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03 January 2003 23:03

We've DONE IT!

For our appointment at the Notaire's office I searched through my extensive wardrobe, chosen in mid-August before all our stuff disappeared into store. I decided that the beige chinos were better than the trackpants, despite the missing top button repaired with a safety pin. I decided that I could wear the shirt outside the trousers, since the weather was quite warm and appropriate to the casual, laid back, English property magnate look. And it covered up the safety pin! Fortunately we encountered few large steel surfaces to which an English property magnate, or his safety pin, might stick, with the inevitable resounding "boing". Delectable Christine inevitably looked wonderful, if slightly bemused at the more esoteric points of French legal jurisprudence.

Our Notaire was young, female, and quite attractive and was thus able to dominate the proceedings amongst those horrid male chauvinist males who were thinking of anything but the niceties of Repartition du Droit de Propriété and Les Clauses Exclusives des Vices Cachés. So it was only a matter of time before we had read, initialled and signed umpteen pages, despite the valorous protestations of the vendor who thought that Christine should sign first, before he had formally undertaken to sell. Vive la différence! We received a bunch of keys and a promise that we may receive an authentic copy of the Acte de Vente in the fullness of time.

Equipped with an attestation de vente we went to France Telecom, ordered a telephone line, received a number, but we'll not be able to use it until 8th January. It all seemed rather amateur as if they really didn't know what they were doing but they were really nice and polite which made up for it all - there seems to be a sustainable pattern here! We also bought a digital wireless phone, without answering machine as there appears to be a gratuit "1571"-style service.

After a victualling run to Auchan we repaired to chez Andrew, where a tasty platter of sautéed chicken was washed down by a nice bottle of Moet & Chandon, by way of celebration, a smooth Gevrey-Chambertin (it's not illegal to drink Burgundy in 47, unlike 33!), and an entire bottle of 1989 Cruz vintage port.

So back to Chateau Caravan to report to higher command and listen to raindrops starting to soften that blasted mud even further.

Tomorrow - désenfoncer Chateau Caravan de la boue, redeploy to Tessel Bas and jump about yelling "it's mine" in front of bemused, beret-basque-advantaged local peasants and their bicycles and their strings of onions. Zut Alors! Les Anglais sont toujours fous, quoi!

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