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Keys to the door, and so much more!

Created: Tuesday, 31 July 2018 Written by Clare Gordon

We bought our house from Jean-Marie, 'un homme d'un certain age'. Don't you just love that phrase. So much nicer than 'an elderly man'.
Anyway, he sold us this house that he had known since the 1960's and he wanted to pass on so much more than the simple ownership.
He asked if he could spend the day with us prior to the final signing so he could introduce us to our new village.

The tour started with a visit to the local medical centre where we were presented to the receptionist who then looked a bit perplexed as the three of us stood in line to gaze over her head at the main reason for our visit. Behind her desk was an old black and white photo on the wall. 'Look', said Jean-Marie, 'on the left, you can just see your house amongst the trees.' True enough, with a squint and a bit of wishful thinking I could see that that might be the house.

Onward! The next visit was to The-baker-before-the-baker-before-last. He was charming and made polite conversation and welcomed us warmly to the village.

Next, The Man Who Knows Everything including, it appears, how to get into our house. He has held a front door key for as long as anyone can remember and it wouldn't be the done thing to request it back. Somehow I don't mind this font of all knowledge having it and at least I know I'll never be locked out!

At this point, energy depleted we called in to the local restaurant and Jean-Marie treated us to lunch while grilling us on our intentions for the house. It took a few moments for him to recover from the shock of discovering we were installing a swimming pool. A large Armagnac and the moment passed.

Revived, we sauntered out to go and admire the spring that feeds our nearest neighbour's stream. I'm not sure why.

The day wound on; a visit to the mairie to meet the receptionist who had been Jean-Marie' aunt's bridesmaid (oh, do keep up!) and M. le Maire - a delightful, energetic man full of big ideas for the village yet with a fine respect for history and tradition.

The day ended on a more touching and poignant note. We went to the village cemetery and were shown the grave of the man who had our house built in 1882 and, more importantly, the grave of Jean-Marie's aunt. As he was leaving the area he wanted our guarantee that we would put flowers on each grave each Toussaint (1st November) when french graves are decorated en masse. We, of course agreed.

That first year he came back on the 2nd of November to check. Our white chrysanthemums got a good report. He appears to be happy with our graveside manner, less so our French which has apparently got worse! Oh well, c'est la vie.

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