Having spent several months looking for the ideal home, I had an appointment at 4 pm on a rainy February afternoon with an agency to see a house for sale just outside Ainhoa.

I was greeted at the Maison Labatchenia by the agent and the couple selling the house. They were 90 and 85 years old and Madame was shouting insults at Monsieur because he had forgotten the keys.

While Monsieur drove back 20 km in his Deux Cheveaux to fetch the keys, Madame kept us entertained. She insisted on calling the agent Roselyne and the poor girl corrected her each time “My name is Cynthia, Madame”. Having had a quick wee behind the car, and encouraging us to do the same as it “isn’t healthy to keep it in”, Madame hopped into the car to warm up.

Madame instructed Roselyne (oh, no Cynthia) to drive around the block on a little tour of Ainoa. She pointed out the spot where her brother had been killed in a car crash in 1952 and the lime kilns originally owned and run by her father. We then sang Basque folk songs in the car until it got dark.

When we returned to the house Monsieur arrived and I was shown around the house by the light of the agent’s mobile phone. The house was in a bad state of repair but was stone with all the original floors, wood beams and stone chimney and it didn’t seem damp, so I made an offer on the spot. It was accepted and the fun began!