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Gone, But Not Forgotten – Not Yet, Anyway!

Well, Monsieur C has removed himself from our ‘pile’, but, he certainly has not removed all of his chattels!

We arrived at the house just after 4pm on Sunday 12th January 2014 – the date was very important to us, our eldest granddaughter’s 18th birthday and our youngest son’s 30th birthday! I’m so proud of my beautiful daughter, she chose to produce our first granddaughter on a January day that had already been ear-marked as a good ‘un by her mum! You can’t get more loyal and trusting than that, chuckle! 

Following a stress-free, warm, sunny journey from the Haute-Vienne in the Limousin to the Cantal in the Auvergne, we arrived at the house just before 5pm – to find the property unsecured. The lock of the main front door had been broken beyond repair. Great! That’s going to cost a few bob to repair, again! Thank goodness the guy who fitted the double-glazed windows and front door now lives just three doors along the square from our property. Cyril is a super young man and we were his first customers in the village when he started up his small business. He did a wonderful job for us, his small business has grown beyond all expectations, and, Cyril does not forget his “valued customers”.

We both also noticed the three, full rubbish bags that were, still are, parked in the entrance hall. Monsieur C had written in his letter that he would be clearing his rubbish when he returns for his remaining possessions ‘at the end of January’. Well, he “thinks” he will be able to get back to Champagnac at the end of January. We won’t hold our breath!

 

As Tom and I started legging it up the first flight of stairs, we very swiftly noticed that three of the White Oak stair spindles were broken, they had obviously been brutally knocked out of their ‘beds’ in the base rail. I had spent three weeks scrubbing and cleaning the stairs from the top of the house to the bottom, after we initially moved into the property in July 2007, bringing the wood back to near enough its original colour from oily, filthy black. Tom had carefully re-sited and secured two loose, White Oak, acorn-shaped newel caps that were worn only by history, not by ill-treatment. Our architect had wanted to replace the entire staircase with a modern alternative, we were horrified at the thought of replacing such a central section of the heart of our home, a section that remained strong, safe and serviceable after we brought it back to life through hard work, determination and lashings of TLC! Thank you, Monsieur C, not! Grrrrrrh.

So, onward and upward!

We wondered where the keys might have been left by Monsieur C. Silly clinker-plonkers – that’s us! His apartment was securely locked and it remains so. No apartment keys to be found, none left with the neighbours or dropped off to the Mairie.

Up we climbed, to the loft. The door was locked, but we have a key to that section of the property. When we entered the loft, we really were knocked for a six – metaphorically speaking, of course. It’s a huge loft, the ‘tall top hat’ on a large building. The entire loft space is strewn with rubbish. Vehicle tyres and bicycle parts, cardboard boxes, wooden planks, torn carrier-bags, broken toys, piles of shredded material including dirty duvets and pillows, smashed crockery and other ceramics, plus stuff in black bin-liners that we left undisturbed and piles of junk that we could not identify – as the King of Siam said, “Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.”!

We didn’t leave anything in the loft when the plumbing and electrics failed during the winter of 2008 and we had to move out. 

Tom and I were feeling quite devastated by this time, it didn’t help our mood to find a load of dried mud that had been traipsed up the entire staircase – clearly, Monsieur C doesn’t believe in cleaning up after himself. But, in all honesty, we discovered that fact during our brief period of living in the property! So, we locked the loft door and made our weary way back down to the First Floor apartment where we sleep when we go to the house. We manage (just!) with bottles of fresh water that we fill in the shop section and carry upstairs. Electricity arrives at the end of an extension cable, again, the shop section has been the source since the hairdresser vacated. It’s not easy, stairs don’t agree with the health of either of us, but, it’s easier on the bones than sleeping in a tent, especially when the temperature drops to minus values!

Before leaving Champagnac, we placed our ‘A Vendre, la maison + le magasin’ board on the shop section shutters and cleaned up the mud from the stairway – from the First Floor down to the bottom of the house. Tomorrow, I will be writing to Monsieur C to give him a brief outline of what we expect from a human being who is exiting somebody else’s property. The menfolk and I hope he takes it on board…but, we’re not holding breath! Would you?

Monsieur C – you might have quit our house that can never be our home, but, we can’t forget you yet, you have made sure of that!

Right then – we can’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, there’s work to be done, property-selling work! Yes! We will also have a lot of clearing and cleaning to do at the end of this month, methinks!

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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in World

 

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A Bad Year Continues

Throughout 2010, we travelled extensively from one French Department to another, from one Region to another, pet/house sitting for existing friends, and making new friends as we were recommended to strangers who became friends. People, generally, really don’t realise how much responsibility pet/house sitting carries, many also don’t know just how rewarding it can be, either. I’m not talking in terms of financial reward, there isn’t any. But, rescued animals can often be extremely wary of human beings, with very good reason; one of the best feelings I experience is when a previously nervous pet arrives at the point when she or he voluntarily comes to me and sits on my foot! That’s when I know that animal knows she or he can trust me. I cherish the moments when that has happened, as it invariably does within a few days of the ‘sitting’ period starting. Family and I have loved all the pets we have cared for, without exception.

I wish I could say the same about some of the people we have met during our travels! On one occasion during 2010, we had not long finished a ‘sit’ for Sue and Rick, and I was approached through the forum, where I was a moderator, by a woman who was desperate to visit Hampshire in the UK to resolve various issues in her life. She couldn’t afford to put her pets into kennels and catteries, and hiring one of the sitters who charge was also beyond her means. So, I booked her into our ‘sitting diary’ for later that year.

Thank goodness we had the normality of ‘sitting’ for Diane and Brian, then moving on for a brief visit to Janet and Mark at their peaceful, friendly camping site, before we travelled east to cover the sit where there were several cats and dogs, plus live-stock. I can only describe the animals’ conditions as the worst we have seen, although, to be fair, the animals looked healthy, despite all but one dog being kept in a windowless shed in a muddy field.

Family and I couldn’t sleep in the beds provided, all the mattresses were soiled with cats’ urine, still wet! We coped, for the sake of the animals, and we scrubbed and cleaned. One of the cats was obviously ill with an infection, we paid for a vet appointment and appropriate medical treatment. But, every day, somebody from the village came to the door to complain about the conditions in which the animals had obviously been kept for quite a long time. On the morning before we were due to leave, the Assistant Mayor came to see us, he asked when the owner would be returning and Tom told him.

The following day, we waited for the text message to say the owner was on the French side of the Channel, packed up the car, handed the door keys to a neighbour who had offered to take over from us, and we left. The neighbour had advised us that the Mayor would be arriving with a deputation as soon as the neighbour advised him that the owner had returned. We were assured that the animals would be cared for properly after we left. The neighbour sent me a text message later that day to say the house-holder had returned

Several weeks later, I received an email from a vet who thanked us for ‘improving the conditions for the animals’. Within hours, I also received a bitter, nasty email from the house-holder who blamed us for the animals having been removed from her care. I didn’t respond, there was no point to justifying the actions of the people who truly cared for those animals; family and I had not been involved with that aspect, but folks will believe what they want to believe, no matter what they’re told.

Three weeks later, just before midnight, I received a telephone call from a police officer stationed with the Hampshire Constabulary, he asked me if my grandson was safe or did I require police or Social Services intervention. I was stunned. I asked the officer to which grandson he was referring as I have several grandchildren, he didn’t have a name. During the rest of that conversation, it emerged that he had received an urgent call from the house-holder, story above, who told him my grandson was in “dire danger” because he was living in a tent.

It was ascertained that family and I do not come under the jurisdiction of the Hampshire Constabulary, that I was not concerned for the safety of any of my grandchildren, and that the call had been malicious and a waste of police time. It was also another extremely bad incident in 2010 for family and me!

People have recently asked me why we have not previously made our situation more widely, publicly known, the reason has been divulged here today.

 

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