A ‘once in a generation decision’


I was in shock – utter disbelief. How could they? What were they thinking!

I really hadn’t expected the Leave Campaign to win the referendum on whether or not Britain should pull out of the European Union. I’d been blithely reassuring our friends in France that the British would never vote to leave – we had too much to lose. For months, as the media hysteria grew on both sides of the Channel they’d been asking us how it would affect our plans. I hadn’t even given it any serious consideration – it obviously was never going to happen.

And then it did.

Over the next few days I went from incredulous to furious to desolate. We were Europeans – how could they suddenly just decide to take that away from us? What would the impact be on having our home in France? Would we soon need a visa to pop over for the weekend? Could we see exorbitant taxes imposed on us as property owners, once we were no longer EU citizens? (The French government had already tried that once, until the EU told them it was unlawful) Would we even be able to afford to retire once the British economy slid back into recession (as it most certainly would) and our pensions became worthless? Already the pound was starting to plummet against the euro and every day the news stories got worse.

There still hadn’t been any offers on our French house, and to be fair our plans were still very much dependent on our lottery ticket delivering the goods. But that hadn’t stopped us from having a second viewing of the mill and continuing to plan the to-do list when we got in. Over the last few months the vendor had reduced the price considerably and knowing that we were obviously interested, the agent had assured us that he could get it down to within our budget if we signed a compromis de vente committing to purchase within the next 6 months. Sorely tempted as we were, we knew that it would be mad to commit – we couldn’t go ahead until we had realised the funds from the sale of our house and there was no guarantee that we would find a buyer in the next six months. Many of the local properties for sale had been on the market for over 5 years! Under the French system we would lose our 10% deposit if we had to back out of buying the mill.

And now this!

There was no way we would be able to find an English buyer now. Everything was ruined. Everything was uncertain. Colin and I felt so low it was like there had been a death in the family.

And then two days later our agent phoned to say he had a viewing booked for the following day. Somewhat cheered but not exactly hopeful I wasn’t even particularly excited when he rang back the following day to give me feedback.

“Hi Ella, are you sitting down?”  He sounded so excited and happy, I held my breath. “He loved it and made an offer on the spot!”

There followed a couple of days of negotiations on the price, with me constantly running back to my enormous spreadsheet of calculations. Taxes, fees, exchange rates. Would we be able to afford the mill?

Now, as luck would have it, our agent and the agent handling the mill were good friends. I don’t know what conversations happened behind the scenes but suddenly all the agency and legal fees were included in the asking price and finally we were able to say Yes!

The dream was starting to become a reality.

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