The Boy, Little Fairy and Smiley Cat

Freddy and The Little Fairy - both happy to be back together

Last Friday, 4th November, my best friend Ineke and I drove to France in Thomas (my Range Rover) to pick up the cats: The Boy, Little Fairy and Smiley Cat. Included in that journey was also the overseeing of the final move from Peymeinade when the last bits and pieces of furniture and my outdoor plants would be transported to Belaugh by Tony, our removal man.

Earlier in the week I’d received an email saying that the weather that weekend would not be brilliant in the South of France as heavy rains were forecast.  As it turned out, it was to be far worse – life-threatening in fact!

After our overnight stay in Buchères, Saturday morning found us up early and away in Thomas to complete our journey. As we chatted so the kilometres rolled by and we were soon driving through Lyon. Here we encountered a light rain but the skies told nothing of what was yet to come.

Approaching the outskirts of Toulon we both felt something wasn’t quite right as dark, iron-grey skies and darker Cumulonimbus clouds bubbled up around us. By the time we reached Toulon the heavens opened and we found ourselves in one of the worst storms ever experienced in the Alpes-Maritimes.

Driving became almost impossible as the motorway vanished under a deluge of water and merged with white-out sheets of rain. Spectacular lightening strikes of awesome magnitude hit from all sides as cracks of thunder blasted our senses. It was simply awesome – and incredibly scary.

Amazingly, we made it through the storm and arrived in Chateauneuf-de-Grasse where our Campanile hotel was booked. It rained continuously throughout the night with more thunderstorms thrown in for good measure. Sunday dawned and it was still hammering down. We arrived in Peymeinade to further thunderstorms – but which magically stopped as Tony arrived with his van – and my last move was done under clear skies.

And they were still clear when Ineke and I arrived to pick up the cats on the Monday – although we had to walk to the cattery as their road had been completely washed away, leaving jarring crevices no car – not even Thomas – could negotiate.

Ineke say’s she’ll write a book some day about our many adventures and while we’ve had some pretty amazing ones – I think this one tops the lot.

The cats are now here in Belaugh and none the worse after their six-week stay in the cattery and their two day drive in Thomas. However I do wonder, if like the Pope, they didn’t kiss the ground when they arrived  – thankful to be warm and safe – and home.

And Capture Them We Did

After all my worries and stressing out, we actually did manage to capture Percy and Ginger without too much difficulty. What a relief! While I know it helped not having the other furries around, a little starvation certainly drove them to eat their food inside the capture cages.

My main worry was that we’d capture one of them in full sight of the other – who would then freak out and do a runner on us. With only three days to go (we’re leaving this coming Saturday), my fingers (and toes) stayed well crossed.

As it happened, we captured Ginger first in one of Leslie Frasier’s larger capture cages. Nigel hid behind the kitchen door and as soon as I saw the cat well inside the cage, he pulled the string et voilà!

A couple of hours later it was the turn of Percy.

Yesterday evening we met with Leslie and did the hand-over. It was a sad moment (I do wish I wasn’t so soppy) as I tried to hold back the tears, telling myself that we were picking them up in January and to stop being so silly and upset. But I was – upset that is.

The dogs are now back with us and enjoying being home. I feel like God for the moment as I know the adventure that awaits them and they don’t. Odd feeling!

Working Weekend

Can you believe it? Just two more days and we fly back to Peymeinade. I’ve not even had time to do any gardening. Bother!

Apart from filling up the bird feeders and working on a couple of client websites, since our return I’ve been mainly editing a wedding trailer for Mark Shipperley Films. You can read more about the making of this film in Alice Barker Weddings.

A call yesterday from my friend Christine Davis of Chrisma Estate Agents means that, upon our return to France, we’ll be filming a property for her over in Tourrettes-sur-Loup. I find filming properties somewhat less stressful than filming weddings . . .

Although a busy bee, I did manage to get bum off seat this afternoon to visit the Norfolk Arts, Crafts & Design Show out at the Norfolk Show Grounds. Various stalls displayed artwork, jewellery, local and Mediterranean produce and craft-ware but on the whole it was a little disappointing. Not much of a turn out either.

On the other hand I did meet the owner of Wild Norfolk and loved his work. Peter Mallett has a farm in North Burlingham and has taken some fantastic photos of his local wildlife on and around it. I so aspire to photograph as well as he does.

This evening as I walked round the garden I was greeted by a very friendly swan, oddly on its own. She seemed very curious by the various cabin cruisers and small boats making their way downstream to Cottleshall until she spied me and came over to say hello. Having only my tiny Canon IXUS100 IS I did the best I could to photograph this beautiful creature.

As I walked past our lake I wondered how much wildlife would still come and say hello to us once the dogs (and cats) are here – Bertie and Freddy arrive with us when we return to Belaugh on Sunday 9th October. We then return to France to collect the cats in November and the Mexican Jumping Bean (Muffin the Chihuahua) in December.

Ticking All The Boxes


So I’m at the Prefecture de Grasse to obtain a Certificate d’Immatriculation d’un Véhicle for my MG (nobody gets in without a ticket and an extremely long wait) only to be told that, while I may have the correct paperwork and forms filled out, I’m missing one from the Centre des Impôts*.

Naturally said building is located miles away from the Prefecture – which meant returning the following day, with proper document to hand, and queuing up and waiting another two hours. . .

Then I ticked all the boxes for the dogs & cats needing to go into kennels for two weeks. While Freddy and Muffin look upon the kennels as a doggy holiday camp, Bertie thinks otherwise and tried heading back to the car as fast as his little legs could take him.

Then I ticked all the boxes at Maaf to get the MG’s insurance made out for his new number plates – and got them fitted at my local key cutter man. At this point I should explain that, when we bought the MG, we imported him into France, thus making his UK number plate void. At that time I was more than happy as I had no intention (ever) of returning to England to live. Famous last words . . .

And in between all of my boxes getting ticked, our friend Simon managed to tick one off too. Making an early start yesterday morning he (with I expect a very happy grin on his face) drove across the Millau Viaduct in his whizzy Ford Focus RS.

* This was a totally useless piece of paper as my MG is over 10 years old and, under French law, is automatically exempt from any import tax duties. But no matter they still insisted they had to have it ‘pour le dossier‘. So off I drove to the Impôts to get said paper. The good news is that it didn’t cost me a cent to get.

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