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Sunday, 2nd July 2017 - Last Minute Weekend in France!

With a trip away in the caravan planned for next weekend, Kim wanted to clean the caravan beforehand. With it parked a mile or so away it is very easy to just nip down the road. We had some people coming back for a second viewing on the Friday and whilst we usually clear off out and let the agent show them around, this time they wanted to talk to us about the area and the neighbours etc. Wendy didn't think it was a good idea for Kim to be around as he can be a real misery guts sometimes! So she suggested he went and cleaned the van whilst they came back for their second viewing. These were people who obviously were very interested, but didn't have a buyer for their own house yet. Possibly a waste of time, but you never know.

We also had a fresh viewing for Saturday and the house was in "show house" condition. So, laying in bed on the Friday night Wendy says "you know it would be a good idea if we went away for the weekend, that way, we won't make the house in a mess"!

Next thing is, we are sitting in bed booking a Shuttle for the next morning and looking for a suitable small hotel/B & B about a couple of hours' drive south of Calais.

Saturday morning, we got a Shuttle over at 07:50 and drove about 50 minutes down to the fortified town of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Wendy had read about the place and thought it sounded interesting so there we were, in the middle of their Saturday market. We had originally tried to book a hotel here but they were all full and we could see why. Such a pretty and interesting town with lots to do. After a quick coffee we set off on a wander round the fortificatations, leading us eventually to the Citadel where we learned more about the town's fascinating history. Originally a sea port (hence the -sur-Mer), the river had long since silted up and the town had played various roles in history, from the Hundred Years' War with England (1337 to 1453) to a vital training, garrison and hospital town during WWI.

While we were visiting the Citadel, the sun came out and the temperature soared so we decided not to traipse round any further but to go and find our B&B in the village of Hucqueliers, stopping off on the way at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Etaples - or Eat Apples as the WWI British soldiers apparently used to call it. This was actually a far more moving experience than either of us had expected. Almost 11,000 graves in an immaculately kept location with a book at the entrance listing the names.

Wendy was somewhat taken aback to find a Thomas Henry Wingham (her maiden name) of the Middlesex Regiment who had died in 1917. Although not aware of any relative who had died in WWI, the unusual name and the location make it likely that he was related in some way. A sobering thought.

Our B&B turned out to be a little posher than your run of the mill joint - a whopping great chateau in fact!

We had a beautiful and very comfortable room, with an excellent breakfast the next day all for just over £60.

The village was very peaceful and archetypically French and we rather wished we were staying longer, especially as the village pub/restaurant was only a couple of hundred metres away and served typically good French food and wine - even if the owner turned out to have come from Chiswick 30+ years ago!

Sunday started off rather damp and drizzly and we were unsure what to do for the day. We eventually decided to head South and go to Le Treport, a seaside town just over the border into Normandy and beloved of the Impressionists. We arrived to find them in the midst of a pirate festival under steady drizzle, though at least it was warm. The rain came and went several times before eventually clearing to give us another scorcher. After the requisite mussels and chips we took the free lift up to the top of the cliffs, from where the view was spectacular.

A chance look at the time by Wendy cut our visit rather short, however, and we had to hot foot it back to the car park, albeit with time to pick up some ice creams on the way.

Our trip back up to the Shuttle was uneventful and quick. The motorways in that part of France really are good. In less than 1.5 hours we were in the queue at the Shuttle - and there we sat for quite some time. It was the oh-too-familiar story of queues for passport controls followed by cancellations and delays. Thank goodness we no longer do this very often. It was a great weekend, though, and we did not regret taking advantage of our proximity to mainland Europe while we still can.

Monday, 3rd July 2017 – All the Blog Photos Are Down.

As you will all be aware, there are no photos appearing in any of the Blog entries. All the Blog photos are stored on Photobucket and hosted on the Emjaytoo website. This is what Photobucket call third party hosting. We have getting on for a thousand photos hosted that way and Photobucket have now said that our level of subscription (free) does not support that number so they have withdrawn the facility. We can upgrade the subscription to $400 a year! Certainly won't be doing that! All the photos are still on Photobucket and can be viewed, they just can't be embedded in the blog.

So we are going to have to find an alternative method. What ever the method, it will probably take many months to sort them all out as each photo will have to be moved individually.

Sunday, 9th July2017 – East Horsley.

Arranged with Kim's friend Neil from work and his wife Kay to have a weekend at East Horsley in Surrey. We were a bit apprehensive as whilst the site looked very picturesque, it is quite close to the M25/A3 interchange and close to Heathrow! As it turned out, we couldn't hear any motorway traffic and whilst one could see and hear the planes, they were not too intrusive.

The site is quite large and partly based around a large fishing lake. A bit like Sumner Ponds. Of course, on a blazing hot July weekend, it looked somewhat more picturesque than Sumner Ponds in January.

We were able to sit outside eating & drinking till nearly 10:00 at night as the weather was scorching. On the Sunday morning, the weather station sensor, which admittedly was in the direct sunlight, recorded over 40 degrees C and that was at 09:20!

We had a great weekend and returned home on Sunday. We dropped the caravan off at the storage yard and were home by 13:00. The M25 had not been too clever on the Friday, but was fin Sunday morning.

Now back to crossed fingers and where next with the house sale.

Sunday, 16th July 2017 – Update On The House Move & Kate.

Last Tuesday we had some people come back for a second viewing on our house. They had previously viewed it when it first went on the market at the beginning of June. At that time they did not have an offer on their house so couldn’t do anything but they came back for the second viewing because they now had an acceptable offer on their house!

Wednesday morning we waited in trepidation for their response. An offer slightly above our expectation, so we “bit their hand off”!

Now the pressure was on! Kim told work (John & Andy) of the situation and announced he needed the next two days off as we had to dash up to Grantham to “find somewhere”!

Thursday morning, we drove up to Grantham and started on our list of viewings. One house, nearer Newark than Grantham (Fenton) really took our fancy. Over dinner in the hotel that night, we “ummed & ahhed”. We had some more viewings for Friday, but the first job Friday morning was to book a second viewing on the house at Fenton. We had to wait till later in the afternoon to get the second viewing, but by 4 o’clock we were on the phone to the agent with our offer. Several calls later and after a bit of haggling, the deal was done!

We were already well on our way down the A1 by this time, but Friday night on the A1/A14/M11/M25/M20 turned into a nightmare. We finally got home at 10:00pm!

So this is the house on the edge of the village of Fenton, it is at the end of a small cul-de-sac (six houses) with views across the open countryside.

There is one loose thread for the vendor to tie up on Tuesday with their purchase and then we should get the green light.

Saturday morning, Kim had arranged to do the hand over for Kate up at Swale Marina. The buyer had already transferred the money over at the beginning of last week and all that was left was to hand over the keys, paperwork and the numerous boxes of stuff we had in the garage. Everything went as planned and now that is the end of Kate. Well, as far as we are concerned. We are actually really pleased that she appears to have gone to someone who will cherish her and enjoy her as we would have done, if we had had the time.

Saturday, 22nd July 2017 – The Ups & Downs of Life At Present!

The loose thread for the vendor to tie up, as referred to in the previous blog entry, was to get their offer on their prospective purchase agreed. On Wednesday we got a call from the agent in Grantham to say they had failed to get an agreement and neither side would budge. This put our “dream house” at risk. We immediately started searching RightMove for a “Plan B”. This is when we started to get quite disheartened; we couldn’t see anything remotely suitable. We started to think we might have to go into rented in Grantham or – heaven forbid – the caravan. There is no way we want to lose our purchaser.

We now had to wait to see what the people in the house in Fenton did next. Hopefully they would stick with the sale side of it and, if necessary, they would go into rented. This now became a state of limbo and not knowing how it would turn out was very unsettling. As you will see in a minute this state of affairs was short lived, but not without more accompanying grief!

When Kim did the handover of Kate last weekend, he was not able to take the tender (rowing boat) up to the marina as it was too big for the roof rack, so he agreed with Kate’s new owner, who lives near the office Kim works at, to deliver the boat. This was to be done by borrowing a large Transit van from work on Thursday night, delivering the boat Friday morning and dropping the van back at work before returning home in his car which he had left overnight at work.

So far, so good, but when Kim arrived at the office late on Friday morning, he was greeted with the news that the company was going under, his company car had been sold and everyone would probably be out of a job by next week! He had to remove all our personal effects from the car and Wendy had to drive up to Northfleet and bring him home! It is all very sad really, as the company has been struggling for some time and whilst financially they could have pulled through, the rumour mill was in full torrent and that was destroying client/supplier confidence. When your suppliers desert you and your clients lose faith, you are doomed!

So we drove back home with the prospect of Kim being unemployed by next week and having lost his pride & joy – his car, plus the all important free fuel allowance. This isn’t quite as bad as it might seem, because he was going to give these up when we moved. It’s just that we hadn’t quite planned for it to happen so soon, especially as the mortgage will remain payable until we move.

There was a silver lining to Friday though, as on the way home the agent in Grantham called to say the people had submitted an increased offer and had it accepted. Oh joy! We are all back on track and hopefully, the sooner we can get moved, the sooner we can settle life back down again.

Today, Kim has been looking at cars, obviously he needs a car and we need something to tow the caravan with. Quite what next week will bring, we don’t know, but some respite from the roller-coaster ride of the last few days would be most welcome.

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