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Forever Friends

‘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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Water, Water, Everywhere!

With a regular income now under our belts, and our son was still managing to find a little low paid work for a few days each month, as a registered self-employed labourer in the Autoentrepreneur (AE) system, and despite the bite of the recession, we really believed our luck was turning. How foolish of us!

We received mail forwarded from Champagnac by Madame ZC, and we felt like burning the lot, as usual! The resident locataire, Monsieur C, had suffered a burst water-pipe towards the end of the winter. Naturally, he could not be expected to go without fresh, running water, washing and shower facilities, and his wc. So, not knowing how long it would take Madame ZC to contact us, Monsieur C had called an emergency plumber. The repairs were carried out, and Monsieur C had signed the devis (quotation) with Tom’s name! He then gave the devis to Madame ZC to forward to us for payment directly to the plumber, who was approximately 5 hours drive away from our location.

Was Monsieur C legally permitted to do all that? Apparently so, according to the staff at the Tresor Public when I telephoned the water rates section. The young clerk told me, authoritatively, that Monsieur C was responsible for paying his water bills, but we, the property owners, were responsible for paying for repairs to the water-pipes. I asked if Monsieur C was legally enabled to sign formal documents, ie the devis, using Tom’s name. There was a sigh and an audible Gallic Shrug, but no verbal response. I thought about that for a few seconds, then I let the clerk know what Tom and I would do. The clerk laughed – he sounded genuinely amused – then he said, “Madame, you will go to prison for harassment.” I laughed with him and told him that I would then, at least, have a warm bed off the ground. The clerk chuckled and wished me good luck, he sounded as though he meant that, too!

I located the letter, with other documents wrapped in a water-proof bag in the car boot, that Monsieur C had addressed to Tom and me two years before, and in which he had refused, point-blank, to have any repairs or restoration works carried out on any part of the property included in his Rental Contract. I photocopied the letter, and the devis, and I wrote a cover letter. I put the cover letter, copy of Monsieur C’s letter of refusal, and copy of the devis into an envelope, addressed it to Monsieur C, and I posted it to him by registered mail later that day. In the cover letter, I wrote, “This is a well-known saying, you can’t have your cake and eat it. We do hope you are now much more comfortable. Kind regards….” We have never heard any further about that burst water-pipe.

But, the Tresor Public enjoyed a lot of fun and games at the expense of our well-being throughout 2010, and that is ongoing.

The hairdresser, ie the young woman who is a non-resident, commercial locataire who operates from the residential, strictly non-commercial property, without a Lease or a Rental Contract, refuses to pay her water rates unless we sign a 9 years Lease Agreement for her to continue operating. Tom and I have just received an updated water facture from the Tresor Public, they insist that we must pay it, we refuse. The new facture stands at just under €1,900. We had never met that young woman until 4 months after we purchased the house that can never be our home.

 

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