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!