We never knew exactly how much land we had in Brighton (something like 366 x 274 cm – give or take an inch).

Half of it was wood and the other half tiles. And to clean it, we needed half an hour, a stiff broom, a bucket, some warm water and a splash of washing up liquid.

Similarly, we don’t exactly know how much land we have now – around 10.47 acres. We looked for the boundary markers the other day, and discovered we need to employ the local géomètre-expert (who has an office behind our house).

Again, half of it is wood (although untreated and mostly vertical). And to clean it, we will need this:

Question is: How does someone who’s spent 18 years sitting in front of a computer, where the only breeze comes from a dodgy air-conditioning system, make an informed decision about outdoor machinery?

First, you accidentally walk into a chainsaw and strimmer shop, while looking for a quad bike.

A few weeks later, you go into the local B&Q equivalent (which is over 200 metres away!) and stand in front of a selection of chainsaws ranging in price, size and brand, while your partner tries to stop your son climbing on all the lawnmowers, while saying: “tractor”.

Searching for some kind of guidance, you return to the first shop and find yourself looking at a wall of STIHL, where the cheapest would be the most expensive in the B&Q. “Why the one brand?” you ask the sales geezer, who reminds you a lot of Kevin from Minneapolis.

“Because that’s the brand we sell,” he replies truthfully. “And it’s the number one brand in the world.”

Convinced by his confidence and the offer of seamless aftersales service, you turn again to face the two-dozen seemingly identical weapons of woodland warfare and say: “But which one?”

After a few more questions, it’s obvious. The ones on the left are too small. The ones on the right are too large. The one pretty much exactly in the middle (pictured) is just right.

An instore demo, some free lube, a top-up, a free chain, second pair of leather gloves and 100 euros off and the deal was done.

What, you may be thinking, no ridiculous so-called coincidence? Surely the sales geezer knew which bit of land we had bought, had even been there, and knew the previous owner, who used to work in that particular chainsaw and strimmer merchant?


To all of the above.

Relating this tale to our esteemed estate agent in Le P’tit Loup the following day, he says: “STIHL. I have a STIHL. It’s great. It used to be my father’s.”