The Big Move; It Is Really Happening! A Bientôt Angleterre!
The Notaire (solicitor) had been busy raising the appropriate paperwork and arranging all the necessary surveys which must be carried out on the plot and all its' buildings to collate for the final signing. Reports and paperwork collated within the final dossier (file) and which made up the final "Acte de Vente" (sale) contract included the following:
Performance ènergetique (energy performance)
Assainissement Non Collectif - a survey of the sewage systems (conducted by SPANC - Service Public d'Assainissement Non Collectif)
Etat des Risques Naturels et Technologiques - Natural and Technological Risk Report
Etat des installations électriques - Electrical Report( and drawing up the "Vente" (the final agreement on the sale of the property which includes all details of surveys
Presence de Termites - Termite Presence Report
Constat de Risque d'Exposition au Plomb - Exposure to Lead Report
A Copy of the Cadastral Plan (A plan which identifies all parts which make up the property - The cadastral plans for any French property can be easily found and printed from the internet.
The "Vente" agreement itself
In our case, being a rural property surrounded by farm land, also included was a (very expensive!) letter which had been sent to SAFER - (Société d'Aménagement Foncier et d'Etablissement Rural), the French land agency, as they have first dibs over any rural property and so must be informed of any rural sale. They have 2 months in order to make their decidion, so even with the processed we had taken, during this time , they had the right to snatch it from under our noses if they wanted and the vendor was happy to sell to them, which at least they are not obliged to!
We had been in chats with the vendor, who was having to organise the move to his new property and the suggested date of 10th December 2012 was agreed by the Notaire for us all meet together at the Notaire's office, sign the contract and for the keys to be handed to over to us! That was it, we had a move date!
Then came the endless packing (again! We had only recently made the move to my father's house as a temporary solution whilst waiting for everything to go through). Absolutely everything we owned, all carefully and methodically packed away into what seemed to be an endless mount of cardboard boxes and labelled clearly until it would be re-opened again the other side of the pond! The support we had from certain friends and family was amazing! My father (who had already let us share his home and put up with us and all our paraphernalia for three months), helped organise a removals van and offered to drive it over to France with us and help us move. I would be driving my car and Scott his van, so we were extremely grateful of his offer!
Just two weeks before the big move, when en route to the airport to pick my father up in the torrential rain, Scott had an accident on the motorway. Goodness knows how he managed to come out without a scratch, but I know I was thanking my lucky stars that night! It was one of those situations where if he had not have made the actions he did when he did, things could have been horribly different. Someone was certainly watching over him that night! It made us both realise just how important it is to grasp every moment and cherish it, making it even clearer to us that the adventure we were just about to embark on was so definitely meant to be.
The car (which was booked on the ferry in two weeks) was a write off. Fortunately, with my father being in the motor industry, he was able to source a replacement for me quckly and at a reasonable price, so I still had a car to get myself, Summer, our cat, Mojo (complete with passport and microship - a necessity when travelling to the EU with an animal) and all our luggage over to our new home. I managed to get it registered, taxed and services just in the nick of time and picked up the tax disc from the DVLA office (which we were lucky to be near to!) literally the day before we were due to leave!
Scott's father (who had already offered us a great deal of support up to this point), brother and nephew came to help us load up the two vans ready for the big journey. Both vans were absolutely full to the brim and there were still bits to come back and grab at our next visit (which would be in only 2 weeks as we would be spending Christmas with the family in England!)
In the run up to us leaving, we made sure that we saw all the people who are most important to us - the paramount being our family. With two sets of parents each (OK, one set already in France) - all grandparents to Summer, and a great grandmother too, not to mention the siblings, nephews, neices, aunties and uncles who are all so dear to us - not only was it difficult to squeeze in seeing everyone, but also probably the most emotional time of our lives. I didn't like to see it as saying goodbye as for starters, we knew we'd be back for Christmas and that helped lessen the blow hugely, but at the back of our minds, we knew that after Christmas, with all the things we would be committed to doing in France, it would be a much longer stretch before we would be back again.
For me personally, probably the most painful goodbye which brings a tear to my eye just to think of now is my sister and neice (Summer's cousin and already so clearly her best friend, as I am with my sister). We are so very close and I wasn't sure my sister understood why I had made the choice I had. It was so hard. They were the last people we visited and the house we left to make that final journey to the ferry in Portsmouth.
Even when you know you are not really going to be that far away and there are places in Britain which take longer to get to, it doesn't make it any easier. People move to Australia with their families the other side of the world all the time and we were going to France, just across the water!
It is just knowing that it was going to be a huge and difficult transition for all of us to have to adjust to and it was our decision to move that was making it difficult. The idea that I would no longer be able to pop in for a cup of tea, chats and cuddles with my neice and be there within 20 minutes was painful. But I had to bare in mind that there are other ways of contact - phone, skype, email and those all important holidays and visits where we believed we would gain more quality time together for longer periods of time. We all have busy lives to lead and it is hard to find that quality time with the everyday commitments of your own family, friends and work to fit it around.
If there was any reason that I might not have made the decision to move, for me, it would have been my sister and niece, or if I felt it would be a detriment to Summer in any way. But the way we saw it was that we would all have the best of both worlds. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't go through life making decisions based on others and I had to think selfishly on this one - I wanted to be brave and try. If it didn't work, at least we could say we tried and did our best. I just did not want to be left questioning "what if?"
It was just as painful watching Scott say goodbye to his family - especially his Mum and his Nan, where there were tears and big, long embraces.
But, we weren't saying goodbye, just see you later ("à bientôt").