…it was raining and we were in the middle of moving.
We’d bought a former vigneron’s house three months earlier and though my husband was keen to move as quickly as possible – he thought it would be “fun” (direct quotation, I swear) to live in the house while it was undergoing practically a complete rebuild, even he had to admit that we ought to stay in our rental while the new roof was put on, a floor was laid upstairs and various other heavy bits of building work were carried out. So we agreed to move in on April 30th.
The house is literally in the middle of the vines; you get to it by a beaten earth track in one direction and by a chemin rural in the other. When we first saw it in October there was a layer of stone chippings that kept the surface of the track solid. In the middle of February it began to rain. It rained every day in March and nearly every day in April. And we had builder’s lorries, the Manitou to put the new roof tiles on, and six boy racer workmen charging up and down the track every day. Not surprisingly the track disintegrated. The parts that weren’t rutted axle deep were liquid mud; it was also on a slope which made driving down it even more interesting.
By the second week in March ordinary cars had to be left on the road and the OH rang the removers, a firm from Bordeaux, to ask if they were sure they’d be able to get their vans to the house. ‘We’ve moved people to the tops of mountains,’ said the commerciale blithely. ‘A little bit of mud doesn’t worry us.’
It went on raining. The OH came back one day and announced he’d bought a 4 x 4, a 16 year old
Toyota Nissan (sorry!) “just in case”. The rain continued.
Removal Day arrived. It was raining. We were moving over three days and a team arrived to pack our china. I’ll spare you the descriptions of how a team “experienced in moving antiques and old furniture” turned out to have experience in moving office furniture destined for the depot vente and not much else. They loaded up the van for the first load and I took them over to the new house, warning them about the track. ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got boards.’
Their boards were about as much use as a chocolate hammer in a thunderstorm. Going around knocking on doors to ask if anyone knows someone with a tractor is one way of getting to know your new neighbours I suppose. Delightful Monsieur Gossum, aged 82, demonstrated that his little blue tractor might be elderly but it was strong.
The movers decided that instead of a big van they’d take two smaller ones the next day and that’d be fine. M. Gossum had to come out with his tractor again.
Moving Day 3, the last. We agreed agreed that most of what was left in the rental would have to go into storage and would be delivered when it hadn’t rained for two consecutive days and the track had dried up a little. According to Meteo France this would be in about a week. Absolutely essential things like the cooker and bed would be put on a small white van and taken to the house and we’d trust to luck that we didn’t have to call on M. Gossum again. As sod’s law would have it most of the stuff already in the house were things like boxes of books and things forunfinished rooms which couldn’t be used. I dashed seizing clean knickers etc out of my chest of drawers as it was going in storage, and forcing tranquilizers down the cats. It was raining.
Amazingly enough the small white van didn’t get stuck and our things were practically thrown at the house, the men were in such a hurry to leave and get back to Bordeaux early for the Mayday holiday. Back at the rental they wanted to leave early too, and tried to pack up at 2.30 with a half empty van and a lot of furniture left in the house. They were treated to a display of my husband losing his temper and came back to load everything.
It was still raining. The movers missed the one three-dry-day slot in early May and we didn’t get our furniture until nearly the end of the month. I was running very short of clothes.
It stopped raining at last. We ate outside almost every night from mid-May to mid August which was lucky as I had no kitchen, no dining room but that was part of what my husband thought was “fun”.