Her Outdoors drove down our lovely new road the other day and said the car had lost power and started making a horrible noise. So I took it to our usual garage.

‘Ooo,’ he said. Only in French. ‘Sounds like it could be the timing belt.’

Hoping not, I left the car there and awaited further news.

The next day, I phoned several times and was told something about letters in the post.

The day after that, I got the letters. Actually, bills that appeared to be for someone else. The name was right, the street was very like one we used to live on, but we’d never lived in the village. So the whole family walked into town and I questioned the invoices. Surely they are for someone else, I suggested.

She showed me the dates: 2007. My bills, unpaid, forgotten about, sent to an address that didn’t exist. Bills for about €300.

‘OK,’ I said. ‘I’m pretty sure I paid them. I’ll have a look at home (yurt). But what about the work to fix the car now?’ She showed me an estimate for €2,200. Could be less, but they’d want €840 before even looking at the engine.

We have less than €20.

At yurt (home), I found another invoice that seems to be unpaid, for €145. (Stay with me here, if you can be bothered.) Another thing: The heater doesn’t work. Other things: The back door holder-uppers don’t work (and one of the invoices from 2007 was to replace them when they broke last time). Which would be about another €450.

So it’s beginning to look like we’re not going to repair the car. Or even replace it – an idea that would save us around €250 a month in fuel and insurance. Which would also draw a line through (not under) our €150 a month overspend.

The only real difficulty is going to be getting the kids to school.

More on this, later.

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