We have been very remiss in updating the blog over the winter but it has been a very eventful one.
On our return to the boat in September we spent many hours gleaning internet for houses and eventually ended up with a selection. We decided that as we wanted to check the weather in the various regions we had chosen for our search that we would return for Xmas (with the family) and look at our different choices.
Caryn also started a mammoth project of knitting 3 Aran sweaters with the O’Sullivan pattern. There was not much time to waste as 2 of them were to be Christmas presents.
The wool arrived in skeins so had first to be wound into balls. Attempting to use Svein for this long term was a no go so we scoured Kos town and eventually found a handmade winder in one of the small shops in town and the problem was solved.
Early December we travelled to France and after a short night’s rest started visiting the houses we had elected to see. On several days we drove several hours to visit at least one house and on several occasions even more but none seemed suitable. Many of them were situated in remote areas where it was impossible to walk to the shops and there were not many neighbours. One thing we discovered is that internet really does not tell the whole truth and this despite the fact that all the houses we had chosen we had found on Google map thus eliminating even more of the man y that we thought could be of interest.
Eventually we found one not 10 minutes from Caryn’s aunt in the town of Miramont. A house that needed work but had a garden that was protected by the house (in the front) and a large workshop (at the back) and near the church and 5 minutes walk from the town square. Our offer was accepted and we thought that all was well.
With the decision taken we could then relax and think about the festivities. It turned out to be a small and quiet Christmas and New Year but was very enjoyable and we were able to start to make plans for the future.
One significant event was that on the eve of our departure Caryn’s grandson Harrisson was born. A healthy and big boy but we would be unable to meet him on this occasion.
We returned to the boat to await the long process of purchasing the house but confident that we had found what we wanted.
In early February Svein travelled to Norway to give away his daughter on the occasion of her 2nd marriage. The theme was mediaeval and Svein entered into the spirit of it by hiring a costume
Whilst he was away there was a terrific storm but fortunately Caryn had some friends from Nisyros visiting and as their ferry could not depart they spent the weekend with her which was very reassuring.
On his return to the boat Svein spent many hours with a drawing programme redesigning the interior and the garden.
We also had the visit of long term sailors Steph and Andy on their boat Norna Biron who passed through Kos and we were able to show them a little of the island and also take them shopping so that they could stock up for the next stage of their journey.
Then the bombshell – the missing sister had been found (in France unless all inheritors sign the papers there is no sale) but she was ignoring all contact with the family and the solicitor. We decided to be a little more patient but our hopes were rapidly fading.
Caryn also managed to get Svein to have a pedicure and recorded the event for posterity. It is not likely to happen again!!
There was also weather that was mild enough to have a BBQ with the few liveaboards who were in the marina this winter. It was the opportunity to experiment with some new marinades. This was a Korean one which turned out to be very tasty and really tenderised the meat.
In the meantime Caryn’s sister Cheryl (living in California) announced that she was going to have a bi-lateral knee replacement and asked if Caryn could go over to help her both when she was in hospital (house and dog sit) and when she came out to get her over the first couple of weeks when she was not very mobile as should would have to be driven to therapy and various other appointments. With the operation planned for 4th April Caryn flew out to California just a few days after the atrocities of Brussels. She was thrown in at the deep end and had to familiarise herself with a car and the American road system. Fortunately there were no mishaps and all went well. Caryn also met her great niece and was also able to do a little sightseeing with a visit to Half Moon bay.
Whilst over in the States and with still no news of the missing sister we took the decision to start looking again in case the problem was not solved. Svein booked tickets for us to leave on 25th April and we had found a house that we were really interested in in a village not too far from Caryn’s aunt at an incredible price.
Caryn had a very quick turnaround arriving from the States on 24th April and leaving again on 25th. Just enough time to change the clothes in the suitcase and repack. After an uneventful journey that took us from Kos to Bordeaux via Athens and Crete we arrived back in France determined not to leave this time before we had found something.
After settling in and visiting the new conservatory that had been installed in our absence (Svein had designed it during our Christmas visit) we were able to admire the garden and enjoy it whilst be well sheltered from all weathers.
Scampi (Mary’s parrot) was delighted with his new home and can now spend hours watching the birds and supervising that there are no intruders in the garden
Scampi became great friends with Svein who was able to walk him in the garden in the evenings whilst he perched on his shoulder.
On our first day we visited the local garage who had been looking out for a car for us and we purchased a Peugeot 807. We had wheels and could drive it back to Greece when we were ready so that we could empty the boat of what would be needed in the house.
On the next day we visited a house in a village called La Sauvetat du Dropt and fell in love with it. Our quest was over. We put in a very cheeky offer and we very surprised and delighted that in under 24 hours our offer was accepted. This time we made sure that there there no hiccups.
It was now a question of getting the first papers signed so that there could be no withdrawal or hiccups and then we could return to Greece for a season of sailing. Svein has made a video of our visions for the house,if anyone is interested. Go to the video section of our blog to view it. Whilst we were waiting for the wheels to be set in motion we kept ourselves busy by helping Caryn’s aunt in the garden and Svein did several jobs round the house for her. There was a corner of the garden that she wanted to develop so we came up with the idea of our own personal wink to the Olympic Games. There was also time to relax under the wisteria in full bloom.
Whilst we were waiting for the date for the first signature we took a little time off to visit our good friends in the Vendee Angela and Barry. When there we visited the biggest nursery in France that supplies all the motorways and town councils with their shrubs. It was a fascinating place with every imaginable plant and tree and their topiary work was really to be envied.
We also had the good fortune to visit some local antique shops and flea markets and were able to purchase 3 full length mirrors and 6 dining room chairs for a very modest sum. These we took back with us in the car to stock at Caryn’s aunt’s house.
The date for the first signature had arrived so we drove to Bergerac where the solicitor was based and discovered that there were, in fact, 11 inheritors involved in the sale. They had had the good sense to appoint a representative which made life much easier. There was however a hiccup of the last minute when the solicitor discovered that the legal drawing of the allotment had a dotted line instead of a full one which meant that the garden was in the public domain. Fortunately the problem was resolved within 48 hours. We were also lucky enough to have access to the keys so whilst waiting for the completion date (last week of August) we were able to visit the house and take measurements whilst also calling in workmen to have estimates made for the windows (double glazing), electricity (re-wiring), plumbing (new bathroom) and central heating (new boiler). We also visited the Ikea store in Bordeaux where we studied the possibilities for kitchens and cam away with some good ideas. We have also visited local shops to check out tiles and other equipment that will be needed so it seems that our ideas and colour schemes are coming together already. Hopefully it will make it much easier (and quicker??) once we start the work.
There was nothing more we could do so we packed up the car and started our journey back to Greece. We had booked the ferry from Ancona to Patras as would book the final stage of the journey when we got to Greece. We left on the first stage of the journey to Port Saint Louis du Rhone where we wanted to look up some friends and shortly into the journey the problems began. The car suddenly had no surge. The garage where we had bought the car was closed so we called into a garage in Marmande who did a diagnostic but unfortunately they did not have the part. As there was no danger we continued on our journey and at a motorway stop we googled the garages in the area where we were going and contacted them so that they could order the part and we could have the work done.
We arrived to stay the night and catch up with our friends Patricia and Patrick and after a good night made our way to the garage for the repair to be done.
We left the car and walked into Martigues to wait and on our return to the garage they told us they had replaced the piece but the problem was still there. They were unsure how long it would take to find so suggested that we book ourselves into a hotel for the night and wait. They kindly found us a hotel and drove us there. We registered and prepared to wait. However at 14h30 they rang us to say that they had found and repaired the fault. We were driven back to the garage and collected the car. A pipe had been sweating and that had caused the problem. We had a deadline to reach Ancona for the ferry but fortunately had given ourselves a 24 hour leeway.
We continued on our journey driving along the South coast of France and into Italy. However the motorway on the Italian side is not one we would recommend. We decided to stop for the night in a small town called Voghera where we found a quirky hotel and a very good restaurant. After a good meal and a good night’s rest we carried on to Ancona and were in good time for the ferry.
Once we arrived in Patras, after 24 hours on the ferry, we booked our tickets for the last stage of the journey and started driving towards Athens. We knew that we had to spend the night somewhere on the way so chose Corinth. Just before we reached our destination the car showed the same problem again. We found our hotel and asked them if they knew of a Peugeot or Citroen garage who could look at the car. It is so filled with electronics that not just any garage can be used. They directed us to a garage and he proceeded to try and find the fault. After a couple of hours and a trial run he had repaired the hose and we started out again. After 10 minutes driving the problem appeared again so, as we still had some time, we turned around and went back to the garage. The time for a coffee and refreshing drink the car was repaired and, touch wood, has not shown the fault again. Caryn contacted the garage where we bought the car and he knew of the problem!!!!! When we return to France we will take the car in for a once over to check that it does not reoccur.
We continued driving and reached Piraeus in good time for the ferry. We were so horrified by the refugee camp that has now grown on the harbour perimeter that we drove through the harbour and went and had lunch at a little restaurant that we know in the vicinity only returning to the boar when we were we could drive straight on. Once settled in our cabin we had a good night’s rest before being awakened to disembark at Kos.
We found the boat just as we had left her. It now only remains to get her ready to sail and to stock up. We can now begin our holiday.
This blog is being written whilst we are in Nisyros – our favourite island. We have been relaxing here and seeing old friends and meeting new ones and also planning the programme for work on the new house. The completion date is 31st August so work can start on 1st September and already the order for the new garden door and double glazed windows has been placed.
We had to wait here for a new dinghy to be delivered as ours decided to give up the ghost just after our arrival here. It has duly arrived and we are now ready to continue.
We must be back in Kos for 15th August at the latest so that we can clear the boat of what we are to take back to France.
Not sure when the next blog will be written but we will shortly be starting a new adventure.