Life in France

A not every day story of normal people trying to live their dream in France starting at the beginning and ending?

Saturday, October 30, 2004

An Earth Moving Experience

If we wanted an earth moving experience what would we need? Well, I suppose you would need one of those mechanical thingys! No, not a conversation about sex but a discussion on what we needed to move a load of earth from the back of the house so that the builder can get round with his lorry with the roofing stuff. One digger duly hired and delivered and after 5 minutes of instruction we are left on our own with it for 3 days.
First thing we have to do is move 3 hives full of bees. Not an easy job so we enlist the help of a friend from the village. I have a beekeepers suit on, Klaus turns up with a leather motorcycle jacket,scarf,gloves and a full face helmet!! First hive onto the wheelbarrow, bees a bit loud but seem ok a few flying about wondering what going on. Some thought they would investigate the full face helmet with the result that Klaus started running up the field trying to get helmet off. They obviously got past the scarf then! Only 6 stings between us, Klaus 4 me 2, not bad considering we moved around 20,000 bees!

Back to the job in question, I dug out and emptied earth into the wheelbarrow which Lynda went and tipped. Really proud of her she works like a Trojan. Completely tired herself out. All well until last day, just digging out around bread oven when one of the tracks came off. Bugger, end of work as it won't go anywhere except in circles.

A busy weekend but successful. Now for the roof.........

Before digging out!

After digging out. The soil used to be up to the window!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ready to pour the concrete.

Further Demolition

We had agreed what we needed to do with the builder so that he could come and put the new floor in downstairs. Essentially act as labourers and get the old floor out. What we hadn't realised was that under the bathroom concrete floor was solid rock. Not in itself a bad thing, but not so good when you have to dig down another metre (just over 3ft) so that the floor level is the same throughout the downstairs. It is hard work, especially knowing that when you have finished somebody else is going to come along and fill it back in again! Perhaps we shouldn't have the underfloor heating in this room which incidentally will no longer be the bathroom but an entrance hall! We go with the heating, much better than radiators everywhere. The builder arrives and begins to put a floor back into the house. 4 days and two lorry loads of concrete and its in. Willow signs it by walking over it before it was dry!

Next job is to take the old cement tile roof off, no rest for the wicked....

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

looking into cellar from front door!

This is Progress?

Work Begins at Last

Finally finally we can actually start and do some work on the house. First job is to take down the walls downstairs so we can then remove the floor. Not a small job as it also involves taking out the old plumbing and wiring. There is dust everywhere, good fun though as we feel that at last something positive is happening. We discover that we are very good at this demolition thing. Once the walls are out we have to remove the old chimney surround and then the stairs are out and finally the floor is up. Just don't walk in through the front door else you will end up in the cellar, a great way to get rid of those unwanted salespeople! Weather outside is VERY hot over 50°c (+110°f) and we are shovelling out old concrete and rock. A lot of trips with Wally the wheelbarrow. It's a great way to lose weight, who needs to workout down the healthclub with this sort of exercise?

Result; no internal walls downstairs, no floor and no bathroom so its back to using the caravan facilities again.

This is progress isn't it?

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Vanishing Builder

At last it has arrived, all the paperwork that confirms that we have been accepted on the grant scheme in triplicate of course! We inform the architect who then contacts the builder we wanted to do the work. Problem, no builder, he has decided that as we have taken so long (it not our fault French bureaucracy takes so long) he was unable to wait and has agreed to do work elsewhere. Would have been nice had he let us know what he was doing. He didn't even indicate that this was the case. He just did it. PANIC... Now we have the go ahead and no one to do the work; bloody typical. Finally find another builder but the earliest he can start work is JULY!!!! 6 months away. We have to bite the bullet and go with it, not that happy though. In the meantime we set about finding a plumber who can do solar systems an electrician to completely re-wire the house as at the moment the wiring is damned dangerous and a carpenter to make us new doors,windows,balcony and an oak staircase. Shouldn't be that difficult as the architect is helping us as well. I did say shouldn't.... Not quite the way it turned out but heigh ho the suns out so pass the wine dear......

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Willow, isn't she sooo sweet?

The Waiting Game

Time goes by and its nearly Christmas, still no approval.
On a brighter note we have an addition to the family. Yep a baby!! No not that sort, we now have a kitten. The last one of the litter a tortoiseshell colour. She soooo sweet. Lynda has named her Willow as in pussy willow not as in tit willow! She keeps us amused with her games and annoys us when she climbs up the Christmas tree or tries to eat the decorations.
At last.. We have verbal approval from the grant people, official letter to follow. Huzzah! Now all we have to do is confirm a start date with the builder. Happy New Year

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Long Wait

We waited & waited & waited & waited. You get the idea?

Planning permission no problems got the relevant paperwork all ready to go except we are still waiting on the approval of the grants from the French tourist office. Getting frustrated now as we want to be getting on with the house. Winter in the caravan was not originally in the plan. Remember earlier in the saga the lovely Lynda said ; "take me somewhere warm"? errr well the summer and autumn are very warm, summer around 35°C average 90-92°F (ish) autumn 22°C average 70°F (ish) but winter ah err um gulp -10/ -15°C or in Lynda's terms bloody freezing!!! Well I nearly got it right. Suggested that we stay in bed and cuddle up to keep warm, not impressed!!!!

Still waiting and a new year begins in a chilly paradise.....

Friday, October 22, 2004

Architects and Things

Hot water in the house and now a big meeting with architects, yes two of them! One from the Gite de France people and ours. They have to agree what category the farm comes in and what we can and can't do to it if we want the grants that are available. Turns out we are a ferme charactere exceptionelle and entitled to maximum grants, great, good news, all we have to do now is submit all the paperwork and get the official planning permission approved. Our architect has to draw up 4 copies of the plans to be submitted and we have to sign everyone of them on every page. That's a lot of signing. Only one snag with the grants, we are not to do ANYTHING to the house until we have the official go ahead. marvellous, so how long is that all going to take? Shrug of shoulders, wonderful. Planning permission takes three months although you can start work after two if you hear nothing. Funny old system this planning thing. We now just have to wait, so its holiday time, nothing else we can do......

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Above the clouds and the sun is shining.

Its raining

It is absolutely throwing it down. Didn't order this weather thought all was sunshine and warmth! Caravan moved to a more permanent and comfortable position.We now look out of the windows straight down the valley. Some mornings we wake up and the cloud is actually below us. We are in morning sunshine whilst those further down the valley are in cloud. Brilliant eh?
Have at last purchased new boiler and got it connected with the aid of Gunter. Think he pleased as well as we wont be using his facilities all the time. Better for us as well as now we can fend for ourselves. We don't have mains water here it comes from a spring just across the field and from a well that is inside the house. All very different from England but a plus point is that we don't pay water rates anymore. Yet another good reason to be here!

Thunder and lightning very close, it almost seems that the lightning is touching down in our field. Wish I was clever enough with the camera to get some shots of it.

Just found out that we only have water if the cows don't drink from the water trough as it reduces the water pressure as it fills up. L discovered this whilst having a shower and the water stopped!!!!!! Ah life in deepest rural France eh?

Got a meeting with the architect tomorrow to get the plans drawn up for the permis de construire (planning permission) then we have to arrange a meeting with the French tourist board to see about getting some grants. Busy days.......

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Welcome to Paradise

Pinch ourselves, that was the first thing we did when we awoke. No its not a dream this is reality we really are in France at our house ready to start a new life and meet all the challenges that are ahead as we completely change our life style. Gone are the days of toil and labour on the never ending treadmill of work and mortgages. Relax as time goes backwards. The region we are in is very rural and nothing but nothing happens quickly. You can hear the birds singing, see buzzards flying overhead and hear their mewing. How different to the constant hum of traffic and people. So much to see and hear.

We began by cleaning out the house, years of dust,old straw, grain and the occasional dead mouse soon had us back outside again in the fresh air! Just a taste of things to come! We discovered that the previous owners had removed everything, I mean everything, not just light bulbs but the fittings as well, bare wires left hanging from the ceiling! Lovely but worse than that they had removed the hot water boiler from the cellar great, no water to the house then. Evidently this is completely normal in the rural areas of France. That's the first job then! In the meantime its down to Gunters for a shower and hot food until we get the gas sorted for the caravan.
Welcome to paradise.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

It's Ours

Firstly apologies the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed a spelling mistake in the picture caption. It should be; not a house in SIGHT!!! doh.

The day has dawned and we get ready to go to the notaires office to sign for the house. We pick up Gunter on the way as he is going to help with any translating that we may need. Arrive at the office to be met by loads of people. The guy we have been talking to selling the house, his sister and their mother + the notaire + us that's err 7 people in an office no larger than a bathroom!! Very cosy.
The notaire proceeds to read out every word of the contract for the house which at 14 pages takes a little while. The contract is in fact a documented history of past owners and families since year dot! Interestingly the farm was acquired by this family during ww2 after being tenants previously. Anyway once read EVERYBODY had to sign every page! After that it was a case of hand over the money get a receipt and it is all ours. A French farmhouse that has been empty for years. After handshakes we were invited to the sisters to have a meal to celebrate our purchase and their good fortune. Wow what a meal 6 courses + wine and a drink to finish that would blow the head off a donkey. Nice people but I don't think I ought to drive back! A little rest then back to the caravan and to the house that is now legally our new home even if we can't actually live in it yet. The first official day of our new life has begun and what a great feeling it is.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Not a house in site. Wonderful! View from balcony of house.

We finally arrive

Up early and into the services for a wash and some breakfast, continental of course then its on our way on the last leg of our journey. Sun shining its just a beautiful day. How could it be otherwise? Temperature zooms up into the 70's, good for us but not so good for poor old Tommy. He starts to struggle a little bit towing this caravan up and down all these hills its causing him to get just a little bit hot. Radiator temperature starting to edge towards the red zone on the gauge so decide to open all the windows and put the heating on in an attempt to get rid of some of the excess heat. All to no avail, temperature gauge remains on the edge of the red so we decide to stop for lunch. We had just pulled into the rest stop and filled up with gas when the radiator valve let loose. Steam pouring out from under the bonnet (hood) so lunch was extended to give it time to cool down. After lunch we refilled the radiator and set off once again with a constant watch on the temperature gauge. We finally made it to our new home late afternoon after 3 more stops and a total distance of 850 miles. Parked the caravan and unhitched Tommy and set about preparing the caravan so we could have something to eat and then go to bed. At least we were finally here and tomorrow is the great day! We finally sign for the house and it becomes legally ours. Hurrah

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Great Day Arrives

No trumpets, no final farewells after two and a bit years we are finally on our way to France. Caravan hooked up to Tommy ( Toyota surf) and we leave the greenfields of England behind. Well they are green except we can't see them as its 2 am! We have to leave at such a stupid time to catch the morning ferry from Portsmouth to France. Our good friend Ade is driving the Van with the Harleys in. What a mate eh? 200yards and we hit our first problem Tommy won't start, only stopped to check everything bolted on ok. After much swearing and fiddling under bonnet (hood) with torchlight turns out battery connection come loose! Tightened it up and off we go, miles to do and now 40 minutes less to do it in! Made ferry with 1hr to spare looking forward to a big breakfast onboard and then getting our heads down as a long way to go on the other side. Safely onboard, sun out, waving England goodbye, now for the food. Restless sleep. Reach France unload and off again. Remember to drive on "wrong side of the road" which will now become the right side and England will become the wrong side. Did you followthat?
Drove down through Le Mans didn't get chance to look at the circuit though, on & on down towards Limoge and an overnight stop in a motorway service area. A revelation, first 'cos it FREE, secondly 'cos you can't do this in England, thirdly amazed at how clean it was and how cheap the food is. Nothing like the dirty, expensive services in England.

Time for bed said zebedee, need to be fresh for the final part of our journey to our new life. night ade, night mate, night Ade, night Lynda. And its a goodnight from me to you.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

A Gypsy Life For Me

Firstly, sorry couldn't post yesterday unavoidable interruption to power supply due to storm!

Anyway, the house and caravan saga. House now sold and man pushing to move in wants a date so we start looking for a caravan. Didn't realize there were so many different types having never had one before. Finally settled on a very nice one, one previous owner an immaculate Swift 500. What swung it for us is that it has a permanent double bed at the back so no making/un-making beds every day! Also makes it quicker to get into bed if you know what I mean? Paid for it along with all the extras you need to caravan, spare wheel, battery,water pump,water carriers,spare bulbs,towing stabiliser etc etc you get the idea? Very nice man delivered it to our house. Now we have to rush round to find somewhere we can pitch it for 2 or 3 months. House all sold, signed for and most important we got the money!! Moved out to a small site based at a farm. Owner very helpful and it only a fiver a week, all this and no mortgage should have done this years ago. Furniture in storage and like us just waiting for the final signing date to be agreed for place in France then we say goodbye to England and hello to France. Now where can I get some wood for my campfire and hay for the horse.. Sorry dreaming again. Still working but not really interested anymore, we just want to be gone. A new life beckons.........

Thursday, October 14, 2004

End of a decade

Welcome back, this will be a fairly quick post as there is a thunderstorm raging outside. The last big one blew the modem to bits!! The risks we take to bloc eh? We now have an offer for our house in UK. At last.... Not what we wanted but it pretty close so we accept. Yipppeee another piece of the great plan comes together. Sigh.. But of course its subject to valuation,survey, time of day and can he raise the mortgage but in essence its sold! Just one question, where the hell are we going to live as the house in France not finalised yet? hhmmm will have to think about that one and what the heck do we do with all the furniture in the meantime? Nobody seems interested in letting us rent somewhere for less than 6 months. That's no good to us.. eekkk out on the streets then.

Solution comes to me in a flash of inspiration, buy a caravan!!! Just find somewhere to park it for 2/3 months problem solved. Of course as you well know by now, nothing is ever as simple as it appears.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Contracts and Legalese

Does time slow down or go into reverse when you are waiting for something to happen? It certainly felt like it as we waited for the draft contract to arrive from the notaire (lawyer) in France. It finally arrived after months of waiting and when it did, oh my god it might as well have been written in Outer Mongolian ( no offence to outer Mongolians) but i can understand their language as well as i could understand this contract. Absolute gibberish, i thought it was some sort of French but, not as we know it Jim! Turns out it was written in Napoleonic Legalese French. Its a conspiracy to keep lawyers in work.

I even asked a French guy at work to help, he managed about 25% of the work then gave a gallic shrug and a you're on your own now! arrggghh help, had to get the help of a French speaking English lawyer and a web translating service (which was far more use). All is not well, the owners want to retain the right of access to any part of the land at any time!!! errr i don't think so. Many faxes later and we got that one sorted. Got next draft and signed it agreed it stamped it and paid the 10% deposit (non-refundable) that's it then, we are now the owners of a French farmhouse. Subject to the paperwork from the geometre ( surveyor) all being hunky dory about the new land boundaries. Date set for big official signing in March.

Our house in UK, err still not sold but one chap been back twice so holding breath and hoping he comes back again.

Yeehah we've got a house in France (subject to land agents, surveyors, French jobsworths etc etc)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The view from just behind the house!

The Winner is?

Oh, That must definitely be me! What a brilliant day, the sun shone it must have known it was a special day. A friend arrived with the brides wedding transport, a Harley and sidecar! We didn't even know he was coming, what a great surprise. Two friends flew in from the states (Milwaukee, JUST for the wedding, great friends eh?) the ceremony took place in the village Marie completely in French, just prod me when i have to say yes i do, totally, unconditionally, err a simple oui will do, the mayor was there in clean jeans and shirt complete with sash. Friends had filled the room with wild flowers and made Lynda the biggest bouquet of flowers you have ever seen. It had wild flowers of every sort, foxgloves,ferns,roses and tree blossoms quite stunning. Turns out we were the first all English marriage for nearly 400years. The last time that the English had occupied the area! Made us feel even more special. The reception was held outside at Gunters by the side of a stream with dragonfly's flying up and down the table and landing on peoples heads/hands even noses! Even the the postman delivering letters stopped and gave us a toast. Not a day we will ever forget.

To make it even more perfect a local farmer had been to see Gunter as he had heard we were looking for a place to buy and would we be interested? Oh would we? To true we would. He told us where it was and later we went to have a look at it. Only from the outside but that was enough. We fell in love with it, for what it was and for what it could be. The location was just amazing. We knew that this was the place the price just had to be right and we still hadn't seen the inside!

After getting the key we went back for a second look, the inside was er hmmm how shall we say ? Basic, it had been empty for12 years but it had a well inside about 20ft deep, exposed beams, built on rock and the view... Words are meaningless, heaven. No neighbours 12 acres of land, buzzards and hawks flying overhead and deer in the woods behind us. The place was us!

After a meeting with the shared owner he came back with a price, he had to consult his brothers & sister because under French inheritance law all the children share the house no if buts or maybe's that's the law. Oh wondrous heaven it was LESS than we were willing to pay and he was worried it was to much! We tried to beat him down half heartedly, nothing doing but he did put in another 4 acres so now we had 16 acres!

Not wishing to appear too anxious we asked for a little time to consider ( nano seconds) after 10 minutes we said yes. All agreed, break open the wine. yippeeeee it IS going to happen after all.

Comes back down to earth, still got ours to sell... Who cares we got a house in France (subject to usual conditions etc etc etc)

So back to England with uplifted hearts this time we really were on our way.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Over the second onto finishing straight

In France again yet more houses to look at. One was supposed to be the old weekend retreat of a certain Toulouse Lautrec, evidently he was a well known painter. hmmm heard the name must go and visit the gallery dedicated to his paintings in nearby Albi sometime just to prove i am not a complete Philistine when it comes to "art". Anyway, house no good too close to neighbours and wallpaper everywhere. The walls, backs of doors and even the ceiling were all covered in the same pink floral wallpaper, weird; Perhaps it was art and i just didn't realise it?

Onto second farmhouse with a barn large enoughto hold a village gala in. Right money to. Location good only drawback they wouldn't sell the field right in front of the house. Not much good if guests sunbathing in the nude and the local farmer trundles past on his tractor, head swiveling 360° and ending up in the hedge! So another rejection. Perhaps France isn't meant to happen.

Good news, somebody has at last come to view our house. hussar!!! Not big enough, damn, but at least we are on the right track now. Mind you if someone bought it we would have nowhere to go. Funny old world is it not? Steady stream of people coming now, usual mix of lookers and we we were just passing types. Couple of serious enquiries even got an offer. HOW MUCH? Damn it we want to SELL it not become a charity and give it away!

The wedding plans take shape, where we going to get married? Who do we invite? What we wearing? Why? What? How much? Reception? Honeymoon? Rings? Ok, in reverse order;

rings err why? ahh yes its custom. Ok, we will have some made to our own design that way like us they will be unique, matching of course. Honeymoon... na shan't bother. Reception yep sounds good. How much? No idea. Wearing what? Clothes would be good. Invite? Anybody who wants to come, parents, close friends. Where? Oh that's easy... Guess where.... France of course. In a village near where we hope we will eventually one day be living.

You really cannot appreciate just how much paperwork is involved in arranging a wedding in France between two foreigners and English to boot. English consulate involved, local mayor, secretary, district official, doctor. Pardon me... Doctor? yep, you have to have a blood test done to prove that you don't have HIV just in case you are going to have children. In my case that would be a miracle or an immaculate conception having had THE op years ago. Oh it brings tears to my eyes even now! Lynda has NEVER wanted children. Still had to have the blood thing done though. Apparently the authorities must have been on a happy pill 'cos they granted the permission. June 14th the day. All we got to do now is make sure parents/friends can get there. Tough if they can't 'cos we still getting married. We decided to ride down from England on the bikes. Didn't i say...Motorcycle mad got a Harley each so they just had to be at the wedding.

Somebody else been to look at the house, another offer, better than last time but not quite enough. Lets see if we can get them to increase it.

So its bags packed, saddle up and to the ferry that will take us too France. Rings all safe. Celtic dragon design in rose gold absolutely beautiful. Both very pleased with the design and workmanship. Just as well as they have to last lifetime. Off into the sunrise (we had to leave at 1 am!) damned cold too.

To France and the diversion of a truly magical day... And a surprise

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Stumble at first hurdle

As time goes by, so says a famous song. Nothing heard about offer so we chase the notaire. Not easy with no French language skills. Over to Gunter......More delays until finally a result, sort of what we expected but then the final words were not expected at all. Offer was to low, it turned out it was actually less than they paid for it. ooops suppose they must have been a bit insulted. Never mind lets make a higher offer, more waiting..... Getting the idea now that nothing is ever rushed in this part of France? The answer; err sorry no thanks the house is no longer for sale as we are going to get a divorce! Wasn't anything we said or did was it? Didn't think the offer was that bad! That was that then, back to the drawing board, big depression we hadn't even made it over the first hurdle.
To make things into a total slough of despond nobody had shown the slightest interest in buying our house either. Time for a review of the situation.
Revised plan drawn up, outlay a little cash on our house in an attempt to get people at least in through the door and make another trip to France.

One good thing, for me at any rate, after all our years of living in sin ( other peoples perception of living together ) Lynda decided to give me a nudge in the direction of legality by proposing! It was a leap year after all.
Fed up of waiting for me to ask I guess. None of this traditional down on bended knee and asking for my hand (didn't even get the chance to blush) proposal sent via txt msg. Well I was in Germany at the time so that's ok. Txt reply; yes if u r serious, never heard again so thought bugger, April fool but then remembered it only February. Its me age u know.

That's it then, jockeys all re-mounted, horses pointing in the right direction and on to the next hurdle, another visit to France to look at more properties. Get the feeling we've been here before......Insert extra padding in case of refusal at next hurdle; ho hum life goes on.. back to work...... Got a wedding to organise now as well!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Getting under way

So, we started looking for our ideal place. We at least had an idea of where we wanted to go. South and warm was the instruction from the lady. So south and warm (more on the definition of warm later) it was. We decided on the Aveyron region because it has stunning scenery and a relaxed horizontal way of life. Also we had been down to the area on numerous occasions to visit our very good friend Gunter. No prizes for guessing which country he is from. He has lived in France for over 25 years so is well settled.

After looking at loads of properties on web sites we made appointments to view those we really liked and flew to France. Now I don't know what estate agents (realtors is that right?) are like in America but if they worked like these guys they would be very very hungry! Half the properties were "not available" what ever that meant? others were sold but they couldn't be bothered to take them off the website!! Those that we did get to see as substitutes were at best awful and at worst damn right ruins and the money they wanted wwooah was in fairy land. The agent would take us to the property then more often than not give us the keys for a self tour while they lounged against the car smoking a camel or Gitane (smelt like camel dung anyway). An interesting way to do business.

Needless to say we didn't put in an offer on anything. To the rescue came Gunter, he had heard on the local gossip network of a place for sale not 30mins from him. Off we went. Brilliant, it had everything we were looking for; view, seclusion (just what you need for nudist b&b) plenty of space and bags of potential. Only drawback, the price; 1,000,000francs or 100,000sterling ish.
not to be deterred we put in an offer at the notaires(lawyers) of 750,000francs and waited.

Whilst waiting we put our house on the market in the UK. Didn't think it would be too long before it was sold and we were on our way..... but that is for another day.....

Thursday, October 07, 2004

THE decision

Well, now that you have found your way here I had better write something to entertain you. This is an account day by day of how we got to where we are today. Which is, well read on and you will find out.

This I hope is not going to be just another oh we moved renovated etc account. It will make you laugh, cry and just plain wonder at our sanity. We are still seeking medical opinion on the last one! Comments welcome in the best possible taste of course.

So, let me tell you a story? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin.

Once upon a time way back in the distant past, (actually late 1999 it just seems such a long time ago) We had returned from another holiday to France and were sitting in the back garden of our house in outer suburbia listening to the rush of tin boxes propelling the occupant home, the sound of screaming children and absorbing the quaint smell of burning rancid fat from barbecues and asked the question; what are we doing with our lives? bit of a radical question that.
You would almost think we were in a mid life crisis. were we? that could be a whole discussion on its own!

I digress, nice house, good jobs, cars, motorcycles,members of local health club all that sort of thing but missing something. No idea what IT was but never ones to sit back we thought bugger it what have we got to lose. So the idea was born, sell up and move to France lock stock & barrel and start a b&b. Fine idea lets do it. simple as that, ahh i wish. We had absolutely no idea of what it would involve but the decision was made and off we went on the start of an adventure. Never mind that the language was a mystery to me. My partner the lovely Lynda had done french "A" level all those years ago. It doesn't matter, were english, explorers through and through with that bulldog spirit. Well that's what they say on all these programmes you see on TV.

First we had to find a house & sell ours but thats the start of another day.......