Journey to a New Life – Part Eleven (Hmmm…)

I’m not really sure how I feel about the subject of this blog.  On the one hand, it shows we are part of the village and included in its events; on the other hand, it reminds us of something that we have not yet admitted to – that we are an ageing couple.

This morning, there was a knock on the door) some people see the doorbell and some don’t) and, when I opened it, I was greeted by two smiling ladies wearing Santa hats.  They were each carrying shopping bags emblazoned with the name of one of the local supermarkets and  offered one to me, along with greetings for the season.  At first, I thought they were trying to sell me something and asked what it was they wanted to hand over into my care.  One of the ladies explained it was a gift from the commune to all the aînés (elders).  We are aînés as Hubby is over sixty-five.  I therefore smiled broadly, received the bag of goodies, exclaimed ‘Très gentil! (Very kind!) and took the bounty inside.

The bag contained a lovely selection of pâté, biscuits, brioche, chocolates, spiced bread, nibbles and – of course – a bottle of wine!  It is very warming to feel that we have not been left out, just because we’re newbies, although I suspect that no-one is omitted if they fall into any given category.

Bounteous gift due to our position as ‘elders’ in the village.

So – happy, because we have been included, or ambivalent, due to the implications of our advancing years?  Best to go with the positive for now and just enjoy the gift!

Journey to a New Life – Part Ten (A Strange History)

housefront
Built as the mayor’s residence and office in 1908

We have lived in the house, now, for nearly four and a half months. We love it and, the more we unpack (yes, there’s still loads to do!), the more it feels like we’ve never been anywhere else.  Home, for us, really is where you hang your hat – in Dave’s case, literally.  As we’ve moved around the house, we’ve seen little things about it that make us curious.  There’s a hollow sound if you tap some parts of the ground in the drive-through bit of one of the outbuildings.  It is most likely water storage tanks, but we can’t be sure.  There’s a space in one corner of the kitchen that is covered by something going across the corner.  We think it might be the position of an original fireplace, but we can’t be sure.  There is a strange dent in the concrete floor in the cellar, which might have been used to take a wheel for a fruit press – they have a lot of apples in this part of France – but we can’t be sure.

cornerwall
Cut corner in the kitchen

The house was built in 1908 and was originally the home/workplace of the village mayor. The best story we have heard originates in WWII.  We were told by someone that the then mayor hid British airmen.  We thought that was rather romantic and wanted desperately to believe it.  Our village is already enough like Nouvion (‘Allo ‘Allo up to 7:54) – a real place in Picardie, only 43km (26.7 ml) from where we live.  The idea that we might own the equivalent of the café was far too exciting to ignore.  We started asking around for more information.

The delightful 80-odd-year old lady who lives next door was born in our house.  Her grandfather was the mayor who built the house and most of her close family was born here.  She now lives in the house next door, which her grandfather built for his mother.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember very much of the war years, as she was very young.  I asked the lady a few doors up the road as well, but she doesn’t remember anything either.  It would be logical for the small children to be kept in the dark about such ‘goings on’, so we need to find the oldest person in the village.

At the recent Christmas Market – a fair really – we were chatting to one of the other English residents.  He has been here at least fourteen years and told us that the stories were true.  He has heard that, on one occasion, the leader of the Vichy for the area knocked on the door and told the mayor that he knew what went on in there but the SS were going to be making an inspection in a few days and he needed to ‘clear out’ his house.  A couple of days later, he returned and said that if the mayor didn’t deal with ‘the situation’, he would have to.  We don’t know, so far, what happened but assume that whoever was being hidden at the time was sent into the hills or to a safer place for the necessary time.

The more we learn about our house, the more we love it.  Looking forward to the next revelation.