Caro's notes. April 2004
"Well then, in your budget range, we have only this ruin left. It is a rare opportunity and for complete renovation, a chance not to be missed. Sieze it now, otherwise other people will". This is the advice that the local real estate agencies give us. A "rare opportunity" is a dilapidated 18th/19th century farm house at a high price and the "other people" are foremost British.
After 4 weeks of house hunting in France, I am beginning to think that perhaps I'm too critical. Am I really? Should I not worry about renovating and putting most of our money in an old farm situated on the wrong side (smelly site) of numerous duck farms? Should I really not mind the fact that our prospective farm is only half a meter away from the next one (in the Gers, the least densely populated department of France)? Is it really not that bad that the view from the house - situated at the bottom of a hill - is a rather ugly water tower and that the house is very isolated?
I know a house cannot have everything on the wish list, but there are a number of things that I will not put up with. The house that Perry and I will buy is the one that will make me want to live there immediately, even if we have to put up with renovation activities for the next year or so. Until now, I haven't come across it. But, I am not alone. Perry has half a say in everything we do. That is one of the aspects that make this adventure very exciting.
Our thoughts about a project obviously differ. When looking at properties, I mostly first check out the view and the surroundings of the house and can therefore much quicker decide whether this will be THE house or not. Perry on the other hand prefers to check out the inside of the house first, and mostly sees lots of opportunities. But in my opinion, Perry and I can make a great place of any house/hut/farm/grange we lay our hands on, only the environment is something that we cannot change.
We have been here now for a month and haven't found anything we like, yet. But we have given it our everything and will keep on looking until we have found it. I cannot imagine that we will not succeed. Even though our chances diminish with each plane load of rich Brits all too ready to buy up everything without negotiating prices. I know I will not let this pressure me into making a quick decision. But will Perry be able to resist the pressure? It is too beautiful here to give up. But what if we are still looking in 3 months time.....?
In amidst of the hunting adventure I do enjoy being here. We have nice conversations with the locals who are gladly surprised by our knowledge of the French language when they find out we are foreigners. I truly feel at home in this specific part of the Gers. The landscape looks manicured and rough at the same time. Wildlife abounds. The sound of an aeroplane after 3 weeks of hearing nature doesn't go unnoticed. There are no traffic jams, in fact, not a lot of traffic at all. And people greet other passers by on the street; it is rude not to say "bonjour" to a total stranger!
And last but not least... I'm thrilled with the prospect of helping my first canin client, an English Setter, or should I say, I'm looking forward to meeting her owners. They live in a village not far from us, and I will hopefully have to some time to see them next week. The owners have a recall problem, (i.e. the dog runs off for hours) better get some Frolics (Dog sweets) to help them out!
There are people who tell me that it will be hard to be able to earn money in this field, simply because I wouldn't find anyone "wasting" money that way. Well, within 3 weeks after our arrival, I have proven them wrong already. And I might not get rich, but at least I might be able to earn a little on the side with something that I really like doing. And I feel very fortunate with that!
That's all folks, until such time, see ya