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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Mr Piglet is often witness to money issues tearing families apart and has recently been a unwilling spectator in a very spectacular family bust up where a family is literally being torn to shreds for a few thousand Euros.

Having been through times where we’ve had no money, plenty of money and then no money again, I think I can say that I know what money is but I also know the value of it and its place in my life. It’s nice to have money, it certainly makes life easier, but it is not a priority when it comes to family. I personally would much rather have my family than money.

So going back to Mr Piglet story: He recently sold, or at least thought he had, a house to a young couple looking to buy their first home. The house was the result of a typical French inheritance. Father passes away, half the house goes to the children whilst the Mother remains living in it. These days’ children are spread out all over the place and the mother wished to remain living in her home even though she couldn’t maintain it. One of the children in a village nearby and took on the role as carer giver, caretaker and everything else that goes with looking after an elderly parent.

When the Mother passed away, the nearby daughter wished to purchase her siblings share of the property, but they couldn’t agree a price and therefore agreed that they would sell it and split the proceeds. So they put the property on the market a year ago with pretty much every local agent.

During this time, nobody really looked after the property. The winter was cold; the spring came with plenty of sun and rain, ideal conditions for making an overgrown garden. The property started to tire like it’s previous owners and started to look (and feel) neglected. Little efforts were made such as trying to mow the law and pulling up some weeds, but the property deteriorated and in a market where prices are falling, nobody was willing to pay the owners asking price.

So along came Mr Piglet with two keen buyers. They were young, keen DIYers which is quite rare for young couples in France, and were willing to take on the project. They knew they were somewhat limited by budget but they could see through the cobwebs and the weeds and spotted the potential which lay behind.

Mr Piglet negotiated the price with the lady representing the owners; he had checked that she had power of attorney to act on behalf of the other brother and sisters which she did. He negotiated his commission right now to a mere two thousand Euros which was not even 1.5%. He was happy though, as the house was a good deal and the young couple would settle nicely there but only had a very limited budget and the owners wouldn’t negotiate any further.

Then out of the blue, he received a call from one of sisters living abroad. The air became tense in the office and she refused to accept the offer. Apparently her sister, the care giver, was asking for a larger split than the other siblings and the other siblings didn’t want to accept.

In the following days, emails between the siblings ensued, a family row had really broken out and Mr Piglet was copied in absolutely every email. It was like a whole seasons worth of Dallas unfolding in his inbox – he was only missing the actors and it could have been a multi-million dollar television serial. I happened to read one of the latter emails and couldn’t believe how for the sake of the extra 2 000 Euros the care giver wanted, this family were willing to rip each other to shreds in front of a spectator with little care of regard for the fact that this was their parents home.

All they cared about was money, money and more money.

Is this really what our world has come to? It would appear to be yes, but please reassure me that there are people out there that place more value on family than money?

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…since I had any spare time to blog or to surf the internet. The hardest thing about being a working Mum is finding time for me. Baby Piglet takes up endless amounts of time and physical energy, then there’s work and at the end of the day I just kind of collapse in a heap on the sofa and fall asleep.

Work has been going well recently, after taking nearly a year off due to problems at the end of my pregnancy and the problems I encountered after giving birth, it feels good to be back and I’m enjoying the thrill of making things happen again.

Baby Piglet is well, she’s coming up to 11 months now, how time flies! I am starting to plan her first birthday party and turning Mr Piglet’s junk room into a playroom for her. She is still not walking or crawling and whilst I’m making the most of this relaxing time, I can see that she is itching to move and unfortunately she does get very frustrated. “Tummy time” was recommended to help build up her core muscles but bless her, as soon as I put her on her tummy she just flips over onto her back!

Little darling Baby Piglet appears to have a fierce independent streak which no doubt will bode her well in time but much to my dismay she decided to stop eating last week. After days of worry that she was ill I took her to the Doctor who cheerfully informed me that Mademoiselle was playing games and that there’s nothing wrong with her! Lo and behold she then proceeded to eat perfectly normally that evening. Score: 0 Mummy, 1 Baby Piglet.

She has also started chatting and saying Dada and Nanan very well. It’s ironic as Mr Piglet wanted to be called Papa and she says Dada perfectly and I wanted to be Mummy or Mama and she is desperately trying to say Maman but can’t get her tongue around the M. Oh well, I can cope with that as it’s helpful that she calls Dada when she wakes during the night.

As for the house, we’ve so much to do! The cold has finally gone, the heating is working and I’ve mastered the fire. The farmer mowed the fields and now we have to tend to the veggie patches, the grass and work out some sort of plan to plant a hedge. The first signs of spring here are all the weeds growing back, oh joy!

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Darling Baby Piglet

You’ve probably gathered from my past postings that I’m a first time Mum and that I like to do things as best as I can for my darling Baby Piglet.

I struggled for months with breastfeeding and finally had to admit defeat when my body required medication, I tended to every need my daughter had, lovingly changing nappies, sticking my hand out to catch sick and calming her through her clingy spells (generally when she teethes).

I also carefully prepared healthy and nutritious home cooked meals for her as I didn’t want to give her shop bought baby food, putting her on to formula for me was already a step to far.

All was going swimmingly well until Baby Piglet caught the dreaded gastroenteritis (which she kindly shared with me). After recovering she wouldn’t eat. I saw plate after plate of food I had so painstakingly prepared pushed away in disgust. She gagged, cried and shook her head in order to make me understand that she was having none of it.

Desperate and tired after being sick myself, I was in the supermarket racking my brains as to what I could prepare for her. “What’s the point?” I said to myself whilst scanning the baby food aisle for ideas. “She’s only going to spit it out again” I muttered whilst picking up a few jars of baby food and plonking them into my basket.

I reasoned with myself that she wasn’t going to eat them anyway so took them home, unpacked them and served up her first baby food meal of chicken and potato.

There was no pushing away, no spitting and no gagging. Baby Piglet’s mouth kept opening, wider and wider. Shell shocked, I tasted the food, delicious would be an exaggeration but it was certainly tasty. What had they put in this? The ingredient list revealed nothing untoward so I carried on feeding her.

With her appetite back, that evening I attempted another home cooked meal but was met with “boo-uh, boo-uh” – this was Baby Piglet’s way of expressing her dissatisfaction! “Great! So it really is my cooking that she doesn’t like” I thought to myself, all whilst feeling deflated, incompetent, a bad Mum and to top it off a bad cook!

The next day she had more shop bought food and then the day after some of my Mum’s Shepherds Pie which she loved. I tried some of my cooking again and was once again greeted with THE LOOK.

What a wonderful way to make you feel deflated, defeated and worthless. I had heard that being a Mother is a thankless task but my darling daughter had always been so gracious and loved my food!

So Baby Piglet spent a week of eating my Mum’s cooking, shop bought purees and bread until I plucked up courage to try and make her some salmon, potatoes and broccoli. Thankfully she gobbled it up so it seems as if I’m winning again.

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The Piglet family should (dramatic pause), normally have a home to call their own again from 15th March. We’re due to complete on the city pad sale on February 15th, meaning that we need to move out really by February 11th, meaning “OH MY GOD, I’M GOING TO BE HOMELESS IN 16 DAYS!!!”

It seemed to be the perfect time to have a baby, aged 28 + 31 we were settled in life, had stable businesses, a nice home and now we are going to be homeless! What went wrong?! First of all it took much longer than we thought to actually make a baby and then the world’s economy decided to continue to being bad. So here we are at ages 30 + 33 with a bun in the oven and homeless in a matter of weeks!

Fear not for the safety of Little Miss Piglet however, as we have found a house to buy! In fact, it was the house I first presented here back in November – ironically one of the first ones we saw after accepting an offer on the city pad.

Needs some softening, nothing some plants and pots can't sort!

You may remember our original wish list?

– spacious, ideally 200m2
– outbuildings
– rural but not isolated
– character building if possible (shouldn’t be hard in France)
– ADSL required!
– Not on a busy road
– No structural renovation required in the main property

Well this property ticks all the boxes except the busy road one. There is a busy road at the end of the garden, but the gardens 1.5 hectares big, so that’s quite a way away and with some hedge growing and clever gardening we should be able to block out a fair bit of noise.

Need some hedges here

Why we didn’t buy it back in November I do not know, it just seemed to early in the search and then we went on to the other property with dreams of running gites and the like so I guess we (more like I) got sidetracked in a dream world for a while. I’m still keen on the gites idea and we will have a barn which we will be able to convert eventually if I still want to do it.

Somewhere to make our wishes


Small but pratical, I will miss my current cupboard space


Dining room


A country feel...

We made our first offer on the property last week and by Monday we had agreed a sales price and completion date with the agent and vendor. Spookily though, ever since things have gone quiet and we are waiting for them to formally countersign the offer letter we sent them to send on to the mortgage bank (the mortgage bank have agreed to speed up the process of issuing our mortgage offer if we give them a copy of the countersigned offer letter).

We didn’t have any news from the agent yesterday and no news as yet so far today. Maybe this is just normal for France, I really don’t know but judging by our experiences so far it seems as if it might be, so I am trying not to panic just yet. Afterall, the vendors agreed to everything on Monday so why would they change their mind just yet?

I have to say though, everything is slow in the property process, here are a few more examples:

1. Removal company: we’re using a removal company to remove, store and then install our belongings. We contacted them on Monday morning first thing to confirm a removal date and we’re yet to hear back. We have chased.

2. Notary: we contacted our notary ref the property we’re selling on Monday to confirm a completion date for the signature of the Acte Authentique as we’d agreed with the purchasers that we’d complete on 15th February. So far, no confirmation from notary.

3. SAFER: The SAFER is an organization who have first refusal on all agricultural and rural land over a certain size, a bit like how the townhall has first right to buy a property when a sale agrees. The vendor has to contact the SAFER and inform them that the property and land is being sold and then it can take up to two months (!) for them to come back and contest the sale. Because of our desired completion date we had to request that the fast track service was used as opposed to the normal bog standard service. Nobody in the sales chain (notary or agent) mentioned this was possible, it is only our knowledge of this that enabled us to request that it was used.

4. Our bank (three letter word with lots of L’s): refused our initial mortgage application because they were still taking into consideration our existing mortgage when deciding whether or not to lend. They wouldn’t reconsider until we could provide proof that our city pad was definitely sold (ie our buyers had got mortgage finance). This was sent to them on Monday morning. Today, I left my 6th message and finally got a call back confirming receipt but still no news on the mortgage – thank goodness we have another source to go to but I do prefer the rates our bank offer!

I’m sure there will be plenty more examples of how buying property in France is stressful over the coming weeks but let’s be positive, everything can be dealt with! So far, I’ve decided the best way to ensure that things keep moving (thanks to my business experience) is not to let up on anything! Each morning I make a list of all the people that are important to my project and I call them to touch base or to remind them I’m waiting for an update. This would annoy me so much but in France I’ve decided it’s essential.

You just cannot rely on people to get back to you, you have to remind them constantly. Proof of this is the number of people who are able to give you an update there and then and yet they hadn’t contacted you. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot and by calling everyday they won’t bother to update, they’ll just wait for our call, but at the end of the day it’s me that wants to move in as quickly as possible so I may as well make the effort!

Finally I can start dreaming up colour schemes and decoration for the nursery!

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Thanks everyone for your recent support and tips for dealing with a bad back. Lots of rest, stretching, massages and heat have been paying off and I’m back in front of the PC as of today and for short periods at a time!

Today is also special for another reason: I enter my third trimester of pregnancy and my bump is getting bigger, so much so I am beginning to feel like a hippopotamus!

I have also decided that being pregnant is no fun, what with my bad back and having to follow a no sugar diet as I am really close to having gestational diabetes. The no sugar bit is a nightmare as all my cravings are for sweet things (in fact, I fancy a chocolate chip cookie RIGHT NOW) and so calming my cravings is impossible leading me to be in a permanent state of frustration.

I am sure all those women that tell me how being pregnant is wonderful were lying through their teeth and its all just one big conspiracy theory to keep the human race going. Surely no-one can enjoy being in this state or maybe I’m just exceptionally unlucky?

I am currently enjoying lots of baby movement although it is not amusing when she decides to dance at night. I guess the night dancing bit is my fault though as when I wanted to get her to move for my Dad I played some music on my tummy and ever since she has been dancing! Apparently our little Miss Piglet loves jigging around to M, “Le roi des ombres” just like her Mummy!

Also, the shopping part is really, really fun!!! Everyone has been warning me about going silly and buying too much stuff so I’m really trying to limit myself. I am having a bit of a problem resisting all the gorgeous dresses though, especially with summer coming:

Adorable dress that my Dad chose for little Miss Piglet

Mr Piglet and I are still currently homeless come February 15th but the good news of the day is that we have agreed a price on a property at last!!! Update coming soon…

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My Witch-In-Law

Almost exactly a year on, from my first post about The Grandmother, here I am again in a state of disbelief.

My Hubby’s Grandmother is certainly not my ideal vision of a French mamie, she doesn’t make jam, she smokes like a pompier and is the rudest, meanest French person I have ever had the bad fortune to come across in person on a regular basis.

One thing I will give her is she is sure damn consistent and she is an excellent dog trainer… read on.

A year of polite “bonjours” and me mostly ignoring her, has come and gone and there haven’t been too many upsets to speak of. We’d kind of settled down into a routine of just saying hi, and then having nothing to do with each other until now. But all that is to end, just like last year – June is obviously her witching month.

Every time I visit the Beaux-Parents, I absolutely dread her visit and was actually relieved at the beginning of the year when she had tripped up (over her broomstick?) and ended up in hospital for a few months. That is a really horrible thing to say and I do feel incredibly guilty for even thinking it, but you do not know how awful this woman is and how much upset she causes everywhere she goes. I will also add that she wasn’t ill at all, and was only kept in the hospital as she couldn’t care for herself at home due to broken bones – which mended incredibly quickly, hence confirming her status as a witch surely? She was up and walking around all over the place a week after going in!

Anyway, onto this weekend. As usual, she arrives and as is custom in this part of France, greets everyone with three pecks on the cheek. Standing next to my Sister in Law whilst she is greeted by the Witch, I wait expectantly my turn, breathing deeply, forcing myself to be calm. Then, in what seemed to be slow motion, the Witch turns to me, stares straight through me, her cold stone eyes hovering in my direction for a few seconds, and then continues turning and walks off. No “Bonjour” was muttered or sign of recognition given.

Rooted to the spot in total disbelief I just stood there gawping. I’d thought we’d got passed this and were at least on polite terms now.

Not so. And she’d obviously trained her dog. Still rooted to the spot, the dog charges at me and wees all over my feet, spraying my brand new shoes with almost fluorescent yellow dog pee (as if he’d been saving it up, especially for me!). I was speechless and then cried out “I don’t belieeevvve it!”, Victor Meldrew style.

The Witch then turned round, looked at me, rolled her eyes and walked off. Not a murmur of an apology. Thankfully Hubby came to the rescue and helped me wash my feet and shoes as I’d turned into helpless zombie like state, incapable to do anything so much I was seething with pure, white anger. The Witch had done it again.

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