We looked at a few houses throughout Normandy in the spring of 1999, and each one was - how shall I say it - different, but that's what happens when you haven't got a lot to spend.
There was one which, officially speaking, had no toilet at all. When we got there we found of course that there was a little hut perched over a drainage ditch, about which nobody was very specific. Also the house consisted of two buildings which touched at a corner but were otherwise unconnected, so that to go from living rooms to sleeping room you had to go outdoors. The current owner was obviously very proud of her little house, though: she had newspaper down on the floor of the living room so we wouldn't sully it. We didn't go very far in, as the room was stuffed as full as it would hold with china ornaments and knick-knacks and we were afraid of breaking something.
Then there was the one which was built in cob, or mud and straw to you and me, where you could see daylight through parts of the walls. What was worse to my sensibilites though was the way they had covered over a beamed ceiling with lambris, a sort of pine board cladding. Following exactly the contours of the beams underneath.
Then there was the one with the shower in the middle of the kitchen. I mean, in the middle, where normally you'd put a table, there was a shower cubicle.
And the one where all the furniture was piled up on tables and cupboards. "Don't worry," the agent said, "it's only flooded twice in the past twenty years."
Finally we got to our last town. As on most stops before, we found that the house we had been interested in had been sold months before, but they had some others we might be interested in. Apparently this was not an unusual ploy over there, where they would get you in the door with a picture of a neat little cottage which matched exactly what you might want in a holiday home, and then showed you the properties that were actually for sale, which looked nothing like your dream.
"We've just had this one come on the market," the agent said, showing us a picture of what looked like a dark little stone cottage. It was a sad story. The old couple had had a large family, and the last child, a son, was a little slow. All the other children had moved out, but he stayed on with his parents, and worked odd jobs hedging and ditching for the local council. Finally one day the council offered him a permanent job. Excitedly he cycled home to tell his parents, and was hit at a local pinch point by a car driven by a seventy year old man, and died. The parents couldn't face driving past the scene of their son's death every time they went to the small town nearby to do their shopping, and wanted to move away.
I have to say it wasn't a prepossessing house from the front, but when we went inside it had nearly everything we were looking for. It had a shower room of sorts, a couple of bedrooms, a reasonable kitchen/diner, in the French manner. Admittedly the toilet was outside in the garden, but not too far from the back door, and there were a few outbuildings that came with it, and about three quarters of an acre of land. It was the best of those we'd seen on that trip, it ticked the boxes, and it was immediately habitable if you weren't too fussy. It grew on me. The back view was better than the front view.
We bought it.
Doreen lives in the empty bit in the middle of Wales, where since her retirement she has taken up writing. She says it's better than working any day.
LIKE MY BLOG?
Hop across to my Contact page and join my mailing list.