After a long silence I’m back. And back with some pretty big changes. We have bought a new house! Just 20 minutes down the road. And I have to admit that with the enormous work involved in moving and with the deteriorating situation with covid in France and some distressing news with friends not coping with the pressures of life in these times I had to take a break from the blog which I hope you will understand.
However, despite the fact that we are now in lockdown number three here we remain very upbeat and positive for the future. I’ve really missed writing and filling you in with all the news. I’ve spent weeks pondering the age old question “is there a future in blogging”, I’ve read numerous articles and done some quite extensive research and I’ve come to the conclusion that there certainly is a place for the blog and so I’m really happy to continue and to look forward to the future here.
So to kick things off, I’ll start with news of the house. We have moved to a village that has been a dream location of ours ever since we first came to the Charente Maritime. A place we have visited very often because we love it so much here and when this house came on the market we leapt at the chance. We had been considering a move for a while because we wanted to do more with our gîte (the cottage we rent out to guests). When we first opened our doors to our first visitors seven years ago we had no idea how much we would absolutely love welcoming people here. But we wanted to offer them more and there were things that we simply could not change where we were.
Here we are, once again, in a central village location, but it’s a village with less traffic but more going on! People walk, in the middle of the road! There are three restaurants within a minute’s walk and a fourth daytime cafe in summer months. There’s a boulangerie of course, and a river that is less than 100 steps away. Here there is swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding.
There are stunning walks along the water’s edge, with the most beautiful riverside houses and chateaux along the way.
We’re renovating the perfect small gîte which has a south facing terrace shaded by vines overlooking our gardens and 8 metre inground swimming pool ready to share with our visitors from this summer onwards when hopefully France will once again welcome you all.
And this is what we wanted to offer our guests that we were unable to before. Somewhere to relax in wonderful laid back simple luxury. Somewhere you can toss away the car keys for a few days and not get behind the wheel once. For here you can walk to a choice of restaurants, enjoy a couple of glasses of wine and take a leisurely stroll home not thinking about drink driving and who has to abstain that night. You can rent a paddle board or kayak. You can visit chateaux. And you can do it all without needing a car.
It’s a really exciting move. The house is also in need of modernisation! It’s an ongoing process but I think the worst is over. We’re still living with a tiny old kitchen, a typically French affair on the side of the house, but it has a sink, an oven and a dishwasher that is so old and so awful that it’s a waste of time using! However the new kitchen, which was the dining room is coming along well.
Our entire theme for the house is one of peace and tranquility. We are taking our cue from the river and our surroundings. Using a totally organic approach and natural materials and colours that we would find in nature. We’re questioning where products are made and how they are made and using as many reclaimed, vintage and antique things as possible. It’s a fun journey and one I’m looking forward to sharing with you.
But for now, here is a peak of where we are and what we’re doing.
I spent ages finding a pair of matching, or as near matching as possible old zinc tubs for these Yew topiaries which took even longer to source!
The garden is divided into several areas, different ‘rooms’ which add so much more interest. The first is the courtyard garden between the house and the barn. We brought a vast amount of the old stone from our old house with us. A job that caused many painful limbs, stiff backs and a lot of swearing, but was so worthwhile! This courtyard garden will be gravelled and is slowly taking shape as we move things around and get the perfect positions.
What used to be the dining room is now being turned into the kitchen and has the benefit of a wonderful old fireplace. For now any cooking centres around the kitchen table! But we do finally have our new range cooker up and running and very slowly it is all coming together. We are using solid ash wood cabinets and quartz counter tops with a Sarreguemines French ceramic butlers sink.
Our bedroom is a place of calm, the one room that is almost finished and that is much needed at the end of the day!
We’ve had the most glorious spring weather, really warm days and whenever possible I’ve tried to sneak out into the garden to get things underway outside. It is much smaller than our previous garden and we’ve had our ex neighbour, the best landscape gardener in the region, helping us this week plant some large shrubs and it is really starting to get that magical feel. There are many more fruit trees and the main part I refer to as the orchard! It is surrounded by old stone walls on three sides. Our cats and dogs seem very at home which is of the utmost importance.
So that’s really all our news for now! I hope you are keeping healthy and safe and I’ll keep you posted as we progress and I’m so happy to be back in contact and looking forward to our weekly chats once more. And don’t forget you can follow me on Instagram for daily photos and stories. Susan xx