Three months after the offer was accepted and signed, the day for the final signing arrived, and we arrived at the house with the agent for a final check, to find that the furniture was still in situ.
One of the neighbours we met at the gate mentioned that there had been a lot of comings and goings in the recent weeks, and indeed a lot of items from the various buildings had been removed already, but the house was still full to the brim of much dark, heavy and dusty furniture. Which perhaps gives an idea of how difficult it had been to navigate the rooms on viewings – and explains how we managed to not quite see the extent of the damage to the interior.
The sale of the house was ‘en indivision’ (a French euphemism for decades of intra-family feuding ), with several inheritors, some directly inheriting from the parents a long time back and others more recently of the son. The family didn’t get on to such an extent that several didn’t turn up to the signing and those few who attended didn’t acknowledge each other’s presence.
It had taken them a long time to reach and announce a decision regarding the furniture, so the auctioneer was unable to take it in for a while.
Having travelled all that way, waited for months and having some workmen lined up, we signed to buy the house as was but verbally allowing the furniture to removed to our barn the next day and remain there for another 15 days until the auctioneer could arrive.
The old lady who used to live in the house was averse to housework, so it was quite sweet to find that she had been around the rooms spraying inside the wardrobes with lavender to try to make the place more appealing for our arrival. However, a spray of any sort except from a fireman’s hose wasn’t going to make much difference to the years of dust, cobwebs, dogs smells and some urine smells.
She had arrived very late to the signing of the sale because she wanted to attend to some weeding at the property first. Indeed, the courtyard gardens were in good condition and nicely arranged, and that probably helped us fall in love with the property in the first place.
The day after signing, as promised and as arranged by the agent ( I believe), who seemed to do above and beyond what was necessary to get this sale moving, a couple of men had been hired to take out the furniture. They arrived in a little car, the driver of which promptly jumped back inside it when he saw the big German Shepherd in the courtyard. The action was so comical and as he had a dog inside the car himself, I thought he was joking when he asked me to tie the dog up. I explained to him that it wasn’t my dog (reminds me of a Pink Panther skit when Clouseau asks the innkeeper if his ‘derrg’ bites, and after the dog has bitten him the innkeeper says that is not his dog). I told him it had to be OK as the dog was friendly with me and I didn’t know her. He was not convinced and as the owners hadn’t arrived (i.e. the dogs had been left there overnight) I took her and attached her outdoor chain. Lucky for me that she was a nice dog to allow me to do that to her.
Then followed a long and arduous house emptying job as there was not simply the large pieced of furniture but some dressers still contained all their delicate contents and had to be removed and packed before dismantling the heavy wood pieces. It wasn’t an amount of furniture we couldn’t help them clear out either, even if we would have been willing to do that (which we most definitely weren’t).
It took them the whole morning to clear the downstairs, leaving me only enough time to sweep up a couple of rooms’ floors before the long drive home. Just from that though, it was clear that a lot of cleaning products and utensils would be necessary the next time.
Finally, we could stay no longer so gave the keys to some neighbours so that the men could finish their job, and said hello to two of the inheritors who arrived as we left.
We would return in 10 days with some of our furniture to enable me to stay full time and move forward on all the works. Perhaps then it would feel like our place. Or perhaps not…