A medieval surprise in the foundations for property expert Paul Dickens

Paul DickensPaul Dickens made the headlines last month when he sent a posse of attractive parking angels out onto the streets of Edinburgh to provide coins for hard-pressed motorists to feed parking machines.

His genius idea came about because, like most other drivers, Paul had been in the situation of finding a gold-dust parking space in the city centre – only for the dread realisation to dawn that he had no change with which to feed the meter.

For one day only Paul’s meter maids patrolled the city centre handing out change to motorists caught short, before the city council’s over-zealous parking attendents could pounce and issue parking fines.

You only have to look at the coverage achieved to see how the idea ignited the imagination of the public. As well as being interviewed by five separate radio stations and making an appearance on Scottish Television’s teatime news bulletins, he also got coverage across most of the daily newspapers.

When he’s not sending out succour to drivers who are lacking small change, Paul is the boss of highly successful Alba Residential, managing more than 1000 rental properties across Edinburgh. Not bad for an ex-joiner, who put himself through Napier University to become a surveyor, then managed to find the time to buy and tart up a couple of one-bedroom flats, so laying the foundations for what is now an impressive property empire.

Even now, when he could happily be sunning himself somewhere exotic for 50 weeks of the year, Paul is as hands-on as he’s ever been and wouldn’t know what to do with himself without work to focus his mind. Wife Kath is the financial brains of the operation and between them they keep Alba  Residential ticking over nicely.

Recently they decided it was time to enjoy some of the benefits of the 20 years hard graft they’ve put in – by buying a family holiday home in rural france. Being cautious in all matters properly related, Paul did his homework, forging excellent relations with the team at Premier Resorts. After looking over several sites which didn’t fit the bill, the Euro estate agents eventually hit the jackpot.

Paul flew out to view the proposed property – part of a planned modern development on the site of a former medieval settlement in Carcassone, nestling in the foothills of the Pyrenees. As a property man he knows the importance of location, location, location and as soon as he clapped eyes on the area Paul had set his heart on moving there. Without much ado he agreed a price and took his pick of the 48 plots.

Only one problem. When work on the development started, Paul’s was one of only two houses where excavations turned up more than was bargained for – including medieval bones and coins. Before he could say zut alors et sacre bleu a team of archaelogists from Paris were on the scene waving official looking papers and roping off Paul’s new hoose.

After six months of chipping, digging and brushing, the boffins satisfied themselves there was nothing else to find, packed up their trowels and headed back to La Sorbonne with their bags full of semi-fossilised metatarsals and other such Time Team goodies.

It sounds like a plot line straight out a Tintin adventure, which suits Paul just fine, since he’s mad keen on the Herge books about the boy reporter, partly due to the fact that his mum was originally from Belgium.

History has a way of repeating itself and I think there could be another twist in this story.

I’ll bet the archaeology boffins will come back  with the report that Paul’s new French retreat was once a stopping point for all manner of medieval carts, wagons and chariots – and that the coins they’ve found at the site were what drivers during the Middle Ages needed to secure themselves a decent parking spot!

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One thought on “A medieval surprise in the foundations for property expert Paul Dickens

  1. Paul and I have discussed various French developments in the past and after visiting our new development near Carcassonne last year I just knew it was right for him and his family. I called him and he was very shrewd by grasping the moment to visit there and then in the middle of winter – not normally a popular choice of time for house hunting – thus he got his reward by having the pick of the plots before sales took off in earnest a few weeks later
    Paul and Kathleen have been delightful people to deal with and they have managed to show great patience and fortitude while they worked their way through the legendary French paperwork!! This is no mean feat but worth it in the long run Paul and Kathleen now own a lovely house in rural France with a fascinating history. I wish them all the very best.

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