1 March 2016
Lots of rain
Estate agency is like fishing. You need to have some interesting bait in order to attract the fish and, with Easter coming up fast on the rails, I have been out looking for new properties for my portfolio.
The first house was down in the mountains. A Canadian couple who had rung up the agency and asked that I come down to look. The day started grey but the skies cleared as OH, driving due to the distances involved, and I rolled along the country roads. The Pyrenees appeared bright and crispy on the horizon and grew large and impressive as we entered the village. The air was cold and we shivered and closed the windows of the car.
We had an address but it wasn't that easy to find and a big point of concern were the signs everywhere saying 'no to the quarry' 'no to lorries" 'no to noise and disturbance'. I stopped to ask the neighbours and one of them told me that there was a proposal for a quarry at the top of the road and 300 locals had turned up at the meeting to protest. We noticed a lot of For Sale signs.
Alarm bells flashing, we finally found the house. On a steep narrow road. Surely quarry lorries would not go down such a vertiginous road? The owners, well into their 80's, seemed blissfully unaware of the possible blight on their house. I signed them up as it was a lovely house for just 250000 euros but I did have severe misgivings and needed to make more enquiries of the Mairie.
Quick refuelling stop chez McDonald's and then back to the village to find the second property. It was extremely disappointing, in poor condition, smelled of dog and was inhabited by a single retired man who didn't like housework. We didn't sign him up.
Coffee break. The rain was torrential and the Pyrenees had disappeared behind a black and ominous cloak. As we were then very early for the third house, we drove around and found a couple of For Sale signs. Noted details and phone numbers and then off to the last house of the day.
Oh what a joy it was. When you think of an idyllic French farmhouse, this is what you think of. Done by an English lady. Beautiful farmhouse living room with whitewashed woodwork, chintzy furniture and a 25 year old cat with a broken tail. Kitchen with oak units and a large oak buffet topped with old and much cherished wood. Bedrooms that said, come in and relax. Bathrooms which invited you to soak away your worries. Immaculate two bedroom gite. I could have happily moved in and spent my time, like the owner, doing the garden and creating lovely meals for her family and guests. Very happy to have this one on the books and the lady and I got on like a house on fire.
Back home and the skies had cleared and I walked the dog and admired the cowslips and green hellebores at the road side and felt more relaxed than I have in ages.