Sometimes life goes by so fast, we find ourselves running on autopilot and it takes a special occasion or a comment from a friend to make us stop and take a look at what we have actually achieved.
This happened to me recently; with five children (four at home full time), work, and a large house and garden to take care of there’s never a dull moment and there is always plenty going on to keep me out of mischief! But last week a friend came to stay and as we were chatting one evening over a glass of wine I found myself reflecting on what we have achieved since we moved to France and the more I delved deeper into what we have actually done the more surprised I was. I found myself thinking we’ve actually accomplished quite a lot! I had forgotten so much, things that we now take for granted.
In the house we didn’t even have a kitchen. Well we did, but when we bought the house it looked like this and so we ripped it out and made this the study. As a result we lived for several months with just a sink and a couple of painters tables for work surfaces. We turned what had been used as a dining room into our kitchen, but it was worth the wait as this is now the heart of our home.
The sitting room was no better; now we love it!
In fact everywhere was in dire need of some major modernisation as you can see!
Bit by bit we turned it into the home we wanted it to be, keeping the original character.
Our terrace wasn’t a terrace at all and it certainly wasn’t used for the sheer pleasure of outdoor living, instead it was where the previous owners parked their cars, so that they were right by the front door.
We still have one window which has a tendency to leak when the rain comes from a certain direction, no matter what we do it seems impossible to fix and when the wind is howling, the front door is draughty. This is an old and much loved house, but it’s not a place where everything is new and works like clockwork with the flick of a switch; there are plenty of little quirks and many things have their own unique way of functioning (or not on occasions!) it keeps things interesting and it certainly keeps one on one’s toes! but this is our home and although it is far from perfect I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Whenever we enter our driveway, especially at this time of year, we all fall in love all over again. Turning off the road we inch into our own private little paradise. Right now the honeysuckle is in full flower and its perfume scents the air all around.
We are lucky to have plenty of really old established trees; ash, linden (lime) and planes that have stood for centuries – one of the few things on a property that cannot be bought. However, we tend to forget that when we moved here the garden was overgrown and neglected, the lawn was a foot high and the boundary walls covered in ivy. But over the years we have brought it back to its former glory, it’s still home to more than its fair share of weeds, thanks to our no spray and no pesticide policy, but we love it.
Surprisingly for a French home there was no potager. There were plenty of fruit trees scattered around and red and black currant bushes in amongst the flower borders but there was a distinct lack of herbs and vegetables. As a result the potager was one of the first jobs we tackled in the garden for we could not possibly live here without growing our own produce. We chose this sheltered spot below, beside the vines, and got to work.
Initially our French neighbour came over with his rotovator and dug the first beds for us. Then a few years later we edged the beds with old stone we had in the garden and added plenty of good compost.
We built a pond, too, again using some of the old stone of which (and here we really are so fortunate) there is an abundance, still lying in corners here and there. When it was done it did not take long for pond-life to magically appear. Frogs and toads found us first; now they croak in the evening and lie about sunning themselves during the day.
Our chicken-garden was also non-existent, and of course there were no chickens. It was just a part of the property containing a huge amount of rubble and seemed to have been a dumping ground for all the garden debris, lawn cuttings and branches from over many years.
Our gîte, or guest cottage had been used as a ‘granny-annex’ and was a complete disaster area, as you can see.
and now it looks like this!
It’s hard to believe we have now been welcoming people here for over four years, it’s one of my favourite things about the summer; meeting new people, showing them around and hearing tales of their adventures over a glass of wine as they discover the area.
But it’s not just the property that gives me a sense of achievement. Our children are now completely bilingual and we are so proud of them for getting to that stage; they are French and yet they are English – and they can flit between the two languages without giving it a second thought and with neither in a foreign accent. Perhaps they are probably far more French than English in many ways, but when we came here none of them spoke the language hardly at all.
Despite being a farmer’s daughter and growing up on a farm I had never raised chickens; for some reason we never had a rooster at home – just lots of hens clucking around the farmyard, providing us with daily eggs. Now though, we have our own small flock, including local Marans hens who lay the wonderfully rich dark chocolate brown eggs, and we have successfully introduced four Araucana’s this year who are rewarding us with our first blue eggs, which still bring a smile to my face every time I pick them up. Of course we also have our faithful little Pekin Bantams. These are the ones who always go broody and who’s eggs are fertilised by our own rooster of the same breed. Every year we have hatched a few chicks and 2018 is no exception; currently our white bantam, Amy, is sitting on a clutch of 7 eggs which are due to hatch tomorrow.
What is it with the number 7? 7 in our family, 7 chicks and 7 puppies (and not planned at all!) Evie’s ‘babies’ are now up and running around, and they love being out on the lawn for a couple of hours each day. They’re now eating solid food, wagging tails and starting to play “full-on” with each other. There are plenty of tears as teeth are getting longer and sharper!
I cannot say it has all been easy as there has been a fair amount of hard work involved, but it’s a bit like childbirth – one tends to forget the bad parts and just remember the good bits! It’s all really still a work in progress; there will always be new projects, and there is always something that needs doing and something that needs mending or fixing. Just yesterday, Roddy had the delightful task of dealing with two broken loos.
And we’re never too old to stop learning. Last night I was pruning the vines; there are plenty of tiny grapes forming and my mouth was watering at the thought of eating them from the end of August onwards. But go back a few years and I didn’t have a clue how to prune a vine, now I can do it almost with my eyes closed – it’s just another of the seasonal jobs in the garden.
We have been incredibly lucky since we moved here, we’ve met so many wonderful people, especially locals and neighbours, we dine in their houses and they dine in ours. And they are only too happy to give us some advice and share a few tips.
120 thoughts on “Making Our Home What It Is Today”
As someone who had the huge joy of visiting you I can only underline everything you wrote. I often wonder how on earth you as a family do everything you do. And the guest house…. and the garden…. and the driving/running about for your children! I didn’t learn how to trim our 2 wines we have, I let them go berserk and the tiny grapes are reserved for the birds…. I don’t need to learn it any longer as we have decided to sell our beautiful, paradise. But we will never forget the joys this old house and the ‘wild’ garden gave us, the pains and bitter disappointments, the huge bills for unexpected and urgent repairs will be forgotten and only the beauty and calm, the feeling of this peaceful heaven will stay with us.
Makes me want to pack a suitcase and push my way to you again….. And coming back with a puppy. They are über-cute! It will totally break your hearts when you will have to let them go, I know it. But how could you NOT get attached to them. I’m even kissing the screen of HH’s iPad here!!!!!
Lots of love and thank you for those beautiful photos. Passed on the link for the holiday home to friends – although I don’t hold my breath that they will make it. So let’s just say: I tempted them with all you have on offer. Maybe it will work its charm.
I wish you would pack our suitcase and come and spend another weekend, you know anytime, literally, there is always a spare room in our house. Now I seriously owe you an email, I am just playing catch up at the moment after a manic weekend, but I promise I will, very soon, I want to hear all of your news, ours is plentiful but none of it very exciting, just the usual stuff! I am glad you have come to a decision, although I can imagine how sad it must be. Big big hugs xxx
As HH always says: Tout est dans la tête (It’s all in the mind)…. It won’t be for the immediate future, a sale like this is never, it will be horrendously hectic to live between two countries with heavy ‘duties’ in both, it will pass – I’m just trying to take one day after the other and be of support where and as much as I can. Better times will follow, I know that much. Waiting for your news 🙂 Hugs xoxo
It will all work out and most of all let me know if I can help in any way. I promise that email will be forthcoming, it’s just crazy season, with guests, garden etc etc. and the addition of puppies who are now so time consuming! xx
love your post and share it with friends..
Thanks so much, that is always very much appreciated. xx
Thank you for such a wonderful beautiful post….it took me away – like a vacation for the heart and soul. Your home is beautiful. You can see the love you’ve created in your home.
Thanks so much, I really do feel like that when I walk around the house and garden, we really do just love it here, it is a very soothing calming place to live xx
You have certainly achieved quite a lot and it looks fabulous!
Thanks so much Nadia, you know what these old places are like, lots and lots of work and it never really comes to an end! xx
You have been truly blessed! You have a wonderful family & a lovely home. Isn’t that the best life? Hope you keep all your doggies like Mimi Thorisson, with all her dogs. Have a great weekend!
Thank you Deborah, trust me we would love to keep every one of the puppies, we adore them all and couldn’t possibly choose a favourite, but it would be impossible, I cannot imagine 9 dogs running around the house, it would be too much and also too much work as we don’t have any help. So we will just keep one, but who, we have no idea! xx
I certainly understand. I guess I didn’t realize there were 9. If I lived close, I would surely adopt one or two. I love your home. I hope it doesn’t get as hot this summer for you as it has already started in Texas with record temps. Your patios & gardens are to pretty not to be able to go out.
9 was such a huge number for her, poor girl. But the 7 are growing hugely and are such fun now, lots of hard work but worth every second of it. It has been a strange spring so far, one minute really hot and the next cool and rainy. Hope you cool down soon and that you can enjoy your summer xx
I loved this post! You have a achieved so much, and I imagine the journey to this point is as much the achievement. We are currently in the throes of a hefty remodel ourselves. A friend recently commented we needed a good project to sink ourselves into. There may be truth in that, even though it was not our initial thought. Best wishes!
Well the very best of luck to you, I know just what you are going through, but it is great fun, the tiny little things seem like huge achievements. I remember the day we actually had a proper kitchen, I wanted to run my hands over the counters and not let anyone actually cook in it and mess it all up! It’s fun and it really does make our homes our own, enjoy your remodel. xx
Oh Susan, you have come a long way. The house and gardens are stunning in just the right way. We both wish we lived a little bit closer, okay a few thousand miles closer, so that it would be easy to drop in for a glass of wine. You and Roddy could do the same. There would be talk of photography…which lens to use… Brocants to visit….meals to indulge in….and lots of laughter.
Maybe this year…
Wouldn’t that be wonderful, we would love to be able to invite you over for dinner, or a bbq and a glass of wine. Sadly with a long haul flight involved it’s not going to happen on a regular basis. But this year, absolutely, let me know your plans xx
We too have lots of small grapes on our vine, so please share your pruning expertise!
I will with pleasure. At this time of year in late May or early June, once the small bunches appear we cut off any lower branches which have appeared and trim back some of the really long ones to two leaves above the bunch of grapes. It really is very straight forward. xx
What an adventure you all have been on and are still. I really enjoy reading your posts when they come. Thanks!
Thanks so much, it is always a bit of an adventure here, never a dull moment for sure! xx
YOU LIVE IN PARADISE!!!!!!!!!!!!
IT WAS ALL WORTH IT AND YES ONE NEEDS TO REFLECT FROM TIME TO TIME!!!!!
We are very lucky, it is lovely here and we love it. But sometimes one can get lost in life and forget how far we have come, being reminded to look back and reflect is sometimes a good thing! xx
Really enjoyed reading your post. All your efforts have certainly paid off. 😊
Thanks so much, it’s been hard work but so worthwhile! xx
You have achieved a lot! Love your home and your gardens.
Thanks so much Penny, you know what it’s like, although you started from scratch, which might be easier or harder, depending on which way you look at it! xx
I loved this post – thanks for sharing. It’s nice to reflect – the photos are beautiful! Every single one of them – you’ve made a gorgeous home. If the US would just realize how awesome real shutters are…
Thanks so much, oh yes real shutters are so worthwhile in so many ways and are certainly not just for decoration. Fabulous for keeping out the bad weather, for keeping the house warmer in winter and much cooler in summer, the list goes one xx
I have a policy of no rear-view mirror in my life-car but I do make an exception when it is looking back and taking stock of achievement. And you have achieved SO much. The house, the garden, the gîte, the children, the animals – it is an idyll that you have created. It is hard work, of course it is but the hard work pays abundantly in the satisfaction you must both feel. How long have you been in France? Just asking because we are gliding towards our moment of settling sometime in the next 1-2 years and I wonder how on earth we will fit it all in!!!! Xx
It is all so worthwhile, but sometimes I think we forget just how much we really have done and how far we have come. It is when I listen to the children chatting to their friends that I feel the happiest of all, so proud of all of them. We have been in France for 7 years or so, with a break in the middle. So exciting for you and you know what, somehow you will fit it in. I am not sure how we do it, but it all works out, one way or another and it is better than sitting around, twiddling one’s thumbs and being bored!! xx
It works because you are open to making it work. I am sure that is the key. You don’t stand back and wait for life to come to you, you muck in and you have made a beautiful home and a beautiful life for you all. I know we will find our place, we are pretty sure we know where we want it to be and we know what we want and what our budget is. For the moment we have work to do in New England but the hard work will be worth it for the reward at the end and in the meantime we are so fortunate to be in a lovely place and to have the opportunity to explore this huge land. Bored is not an option chez vous or chez nous xx
You are probably right as always! I am already excited for you and your new adventure and then, we will have to meet on your side of France and also on our side! I owe you an email, after our chaotic weekend it has been a week of catch up, but I will write before Monday, I promise xxx
Don’t fret about writing …. just whenever you can is absolutely fine! And yes, yes, yes!! We will meet on each other’s sides of France and have a heavenly time with lots of laughter and good cheer – guaranteed 🙂 xx
Guaranteed I agree, you know how busy life is with a big brood. Hope you are having a fabulous weekend xx
The Before and After pictures are amazing! With such a busy life, it’s easy to forget all that you have done.
Do you rent out your guest cottage? Or is it just for friends and family? Next year, I will become an empty nester and am planning some travel. It would be such fun to visit your area. Love everything you have done to your beautiful home.
Thanks so much, it was rather fun to look back and actually realise what we have achieved, one tends to forget! We do rent out the guest cottage and it would be wonderful to welcome you here next year. Perhaps you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you some details for next year. xx
Thank you so much for sharing your adventures! It makes me think back on what we have done in the 28 years that we have been here in our little suburb…..its always good to look back…to see where we have been…
You have done a beautiful job! Its all lovely….thanks so much for sharing…
It is always good to look back and appreciate what we have done, this is where photos are so important, as we tend to forget and then we see a picture and it is quite a shock to see what we have done. I am sure in 28 years you have achieved a huge amount, what fun to look back at the before and after. xx
It’s good to reflect on what you’ve achieved. The place looks lovely, wholly charming and totally inviting. You obviously have a real flair for interior décor.
PS Thanks for the picture of the puppies, so adorable.
Thanks so much, the house and garden are something of a passion I have to admit, this is my hobby and what I enjoy doing immensely! The puppies are just the icing on the cake, too cute and adorable for words! xx
Your property is beautiful. I know it had to be a lot of work, but isnt it wonderful to see how far you have come, and to love your home and have it love you back? Thanks for sharing it with us.
It is wonderful to see our home brought back to life and repaired and fully functional once more. And it return it rewards us by giving us a wonderful calming and soothing place to live. xx
What a transformation, I love how everything is so natural and yet so lovely. Hats off to all of you
Thanks so much Amanda, we have always tried to keep everything as simple as possible and to retain the original character at all times. xx
So enjoy your posts! Thanks for sharing. Everything looks so warm & inviting. My granddaughter has just left for Montreal for a new job. I hope she & her husband find a welcoming home there. Love the puppies!
Thanks so much Shirley, I really hope your granddaughter and husband have a wonderful new life and adventure in Montreal, I have never been there but I hear it is a fabulous city. xx
Your gîte looks so delightful. My husband and I are looking for a special place to spend a week this summer, how do we make a reservation?
Thanks so much Maggie, I am afraid we are fully booked until the end of September, but we are now taking bookings for 2019 if you are planning a trip next year. If this is of interest please do send me an email at email@example.com and we can chat further. xx
I want to come on vacation there and then never return, it would be a dream come true to travel your area and to sit in your terrace and share a glass of wine, oh well I can dream, and who knows maybe I will win the lottery and it will all come true!
Ha ha, I always have dreams if I should win the lottery, which I don’t even do, so there is no hope at all! But dreams are good and if you do get lucky, there is always a glass of wine to welcome you here on the terrace xx
As you are well aware I am always surprised by what you pack into a day. And then add more.
Really, I am not sure you know how to stop and relax. Soon I hope to force you to do so of an occasional evening.
For those who don’t know, it really IS all as charming as you make it out to be.
Oh don’t worry, I think I relax quite well, perhaps because I feel as if I am always relaxed, or at least 90% of the time! But the occasional evening does sound wonderful, thoroughly looking forward to it and thank you so so much xx
I’m reading the comments, as well as your post. All that wine, all those puppies. You do make it seem as if the hardest part is remembering to put on sunscreen before you step outside. Those before pictures tell the tale, though. Congratulations for seeing through the clutter, the awful kitchen and all, to see what the house could be. To get the “after” to its current picture-perfect state, in a foreign language and country, while keeping kids clean and fed, that’s truly impressive. Bravo.
Thanks so much, now if only it really was as simple as remembering to put on the sunscreen! As I am sure you know only too well, the job is never entirely finished with these old properties, we live with them and keep them ticking along. Now we are on the doorstep of June we must try and arrange that lunch? xx
We are well into June! Yes, lunch. That sounds great.
Might have to be July now, time is running away with us! xx
Typical. That’s my life, too. July should be fine. If you like Baroque music, think of coming up my way for William Christie’s music festival at the end of August.
LOVE LOVE LOVE !!!! Your house is adorable and so are your family and puppies!!!
Thanks so much, I agree with you about the puppies, they are beyond gorgeous and such time wasters, and now they are playing, oh my goodness it is so much fun! xx
You have certainly achieved a huge amount. Your home and gardens are evidence of a stunning restoration project – and all done by you two, not by interior designers and professional landscapers. Your children of course are your finest achievement – they sound absolutely lovely and I admire the way you are bringing them up with your well considered values on environmental and social issues.
But if I may say so, as someone who has read your blog from the very start, you have gradually built a lovely window on to your world and refined and polished your creation. Your blog is now simultaneously very professional and well written, and very genuine. It was always very appealing, but it is also now very, very accomplished. Chapeau!
Tricia, thank you so very much, I read your comment out to all the children and Roddy this evening, I was so touched and you quite made my day. I love writing the blog and the interaction with everyone and you are sending me to bed this evening with a wonderful smile on my face, thank you once again xx
I did enjoy this post…I have seen the ‘after’ and now I have have seen the ‘before’ and what a lot of work you have put in. You have a beautiful home. I cannot believe how much the puppies have grown in the 2 weeks since we left too.
Thanks so much Denise, next time you are here I will show you a lot more of the before photos! The puppies are now chasing us around the lawn and terrace, they are so adorable, I cannot believe how quickly they have developed as well. Hope all went well today, xx
What an incredible transformation Susan!
Thanks so much Helen, we love it here xx
Glad to see the puppies are doing well and the garden is already looking so vibrant and colorful!
The puppies are beyond adorable, now they are chasing us around the terrace and upper garden, so fabulous! xx
Hi Susan, your blood, sweat and tears have certainly paid off. Your house is beautiful. And those little squiggles of fur are simply wonderful! Thank you for sharing with us, Suzi x
Thanks so much Suzi, it really has become a wonderful place to live and the puppies, well they are just the icing on the cake! xx
I look at all your family’s accomplishments and say from the bottom of my soul… heaven on earth! It truly doesn’t get any better in my mind. I so thank you for sharing your stories.
Thanks so much Liane, it has taken a lot of hard work to get where we are at today, but it is so worthwhile, this has become a wonderful family home to us all. xx
Kudos on the accomplishments – the before and after photos are great. And the puppies are too cute. Four years doesn’t seem like such a long time to have effected significant improvements. Helps to have good “bones” to start with! I have dreams of a chicken run in our backyard and am determined to reclaim our smallish ornamental pond from the now rampant vegetation that I used to pray would take hold and flourish. It did. With a vengeance. My ongoing battle is with the English ivy that seems to want to wrap everything in its lush greenness. I had visions of dense, controlled beds – you know, like other people have. I made the mistake of turning my back for half a minute and it ran up trees and crawled into the basement. But the cleome are better than ever this year – they self-seed and add a casualness in the beds. I love the fireworks-like explosions of blooms at the tops of the stalks. And they are dignified enough to hold themselves erect without aid of other support – unlike their friends the foxgloves who droop under the weight of their own blossoms, especially after a rain. Our acre patch is 80% shade – from light to dense. I have packed as much goodness into the 20% sun as I can, to the extent that a neighbor questioned whether my goal was to see how many blooming plants I could wedge in. Maybe.
Good bones certainly help, in fact they make it relatively easy! English ivy is a nightmare if it is in the wrong place, I have to keep a constant vigilant eye on ours, as you say turn your back and it is growing where it shouldn’t! We don’t have cleomes here and I have just googled them to see what they are, they sound fascinating, thank you for mentioning them as I am now going to do some more research! We have foxgloves which I do love. I hope you do get to have your chickens, they are so rewarding and it is so fabulous to go and collect fresh eggs each day and do reclaim your pond, it will be so rewarding, I love having a water feature in the garden, it adds a whole new dimension and there is always something to look at xx
You should be very proud of the beautiful upgrading of your property and having visited several times over the past few years, we have enjoyed every visit. Look forward to our next trip x
Thanks so much Neil. Hope all is well with you and Yvonne and your father. We will certainly miss you this year, but we are already looking forward to seeing you again before too long. You cannot imagine how gorgeous the puppies are, such time wasters and now they are chasing us around the terrace and garden when we take them outside! xx
Wow! Your before and after photographs tell a story that one couldn’t guess simply by looking at your usual pictures. How fantastic that you had an ‘eye’ for what could be made of the property you bought to turn it into such a well-loved home. I understand now why so many of your entries are peppered with the odd wish to renovate some of the neglected buildings you see on your meanderings. Well done to you all!
Thanks so much Anne, it is fun to look back and see just how far we have come and yes you are right, this is why I love looking at neglected houses and wishing I could buy them and renovate them, it’s a hobby that I love! xx
Your house is beautiful and inspiring. I move to France tomorrow to join my husband and help with our house renovations. I am both sad to leave my family, friends and job in the UK but excited by our new adventure. If I can create half the home you have I will be very happy!
Thanks so much Julie and the very best of luck with your move tomorrow, let your new adventure begin. I am sure there will be ups and downs, there certainly were for us, but I am also sure that you will come through and really enjoy it. If you need any encouragement you know where I am, I know just what you will be going through xx
Always good to revisit the ‘before/after’ photos to underline the changes made and impact they have had. Well done 👍
Yes it is, it gives us a little perspective and it does us a lot of good! xx
Simply Magical. Love the before/after photos…wow! The love and hard work are evident in all that you do. Such a lovely home. 🙂
Thanks so much, we really do love our home, it was great fun to share our before and after. xx
Susan – wonderful article and even better memories. So wishing and hoping to be able to visit once again. On my list as one of the best holidays we have ever taken. Miss you all, hugs to everyone. Congrats to Millie on her graduation (a little something in the mail for her). Hope all is well with everyone. xxxooo
Thank you so much Debra, I so hope you can come again, even if it is on your own, because everyone has flown the nest, you know you are so so welcome, it would be our absolute pleasure. Millie is busy taking final exams this month, full on, Spanish oral tomorrow! xxx
love, love, love all your posts, such a gift you have! love your home…so much hard work but so worth it…it is gorgeous and warm and beautiful…would love to come visit some time
Thanks so much Mary, I hope you do come and visit, it would be a pleasure to show you around a little xx
I read this in faraway Australia. Smile. Clap. Loudly, with a smile ! Look at my own schedules not achieved for this annum . . . Plan. Hope. Look at that gite . . . . perhaps next year . . .
I so hope next year, I have a feeling we would have an absolute blast! xx
Such a remarkable transformation. Incredible, just truly incredible!
Thanks so much, it has been a long work in progress, but we are thoroughly enjoying it! xx
Susan, every time I get an email saying there is a post from you waiting to be read, I enjoy a feeling of happy anticipation. With the time difference and my work, Ii am sometimes delayed in getting to read….delayed gratification especially in this case. WHAT A SIMPLY LOVELY POST! You have made a beautiful home and I think you for sharing it. Congratulations on a lovely transformation and for the passion and drive which must have propelled you ever forward. ☺️
Thanks so much Kathryn, you know that is what makes me so happy, knowing that someone really looks forward to my posts. The transformation has been long and hard and there are still plenty of things to do and plenty that doesn’t work quite as it should! However, it is home and we do love it! xx
Wonderful post, Susan. You and your family have turned a dream into reality – though Amy says she is sure there is a lot more to it than what you have written here! Looking forward to meeting you all later this year on our way south. Perhaps if you have a puppy left needing a home………:)
Thanks Simon, yes of course there is far more than shown here, there is plenty more that we still want to do and there is plenty that doesn’t work quite as it should, but it has made a wonderful home. Looking forward to showing you around later in the year. xx
What a wonderful transformation, it’s so good to see the before and after shots. I think it’s so important to try and save these beautiful old properties, wherever in the world they are, I think of them as living history. You have a real eye for interior design, I always think a mix of old and new is perfect for old homes. Whenever I read one of your posts, I always start looking around my own little flat to see what I can do with it! Xxx
Thanks so much Janet, I agree with you that these old properties do need saving, they are a very important part of history, and I always wish the walls could speak, the tales they could tell. I also do believe that old and new mixes so well, they each compliment each other perfectly. xx
Really, you and your family achieved a lot since you live in France, but isn’t it much more fun and proud when it goes step by step and you are
able to do most of the renovation by yourself instead to delegate the work to an architect? Nothing is for granted and
you understand to appreciate the achievement much more. Well done, dear Susan I agree to your kind of progress
I agree with everything you say. We can look back and really feel we have achieved something. It has been a lot of hard work, but even today Millie and I walked down the garden and watched a toad in the pond, we discussed a fish who looks like she might lay eggs and we thought this didn’t even exist a few years ago and now it is teaming with wildlife. Inside and outside we just love what we have done so far. Lots more to do, lots that doesn’t work quite as it should, but that’s life! xx
I love your home and quest house as well as all your gardens. Just as a curiosity, do you rent your quest home out? If so how much and when. I would love it if you could email me with details. Have been following you forever and would love to meet you. Kind regards, Phyllis
Hi Phyllis, thanks so much. Yes we do rent out the guest house. I shall email you some details tomorrow. It would be an absolute pleasure to meet you. xx
BRAVA! I always compliment your extraordinary taste, but this peek behind the scenes has helped me appreciate what a hard worker you are as well. What a beautiful life you and your family have — quite literally — built for yourselves. And how grateful I am that you share a little bit of it here! xx
Thanks so much Heide, it has been a huge amount of hard work and still is! There is a lot still to do and plenty that doesn’t work quite as it should, but that’s life! I wish there were more hours in the day and I had more free time to do the rest of the things I want to do, but all in good time, at some stage it will all happen! Hope you had a good weekend xx
A job well done, but of course, the “job” is never over. Love and time will keep it going.
Absolutely right, there is so much still to do! So much that we want to achieve and plenty of things that don’t work quite as they should, it’s just an ongoing adventure! xx
You redesigned your entire life. Such an exciting idea… even beyond the beautiful home you’ve created.
Yes, we have and it has been the best thing we ever did, for us and for our children. xx
Wow! Such beautiful transformations. I just love the huge fireplace.
Thanks so much, the fireplace really does come into its own in the winter, wouldn’t want to be without it! xx
It all looks so happy. It would be lovely to visit and to see you over our way too.
It would be wonderful to meet, hopefully one day either on our side or your side of the country! xx
Your house looks amazing and I can’t wait to pop by eventually (maybe in the fall). We’ve looked at a few houses and I just feel overwhelmed at the idea of beginning to make it the house we want. Maybe you’ll inspire me. Thanks for sharing so much of your life with use your readers.
I know how overwhelming it can all be, but you have done so much and moved continents and countries, it will all fall into place. Have you now settled on the Aude as your permanent choice? At least choosing the department is a starting point. Really hope we do meet up at some point, it would be truly lovely xx
You are living the life that so many of us only dream of living. What a beautiful tour of your lovely home. I enjoyed seeing the before and afters along with the photos of your property. Oh – and those puppies!!! Thanks for linking up to Take Me Away this month. Enjoy the rest of your week!
Hi Susan and Roddy, thank goodness you took photos of what your home and garden were like when you moved in. I didn’t do this for the house we had before and so I found it difficult to remember what it had looked like. I did take photos of this place and unearthed them a little while ago and wow it really has changed quite a bit. We need moments in our lives to reflect on our life journey, it’s ups and downs and all the hard work that has gone in to achieve what we have today otherwise we have a tendency to not give ourselves enough of a pat on the back for getting here! Love the puppies and Evee and Bentley. Oh to be there this year, never mind maybe next year. Take care Virginia
Lovely post. Thank-you for sharing. You certainly have worked hard and now enjoy the results. Bravo!!
Delightful and charming post. Coming over from Calypso In the Country.
I am so impressed with all your hard work. It was fun to see the before and after. Yes, you have accomplished quite a bit. I love the relaxed atmosphere in France.
We just got back from a trip in the Loire Valley and Paris. Loved every minute.
It is a great atmosphere to live in, even when one is working flat out, there seems to be calm at the end of the day. Glad you had such a lovely trip xx