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Once a hovel...


Hello all! I’ve been a bit pre-occupied lately. OH was home and we went to Scotland…and got things done at home, which was GOOD!

But, then a neighbour threw me a googlie! He brought me a book. It was all about our market town, Chalais, and the surrounding villages…as they were at the end of the nineteenth century.

Two plates immediately jumped out at me.

They were photos of my house…over a hundred years ago!

This one was obviously sent home as a souvenir/postcard.The caption reads, “The sender participates in a grand tour of the South West. The habitat seems well delapidated. An old corner of Chalais…or anywhere…”.

Delapidated, indeed! My house was a hovel in 1907…

This second photo really fascinated me, though…what is that wooden contraption in the lean-to? And…I don’t know if you can make them out, but, scratched on the wall, behind the family, appear to be the letters “NAD…”

This caption reads, "The second frame, taken the same day, indicates that a ‘black-smith’ is settled in the hamlet, as the “work” to shoe the cattle tells. This fete day at Guildon, Médillac, these ladies have brought out their beautiful bonnets and the gentlemen their elegant costumes. Perhaps it might stir a marriage?"

I had to do some digging, didn’t I?

The contraption is the “work”. Oxen can’t stand on three legs (like a horse) whilst being shoed. They have to be lifted in a travaille – a wooden cradle. I didn’t even know that work oxen were shoed…but, indeed, they wore two iron “slippers” on each of their front legs.

As for the elegant ladies and gentleman…they, clearly, didn’t live in my house…!

But, Jean Nadeau, the blacksmith did…with his wife Marie. They were married in 1892, when he was 28 and she was 17 years old. They had many children, of which only four survived into adulthood. The baby Marie is carrying in the photo was one of twins, born the year before. Sadly, he died the following year. The girl sitting on the bridge remained in the area, whilst two brothers and a sister moved up north. Jean died in 1919, aged 55 and Marie died some years later…in another commune.

So, I’ve been trying to find the connection between this family and the 6th cousins of the women who lived here before me who, ultimately, inherited and sold us our house. It takes me to Loiret. My neighbour has a surname which belongs only there! As did the grandmother of the old ladies who used to live here.

It’s soooo complicated because there are so many family connections…and it was all before the war…and, not many people could write…so, the spellings are different, according to how the clerk wrote them!

I think that I’m not going to find out very much…after all, it took a gealogist to find the heirs…but, then, he was only looking up (?) the tree as far as he needed to.

I’m absolutely hooked…and it’s not even my family!!!

More blog posts by karenfrance

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Wow Karen, really fascinating to find out that..

21 Jul, 2013


How very interesting, Karen. I'm not at all surprised that you are intrigued by the history of your house which - to be fair - you have improved somewhat!!! (Well, at least it doesn't semble bien delabre!) and its occupants. Good luck with your research.

21 Jul, 2013


Yeah, fascinating. I love following stories like that, we have a tv programme similar to this. I love watching it, especially when they find all the connections, hope you get all the answers you are looking for.

21 Jul, 2013


That would really fascinate me too Karen. The house we had in Dundee (you know the place) was built in 1937 for two flat above, one below. The downstairs sister taught piano there, and one of my best deceased.....was taught by her. Another friend...who now makes her living as a medium....heard the spirit of that piano teacher playing music when she visited me one day. she didn't know the story...she thought it was me playing my I taught singing in the same room in which the original lady had taught piano. in fact, I had popped to the loo and heard nothing. I never heard anything, ever, but I think that lady would have been happy to have another musician in the house! ;) Keep digging...all this stuff is so interesting, and you've taught some of us about the cattle shoeing contraption!

21 Jul, 2013


That is fascinating Karen, I also love to read the history of such places, so to find the pics of your home would have set me along the same route, enjoy your research and please keep us posted...

21 Jul, 2013


Yes Snoop, its a shame that happened, I miss his daily blogs...

21 Jul, 2013


Thats really fascinating and I can understand why you are hooked on finding out more, how delightful to have some photos.
Our previous house was built in 1936 and the boy who laboured for the builder came to repair our fences after the 1987 Hurricane. He told us as a 14 year old boy he had written on the plaster in our kitchen. When we had a new kitchen in 1994-5 we found under the tiles written on the plaster was his name age what he had done on the house some of which was still readable even with very bad/odd spelling and that he had lost a ha'penny under the bedroom floorboards.

21 Jul, 2013


That is rather touching, Drc. We found "to suite [sic] purchaser" written in the plaster of one of our bedrooms, in very florid handwriting. These things always fascinate.

21 Jul, 2013


I love this kind of stuff - I do hope you get to the bottom of it. Did the genealogist supply you with the information he gleaned? There might be a few clues in there.
Try church records - they are often the most interesting. If they are anything like the church records here in Scotland you'd be amazed at the stuff they record.
Would the French have the equivelant of Sasine Records?

Good luck!

21 Jul, 2013


Hallo everyone!

And, thanks think I thought it was a hovel when we bought it! lol!

Oooh, Karen...don't make me go to that goosepimply place! They might still be around, but, there's nothing bad here...just good vibes, like your old house...things move around, sometimes...!

The forge was taken down...but, when? I don't know, but it was after 1919 (which was when Jean Nadeau died...could it have been the big flu epidemic that saw him off?).

It was a huge building...which is my back garden now...

...but, it's really more intriguing... hinges on Cècile Josèphine Bruneau (née Sallet...or Sallé, or Salé or Sallez or Saller, or....) and her daughter, Julia Josèphine (née Bruneau) Metayer, or Metiaé or Metaier or Metivier!

And, Julia was widowed, after the birth of Adrienne...and went in to have two more children...Gisêle and Henri Joseph (fathers unknown)...

...yet, only the two girls inherited - despite having different fathers...and the boy ends up in the north, in the same place as one of the Nadeau boys!

You have to follow it up, don't you Lincs...

...and even the name intrigues you, Denise?

But, confused? I, am, definitely!!!

21 Jul, 2013


Hi Angie :)

No church records here...but there is the Mairie!

Unfortunately, if the person you're looking for came from somewhere else, or went somewhere else, you have to know where!

Plus, there was a revolution and two wars, which made big holes in the archives...:/

21 Jul, 2013


Was there once a 'Poor House' like we had here as they kept records?

21 Jul, 2013


There was, Denise - in Angoulême, Barbezieux and Bordeaux. And I've found loads of records of local people adopting children from these institutions. It's always marked on the marriage (or, more often, death) lines.

There are two illegitimate children in my research...but, one of them inherited, along with the legitimate first born of the three...(the two girls). I just can't figure it out.

Except, maybe, Gisêle's papa (unknown) was the land-owner and made provision for Julia and her two (at that time) children.

21 Jul, 2013


Might the wills be recorded? Another option might be if any of the males were in the military. Obviously I know nothing of French records :) but I'm trying to think of ways I found info on my ancestors.
If the landowner was similar to large estates over here Karen, there may be records kept of the whole estate and those who provide services or worked for them at some point.

21 Jul, 2013


Most interesting. I was working for 12 years on my mother's family history. Am now starting on my own grandfather's life story, as I never knew him. He was the Town Crier of Oakham, Rutland. Seems Emily Pankhurst went there to make a speech early in her 'Votes for Women' campaign, and he took her home for tea. So she sat in the living room of their house I have known all my life. Local newspapers can give some interesting information- if they had them in France at that time Karen.
I wonder if Oxen were fitted with shoes in this country ?

22 Jul, 2013


This is so interesting Karen..and you are doing so well with your research..I'm really looking forward to your next discovery,and knowing your home has such a fascinating History is wonderful..keep us informed on your progress :o)

22 Jul, 2013


Someting at the back of my mind about that Diane.....when they walked the cattle miles ?

Absolutly fascinating Karen........will follow your research with interest. :0)

22 Jul, 2013


There are no wills here, Angie. Under Napoleonic law all property is divided equally among the remaining spouse and children. If there are none, the genealogist looks back the tree until nearest living relatives are found. It's still like that now...not good for us Brits...especially in second marriages!

That's really interesting too, Diane! I've found a web-site called geneanet, which has loads of information. If anyone else is researching the same families or people, you'll find them there.

Hi Sandra and Pam!

The records for Médillac and the surrounding communes have been put on line, which is how I found Jean Nadeau. The archives for Loiret have also been put on-line...but, they haven't been transcribed and it's a whole departement...and it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Extended families tended to marry within a few other extended the same four surnames keep coming up...and nobody is mentioned until 100 years have passed since their birth. The oldest sixth cousin mentioned in my deeds was born in 1914 - so not long to wait!

I meant to ask...what happened to Dungy? Has he closed his account?

22 Jul, 2013


Fascinating stuff Karen, looking forward to hearing more. My last house was an old cottage and there were lots of photos of it taken around 1900. The village used to put a display on in the church for the annual fete :o)

22 Jul, 2013


That's brilliant, KF! Maybe "NAD" stand for "not altogether dilapidated".
Our house, up until about 35 years ago was the village school, and all the older (and not so old) people around here have stories to tell about sliding out of the classroom window when the teacher's back was turned, jumping down onto the pigsty roof and running off through the fields. The upstairs, where our bedroom and the 2 bathrooms are, was once a huge room where the children were taught dancing, which we find rather charming in what must always have been a predominantly farming area. During WW2, the big house next door was German headquarters, and partisans were hidden in the cellars and "priestholes" of our house - they were found, and the owners shot and the house torched, but it's difficult to burn solid oak and stone. We found traces of the fire when we were renovating, though, and when we cleaned out the well, we found rusty and dismantled pistols and cartridges where they'd been thrown when the Germans were searching. We still dig up spent bullets rom time to time when planting cabbages. Before that, it was an unofficial knocking shop-cum-inn, and before that, the "Casa signorile" which probably mean that the village posh people lived in it. It was built in 1856. Two houses up from us, a very famous national hero, Ivo Lollini was born, and his decendants are still our neighbours. I really wish we had some photos like yours, Karen: hearsay is not nearly as interesting.

22 Jul, 2013


Nothing like historical societies or libraries that we have here?

As to Dungy, Scrumpy graham had a go at him and he went....We tried to tell him to just ignore him but he seems to have gone

22 Jul, 2013


Are there no historical societies or libraries as we have here?
Thats where I,d go in this village for info.

As to Dungy, scrumpy graham said a few things and dungy went, we tried to tell him to ignore him but.....
I don't think he has closed his account though

22 Jul, 2013


Newspaper reports and heresay are not reliable research Karen. You have to check and double check every thing you find before moving on to the next query. In this country the Census Records were usually taken by the village priest, as he knew everybody. Even so my maternal gt. grandparents both lied about their ages when they applied to get married as the limit was 21 years at that time, if they didnt have parents' consent. Seems they didnt.
All his life my Gt.Grandfather put his age on documents as 2.5 years older than he really was. When he died that age was put on the newspaper reports and his silver coffin plate !
But I have his Birth Certificate.
Sorry about the poor people in Gattina's house. We are so lucky, the RAF save us, and the Germans never came here.

22 Jul, 2013


I wish you well in your search Karen, we all await with as much anticipation as you I think :) - I appreciate how difficult it will be. My father's mother is German and met my grandfather at the end of the war. Being that they are from a tiny place in what we know as East Germany -I only have family stories to go by and hit a brick wall. I made contact with an elderly gentleman - who remembered the family and was a cousin (I think), he sent me a lot of copies of old papers etc. but all were written in old german and are practically illegible. I could not find anyone who could read and translate old German here in the UK.

22 Jul, 2013


Sorry to hear about Dungy, not the first or last i expect, to have a run-in with Scrumpy, myself included..

22 Jul, 2013


Oh...that's really a shame about Dungy. He's my nearest neighbour on GoY and I do enjoy his blogs, too. He might still be having a wee look in from time to, Dungy, if you're reading come back - you can see that you are missed!!! x

It is fascinating to find the history of our houses, Annie. In those days, I'd have been sitting on the bridge with Jeanne and her family...and not strolling around in an elegant costume and a new hat! lol!

I bet there isn't a school, even within walking distance, now, Gatti. It's the same here. Mostly, the old schools serve as the Salles de Fête, these days. And...mostly, the "ancients" don't talk about the WW2 - they had a really hard time around here. It was probably the same in your village...not "occupied" as such...but amounted to the same thing for the people who lived there.

Where I live was on the limits of Vichy and occupied France. The "Resistance" was very active in this area. And, the "ancients" do get going a fête in the old school, after the eau de vie has been flowing...and then they tell stories.

There's a property in the next commune - a beautiful building...with a tennis court. It was bought by an English family who wanted to put a swimming pool on the site of that tennis court. There was much consternation and "losing" of applications... Finally, it came to light (in the Salle de Fête, lol) that the house had been occupied by German soldiers during the war. The local men had all hidden their guns (under pain of death) and as soon as they heard that the war was over, they shot all the soldiers...buried them...and put a tennis-court over the top. Needless to say, the tennis court is still there...but, very delapidated...

You're so right, Diane. Britain never had to endure occupation...or having whole villages burned out...

That's why there are so many "missing bits", Pam. My "spoken" French is pretty good...but, when it comes to reading old archives...I'm pretty much at sea...

I do have a bag full of old photos of this house, though. And the folk who lived here (well, Madame Huret's family)...because, the six sixth cousin inheritors were ancient and didn't care when they (didn't) clear the house. They (or their off-spring) took everything of value...and left everything else tied up in big bed-sheet bundles! I did go through it all and kept all the photos and documents. Mr Huret was awarded "Chevalier d'Honneur", by Charles Degaulle! The medal is gone but I still have the certificate.

I think it's all under the bed...and I think that I should go through it all again, in the light of what I've found out...

22 Jul, 2013


Oops! Cross-over again!

Angie, my best friend in Scotland is in a similar position to you. Her (German) father was shot down and sent to work on a farm just north of Stirling. Her mum and dad got together...and, in the meantime, East Germany was annexed by Russia. Her parents divorced, some time later, (he went back) and she only met her father and his family after the Berlin Wall came down. She's only a few years older than me so, thinking about it, her dad couldn't have been more than about 17 years old at the time. I have met him and his German wife...they're famous for not letting anything go to waste... was tough there too...

22 Jul, 2013


Booboosmum...we've all had problems with individuals on GoY , at some time or another. There are those who don't have a community spirit (and we all know who they are). Don't let them get you down...the rest of us are still here!!

And, we're nice :) x

22 Jul, 2013


I found your blog so interesting Karen. I didn't know they shod working cattle either & so glad the contraption was not a guillotine, with the blade missing! Can you post a pic as your house is at the moment? Perhaps you already have done & I haven't seen it, in which case I apologise.There's always so much to keep up with on with GoY, & I don't always manage it. Too much to do in the garden!

22 Jul, 2013


Hello Feverfew :)

Guillotine was exactly what flittered into our minds first, too! lol!
Too late, in history, I know...but, it does have a look of "the gallows" about it, doesn't it?

That was why I had to find out...!

I used to have lots of photos of how my house looked, when we bought it...and, as we did it up...

...but, they're all in my defunct ex-computer...(hopefully) being retrieved, as we speak...although, it has been some time now, since it was taken away...

...but, I do have old photos...from the 1950s... :)

I'll dig them out! :)

22 Jul, 2013


Some information may be available through the Deeds and at the Land Registry or your equivalent?

22 Jul, 2013


I had a real battle to leave my flat to my family, stating that it was not to be sold, but kept as a family asset, as houses are in Austria. I am told there are only 3 Estate Agents in that country because houses are never sold.
Solicitors here have portfolios of elderly people who own houses. They are after the commission for selling them. I was thrown out of 2 solicitor's offices, real nasty, before I found one who would do what I wanted.
But family research teaches you to study documents, and even she tried to trick me with the wordage.
I had paid for it, and I had it retyped to my instructions.
So old Napoleon Bonaparte was up to the same tricks too.
Worse than Vultures they are.

22 Jul, 2013


I find this sort of thing very interesting. I hope you'll be able to find out more.

22 Jul, 2013


Yes - it's a really interesting thread to follow. I hope your searches are fruitful.

22 Jul, 2013


I wouldnt accept being told how to leave your property because it is in France or anywhere else. You and OH have worked hard to pay for it. Its yours, the same as an umbrella or any other possession. There must be a way round this problem. More research needed.

23 Jul, 2013


You learn all the time on this site. I'd no idea that there were so few estate agents in Austria, because of not selling their houses. The solicitors in Britain should do whatever you want. That's their job & what you pay them for.

24 Jul, 2013


You are quite right, KF, the roads are often blocked by big school buses ferrying children around from all over the area. The nearest schools are about 14 kilometers away in either direction.
You're right, too, Diane, this area suffered dreadfully badly in the war years after Italy switched sides against Germany. There were 11 teenagers in this village machine-gunned as a form of reprisal, and the parents made to wait days before they were allowed to pile the bodies onto a farm cart and bring them to bury them. Little Maria (now 94) lost almost her entire immediate family, and although you will be told about it if you ask, the locals don't seem at all bitter about it: it was war. The house next to ours hasn't been lived in since '45, and, apparently, in the cellars, there are drawings done by the poor young German soldiers, many of them not much more than children themselves, of Christmas trees and decorations, and little messages to "Mutti und Vati - Denken Sie sowohl an Weihnachten" (thinking of you, mum and dad, this Christmas) and other, dreadfully poignant and unhappy, homesick sentiments. Thinking how hard the winters are here, they, too, were probably freezing and very unhappy. On the wall of a little house in the back streets of Bologna, near where daughter lives, is a little plaque commemorating, not local heroes and martyrs, but four very young German soldiers trapped and burned alive when the area was bombed in 1944. I find that little act of mourning your enemy very touching and emotional.

24 Jul, 2013


They always say if the warmonger were made to go to war it would soon stop......

24 Jul, 2013


Hello everyone!

Guess what? I've found Cècile and her daughter, Julia! In the Loiret and in different communes! And, I've found the acte de mariage of Cècile and Henri Joseph, Julia's father - so I now know the names of all of their parents and two of Henri Joseph's brothers.

And I think I may have found a cousin of Cècile. I can't research her parents because the were born in 1812 - and there are no records from that time...Henry Joseph's parents were even older, being 71 years old when he married Cècile (at 33 years old)- so, I might never find them...

I have our deeds to the house, in the house...and all the names of the six inheritors match the names of the families who witnessed the actes de naissance, décès and mariage, of Cècile, Henri Joseph and Julia.

So, I think I might be close to finding out whether or not there was an ancestor in common between Jean Nadeau and Adrienne, Gisele and their younger brother Henri Joseph II (I've no idea what happened to him!)... takes time though, because you have to know, roughly which years are pertinent (and search an extra year or two either side) and you have to know in which communes to look. Plus you have to download each page of the original registers one at a time - they haven't been numerised yet!

...I'm beginning to think not...

Henri Joseph was a cantonnier on the railway...and Julia's husband (Jean Metayer - the father of only Adrienne) also worked on the I think that may be how they came to be here. Jean Metayer might have been from around here or have come down with her from the luck on that one yet...

But, there are more questions than answers!

Back to Napoleonic Law and the division of heritable property! (They are considering changing this for foreign nationals, btw, and allowing property to be divided according to the law of that nation - but, I'm not holding my breath). As each property is divided, each "parcelle" is given a number...

Our house, barns and garden consist of five "parcelles".

Adrienne was, originally, considered the proprietaire of only one of them (my living room, dining room and kitchen - plus the "granary" upstairs - that's the vacant window on the upstairs, right of the second photo.) because she had had the property " since time immemorial"...

...but, Gisele inherited three parcelles (my bathroom and downstairs bedroom ( the door you can see under that window) - it was a separate house when she lived there, but only because they fell out and blocked up the door! Plus, the site of what was our garage and the barns)...only in 1949! She, then, sold two of them to Adrienne in 1958...but, how did she come by her parcelles? Julia didn't die until one of the houses...
...and where was Henri Joseph II?

Were they owned by Gisele's "unknown" father? If, so, how come Adrienne was in possession of the main part of the house?

The fifth parcelle (our pool garden) was bought by Adrienne from a woman (born in Val d'Oise) in 1979. Nothing comes up on her, at all!

Adrienne inherited Gisele's house in 2005...and, so, owned the whole lot, in the end...until the six sixth-cousins got it...

Phew...I don't really know if any of this makes any sense to you all...if it does, HELP! lol!
...or if you're now bored to death with details!

My head's burling...and my eyes are burning from trying to read formal French written in pen and ink!

Sorry to way-lay you, Diane and Gatti - I think we need your blogs on your histories too, because each one is fascinating in its own right! :)

24 Jul, 2013


It's hard to believe how hard things have been for people, Europe...even as recently as the wars in what was Yugoslavia...

..."modern" times... :/

24 Jul, 2013


I seem to remember hearing that the guillotine was in use up until the time the death penalty was abolished in France, Karen - quite recently, I think, some time in the 1970's or 80's. If you must kill people, I reckon it was one of the kinder ways, actually.
The inheritance system in France sounds quite similar in a lot of ways to the Italian one. When we were house hunting, we came across a few examples of houses owned by a whole bunch of relatives, and we knew that if one of them was going to play the awkward b*****d, we'd possibly have a dreadful, lengthy and possibly abortive time getting it as far as a sale. We were asked, when we bought this house, when the contract was being drawn up, how many children we had, and when we said "only one", the Notaio said - "Well that could make it much easier if you want to sell it in the future." We also came across quite a few houses with bits and bobs and scraps of land dotted around the surrounding countryside, often with no access except across neighbours' land - again a legacy of the inheritance laws. It makes things doubly difficult when you discover that in many rural communities, there is a lot of intermarriage among a relatively small group of families. We have been fascinated to find that if you have the opportunity to read historical accounts of the area, even going back a couple of hundred years, you will find that the same surnames crop up as those of our neighbours who still live in and around the village.
Here, if an owner dies intestate (quite normal), a surviving spouse automatically gets 75% of the property, and 25% is divided up among the children. We were a bit put out by this, and didn't want possible problems to ensue, so, since the house is solely in my name, I went to the trouble and expense of drawing up an Italian will, stating that I wanted to leave ALL my assets to my OH if I predeceased him, and on his death, everything would then go to Daughter. (We have back to back British wills saying the same thing, too) Said daughter came with me to the solicitor who drew it up, a) to make sure that everything was translated properly, and b) to convince him that she was aware of what I was doing. As we got up to leave his office, he leant over to her (right across me) and whispered theatrically, "Of course, when your mother dies, you are within your rights to contest this!" If she does, I'll come back and haunt her: I can't pay the piano, though.
We are also very fortunate that our house has never belonged to a farmer as virtually every other property in this area has. If a building is on a registered agricultural piece of land, then when selling, the vendor HAS to offer it first to his farming neighbours. This has been the cause of many an argument and failed sale in the past.

25 Jul, 2013


It does all sound very similar, Gatti. There are parcelles of land here which the current owners can't get to, either...and whole villages in decline, because the families can't agree. Because of this, the law was recently changed to allow for a majority decision - but, even then, it has to go to court.

But, we can't make any kind of will regarding property...
...we can make wills regarding all our other valuables, though. And anything which came from our respective families will stay within them.

The hard and fast law here means that on the death of one of us, the other gets their own half plus a portion of the deceased spouse's estate. The amount changes, depending on the surviving spouse's age. The rest goes to the children of the deceased spouse. So, it's pretty much the same as Italy - with no other options.

We can - and have- made acts of donation at the Notaire...which means that when one of us goes, the other can have the property to live in, rent out, whatever we want, for the remainder of our lives - except we can't sell. The children on both sides would have to agree to that. It's always been a bit of a worry...because, if I am ancient and left alone, I'll probably want to sell this house and move closer to town. That would be very difficult if all the children took their cut of the property sale.

We have two children each and three of them would be happy to wait until we're both dead to get their inheritance. Unfortunately, the fourth one is a different kettle of fish...and, the thought of him (and his horrible wife) having any kind of control over anything we've worked for - whilst the other is still alive - makes me very upset.

Needless to say, we've been to the Notaire, to try to make a will, such as yours, taking the three children with us (like you, to convince him that the majority are in agreement), but, it can't be done.

We can disinherit the other son...but, it would have to be done in court...and he'd have to agree to it!! No chance of that as the two of them are like vultures. She (the horrible wife) has even accused other son's mother of "spending his inheritance" - her own hard-earned money!!

So, I think that I may well be coming back to haunt someone

25 Jul, 2013


Oh dear,Karen,those laws sound horrendous and very wonder it is such a worry to you both..I would hate someone to benefit from all our hard work,that doesn't deserve it..What would happen if you both decided to come back here,whilst you were still in good health..are you allowed to sell it.?
I hadn't realised both you and Gattina had similar problems regarding attached complicated it is..I shall stay put in my own little 'hovel' as you put it :o)

25 Jul, 2013


Good Gracious! That makes life in Italy sound positively simple by comparison. I do appreciate that we are lucky enough to have a nice, easy situation, thank goodness. Another great relief is that Italian law is not interested in any property held outside the country (although that may be changing). Friends of ours who spend most of their year in France but still have a home in England have had to go to incredibly complicated and difficult lengths in order to protect their children's inheritance from the outrageous predations of French law. We wanted to make various small bequests in both countries, so in England, we have written them into our wills - here we have just given Daughter instructions where to hand over the dosh when we are gone, and trust her to do it.
Your "vulture" wife sounds appalling. We were concerned that if Daughter should feel inclined to marry someone who then turned difficult or nasty in the event of a divorce, he could, in theory, insist on whichever one of us was still alive selling the house from over his or her head and giving him a cut of the proceeds as part of Daughter's divorce settlement. I doubt it happens in practice, but I wouldn't want to put it to the test. Stranger things happen. A few years ago, a layabout son in his mid forties who was still at home, living off his ill and elderly parents and expecting to have all his meals cooked, laundry ironed, and spending subsidised, refused to move out when his parents complained that they couldn't support him any more. They went to law and the judge said that they had "a sacred duty to look after him as long as he needed it." The good thing is, that if you are over (I think) 65, however bad the crime you commit, you are rarely imprisoned. I think I'd have been tempted to take my chances and sprinkle his porridge with arsenic.

25 Jul, 2013


Good gracious!

Both of these countries are in the EU what happened to the "human rights"!

It sounds a nightmare for you both

25 Jul, 2013


I think the whole issue of "Human rights" is a minefield, and, frankly "rights" should only come with responsibilities. In short - don't get me started! Many people who should have the rights seldom do, and those who do have them don't always deserve them.

25 Jul, 2013


Aah, Bloomer...your little "hovel" is both beautiful and, I don't blame you for staying put! :) x

Weather isn't everything, but, I don't think that either of us will ever come back to the UK. OH is Cornish...and I could, definitely, live there - quite happily - but, we just couldn't afford to buy the equivalent of what we have here, in Cornwall. Scotland is out...because, beautiful though it is, it's just tooooo cold and wet...

...if we didn't have family to consider, Azerbaijan would be a strong contender...but, we do (3/4 of them, anyway), lol!

Oh, does seem that the individual's rights are being trampled by archaic laws...and, when I was younger - I might have taken on the challenge of changing them...but, it would be a full-time job; and I don't think I'm up for it, any more...

Were your friends circumventing the "inheritance" and "second residence" taxes, by any chance, Gatti? In combination, they could have left their children with HUGE bills - before they even had a chance to sell the house!

Interestingly, there was a big legal to-do a couple of years ago. A French national was married to an Italian woman. It was a second marriage - and there were children on both sides, I think. The property in question was in Italy...and...only the woman and her children succeeded. It all went to the highest courts in France - I can't say if it went to the European Court of Justice.

Co-incidentally (or maybe not), the French Govt decreed that all heritable property (land and buildings), belonging to foreign nationals, should be able to be disposed of, "according to their own regime/custom".

We've been asking our Notaire about it, but, he is always very tight-lipped...and he is an up-right, working in your best interests, professional.

My (Polish, but married to a Welshman - with the same "blended" family problem) tells me that her Notaire says, "Yes, before the end of the year, it will be in force...but, excluding British and Irish nationals".

I don't believe that for one moment - it couldn't possibly be legal...he was, probably, just winding her up. But, then, her Notaire has never been known for being honest...and, that is just one of the pit-falls of arriving here, greener than a cabbage.

We are in the process of buying our fourth property here (don't worry - all the others are just for rental income....they're our pension - NOT OUR HOME, so none of the inheritance laws really bother us there, since we can continue to let them until both of us have kicked the bucket...or, "broken our pipes", as they say here, lol).

But, I must remember (amid the signing of every one of those 100+ pages) to bring it up, again, with Mâitre D.

Oh, and I almost forgot to say, Gatti...the commune (the Mayor, in reality) has to be given first option on any house or land for sale.

I don't know whether age is taken into account here...but, they still look favourably upon a, "crime passionelle" (I know it's wrong, but it always sounds like a luscious cream bun to me...)

...but, I don't know if arsenic and old lace falls into that categorie!!!

25 Jul, 2013


Oh! Cross-over again!

Human're right, Gatti...mine-field...

...I still worry about Esther, our "maid" in Nigeria...

25 Jul, 2013


I remember you talking about Esther,Karen..I do hope she is ok too..x

26 Jul, 2013


I don't remember your writing anything about Esther, Karen - could you give a brief synopsis for those of us with bad memories, please?

26 Jul, 2013


I'm still thinking about the passion cake.....
Beats elephants feet any day.....!

26 Jul, 2013


...I wasn't enthralled by the goat dishes either,but when in Nigeria ! Lol..I wonder how Fang is too?

26 Jul, 2013


Hello everyone! We had a big storm last night and it blew up my Livebox (well it didn't really - OH didn't shut the window properly and his office got flooded, along with the box). It did de-construct my green-house and flatten my vegetable garden, though. So I had to go to Angoulême and stand in a queue with all the other storm victims. I just made it by the skin of my teeth - got the last available box (out of more than 50) at 11.45 am! All the others behind me have to wait for the next two weeks... :(

And I've just managed to connect it, toute seule!

Aah, Gatti, Esther is a hard working widow, with a teenage son and an elderly mother. She looked after us (but, specially, me) so well. We spent hours putting the world to rights whilst she cooked the dinner. Okay, so she wasn't a brilliant cook, but, to be fair...the ingredients were a bit iffy, sometimes! lol! If she thought I was a bit down, she would always cook fried potatoes for me, because she knew that I loved them.

Never mind the goat, Bloomer, I used to quite look forward to that! lol! :)))
Unlike the African snails...are they what you're talking about, Pam?...big enough and tough enough to make elephants' slippers from! lol! :))
The bush-meat Xmas dinner was, positively the worst, though!!!! yuk!!! Nothing to do with Esther, though...that was in a restaurant in a holiday resort!!! LOL!!!

Anyway, maids, "boys" and other domestic employees, in Nigeria, are, generally, treated as though they are not even human beings, by the employers - who are of every colour, it must be said.

It wasn't like that with us. Esther was never a "friend" - we were both too aware of our different "stations" for that. But, we did have a lovely relationship. She used to take me to the "native" markets and stand, solidly, with her arms crossed, over her ample bosom...always between me, the little white woman, and any possible trouble.

Her family depend on her...and she depended on her job with us. We used to take back art materials and maths equipment for her son, which are cheap as chips here but, which she couldn't afford. It was Lawrence, her son, who took Fang, Bloomer...and I know that he would look after her...because that's the kind of people they are.

She was lucky, in one way. Her mother had built them a house in "the village" when she, herself, was widowed. When I say "house" and "village"'s not anything you might imagine from those words. It's a block and tin house, in a vast shanty town. It was built from the proceeds of picking and selling a few bananas every day. But, at least, they didn't have to pay rent.

When we left, the company said that they would keep her on...but, I don't know if they did. She's one of those "expendable" little people. We left her with what she would consider to be a small fortune...but, it wouldn't last forever...

So, I get what you said, Gatti... Esther's family deserve the right to be able to pull themselves out of their meagre circumstances...but, it won't happen in Esther's time.

I think about her a lot...and wonder if she's okay. I feel full of guilt for having abandoned her. But, I had to come home...Nigeria wasn't for me...I would have smuggled all three of them back in my luggage, if I could have, though...

26 Jul, 2013


Nooo Karen elephants feet are Huge choux pastry buns the size of a tea plate, filled with cream and smothered in chocolate

Theres a cake shop in the Carrilon centre near us called Birds, they make them and caramel donuts filled with fresh cream......Other things as well but I manfully (or womanfully resist) you should see the queues on market day....

26 Jul, 2013


It all seems a bit trivial reading the rest of your story, we just don't know the half of it do we......

26 Jul, 2013


Oh, Pam...every time I left anything on my plate (when I was a child) mother would say...remember the starving children in Africa...

...not that my eating it all would have made any difference, to the starving children in Africa...

But, it stuck...

...and, having been there, I, now, have a different view...

26 Jul, 2013


I can't believe you resisted one of those Elephants feet,Pam..shame on you for pretending you haven't had one..I had a Chocolate eclair tonight...about the thickness of a scraggy shoe lace !..I didn't buy it,but the thought was there..Thomas chose it for me :o) I must educate him in the art of cake buying .Lol.

26 Jul, 2013


Oh dear,Karen,it must be so hard for the Esther's of this's so moving,and yet they just seem to accept that this is how it is..not a lot of choice,have they? We do moan about really trivial things,but our way of life is rich beyond compare to theirs..I am glad to hear that Fang went to a good home,that is so nice .and you are now reconnected, after your flooding..thanks for your PM,and I will reply tomorrow..take care xx

26 Jul, 2013


Just had a taste of what it was like to live then...
...doing anything by candle-light isn't much fun... :(

28 Jul, 2013


Very romantic for the first hour or so, and after that, a darned, squinting, tripping-over-the-cat-and-can't-use-the-computer nuisance!

28 Jul, 2013


Yup! Okay in the day-times...although, eerily quiet...and going to bed at sun-down...aided by a pathetic little torch...

Between that and the toothaches...I'm glad that I live now! lol! :)

29 Jul, 2013


Its the caramel donuts Bloomer......I haven't seen them anywhere else.......

29 Jul, 2013


Lol! Pam, there are a couple of patisseries here you would just love...and they would love you too, I think!!! :) religieuse - a large profiterole, with another smaller one on top, filled with coffee flavoured creme patisserie and smothered with coffee icing...does it do anything for you? It does for! :)))

29 Jul, 2013


Just stop it you two..I shall be having a boring Yoghourt,fat free of course..anytime are not doing anything for my will power....I may even have to raid the choccy biscuit box afterwards...sorry you have toothache as well Karen..just not your week,luv..

29 Jul, 2013


I have a lovely recipe for you Bloomer..just to improve your yogurt of course.....its one of your 5 a day too....

Our cherry tree is absolutly full of beautiful red cherries ( last years wet summer is paying dividends now I think)
anyway fresh cherry muffins with yogurt and ground almonds.....still warm from the oven mmmmm.........

29 Jul, 2013


You are such a tease,Pam..I just love cherries..I can feel the juice dribbling down my Tee shirt as I speak ! :o)

29 Jul, 2013


Its been the best cherry year ever I think...... Hairy Bikers cherry pie and the warm crumbly muffins and still some left in the bowl!

30 Jul, 2013


Good gracious, aren't you lucky Pam? Our cherries finished about 5 weeks ago now. I still long for the gorgeous whiteheart cherries that my Granddad used to grow in his Kentish garden. Here we seldom see anything other than the huge black Duroni ones - sweet and delicious, but somehow not the same.......

30 Jul, 2013


I've just had my first crop from the tree I planted when I got back from Africa. Montmorency cherries...enough to make a pie! Well, I had to add a few gooseberries and black currants...but, they were very nice - and I got to them before the birds! lol! :)

31 Jul, 2013


What an amazing coincidence Karen, I'm very excited about it and it's not my house, no wonder you're hooked. I was trying to dicipher the writing and I'm pleased to say I knew it was about cattle and that the writer surmises the second pic is of a wedding? Of course I could be wide of the mark lol. Do keep us updated on anything else you find out:-))

2 Aug, 2013


In the second pic, it's Fete Day,'s hard to believe that a hamlet this size would have one. But, there it is in print! Where the rich looking people lived, I have no idea...there aren't any big houses here...only hovels (and only around ten of them)!

I think that marriages were "arranged" at the fete...under the influence of "bon humeur"...and eau de vie! lol!

And, I've come to the conclusion that, after the revolution, the peasants, who had worked the land, gradually, came to be seen as the, there is no paper trail. I'm looking for Jean Metayer, now. He's not mentioned on the memorial, so he didn't die in the Great War...
Back to the archives in Loiret, next!

But, I might leave it until the takes up so much time.......! :)))

2 Aug, 2013


I read a story once similar to this and the main protagonist became haunted by the previous occupants OOOer ....eventually driven mad! ...Don't let that put you off though lol:-)))

3 Aug, 2013

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