And we’re off. A quick 3 day transition and it’s goodbye sunshine hello – err – snow? Who ordered that in November? Well it’s not exactly snow here on the East Fife coast but it is a bit white up on the nearby mountains. Anyway, the last few weeks have been no less eventful, as we tidied up and packed away our stuff for winter in France, rugging up the vehicles and putting the final touches to my last building project. A last minute trip to the local tip was once again steeped in ridicule as we discover we now have to apply to the council before we can be admitted through their sacred gates. Yes, in the space of a decade the French government has evolved its encouragement from stockpiling rubbish until bonfire night to become card-carrying recyclists. Although not quite yet on an equal with UK on the environmentalist stakes, the smug grin of self importance is certainly starting to show beneath the whiskers of the French bearded classes as they deliver a couple of empty jam jars or a bag of leylandi cuttings to its eco resting place, in an effort to grant them a good night’s sleep. Of course, as with most other countries, as soon as their backs are turned, all the rubbish gets lumped back together again and hoyed into a massive hole in the ground, but they aren’t to know that, are they, bless them. I suppose it is what you believe that makes you a model citizen, not what you achieve?
Anyway, after our exit, the responsibility of our sheep and cats is now charged to the capable hands of a hairdresser and her husband from Yorkshire, who fancied a winter in the cold climate of South West France. This is something we take an annual chance on, trusting our house to strangers. My wife takes great pride in making sure the place is spick and span before their arrival. They even receive preferential treatment, with her purchasing items of bedroom furniture especially for them, despite the fact I have hung my clothes up on the floor for the last 10 years. They both seem fun and vibrant but for all I know they could already have Skippy the sheep in a pot ready for Christmas!
So, after a brief stopover in Rock to see my mother and a few other familiar faces, we have now settled into our newly refurbished house in Cellardyke, which we have recently put on the market. Living in a house that is for sale actually makes for quite good discipline, as one is obliged to keep it tidy at all times in case a prospector knocks on the door for a look-see. As we also have the dogs with us, keeping it perennially clean is something of a challenge but, to pre-empt this, I have shaven the dog’s legs and undercarriages to prevent them dragging half of the beach with them back on to the carpets. I have to admit they do look a bit silly so it’s no wonder Pooper takes to snarling at any dog that so much as gives her sideways glance.
This morning we have all the tools and labour lined up ready for our next adventure. Soon hammers and crowbars will be whirring as we set about gutting two cottages, fetching it all back to the original stonework. Demolition can be quite a therapeutic exercise, despite its messiness. However, as so often with these old houses, it is the excitement of what you might discover that gives me the thrill. Will there be hidden Roman coins, Victorian trinkets or bars of gold stuffed behind the chimney breast? Who knows? But I highly doubt it. This place was an old fishing town, and these two cottages were actually four, so it’s highly unlikely they had anything more than a pot to p*ss in, let alone a Ming vase for orchids. But then again, it is right on the beach so maybe the odd smuggler might have hauled some booty up through a trapdoor into the kitchen many years ago. A glass of 200 year old rum, anyone?