The Elements Intervened


Jackie made serious inroads into the winter clearance of dead growth yesterday, the first time she has been able to get at it for some weeks. She continued today, and after I had taken bird’s eye views containing dancing sunbeams, I managed a little clearing up. In one of these pictures, the Head Gardener stands on the Brick Path inspecting the West Bed; in another she bewails a weevil infested potted heuchera which she will painstakingly clear of the little; beasties; in another I have managed an unwitting selfie.

My house in France has been on the market ever since I was forced personally to evict squatters in August 2014. The story of the process unfolds in my posts ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night‘, ‘On The Road‘, and ‘The Departure‘.

A little over six months ago a buyer was found. I have not mentioned this before because I couldn’t be sure a sale would really happen, and I didn’t want to bore either myself or my readers with all the negotiations. I won’t go into the delays and repeated errors that held up the process. I wasn’t even confident that the completion date of 31st March would be met. This turns out to have been sensible, because it didn’t happen.

The elements intervened. France has experienced even more rain than we have. Such weather makes the house a little vulnerable to an underground stream. For that reason an electric pump is installed in the cellar.

On 12th March the estate agent and buyer discovered that the cellar was flooded up to the fourth step, and that there was no electricity in the house.

The agent’s husband undertook to pump out the water. He used his own generator. The electricity company couldn’t investigate until after Easter. They established that there was a fault on the line outside the property.

Cellar flood 3

There had been more rain. The fuses kept tripping. The power points in the cellar needed drying out. This was done with a hair dryer. Yesterday evening I received the information that all was well and that completion would take place at 7 p.m. today.

I received a call afterwards to say that Β the completion had been carried out.

Roast pork meal

This evening we dined on roast pork with perfect crunchy crackling, sage and onion stuffing, apple sauce, sautΓ©ed mushrooms, peppers and onions, boiled potatoes, carrots, and green beans, with tasty gravy. Jacki drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Lirac.


  1. don’t you just hate all types of conveyancing? We are currently selling my mother in law’s place – well, it’s on the market and I don’t think I can think about how bad this is going to be and then I read about your experience and it cheered me up no end. Surely i cant have it so bad?

  2. Glad you’ve had a reprieve sonewhat in tour weather in England to do some outside work and in France to get your house there in order for potential sale.

  3. I’m very glad your house issues are resolved, what a mess! Water damage is so awful… Wow, your garden is so magnificent!! It just blows me away!! and that dinner, another wow, I am so hungry just looking at it!! Nice job all the way around. much peace to you and yours πŸ™‚

  4. So much green! We will have green here soon near Chicago.
    That looks delicious, and perfect.
    Also, I’ll be going to read your story about your squatters.

  5. The garden looks wonderful. I loved the “selfie” photo. You look like a friendly ghost looking on.
    Sorry about the house problems, but I’m glad all is well now.

      1. Really? You don’t know that song? I guess I figured with the whole “London” thing you would be familiar. Stupid – really – I’m sure there are tons of New Jersey songs that I’ve never heard of. . .

  6. The Head Gardener surveys her demesne, while Derrick, the Friendly Ghost looks on. All is well.:)

    Bugger about the french house. May it be off your hands soon.

  7. Well thank heavens for the obliging husband who stepped in to make sure the cellar got dry and the sale happened. Sometimes it is good that realtors assist in making the sale happen, rather than just collecting their 3% I bet you are glad that little episode is closed! Conveyancing in the UK has always seemed to be a bit of a nightmare and obviously in France it is too. The overview shots of the garden at the beginning of this post are lovely, even the unwitting selfie – not sure how that was taken as there is no sign of your camera! So sorry about the weevils in the heuchera, I’m sure they will be humanely dispatched to a better place forthwith! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks very much, Pauline. Mark, Karen, the agent’s husband also supervised the removal of the squatters’ belongings back in 2014. Karen met the buyer in the bar at the top of the road. Jackie is a good weevil dispatcher πŸ™‚

  8. I wondered if you had suddenly grown wings for all those bird’s eye views! The deluge in the cellar of your French house looked scary. I am glad it has been sorted out for good.

  9. The garden from above looks like a park! It’s difficult to picture the size from the view from the ground. As always, lovely photos.

    And congratulations on the sale of the French property.

  10. Congrats on the sale of your house in France Derrick. I know well how winter weather can play havoc with an empty property. Glad all is well now. Always nice to see photos of your dinners, inspiring for one who sometimes does not know what to cook anymore πŸ™‚

  11. Congratulations to both of you on a burden lifted. Do you have that thing every morning where you wake up forgetting and then have a little moment of joy as you remember? Does that happen to other people? LOVE the overhead shots of the garden! Whatever trouble they were to make happen, you should do it again anyway. : )

    1. Very many thanks, Jodie. Jackie has that feeling every time she enters her new kitchen. Me – I’m more cautious. I’ll wait until we get the dosh

    1. Gosh, I could have got more money, instead of having to fork out more. Speaking of forks, I had to go back to the post and check the final picture. Hope it didn’t upset you too much πŸ™‚ Thanks a lot

      1. Ut happened to my mum and dad in London in the 50s. The basement flat kept complaining about serious “damp”. When they finally went next door they found the basement being used as a swimming pool.

        Later, living in a small town, they had a neighbour in the cul-de-sac who kept a horse in the garage.


  12. Your mind can rest now I think Derrick, the problems with the house sound excruciating painful monetary wise.
    Love that Pork crackling, did I miss the Yorkshire pudding ?

  13. You will see from a rash of “likes” that I have been catching up on your 2014 stories of the squatting experience. Quite amazing. And you say you KNEW these people? Or at least one of them, or someone connected with them? You seem to have been very obliging, allowing them to collect their personal possessions despite the disregard they showed for your own. Did they take any responsibility or show remorse for their actions?
    What a pity it has taken all this time to sell the property. I imagine you made visits in the interim. Is the house empty now – or is that task still ahead of you? I imagine the former, or I guess the final payment could not proceed.

    1. Very many thanks for going back to this. The squatter was the builder who I had trusted with keys for some years. He moved his family in and told me on the phone that he hadn’t. We had discussed their renting the house after a contract had been drawn up. No contract arrived. He never paid anything. I got the house emptied within a couple of weeks. With Brexit this was not a good time to be selling. I got less than half I paid for it. But, when I get my money in a few days it will all be in the past.

      1. Oh that hurts. But I suppose it is best to be sanguine. What alternative is there?

        I saw some comments from people on those earlier posts which demonstrated you were well thought of in the area, so you must have had some time of enjoyment and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the French culture – so what price can you put on that?

        At least by bringing the episode to a conclusion now, you have both the enjoyment of a brand new kitchen, and the knowledge that the bridging loan (a massive assumption on my part) can be cleared. At this time of life, one wants to be only looking ahead.

        1. Quite so, Gwen. Yes, I enjoyed my time there, and relatives had use of it. Actually, we have a lot more work that could be done on this house, so will probably spend rather than repay the loan πŸ™‚ I am grateful for your caring and insightful comments.

  14. If nothing goes wrong when you sell a house then that means someone, somewhere, somehow has made a major miscalculation about something. I know. I did.

  15. Oh my goodness! That is a lot of water, Derrick.
    So glad things are finally getting closer to the sale and relief of responsibility for this French property.
    The meal with crackling edged pork and veggies sounds extra delicious to me, as I am about to make eggs and toast for Micah and myself. ?

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