The visit to Florida had been difficult. Reg had lost both his father and mother in less than a year. He had taken on responsibility for funerals, business arrangements and their wills. Although Reg and his brother would receive their inheritances, it would mean waiting until all the paper work was completed. I had a last visit with my sister in North Carolina. Then we spent the time figuring the best way to get back to France. There was no doubt in our minds about that. Our visit in the USA had convinced us that France was where we were meant to be. The USA was a 24/7 kind of place. Not for us. Brittany reminded us of our childhoods – easy going. Our style.
As we would be traveling in the summer from the very hot Southern USA, I researched what airline was best for us to use considering we could only take the two smaller cats in the cabin with us. Rob Roy had grown too big and would have to travel with luggage. I found a man via the Internet who assists clients importing or exporting animals. He recommended we travel with the German airline Lufthansa. It seems they have climate control in the luggage compartment and are very animal friendly. This meant we would fly out of Atlanta, Georgia and into Frankfort, Germany. It would also mean a two day drive from Frankfort to Brittany. We rented a car in Florida and headed North to Atlanta, cats in tow. Reg arranged for a car rental in Frankfort that would pick us up at the airport.
Exhausted from all we had been through, we didn’t talk a lot on the flight. Even the cats seemed very subdued. I worried about RobRoy being in luggage but decided there was no alternative. In Frankfort, retrieving our luggage, I spotted Rob in his carrier amongst sporting equipment. Reg made a quick grab and we were all back together again. The two day drive to Brittany was what we needed to decompress.
Although not a huge amount of money was involved in the inheritance, we could afford to renovate our cottage to make it more comfortable. Being a planner, my thoughts were on how to renovate. Would we extend the house to the back? It would mean ridding ourselves of that awful shed but it would also take up quite a lot of the backyard. I also knew we would need professional help to get through all the permits. After all that Reg had been through in Florida I didn’t dare bring that up.
Our English friends, Linda and Roger, had looked after Reg’s beloved pickup and delivered it to us after we let them know we were back home. When we told them our renovation plans, they suggested we get in touch with their good friend Michael McCoy, an architectural draftsman who knows the permitting process. One consultation with Mike and he convinced us the extention to the rear might be turned down.
Our property is across the road from an ancient chapel and calvary and would be strictly regulated as to exterior appearance. There was a lot directly behind us, separated from our yard by a dense cedar hedge. It was totally overgrown and impossible to penetrate. But it seemed a likely way to go. Mike also told us he suspected the reason for our smelly bathroom was an ancient vat located somewhere in that illegal shed. When the renovation began we would no doubt be required to bring the septic system up to date. That might mean buying the lot behind us. Goodbye shed and vat. Hello un-smelly bathroom.
What we found in the lot behind us: Old horse drawn plows! It would one day be my garden.
The house next door that had been empty when we left, now had people in it. Assuming it had been sold to French people, we yodeled our “Bon Jours” when we saw them. Then one day I heard English being spoken and sure enough, our new neighbors were a delightful English couple with two teenage daughters who lived full time in Yorkshire and had bought the place for holidays.
Our little cottage looked exactly as we had left it. I later learned that neighbors had kept an eye on it for us. That’s how it is in a French village. You gotta love the French. They hardly knew us, but they cared enough to look out for our interests.