Ailanthus altissima - Tree of Heaven apparently ! The house was surrounded by them. Some we kept, some we didn’t. Matt Strawbridge (local tree surgeon type) did the glamorous bit up the trees, while two grumpy types posed for the photo. ….Martin & Duane (Kims dad)
Allianthus in full swing !
Mulberry Tree in much need of a seasonal prune.
Plans to pressure wash and bleach the stone work are afoot.
A new colour for the shutters continues to be a topic of discussion….12 pairs in total…much sanding and repair work me thinks….
What ever the history to “Las Vignes”…translated as The Vines…oddly there are 3 other properties also called Las Vignes within a square mile (our only neighbours). The old vine sprawling across the barn has since been removed to reveal a previously renovated roof and a water tight Barn.
Kimbely has a Tondeuse ! …Not a luxury in France with an Acre of ground, it’s an essential. An ebay find too… before we got it, we managed to find a couple that had set up a garden maintenance business (Mark & Lesley) on their move to France. A coffee and a natter often reveals someone who knows someone for pretty much any job that needs doing - whether a French local with a digger or an ex pat with lots of connections. We learnt that most people have been through what we trying to achieve.
Kimbely in her element, picture taken in late October - cold but dry…I could make a pun about the Accountant making cut backs - but I won’t - oops !
An Autumn / Winter 2018 picture.
Barn roof cleared and yet more garden clearance in progress.
Handy Trailer - ala Phil & Sandra Page..transporting yet more Travertine from B&H Materiux.
Note the French Plate on the trusty Clio (imported from the UK and registered in France) - much paperwork involved and a story in itself (top advice, experience and help from Joel & Maddy)
Some light weeding…..
There doesn’t seem to be anything that constitutes a bit of light weeding at the moment…… Kims mum and dad stayed at a village close by, as part of their spring holiday in 2018 and offered us a weeks help in the garden - as seasoned gardeners…we think they got more than they bargained for…although leave them alone for any length of time - Duane has the chainsaw out and Diane wields a mean secateur !
The house, as well as some serious garden reclamation in progress. It has changed a lot since we started. What starts as a bit of work to spruce up some stone work soon turns into more work than you first intended. Although you don’t have to wait too long for a sunny day to see the results. ….see below….
The Obligatory….Before Picture (how we first saw the house and amazingly was the estate agent cover picture)….although they do say when you’re looking for houses in rural France…you do have to see them up close….we did, still looked bad !
The “After” Picture…….Stone work and roof completed, most of the inside done…and a sunny day to boot ! The outbuildings remain on the “to do” list. That said ,there are always surprises…the need for a 2019 compliant Fosse Septique (septic tank) compared to one considerably older comes with a price tag that makes a seasoned Accountant blink…but apparently the water that comes out of the new multiple chambers and filter beds is entirely “potable” ! I can’t say I fancy trying it, but hey, that’s our part contribution to saving the planet - just some solar panels on the roof of the barn, a few batteries in place and an affordable Tesla and we’ll be off the grid entirely (Elon Musk, if you’re looking for a small experiment free of charge……drop us a line).
Currently eyeing up a mini digger rental to remove suspicious mounds in the garden that seem to hide a stone garden wall, scrape the drive, dig some footings for some new walls etc, etc.
Its a dogs life…….
Friends of ours recently asked us to look after their dog “Harry” for a few days….and of course it was a pleasure, as Harry is a rural France veteran, by our standards, and has the enviable ability to live in the moment, find a nice spot and take it all in. …Without even trying, he teaches a valuable lesson….it’s all too easy to be consumed with the volume of work, when the real answer to happiness lies in a shady spot on a nice peaceful day.
As far as “life” after a long career in the Fire & Rescue Service, Its not quite escape to the chateau - but close…although it’s certainly an escape from traffic, city life, “work” and the clock ticks at a different pace now. Over the years, I worked with some amazing people and have lots of stories, mostly funny, sometimes sad…..a good red usually prompts a story or 3. As I reflect, some people in the Fire Service I remember with great affection…1 or 2…well,….. perhaps not. Those that continue to work there, or have left, that really make a difference and work so selflessly, I continue to admire, and I hope you’ve managed to fathom what I couldn’t, fix the things I broke, and you’ve found a spot you’re happy in….just like Harry.
As an aside…..I think we agreed on the colour for the shutters.