In March 2009, Mark began to seal and obscure the window that overlooks the disputed parcel of land. A day after beginning this work, we went out for the day to visit friends. We came back and discovered that Scrote had trespassed onto our property again, erected a post and wire fence, and made it very clear that Mark could no longer complete the job he had begun. The window was sealed on the inside, the bricks on the outside were held with cement, further cement was poured from inside the house to secure the external brickwork. Scrote chose to believe this was not secure. As far as we concerned this was secure and the window obscured. Scrote made several complaints and demands for the window to be secured and obscured properly after this. We erected a wooden fence along the wire and post fence line, to complete the resetting of the boundary both physically and visually.
Throughout this time, we were still frequently disturbed by his dogs at the front of the house and when one or other of us, or our cat stepped out into our front garden we were barked at. The view of his dirty yard, full of old machinery and dog shit was very unpleasant and of course smelly. We attempted to make a small screen for our cat, so that he could get at least 1 metre into the garden without being barked at. Scrote constantly knocked this screen down with his car, stating that it was blocking his right of way. (We shared a driveway). One of his dogs had killed (on two separate occasions) two of my chickens, so we were concerned that the dogs might escape and attack the cat. Scrote would also express his anger by revving his engine hard, and covering us in exhaust fumes. He would also do this if he saw us sitting outside enjoying the tranquillity, or using the phone. He would also reverse elaborately all over our garden (by several metres) when towing his trailer into his front yard. In fact, we had no privacy or security. It seemed to us that he still felt that he had ownership of this house and garden.
In July 2009, all but 2 of our chickens were killed by a local dog who’d escaped his home. During the aftermath, we decided that we would close the gates at the end of the shared driveway, to make an extra barrier to deter stray dogs, and to protect the remaining 3 chickens. Scrote (with whom we shared the drive) decided that this was not acceptable, and proceeded to open them, every time he passed in his car, (as by now he was using his alternative driveway for about 85% of the time). Scrote (who knew the chickens had been killed, and despite me writing a note on the gate explaining the reasons for the closure) continued to open the gates, even deliberately driving past, just to open them and then going home again. This sounds unbelievable, and as I write this from my notes, I am still astonished at how bad things became and that these little acts were causing us such grief. I am also pleased to say that with all his laying down of gauntlets, ninety nine percent of the time we did not pick them up. He has an innate ability to push people’s buttons. We had a friend here one afternoon that went out for a cigarette and encountered Scrote for about five minutes. Our friend came back in, red in the face and asking us if we had a gun! Thankfully, we don’t.
In August this year my family again came to visit. They travelled by train to our nearest city and I went off with son, girlfriend and one grandson to hire a car. Mark, my daughter and older grandson returned home to make use of the small, plastic plunge pool we’d erected and filled the week before. After a tiring and complicated hiring process (I’d not got my purse) we arrived home to discover that J (my daughter) had turned round and noticed Scrote taking photos! I was shaken to the core and was terribly upset that we had no privacy and a nice private family holiday had been spoiled by him taking photos. We wondered who he was taking photos of? My daughter, my 8 year old grandson? For the rest of their stay, we parked the cars across the garden like a wall, it gave us some semblance of privacy and I am sure sent a message to him. The following morning Mark and I went again to the gendarmerie, and this time (regrettably) complained but did not place a formal complaint. It would have been useful at a later date to have had some written evidence of this occurrence. During this visit, with young children here, we closed the gates. Scrote continued to open them. It was at this time that we realised that we need to make some changes to the outside of the house, and have gates that we could control for ourselves.
It was during late 2009, we noted that Scrote was beginning to transform some outbuildings, into living accommodation. These look directly over our front garden, and if lived in, would completely invade our privacy. As far as we are concerned, he had not applied for a Permis de Constuire at this time.
In October 2009, we were informed that we were to receive a gift of money from Mark’s mum. This meant we would now be able to go ahead and refurbish the roof which was in a very poor state and also consider building a wall, well outside the limits of the right of way, on our land. In November 2009, we arranged for several devis for the work to the roof. In March 2010, we agreed with a local firm, paid a 10,000 euro deposit to start the roof in September 2010. In March 2010, we wrote to Scrote to tell him we would be refurbishing the roof later in the year, and that we expected he would allow us to place scaffolding on his land. He replied with another long letter of complaints and told us that until we had attended to all his demands, he would refuse to allow the scaffolding to be erected on his land. We weren’t too concerned at this point, as there is a law which allows us reasonable access to maintain our property.
In April 2010 we sought advice from the Maire regarding the building of a wall, along the boundary of the right of way, shared with Scrote. We applied for a Permis de Constuire despite there being no requirement in the Plan d’Urbanisme. We had been advised to do this to protect ourselves, knowing how Scrote would react. We also sought the advice of a local geometre, checking the law with him, and making sure of the boundaries and our obligations.
In May 2010, the construction of the wall began; we were very excited to be finally creating a physical boundary between us and him. Work started first of all on a new opening onto our front garden.
Scrote harassed the builders for several days, taking photos, and getting in the way of heavy machinery, culminating in an incident where he blocked the builders into the right of way whilst they were laying footings, called the gendarmes and employed an hussier to fight his corner. The gendarmes who had turned up in the first instance were not local, did not know our history, nor Scrote’s history nor our history with Scrote. They began to dispute our measurements and told us we should have measured form the middle of the right of way, not the outer edge. What we didn’t note at that point was, we own all of the right of way, and Scrote jointly owns a third of it with us. After about an hour (it seemed much longer), one of our local gendarmes advised us to visit the gendarmerie that afternoon to sort things out in peace.
This was incredibly stressful for us, as in retrospect, we realised that the hussier had bullied us, just as Scrote does. For a while, we really began to doubt ourselves and our very thorough research, and wondered whether we’d made a big mistake.
We, at that time, didn’t understand the role of the hussier, and tried to be polite and accommodating. What we now know is, the hussier was employed for and paid for by Scrote and therefore was not interested in the truth. When he’d finished taking advice from Scrote, he arrived at our door. We invited him in, offered a drink, but were faced with a cold and calculating man. When Mark and I spoke to each other in English, he asked us, “Why are you speaking in English?” Of course the answer to that is because we are English, and it is our first language and this is our house. That’s not what we said, we both tried harder to manage in French. In fact the hussier accused us of understanding French when we want to. These are words we have heard Scrote use about us.
We attended the gendarmerie as advised that afternoon, and were immediately informed by them that they believe that the wall was a very good idea, that the Maire had agreed it, and that we should continue to build it. The relief we felt is indescribable, what had begun as any other day, had turned into our worst nightmare and ended up with us feeling on top of the world.
So, weekend over, the building work continued at a pace. They continued with the footings which should have been finished on Friday and ready for the wall on Monday after a weekend to go off. This had been delayed by the hussier and his antics, at one point falling into the ditch whilst talking a out the risk of the unfilled ditch. On Monday afternoon, Scrote returned from wherever he’d been staying overnight, his double take when seeing the footings being continued was a sight for sore eyes. It seemed he’d not bothered to check the outcome of the events of Friday.
At times the weather was against them, and they (our builders from Haute Vienne) reminded each other of a conversation they’d had when deciding when was a good time to begin the job. “Let’s do it in May, it’ll be hot and we can wear shorts”… I have several photos of them working hard in very wet conditions. From my notes,
A, “Does this look like an erection Kathy?”
Kathy, “A, if you don’t know by now…..”
I, “Bleep, bleep, bleep….”
A, “We’ll call it foreplay then.”
The wall was completed towards the end of June and we at last began to enjoy some peace and security. We were able to sit in our own garden, rarely barked at by the dogs, who could no longer see us and we began to realise how important this physical boundary was in relation to Scrote’s apparent need to control his old territory.
Our cat was rolling around on the new driveway within days, the first time he’d been able to enjoy the front of the house in several years. It was also nice to be able to contemplate having our grandchildren here, enjoying privacy and security with the gates closed.
We believe that since the incident above, where I asked Scrote during the heat of the fracas if he’d applied for planning permission for his outbuildings, and he’d nearly swallowed his ever present roll up, that he applied for retrospective Permis de Constuire for the buildings and double glazed doors, which quite blatantly overlooked out garden. Now they have a nice view of a grey block wall.
Since the wall has been in place, Scrote has frequently had visitors who park on the right of way on our land. This has happened 3 or 4 times, and we have chosen not to address this with him. We are well aware that he knows that parking here is not permissible. We suppose Scrote is attempting to get us to fight with him, so we choose to ignore his provocation. We even heard a car one day, being moved and then returned on instructions from Scrote.
Throughout the wall saga (known as Our Magnificent Erection) I felt very supported by fellow forum members on The France Forum. I sometimes felt I shared too much on there, but most people were very supportive and I believe enjoyed reading the daily updates along with rather a lot of photos. There were the odd one or two who enjoyed sharing horror stories about similar projects, as if we needed scaring any more than we already were! That’s forum’s for you.
At times during the above processes, we’ve had visitors here who have either been incredibly supportive, absolutely understanding about how it feels to be bullied and intruded upon. However we’ve also had the odd one or two who by their response to the provocation from next door, or to questions about the latest developments have obviously felt that it is us that have caused the issues, and even one person suggesting that we could give up the land in the right of way at the front (yet another piece of land) to keep the peace. I am not sure why they would think giving in to a bully is the answer. I honestly believe we are probably the first people who have stood our ground and not given up in the face of the bullying and threats from hussier’s and advocats employed by him.
Phew, this is a long one, and believe me I am a prolific taker of photos, so choosing what to show and what not to show has been brain achingly hard.