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Our dream of moving to France grew dimmer and dimmer, we couldn't find The phone burst into life with a sudden jolt of energy, and picking it up, I heard a voice, "Susan? Susan? Is that you? I think I may have found something...". My heart gave a lurch of excitement, the dread I had been feeling for a week lifting off my chest. There were more words on the other end of the line, but I was already gone, drifting back to France and the sound of cicadas. With five children at school and a house to pack, we'd decided it was my husband’s turn to go house-hunting. We’d lived in France before, we knew what we wanted this time, going back to a country we loved so much, and we'd drawn up a check-list of things that were vital to the purchase, along with a second list of things that would be 'nice'. We'd already chosen the area, the Charente Maritime, for the prospect of living in France's second sunniest region appealed to us greatly. The seaside, figs, lemons, olives, grapes and melons all drifted in and out of our conversation, as did mutterings of beach life and coastal marshlands. So, he packed a small bag one late June morning and I drove him to the airport as we discussed gardens, rooms, schools and resources. We were confident enough he would find something from the list of properties we had booked to see. Except he didn't. For five days, he drove his little hire-car back and forth across the corn-studded hinterland of the region, and down dusty little coastal roads by the sea. He sent nightly reports from a remote chambres d'hôtes via intermittent internet, and he slowly whittled down the list of appointments till they had finished. There was nothing that matched our list of requirements; certainly not for the budget we had in mind, anyway. Each house he visited had a problem with it, lack of schools, distance to a town or distance from the coast; there was always something out of kilter. The one house that had seemed ideal was signed away the day before he was due to view. We talked late into the night as our dreams grew dimmer and dimmer.
our dream house... and then I got the message "Found something possible" The morning before he was due to leave, in desperation he parked his car by the Place Colbert in Rochefort and went round estate agents collecting magazines in the rack outside each door. Settling into a chair at a café with a coffee he set to work. It took an hour to cull through the properties and by the time he finished it was nearly lunchtime and he still had nothing to show for his efforts. Looking up, he saw an agency on the far side of the square he had missed. He paid for his coffee and set off across the cobbles. The estate agent gathered some particulars of properties that fitted our requirements. Two of them, my husband had already visited, and his heart sank as he scanned the rest. As he did so, the agent fussed with a notepad, and looked up; "I have something else, but I don't have any particulars for it, I'm afraid. It came on the market two days ago and we already had someone to see it. Would you like to have a look, maybe next week? It is within your price-range, and it is in a village..." "Yes," laughed my husband, "but it will have to be today!” The man across the table scowled at the difficulties this was going to present, but he picked up the phone and made a call, and then asked, "This afternoon, after lunch?" That was when I received the message I had been hoping for, a simple text which read "FOUND SOMETHING POSSIBLE WILL CALL LATER XXX" It was in a village, it had a large garden, outbuildings, grapevines and a fig tree and the village had a school and a bakery. It met just about all of our requirements. It belonged to a very old lady, and his heart quailed at the thought of finding something in a perfect situation, but in complete disrepair as the asking price would leave little change from the budget for much more than a new coat of paint.
16 great prizes to win _
Contributors Brian Beard is a write
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