Day seven and we have all the panels removed from the last wall, all the wooden structure removed and all but one of the supporting posts dug up. The posts were well-buried (in about two feet) and crammed with rocks. Spade and pick time again, and wished we’d had a wrecking bar too. They were pretty heavy to pull out, and we were surprised to find that they hadn’t been treated. We’re trying to decide whether to use them in the re-construction, or buy new. I’m sure the farmer cut these out of his woods.
The two extra-large posts at the front which the doors are attached to were a slightly bigger challenge. Adjacent to each post and set in concrete was a home-made heavy metal cup, or socket, on the end of a threaded metal bar.
Bob decided he wanted to take them with us. I groaned at the thought! He attacked the first one with gusto, determination, a lump hammer, and a masonry chisel. It took ages to work out. Number two is still in situ, awaiting excavation. It’s our final job before we start transporting hangar parts the twenty-four kilometres to our new airstrip.
A small surprise a few days ago. The farmer, who had inherited the land from his brother who had passed away, turned up and stared at the partly dismantled hangar with a frown and a most disgruntled expression. ‘Je suis triste!’ (I’m sad) he said in a rather accusing tone. Why were we moving so quickly? Apparently he was now keeping this parcel of land and the airstrip was to stay!! We had without doubt been told that we had till the beginning of next year and after that it was uncertain. We couldn’t risk hanging on and being told to move suddenly in the new year, hence the search for something more permanent. We explained this to him politely in our best French, but he was not a happy bunny. In the initial agreement we were to pay an annual rent and keep the strip mowed. We had to buy the hangar, which he stated he would buy back from us if we ever wanted to leave. He refused to have any written contract or anything on paper. Bob then did a huge amount of work to formally register the strip; masses of complicated paperwork and about ten copies of each! This was followed by inspections from at least three different bodies. We kept to our side of the agreement, paid rent on time, and kept everything neat and tidy.
I think he was not too sad about us leaving, more likely sad at the loss of a good rental income – now that he was keeping the land. And if he found another renter he no longer had a hangar to offer them. He made various remarks as he stomped around looking more and more fed up. He’d cut down trees close to the hangar to make it more safe, he said. I thought: why didn’t you cut them down when you built it? – and look at that small mountain of nice chestnut firewood that you’ve gained! Then he said it had been such a lot of work to build it – all the welding of the door frames! Were we supposed to be feeling guilty? I thought – but you set the price for us to buy it, so that will have been included! Lastly he told us how difficult it would be to rebuild! Sour grapes came to mind. I said: ‘C’est trop tard maintenant!’ (it’s too late now). He did have the good grace to shake hands with us before he marched off back to his car, but he was in a right little huff. C’est la vie! I thought. No chance of any help with the disassembling then!
Today an elderly local man arrived. He’s often dropped by before, to walk his equally elderly spaniel and have a chat (in hard to understand patois). We explained why we were moving. He was positively vitriolic about our land-owner! From what we understood he considers him to be a grandiose shit who thinks of nothing but money! He gave us both a very firm handshake before he left and said with a grin: ‘courage!’