Friday 25 March 2011

In the beginning...

Wednesday it was exactly 1 year ago that we first saw the house. I checked it in my diary; we had an appointment at 10 am to meet the estate agent at the church in Charnizay and from there we would follow him to the house.

March 2010

What we saw was a typical rambling longere tucked away on a semi-wooded plot of 2.5 acres seemingly in the middle of nowhere but in reality less than 1.5km from the centre of the village. A bit of a sleeping beauty-- it had no drive just grass, loads of trees and bushes clustering all around and a super view acrosss the Aigronne valley.

We'd done exhaustive research via the internet before coming down for the week's house search. We'd whittled it down to a short list of 8 and set up meetings with 2 estate agents.  By the Wednesday we'd worked through most of the list and quite a few more which  the agents felt we must see. The houses were a mixed bag, most were more or less what we'd asked for; no huge ruined farm complexes thankfully--as this was most definitely NOT what we were after. The problem with many of them was that whatever else did, or did not match our 'wish' list, they failed the 'bread & milk' test. 

November 2010
We wanted to be in the country but no further than about 1.5km from the centre of a village so that we could, if necessary, be within walking distance of basic shopping. Our other requirement was that the area had to be cat friendly--preferably not on a road the locals bomb down at 90km an hr. 
By Wednesday none of those which more or less met the bread & milk test -- we found that the French perception of being 1.5 km from a village was very different to ours -- were quite right. Some needed too much renovation, others were too modern, one or two were beautifully renovated but too small, others had little or no land/garden.

Then we saw the 'Charnizay' house. It spoke to us, it felt it could be right. Layout worked for us; space was right and where things weren't quite the way we wanted them it was straightforward to sort them out. In short we could see ourselves living there. Even better, it was cat paradise and the distance from the village shop to the house was just under 1.5km.

kitchen/diner before
So trying hard to be sensible after the 1st viewing and keep our excitement under some kind of control, we retreated to Loches to do some serious talking; listing the pro's and con's, thinking of what work we would need to do and how much that would cost,and could we afford it. The house was in good condition but was a French family's 'maison secondaire' and there were things we felt would need to be done to turn it into a comfortable permanent residence. But all the time our conversations kept coming back to what it would be like when we were living there. We were fizzing with excitement!!
kitchen/diner after

Two days later, after a second viewing--exactly a year ago today--we put in an offer and had it accepted. We'd tried to be good, sensible and objective--even going so far as a second veiwing on 2 other houses just to 'play fair' but there wasn't ever really any question. We wanted to live in this house.

We moved in August 2010 and are throughly enjoying living here, so tonight we shall be opening a nice bottle of pink fizz to celebrate finding the right house!!


Jean said...

I remember well that "this is the one" feeling. We also looked at a couple more just to be sure and it helped to make our mind up. So exciting !!

Enjoy your pink fizz !!

GaynorB said...

Do you know, I think I will open a bottle of fizz tonight to celebrate the end of another week at work - and you finding your dream house!

In fact I love any kind of fizz, so if ever you have anything (however small and insignificant) to celebrate, let me know. I'll be delighted to open a bottle and have a virtual celebration with you!! :-)

I loved reading 'your story'.

Hope the enjoyed your work, Antoinette. Will you be going back on Monday?

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean: enjoyed every bubble :-)

@Gaynor: Fizz earlier: Saumur Rosé was lovely and it was still warm enough to sit outside for a bit.
Tiring day at school getting to know the different classes and levels of ability but good to be in the classroom. Longterm sick cover so perhaps until the summer, who knows?

Jim's Loire said...

We had the same feeling when our group bought in Epeigné back in February 1987 even though much of the house was in darkness because the electricity was switched off and being winter the wooden windows had swollen and could be opened, so nor could the shutters.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jim: Interesting isn't it how you just 'know' it will work and then it is just a question of making sure the 'nitty gritty' [ie money] stacks up.

Sad to read your posts about Oddbins. Back in late '80s my better half worked for them in Edinburgh and I used to pitch in and help with the tastings they did. It was a good way of learning more about wine.

Susan said...

Your house definitely has something. It's partly the situation, in the trees looking out over the valley, but we thought you were exceptionally lucky to have found such a place.

Pollygarter said...

Congratulations on achieving so much in just a year. It's a lovely house and ideal for cats! Hope you enjoyed the pink fizz - a Loire wine of course?

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Pauline: of course :-) a nice Saumur Rosé