Working on the house and getting it ready to live in has been slow in some ways; we want things to happen quicker, we want to be there now, living the life we’ve planned, but things take time, (a lesson I should’ve learnt by now) and we can’t – with the best will in the world – do all the work ourselves. The ‘other half’ has been amazing, piecing together central heating, plumbing water systems, constructing things in wood (and bamboo!), to name just a few of the many jobs he’s done, and there seem to be so many more for us to do in the future. There’s no way on earth I could have considered doing this without him, nor would I have wanted to; this is a joint venture, a proper partnership. But there are jobs we can’t do; for safety’s sake and the restrictions of time, rewiring a house is not something you can just throw together. And though I’m sure he could have learned, neither is plastering a skill you can just pick up in five minutes. So we do have to rely on other people. We have found a great electrician through my sister, and we appear to have found a plasterer (finally!) and maybe a plumber who can commission the heating, both in the same way.
People ask me whether I’m excited about the move still and when I take a moment and stand back, or tell people about it, I am, who wouldn’t be? A new life, in a new home, lovingly restored by us, in a different country where there are new experiences to be had and a new language to learn; a quiet and simple life, close to the countryside around us. But day-to-day, day in, day out, you lose that. My days are spent planning and organising (I know, no surprise there!) trying to ensure we have all the items we need for the new house, researching on the Internet all things French, health care, taxation, checking prices, making sure the budget is squeezed and squeezed again, so we can make sure the priorities are covered. The house in the UK is in the process of having every visible surface cleaned and we’re packing and reorganising where we can. In the midst of all of that, the excitement gets lost somehow. Always busy, always something to do or think about and then there are disruptions, distractions, normal everyday life. That’s what this journey is really like daily.
But there are still good things to report. I’m hoping our new world will be more in tune with the environment and the seasons, and for those of you interested in the natural world, we have, along with the usual things you’d see in any British garden, seen of few things of note between us. On two occasions during my last visit I saw a red squirrel clambering down the tree trunks in our garden and investigating the lawn. I’ve had a report this week, while working on a bridge to connect the two halves of the garden over the usually empty rill, of a 3-foot snake slithering along it. Unfortunately, it had disappeared before the camera phone could be found, but identifying snakes is probably something we’ll need to learn. We’ve spent warm lunches sat outside on our stone bench watching the lizards in the courtyard sunning themselves, and there have been various sightings of our feathered friends. Buzzards seem to be everywhere in this part of France, but twice one has been spotted on a tree in the back garden near the barn, redstarts are also about and one was on the bedroom windowsill early one morning, and one of the biggest highlights for me so far was when we first arrived in France, before we’d even bought the house, seeing migrating cranes passing overhead on their way to their summer breeding sites. I’m looking forward to seeing them on their return.
I hope to be able to illustrate these blog posts with photos not just of the house but of our surroundings too. For the moment I can share some from previous trips that I haven’t posted before.