickly, but we are delighted! We’re not sure if the Post Office will be open tomorrow morning, as tomorrow will be a public holiday – at least, the afternoon will be a public holiday, ie All Saints Day. However, if we can’t post our response to the Ordre des Avocats tomorrow morning, we will get it off on Saturday, or Monday at the latest. In the cover letter received, we have been asked to submit any evidence we might have to further support our complaints made against Maitre MA.

Pas de problème!

When our response, with any evidence, is received by the Ordre des Avocats, a decision will be made by them regarding our complaints against Maitre MA. We don’t know for sure, but we think Maitre AB may well have already passed our file to the Ordre des Avocats.

The cover letter was accompanied by a copy of Maitre MA’s response to the complaints we have laid against him. Here’s the gist of his response.

He stated that our house Case was complicated, but he said he had collated sufficient evidence for our Grand l’Instance hearing to proceed in our favour, and he also stated that his hard work had benefited his former Cabinet (Company).

Really? We disagree.

We will provide evidence to the Ordre des Avocats proving conclusively that Maitre MA did not obtain the following witnesses’ Attestations (Statements) and documents for presenting to the Grand l’Instance Court. Without the presentation of the following Attestations and documents, vital evidence, we didn’t stand a remote chance of winning at the Grand l’Instance:

  1. The architect’s Attestation – he had offered to provide Maitre MA with the documents and Plannings drawn up in April 2007 that confirmed we would not proceed with the purchase if we could not have a lift installed in the garage to take us to the first floor. Maitre MA was given contact details, but did not contact the architect, he did not obtain the evidence and it was not presented to the Grand l’Instance Court!

  2. Madame B’s Attestation (a French neighbour) – she had offered to confirm that she translated for Tom and me when we attempted to return to the notaire, during the afternoon on the Thursday that we completed our property purchase, but she was emphatically told by the notaire’s secretary that the notaire had left the office and would be away on holiday for two weeks. Madame B had also offered to confirm that she translated for Tom and me when we returned to the notaire, two weeks later, to complain about the presence of Monsieur C in the property, also to complain that we could not have the lift installed as Monsieur C was adamant that he had sole use of the garage. Madame B could have added a lot of weight to our vice caché evidence and the fact that the notaire was not prepared to consider the facts, ie primarily, that she had been instrumental in permitting a vice caché situation. Maitre MA was given her contact details, but did not even contact Madame B, he did not obtain the evidence and it was not presented to the Grand l’Instance Court!

  3. Monsieur C’s Attestation – he had offered to provide documents to Maitre MA, ie copies of his rental contract and household insurance policy, to prove he had been an existing tenant of our sellers, Monsieur and Madame T, for a period of eight years before we purchased the property that was signed over to us as being free of constraints and for our use only. Maitre MA was given contact details, but did not even contact Monsieur C, he did not obtain the evidence and it was not presented to the Grand l’Instance Court!

  4. Copies of the medical documents we had to hand to prove that we required, as a matter of undeniable necessity, the means to traverse the property from ground to first floor without using stairs, ie the lift installation was an essential requirement by us if we were to proceed with the property purchase. Copies of the documents should have been presented with the architect’s supporting documents and Plannings to the justices at the Grand l’Instance Court hearing. We told Maitre MA (in writing) that we had the medical documents, but he advised us that he did not need to use them. Of course he did, as was proved when those documents were presented to the Cour d’Appel in Riom over a year later, after the Grand l’Instance hearing. Maitre MA did not obtain the evidence and it was not presented to the Grand l’Instance Court!

 Maitre MA admitted in his response to the Ordre des Avocats that he had been dismissed by his previous Cabinet, but he did not confirm the reason(s). He chose not to respond to our complaints about his incompetence.

In his response, Maitre MA chose to throw blame for our missing Deeds at our third avocat, Maitre AB. However, he admitted that he received the Deeds from us. Our second avocat, Maitre JJ, stated that the Deeds were not immediately found in our file when she dismissed Maitre MA and took on our Case herself, but she added that our file was very bulky and she may have missed the Deeds during her first search, she said she would look again once she had collated the new evidence (as I have given above) for Appeal presentation. Maitre JJ was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery just a few days before our Appeal was heard. Sadly, we now know she did not recover. Therefore, the Deeds are, either, still in the file, or, they were lost by Maitre MA and were never passed to our third avocat, Maitre AB – her incompetence lies in the fact that she did not return our file to us, with or without our Deeds.

We will confirm the above in our response to the Ordres des Avocats.

Maitre MA confirmed in his response that we had paid all fees in full. He denied sending us further bills for additional work that he had not done. But, copies of those extra bills are in our file (we have the originals stored at the house), ie the file that Maitre AB did not return to us when we requested. Also in our file are the letters we sent to Maitre JJ, with copies of the bills, in which we complained about being sent additional bills by Maitre MA for work that was not clarified.

I mustn’t forget, in our file, there is also copy of the coup de grace that stopped Maitre MA’s money-grabbing shenanigans and contributed to his dismissal – ie the letter we received from our second avocat, Maitre JJ, aka Maitre MA’s boss, from whom he had very recently parted company, in which she told us we were not to pay any further bills sent to us by Maitre MA.

As it appears possible that the Ordre des Avocats have now received our file from Maitre AB, we’re fairly certain they will have more than enough evidence of incompetence and lies to consider!

Are you confused? If not, can you please assist us with deciphering the text above so that we can write our response to the Ordre des Avocats? Chuckle!

We really would like to begin hoping, but, with complete honesty, I can tell you we dare not! 

 
7 Comments

Posted by on October 31, 2013 in World

 

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They Can’t Keep Good Hobos Down!

What a week it has been, more ups and downs than some fairgrounds can offer! Family and I have sunk into the depths of despair, we have rocketed up to virtually float on the highest cirrus clouds, and we have moved into the weekend with a balanced level of cautious hope in our hearts.

Yet again, good friends have provided us with unreserved support, kindness, encouragement and sincere offers of as much help as they can possibly give. So many people, who we didn’t know and who didn’t know of us before this week, have offered advice, guidance, kindness, information and support. Yes, we live in what can be a very cruel world, but, this week, we re-discovered the good that is also in this world! Good that is probably often smothered by the big selling power of bad news.

Receiving the knock-back from the ECHR sent me scurrying on a mission to find out if we could still take our house Case to the Cour de Cassation. I could not believe that all the fraud, corruption and injustice would win the day. Without doubt, I started this week looking and feeling at least twenty years older than I am! But, when I looked at the utter despair on the drawn, grey faces of Tom and Paul, I knew I had to make an effort to find a way to raise hope.

This is how we have survived the past few years. When one or other of us is down, the others pick up the fallen Hobo! On this occasion we were all down, but it took only one of us to get the ball of hope rolling again and to crank up momentum!

Grandson, of course, was totally oblivious to our very heavy sense of defeat; we ensure that he is always protected from this aspect of what we know as ‘real life’. He is too young to be burdened with such pain, sadness and futility.

After publishing my last blog post, I received so many messages from folks who were genuinely astonished by the fact that the ECHR had accepted the blatant lies issued by the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide. Until the day I draw my last breath I will know that I did submit all documentation required to assess our total global income for Legal Aid. Nothing will change that fact.

One of the messages was sent by Catharine Higginson of SFN (Survive France Network). Catharine kindly invited me to post about our house Case situation in the specific SFN Group where there is an adviser with grounded legal knowledge. My first thought was that s/he might not want to become embroiled in our complex saga! But, I followed Catharine’s advice and posted a brief summary of events covering the years from July 2007 to the day, this year, when we received that shocking news from the ECHR.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I had posted links to my most recently published blog on Hobos In France Forum (HIFF), on Facebook, in the Hobos Facebook Group and on Twitter – my usual practice. Although I didn’t post a link in my SFN summary, I soon discovered that several SFN members were already following my blog; some had subscribed, as long ago as January 2012, to receive notification of new blog posts as and when they are published. Within hours of publishing my new blog post, I was contacted by a wonderful gentleman who offered me access to his subscription to a website offering bona fide legal advice on any matter of law, including French law. My family’s benefactor wishes to remain anonymous, he knows who he is and we will always remain indebted to him.

I gratefully accepted the offer and my first question was submitted to the website experts. Briefly, are we able to have our Case heard at the Cour de Cassation if we pay the (approximately) 4000€ to 6000€ legal fees to our (third) avocat and the specialist Cour de Cassation avocat? The reply was, ‘No.’ We were out of time eight weeks after the Riom Cour d’Appel Judgement was given in December 2009, although that was extended to July 2010, as we discovered this year!

Whatever, the Bureau d’Aide had received the essential documents well before even the July deadline!

The legal expert who answered my questions is a Paris Court Judge. He went on to comment that he could not understand why we were offered opportunity by the Cour de Cassation Bureau d’Aide to re-apply for legal aid in October 2012.

I didn’t go into details, but I did include the fact that the Riom Cour d’Appel Judgement included the statement about recognising the fraud of the sellers, and, further, that the Court stated it had no French law in place to enable the justices to give a Judgement in our favour.

I then asked the Judge if there is a Court that might consider our Case, other than the ECHR?

The reply came back very quickly, yes, the EUCJ will consider our Case.

I returned to the Judge with one last question, are we out of time to take our Case to the EUCJ?

The reply arrived within a few (rather nerve-wracking!) hours. Given the circumstances, ‘No’, he did not believe our Case would be ruled by the EUCJ as being out of time. In my next blog post, I will be able to let folks know what the EUCJ can do about our situation.

So, our Case is going, as swiftly as possible, to the EUCJ in Luxembourg. Voila!

I have much to do, including arranging the retrieval of our file from the ECHR. That mini forest contains all the evidence of the treatment my family and I have been subjected to throughout the (almost) six years that we have lived in France.

In the meantime, RSI, that superbly efficient representative of worst bureaucratic practice, has lost the two S1 forms that we posted (LRAR) at the beginning of this month! In the same envelope, we placed all necessary copy documents, including the two S1 forms and the completed form that is relevant to my RSI issued carte vitale. Tom is legally entitled to ‘piggyback’ on my carte vitale until we move over to CPAM at the end of April. We’re dreading the changeover, I make no bones about that!

Yes, I know, how can we expect better bureaucratic administration, we live in France! Chuckle!

But, one day, they will all realise the fact that they can’t keep good Hobos down!

Now, where is that ‘wink’ Smilie! 😉

 
24 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2013 in World

 

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What Does The Future Hold?

Blogging our experiences has caused us grief, there’s no doubt in my mind about that! Quite simply, living the experiences put us on a roller-coaster that hadn’t stopped since July 2007. Being able to take time out from that constant movement during the past eight weeks gave us a false sense of security. My menfolk and I are tired, so very tired, and our emotions are raw. If that reads as dramatic or weak, I make no apology, we had long forgotten how to feel angry, disappointed, frustrated, betrayed and defrauded. All those emotions have returned, in force since I started writing this blog. But, we are well aware that we must keep going, there’s no way back, that’s reality.

On Wednesday this week, we ‘celebrated’ 5 years of living in France. But, we didn’t really celebrate, we just spent time recalling events of the past five years! Wednesday was a very solemn day in this household! I think our recent recollections, for this blog, had dragged all our emotions to the surface, emotions that we have constantly strived to keep under lock and key, metaphorically speaking.

So, on Thursday, to get us back on track, to buoy up our spirits without setting ourselves up for a fall, we talked about our future. Obviously, our plans are subject to that old adage, all things being equal!

We are fully aware that even an emphatic Cour de Cassation judgement in our favour will not immediately have a practical effect on our lives. Although our sellers would not be able to appeal the Court’s decision, they could use ‘accepted’ delaying tactics for up to six months, and force us to return to the Appeal Court to obtain legal enforcement. We firmly believe our sellers would do that. The only way that would be scuppered by the Cour de Cassation is if the Judge orders all arrangements to be finalised within 28 days. Such an Order can’t be undermined in any way, within the French justice system, that would be the final word. However, 28 days Orders are extremely rare in the French Supreme Court!

If we are awarded that 28 days Order, our sellers could then state that they have bequeathed all their assets to family members; our sellers are, like Tom and me, over State retirement age, they may already have done that, hoping to avoid giving us back our money! In that event, we would need to take our Case back to the Cour de Cassation for further consideration and judgement! The Judge could then place an Order on the family members to pay us. Although, that’s not likely to happen! Most likely, the Judge would make an Order for the sellers’ bequeathed assets to be sold by auction, and for us to be paid out of the profit. That would take time, estimated at 3 to 5 months.

Prior to bringing the lawsuit to the first Tribunal, our (then) avocat, Monsieur MA, ran checks to ensure our sellers had the funds or assets to use for settling repayment to us. The outcomes of those checks revealed that our sellers were property €millionaires. Had they not been in a position to refund us for the house purchase, it would not have been in our best interests to bring the lawsuit. We were assured by Monsieur MA that our sellers had the assets, even if not the ready funds, to refund us for the fraudulent sale.

Yet another aspect for us to consider is the fact that the Courts now know our sellers also defrauded the State, through tax evasion. It is possible that the more recent charges will take precedence over our Case. We have no way of knowing if the tax evasion charges are being dealt with even as we wait for a Cour de Cassation hearing date. If the tax evasion Case is under way, we may yet discover that the State will be paid before us!

But, all things being equal, we plan to purchase building land in France, and to have a property built, a ‘pukka  log cabin’, in our grandson’s words!

 

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A Reflection On The Appeal

Family and I have met so many wonderful people during our hobo years in France, some are now counted as being among our closest friends. Without doubt, one close friend is a super gentleman named Pete, and his family of pets that consists of Alf the Hound, and Misty and Arry, ie two cats that remind me of T.S. Eliot’s Jennyanydots (Misty) and Skimbleshanks (Arry)! After leaving Janet and Mark’s camping site in the Deux-Sevres, we spent the next six weeks with Pete’s pets in a beautiful medieval village in the Tarn-et-Garonne, during November and well into December 2011.

Sadly, Tom’s health had been deteriorating for several weeks; one chest infection after another had rendered him virtually unable to walk and breathe simultaneously. Emphysema is an insidious disease that is included in a group of lung diseases known collectively as C.O.P.D., Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (or Disease). So, after a visit to the local village doctor and the dreaded diagnosis of pneumonia, Tom was confined to the house and loaded up with antibiotics, steroids, nebules for his nebuliser, and inhalers. To say we were extremely worried about him is an understatement. The bottom line is that family and I seriously thought Tom would not survive that dreadful infection.

Here, and with all honesty, I will say this, for the first time throughout this saga I became extremely angry, very bitter, very frightened, and I wrote to the ECHR to tell them how I felt, how we all felt as a family in fear of losing one of our own to death. We did receive a response, quite quickly, acknowledging receipt of my letter and telling us that it had been included in our Case file. The letter went on to tell us to notify the ECHR as soon as we receive correspondence from the Cour de Cassation; and so we continue to wait!

Tom’s health issues, specifically emphysema, were included in the reasons why we needed to have a lift installed at ground level, to access the first floor of the house in Champagnac. Emphysema doesn’t go away, it can’t be cured, it can only be treated according to the level of advancement, existence and severity of infection, assessment on a day to day basis. Tom can develop a chest infection overnight. We did our homework before moving to France, we knew exactly what types of property we needed to purchase, we knew exactly what provisions needed to be put in place to meet Tom’s needs as a disabled person. That was all deemed to be of no importance by the Riom Appeal Tribunal, in December 2009.

Through life experience, I have found that anger and bitterness are generally counter-productive, but, occasionally, human nature over-rules the need for cool, calm consideration!

Towards the end of our six weeks with Alf, Misty and Arry, Pete returned home and invited us to stay as long as we wished; the house was spacious with several bedrooms, and we all got on like a house on fire! How many people would make such an offer after knowing a family for what, in reality, amounted to no longer than a couple of days?

However, we were booked to cover Christmas and the New Year just outside Royan, a ‘sit’ that we anticipated with much pleasure because the ‘sit’ was for another very close friend, Sue, and we have a great love for her two dogs, Tchica and Elmo. A bonus, Royan is on the same coastline as Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, our favourite coastal town in all of France! Bormes-les-Mimosas, on the Mediterranean coast of France, comes a close second, but hasn’t quite got the edge!

The 17th December 2011 saw us heading back up-country, away from the Tarn-et-Garonne and towards Sue, Tchica and Elmo, just outside Royan. We were driving through yet another major tempest, with another Christmas on our minds as we travelled, our fifth Christmas as hobos in France. But, at least there were still four of us, that was all-important!

 

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On A Roller-coaster!

As the wheels of 2010 slowly turned, I began to feel quite depressed and bogged down with the sheer volume of paperwork, obstacles and worry that seemed to be never-ending. I was burning the midnight oil, writing letters, collating information, honouring my commitment to the forum moderating team, and putting together the facts of our house Case to create the main points for writing a book.

Never a big eater, and hating the texture of meat, I was by then living on cereals, cheese and crackers, and tea; I never seemed to have the time to eat a meal! In truth, I probably didn’t make the time! I lost a terrific amount of weight, there was more fat on a chip, and I started to feel quite unwell at times. Having Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and an historically ‘dicky ticker’, were obviously at the root of my general malaise. But, I had stopped taking medication for the diabetes and cardiac issues when we were becoming so short of funds towards the end of 2009, and I was so busy all the time during 2010, I begrudged the time to see a doctor.

Tom and I have both been seriously ill during our nearly 5 years of residency in France; living in a tent has certainly not been helpful, but, unlike Tom, I received the best medical care I could have had, although we had to pay for it all – but, that’s another story! However, in 2010, I really did begin to wonder if either of us would see the house Case through to the end. Tom and I were feeling very tired, but we were all feeling as though we were on a roller-coaster!

Something had to give, and family and I needed a positive boost to keep us focused!

We hadn’t heard further from the Bureau d’Aide about our legal aid application since we had received notice that we were “out of time”. However, in August 2010, we received a letter from the ECHR. We were advised to send copy of our forthcoming 2009 French Income Tax Assessment directly to the President of the Bureau d’Aide, in order that we could be considered for legal aid funding. That was the breakthrough we needed. In November, we posted the required copy document to the President of the Bureau d’Aide, our income tax liability was zero, we were below the threshold, as we knew we would be. By return, we received a demand to know how many French Benefits we were receiving, and how much money in total. It gave us quite a lot of pleasure to reply that we were not receiving any Benefits from the State, and we had not ever claimed any Benefits from France. Voila!

We have not heard since from the Bureau d’Aide, but the ECHR periodically sends letters to enquire if we have received communication from the legal aid office. Apparently, once we receive a legal aid award notice, our Case will be heard at the Cour de Cassation, in Paris, within six months to one year, at latest.

As that was going on, Madame Cosson at the Tresor Public in Mauriac, who had written to us earlier in the year, was making some headway on our behalf with the Cadastre in Aurillac; she was also ensuring that ‘historical’ income tax matters were being guided in the right direction towards full clarity! Two rooms, a garage, a part of the rear courtyard and a section of loft, that once belonged to the property we had bought, had been sold to the next-door neighbours, but the sale was never declared by our sellers, not to the tax man, not to the Cadastre. The property that we bought no longer has the dimensions for which we paid! On the plus side, our annual tax foncier has decreased by one-fifth! Sadly, there is no refund payable for the previous years! France doesn’t ‘do’ refunds further in arrears than twelve months.

In addition to that startling revelation, the (several) residential locataires who had apparently paid rent to our sellers had also not been declared to the tax man. Monsieur C, being the last of those residential locataires had, in fact, provided all necessary hard evidence of the tax evasion to the Appeal Tribunal in Riom, in December 2009. Even more of a surprise to us was the fact that another previous locataire of our sellers, a retired postman who still lives in Champagnac, had also given evidence against our sellers! That evidence was  presented to the Appeal Tribunal in Riom in December 2009.

By Christmas 2010, all the fresh evidence of fraud and tax evasion against our sellers had been filed at the two Courts, ie the Cour de Cassation in Paris, and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

2010 was a very long year for us all, and Madame Cosson certainly ensured the end of that year was looking much more positive for us than the beginning of the year.

 

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The Second Judgement

Throughout 2009, family and I concentrated on pet/house sitting, moving around France with very few breaks whereby we would have needed to return to living in the tent for long periods. We maintained contact with Alexandra, the avocat who had taken on Julia’s case-load whilst that lovely woman fought for her life with her family constantly by her side. During our initial telephone ‘meeting’, Alexandra laughed when I explained to her that I could not guarantee picking up my emails on a set day. She just did not believe that we were living in a tent between ‘sits’.

I’m fairly certain that, at that point, Alexandra considered me to be, either, paranoid, or, totally up the wall! But, she had spoken with Julia before our second telephone ‘meeting’, and Alexandra commenced the call with these words, “I am so very sorry, Christine, I thought you were joking. Julia has explained to me about how you and your family must live until we win the judgement you need.”

Several weeks after that second telephone conversation, we received a credit from the avocats’ offices in Toulouse, we were no longer required to pay the last facture that was sent to us by Monsieur MA before he was dismissed by Julia.

Justice!

However, we did need to find a further payment for the Avoué (barrister). In French law, the presenting avocat must have a Cabinet, or Practice, within the Department where the Case will be heard. Our Case was being heard in Department 15, ie the Cantal. Due to the fact that we could not find an avocat in the Cantal who could speak English, indeed, we were advised by our local l’Huissier (Court Bailiff) that an English-speaking avocat did not exist in the Cantal, we had to look further afield right from the onset. Hence, we had found Julia’s Cabinet in Toulouse in the Haute-Garonne (31), via the Internet, and we were required to fund the cost of an Avoué to present our Case in the Cantal, every time it was heard.

A Case may only need to be heard once by the justices, but, as it was with our Case, the justices required to hear sections of the Case on different days, three days in total! The set-up can add thousands of euros to the costs of the Case, and Monsieur MA should have explained that to us when we first made contact with him. He didn’t do that, but, at the end of the day, it would not have made any difference if he had told us we would be paying for two avocats. I have clarified the processes in the event of anybody else needing to know. It can present as a rather large shock if the set-up comes as a surprise!

Two weeks before Christmas 2009, Alexandra and I spoke on the telephone for the last time prior to our Appeal hearing date, everything was ready. The sellers’ avocat had apparently attempted to stall for more time, but the Court had rejected that request. Alexandra confirmed that Julia had worked very hard on putting all the evidence together, in order that the Judge would see at virtually a glance that we had overwhelming evidence to prove the sellers’ fraud. Alexandra was upbeat, she was confident, we relaxed a little and started to look forward to Christmas.

Late in the afternoon, on 18th December 2009, Alexandra telephoned us, we were pet/house sitting for good friends, Diane and Brian, near Les Eyzies in the Dordogne. Alexandra was audibly shocked and angry, but she told us without hesitation, the sellers’ fraud had been recognised by the Tribunal, the Judge had called Monsieur and Madame T “arrogant”, but our Appeal had been rejected.

 

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Off The Beaten Track

On a bitterly cold, dark, frosty morning in December 2008, we quietly packed the car and left Champagnac, heading south to the Pyrenees. Our friend and neighbour, Madame ZC, had been a true benefactor in terms of accommodation, but we knew her two sons would soon be arriving for the Christmas and New Year period, and that’s a time for families.

By that time, we were aware that we needed to raise more funds to pay for an Appeal, we had sufficient savings left to keep us going until my UK pensions payments were due to start in October 2009. Monsieur MA estimated a further €4,000 to €6,000 would be needed to pay for the Appeal. Before leaving Champagnac, we contacted our nearest Troc store, in Clermont-Ferrand, and offered the manager our brand new, still shop-packaged furniture and white goods. Troc stores buy and sell second-hand household furnishings and accessories, splitting the return with the original owner of the goods. Suffice to say, for the €10,000 spent on furnishing our new home, we received €4,000 for the sale of those same furnishings. We had no reason, nor inclination, to complain about that return; once purchased, such items become second-hand, that Troc store manager was fair. But, it still hurt Tom and me! We had never had new furniture, until we moved to France. Letting it all go, unused, wasn’t pleasant for us, but, materialism had to be firmly placed on the back boiler. Tom arranged to return to the house during the first week in January 2009, to assist the Troc manager with loading our possessions into the removal vehicle.

I had booked us into a Caravelaire on an à la Ferme camping site located on the outskirts of a tiny village at the foot of Les Mont d’Olmes, in the Pyrenees. The camping site was owned by a lovely Flemish couple, Natasha and Jacques, who made us feel so very welcome throughout our two months there. We told Natasha and Jacques our story, they were horrified; Jacques had a working background as a ‘legal beagle’, and he immediately opined that our avocat had not “…correctly prepared the Case, the evidence against the sellers, the Immobilier, the notaire, it is overwhelming!” We took on board his comments. Jacques cut down a small sapin (fir tree) on the estate, that was our Christmas tree; Natasha loaned us the baubles to decorate the tree, and we bought a set of lights. It didn’t take us long to get ready for Christmas.

We were really out in the sticks, and it was a wonderful environment! The twin peaks of Les Mont d’Olmes hung over the commune and surrounding countryside like two huge purple-grey birds of prey with brilliant white snow-covered heads. Within days of us arriving, the winter’s first very heavy snowfall arrived; two days later, we were exploring our location by walking through snow that lay, pristine-white, at an average depth of 20cms. It was exhilarating, and we became more positive in thought and deed with each passing day.

The nights were not so relaxed! Jacques and Natasha had erected an awning from the front of the Caravelaire, That was an excellent way to minimise the volume of mud that might have been traipsed across the meadow and into our living area. But, as heavy snow continued to fall, we needed to shake it off the awning! Through the nights, we took turns to set our alarm-clock every two hours, for one of us to get up and clear the snow from the awning. That was chilly exercise!

With snow-socks on the car’s tyres, we managed to get out and explore the Department’s administrative capital, historic Foix, and the wonderful medieval bastide town of Mirepoix with its intriguing Cathar connections.

In the meantime, according to our telephone enquiries, Monsieur MA was busily preparing our Appeal documents. But, he didn’t do that, as we eventually discovered in 2009.

 

 

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