We had arranged to go and look at the house we are buying again today – the agent said we could pick up the keys and take as long as we liked to look around.

Before heading over to Bais to collect the keys, we had some chores to do first.  Edward had arranged to take the Megane into Ambriéres les Vallées to have it MOT’d, as part of the process for getting it registered with French plates.  The MOTs here last 2 years, which is a bonus!

In the meantime, I did another leaflet drop in the village, where we ran out of them last night.  Sadly, still no sign of Colin but he is now listed on various Facebook pages, AngloInfo (both Normandy and Mayenne) and at the vets.  I did another search of the surrounding fields yesterday evening and again had a drive around with Charles – we’re doing all we can to find him.

So, half an hour later, Edward was ringing to say the MOT had been done and that the car just needs two new rear tyres to pass the test – the new headlamps must have been fitted perfectly by Charles, as they passed OK!

We’re having lovely weather here at the moment and the drive over to Bais was beautiful.  While I picked up the keys, Edward picked up some scrummy almond croissants and pain au chocolat from the boulangerie….. and we ate them on the way to the house in the stunning countryside.

007  008

When we turned into the single track road to the property, we found a farm vehicle blocking the way and so we met M Fouquet and his lovely Limousin cows!

010  012

011

We (or rather, Edward) had quite a chat with him.  He lives about 5 km away and keeps an eye on the property while it is empty – what a lovely man he was….

When we said our goodbyes, we went on up to the house and found that we loved it even more the second time around!

016

I now know my studio is going to be in one end of the big barn and Ed’s workshop will possibly be in the other end!

We managed to open up the door to the well…..

017I dropped in a small stone and it must have taken a good 2 seconds before we heard it hit the water!!

Inside the house, we started measuring up in the kitchen.  On one wall there is an inset wood burner, which we’d noticed on the first visit but this time, realised it had something inside it, and it was still alive….. in fact, there were two of them….

*********

The story from Edward’s perspective:

Today we had a lovely day. Although the thought of Colin going missing was always at the back of our minds we began by taking the car to the garage to have its control technique completed. Its the French equivalent of the MOT and we need it to register our cars here in France. I was amazed that I didn’t have to leave it all day but that it was complete in 30 minutes. Unfortunately we need 2 new back tyres. But that didn’t put any sort of damper on the day. It passed everything else after all.

We set off to look at the new house. We had agreed with the estate agent that she would give us the keys so we could measure up and look around again. It was even better than I remembered. I love the house we are buying. We spent ages looking around outside first, measuring the barns and discussing where Julie’s studio could be and where other things might go.

Then we opened the door into the kitchen and while I was looking and thinking Julie pointed at the built in wood burner and said oh my god!

026

027

There was a nest of 5 barn owls in there! Unfortunately 3 were dead but 2 were still alive. I have no idea how they got in there but I guess it was a nest from which the fledglings couldn’t get out and the parents probably gave up feeding them. One was quite active but obviously anxious the other looked almost torpid. We opened the glass door of the wood burner and with the car rug I carefully picked up the more active one.

028

I took it to the barn where I thought it would be most at ease. Despite its distressed state it was absolutely beautiful. I let it go in the fairly dark barn and he hopped about a bit till he took off and flew out of the barn. We watched as he flew in that inexplicably noiseless way that owls do and eventually landed in a tree across a field from us. So one was safe and on to the next.

029It shied away into the corner and because the last one had not tried to peck or bite at all I dispensed with the rug and picked this one up with bare hands to cause as little distress as possible. Again it was beautiful and when it opened its eyes wide it was mesmerising.

030

I took it to the same barn and let it go. It seemed much weaker than the last one so we thought it would need water.  None was running in the house and there was none put out for the nearby cattle. This was because down the lane was stream. So we found a bucket and a plastic pot and set off to collect some water. It was boiling hot and I am sure over 30 degrees at the time. We got the water and after walking back up the hill found the barn empty, obviously it hadn’t been as weak as I’d thought.

******

We spent the rest of our time measuring and planning for the house… perhaps this room would be OK for an office – the view could be interesting when the garden was planted….

033

And maybe we could extend this area to a bigger balcony from where we could watch the view…..? 035

As Edward has said, it was extremely hot and after the excitement with the barn owls and all the measuring, we decided to go to the ‘plage‘ at Sillé le Guillaume.  The views, heat and ice cold drinks certainly made it feel like we were on holiday……!

043 044

After dropping off the keys, the estate agent told us that the diagnostic checks were nearly all done and that she’d been in touch with the Notaire and it was looking likely that we could sign early next week instead of at the end of the week, which would move things along for us much more quickly, which is great news!

On the way back, we did a detour to Jublains, where there is a Roman Temple, amphitheatre and other interesting artefacts – we decided to save exploring these for another day!  We also went on to St Suzanne, the 3rd most attractive town in France….

057

It’s a medieval town and definitely looks worth a proper visit – something to look forward to in the next few weeks or months….

Back home, still no sign of Colin but we did some more searching in the fields and surrounding farms – we both think he is still out there somewhere and will be found eventually….

*****

Edward’s perspective:

Later when we were back home we saw a jay flying through the garden, as I write this I can hear other owls hooting and after a little drive out to try to find Colin this evening we were treated to a very confident fox showing off his hunting skills in the headlights of our car. Couldn’t seem to care less about us.  I love this place.

*****