We almost didn’t agree to view it.

It wasn’t on the list. But the Rat told us about it, after a brief telephone conversation with a different branch of the same company, which seemed to be soaking this area of France like a drunks urine on a London Tube seat. We had had an appointment to view another property, after lunch. Someone had just signed the papers on that property, he told us, no point in going to see it.

“J'ai une maison à vendre qui est comme que l'un,” he said, using one of his finger nails to pick something sticky-looking from within his ear.

He told us the house was large, and it was situated in the middle of a town, not unlike the one we were in now, but smaller – very pretty, he told us. We looked at the photocopied picture. It looked interesting.

“Est que il y a un jardin?” We wanted a garden: there was no point in seeing a property without one.

“Non,” the Rat explained there was a small area that was used as a garage; perhaps that could be converted into a nice outside space.

After a short debate we agreed to see it, after lunch - we had no further viewings planned that day. If nothing else it was an oportunity to explore a different part of La Creuse.

At two thirty we got into the car with the Rat (the tang of his breath revealled he had benefited from a good lunch, including an adequate quantity of red wine). In the front of the car was his wife, who he introduced, before taking a detour to drop her off to work. We stopped just once more to post a letter, and then left the town and headed off into the beautiful countryside.

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