Back in June, when it had looked as if we would be purchasing the dodgy property, Steve had contacted five moving companies seeking quotes for the movement of all our belongings to France. The quotes ranged from £1,250 to £4,464 (VAT included). We chose to go with the mid-range company Anglo French Euro Removals Ltd to store our belongings in Kent and then move them to France once we had found a property. The service we received from them was exemplary.
The packers arrived at 8.00 am on the morning of Thursday 17 September. Looking around that flat at that time, we wwere wondering “how the hell are they going to get all this lot packed up in a short space of time”. Well, it was all done and dusted by midday, with speed, efficiency and a cheerful disposition. All we had left between us as was six bags, which we hauled to the DoubleTree Hotel, Islington. We then relaxed in the evening by going to the Royal Festival Hall to see Joan Baez – we needed a bit of kum by yah at that point.
The next day, we fled London and went to stay at Jean and Laurent’s guest-house Villa Littoral for just over a week. On 29 September we moved into the apartment in Montpellier, which Steve renamed Monty. It was the same day a major storm hit the area and Monty experienced its worst flooding in years. We got totally soaked just getting out of the taxi with our bags, crossing the road, which looked like a river, and getting in to the apartment building.
Phill was fine, Steve, not so much – it was all rather overwhelming and after such a hectic pace since April, he found the slower pace of life difficult to adjust to, along with not understanding the language or the names of things in the shops. It was hell for Phill for a while as he lashed out in frustration at him – even though it just was not his fault at all. He was mentally teetering all over the place – rather a roller coaster time for us both – but we made it through!
Phill secured a contract with the UK Government which meant that he would be spending at least two weeks each month back in the UK! First up, Phill departed for Leeds on Saturday, 1 November for two weeks. We then joined up a trip to Cleethorpes to see Phill’s Mum, with work in Bristol for Phill and then catching up with Mitch and Tom from San Francisco at a Wine Festival in Paris. On Sunday, 30 November Steve then headed back to Monty whilst Phill turned around and headed back to Leeds for three weeks.
With Phill in Leeds, Steve went and visited David and Ian in Sitges for three nights from 4-7 December – taking in the ambiance of both Sitges and Barcelona. He then came back to change underwear and flew to meet up with Phill in Leeds on 9 December – the day of the arrival of the “Weather Bomb” in the UK – good timing on his part! We got back to Monty on 20 December to relax and enjoy the pre-Xmas preparations for a feast of Canard à l’Orange and roast veges, with lashings of champagne. Then, on Tuesday, 30 December we flew to Cape Town to enjoy some much needed sun, for two weeks.
We got back to Monty on Thursday, 15 January, and Steve was full of a cold he had caught in the second week whilst in Cape Town. Flying back was rather torturous with ears and sinuses blocked.
We were supposed to have been in Newcastle for three and a half weeks; but it in fact it only turned out to be for one and a half weeks, as Phill’s contract was terminated with only two days’ notice! So, we packed up and headed back to Monty on Friday, 31 January.