We had also met them last year also although then, with much more rusty french I had mistaken what they had said when they knocked at the door. Having moved into our house on the Monday, this was the Friday and I thought the lady said "J'habite ici" (I live here) when in fact she had said "J'ai habité ici" ie I lived here. It didn't make for the best of introductions.
This year we were much more prepared - my french is better and we had a very enjoyable hour or so discussing what our plans were and talking about La Causserie when they lived here. Briefly some of the things we found out were:
- The compost toilet was their sole loo until 1988 and if caught out the daughter would leap on her bike to make the journey there quicker!
- The family had never lived in the older house, using it as a cow barn and milking parlour.
- The well has never contained more than the couple of meters water that it has now.
- The pipe that runs into the well near the top was linked to the old house roof and used to collect extra rainwater especially after a storm.
- They used a hand pump to get the well water out.
- Their veg patch was in the area we want for the natural swimming pool - but "Dad" seemed really pleased that I had found and rescued his rhubarb plants.
- They had between 20 and 30 cows grazing on the grass directly in front of the house and some more of the fields around us.
- The tank we recently moved from the old house up to the polytunnel for storing water was used in some way when making cider.
We asked if they found it strange going back to the old family home but they said no and were genuinly happy to see the place lived in again after 6 years standing empty. They were impressed with the veg patch and the fact we were making good use of the land with animals. Hearing local french people say that gives us a great boost.
We also hope that they may have some photos we can look at and perhaps even take copies of. Meeting the previous occupants certainly brings the place even more alive and hopefully we should meet up again at the end of the week. Their son-in-law's sister lives on a farm nearby and they are having an open evening with BBQ, farmer's market and traditional games.
As for the veg patch - it's still full of weeds but I did harvest lots of beans, mangetout, courgettes and the last of the peas.