I’m Back and There Have Been a Few Changes!

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

67 thoughts on “I’m Back and There Have Been a Few Changes!

  • Looks great – if we do manage to get to our French house this year we will definitely try to call in and stop nearby on our way down – you are about half way.

  • Congratulations on your move. Best of the best with your future endeavors. I missed reading your blog and look forward to hearing about your happenings in upcoming posts.

  • You have such exquisite taste, Susan, and with additional energy and inventiveness from Roddy and your children, this new house plus gite will be another perfect French oasis in no time. Wonderful to be so close to the river. “[A]bsolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Warm wishes for your continued happiness and success at home and with your businesses.

  • I love the natural feeling of your new house. It is beautiful and it will be wonderful to see it in person.

  • Félicitations pour ce beau défi et je vous souhaite bonne chance et beaucoup de bonheur dans votre nouveau logis .
    C’est très agréable de vous suivre sur instagram mais le blog est vraiment un beau partage .
    Emmanuelle

  • Please never give up your blog! It is the only one I look forward to reading, seeing your pi tires and just plain enjoying!!!

  • So happy for you and your family. Still on our bucket list—another trip to Europe with a visit to your spot of heaven. Glad you’re back.

  • Sooooo glad you are back and so very happy for you with your new home . Can’t wait for more news snd pics.

  • Oh, yes, keep blogging!

    Where are the chickens? I have a soft spot for them and yours always seemed to be such happy hens!

  • So exciting! I look forward to seeing your progress, your beautiful style and gorgeous pictures of your surroundings!

  • It is wonderful to hear your news: I thought you might have joined the ranks of ‘unbloggers’ and look forward to reading your regular posts once more. You have been missed.

  • I am so glad you have decided to keep blogging!!! I so wanted to write and ask you to write but knew you were busy with the new house and garden. Your blogs are so very welcome and you’ve been missed by many. Sincerest best wishes to all the family. 💕

  • Good luck with the new house – looking forward to following your progress as you turn it into a home. ❤️

  • Fabulous! Hope you are all very happy in your new home, looks beautiful and a lovely area with lots to offer. Look forward to catching up with you guys sometime in the near future. XX

  • Congratulations and the best of luck on your new adventure! The village sounds perfect for all kinds of fun. Glad to be able to read your delightful blog again.

  • The village sounds ideal. Hope you’ve still got a fig tree! Take care. Love and luck to you all x

  • The house and area look lovely!! Hard work I’m sure but worth it. I love the pictures you have taken. Such beautiful country. Wishing you happiness in your new home!! Thank you for your blog!!!

  • Wow, big changes and we are very happy to hear from you Susan.

    Hope all is well and looking forward visiting you again whenever possible..when things get better in Charente Maritime.

    We are all fine too and we thank God for keeping us all safe and healty.

    Justine is going to a university in Brussels in Sept to study astronomy (her choice).

    I have been working part time in the meantime due to calcific tendonitis in my right shoulder. …getting better but it is super slow. Less painful now and everyday exercises help.

    Dominique is super busy as driver, bee keeper, baker, shopper, etc…indeed a jack of all trade.

    We have never been to our house in Jonzac since Sept last year. Really looking forward to going back soon.

    Good luck to your renovation project…it is truly an exciting experience though tiring. Am sure you will make sure of your talents and inspirations and a good team work with Roddy and children, your house and gite will be surely a wonderful of oasis in your area for all your loved ones, friends and visitors.

    Do us send us photos and other details later so we can share with friends looking for a gite in the future.

    May your new house bring you lots of happiness, peace and success in the future.

    God bless and stay safe. Big kisses from 3 of us.

    Vicky

  • I am so happy for you and your new home. I know its a big job but just know there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope you were able to bring your chickens as well. I loved hearing your stories about them. Hope you have a nice week ahead. Can’t wait to hear more about your new journey with your new home. Stay safe🤗

  • Was hoping everything was ok during your blogging silence. So glad it was a new adventure and not virus-related! Look forward to seeing the progress on your new home and lovely garden. Stay safe. Have missed you!

  • It looks wonderful. It must have been hard in some ways to leave all your vegetable gardens, etc. but it looks like you have room to start over in your new place. I’d certainly enjoy staying in your new guest space if and when I make it to France. Best wishes with your re-modeling.

  • I’m glad you decided that blogging was a worthwhile use of some of your time, Susan. Hearty congratulations on the move. Things already look marvelously inviting and I’m sure will eventually look even better. It also sounds like the perfect move for what you want to do and what you enjoy, so I’m very happy for you.

    I’m sorry to read about all the difficulties for your friends and I know the lockdowns have been difficult and frequent. My s-i-l and b-i-l got their first vaccinations and quite happy about that. She also thought that things might ease up a bit soon, but we’ll see. We also moved in the last year to Arizona, a very different place from where we’ve lived most of our lives. Of course it was three days away, not twenty minutes, but moving is quite a process no matter how you do it. I’m glad you’re happy and are settling in so well.

    Stay healthy!

    janet

  • So glad to see your new post! I have loved following you, and I also follow your instagram account. You are such a delight – so natural. Thinking I should consider a visit once you are up and operating your new gite. Love the new house!

  • Good luck and warm wishes for you and all the family in your new home. Very difficult times for those of us in the ‘holiday’ business this past year but pleased you have found a new bolt hole to lavish your care and attentions on. Coincidentally, we were close to putting in an offer on a house in Crazannes just before all the madness started … we would have been near neighbours! Look forward to hearing more updates.

  • Congratulations on your move and good luck with your renovations. It must be wonderful being in a village with small restaurants and activity. We’re Australians with a stone farmhouse north of Melle in Deux-Sevres but unfortunately haven’t been able to get over there for a year and I guess not this year either. it must be difficult for those who have houses and can’t visit love ones. I enjoy your blog…next best thing.

  • Your new house is wonderful…..belle maison!! You will enjoy the beautiful riverside village and the amenities.
    Take care and stay safe!! We hope to return to Haute-Vienne…..someday when COVID allows.

  • What a wonderful blog on this cold, rainy Melbourne morning in Australia……I need to go somewhere to avoid what is coming this winter, cold, I know we have to have the rain, but not lockdowns while our useless government can’t find the answer to vaccines. You are always welcome to my computer. Thank you. Lesley

  • Susan although I love IG as it brings an instant quick method to keep up with the accounts I admire and who inspire I have loved the chance to read more of your decision process in the move and more details on the house. Proof as you have researched that Blogs do have a place xx

  • Oh, Susan, I am so glad that you did not decide to quit blogging. I very much look forward to your blogs so that I may live vicariously the French life through you and your family. I used to have a bed and breakfast here in the states in Missouri. We did it for about 16 years. But we have sold it and have returned to our home state of Iowa to be close to our children. But I do miss the pampering of our guests. We had a place a few miles outside of town on a lake. Our property was next to a 3000 acre state park that was voted #1 in Missouri. There was a small creek that ran along the edge of our property out to the lake, and we were surrounded by woods. There was lots of wildlife. It was a magical place for us. Our goal, as I know yours is, was to be a place of respite where our guests could get away from the stress of our hectic lives, do as much or as little as they wanted, and leave at the end of their stay refreshed and ready to face the world again. I miss that part so much. I know you will be successful in your new venture. Wishing you much joy and fun!

  • Congratulations on your new home. I think change is exciting and good for the soul, that’s why we travel! I’ll be looking forward to watching the adventure unfold and am so happy that you are not shutting down the blog.

  • Your new property looks delightful and how wonderful to have so many conveniences within walking distance. That would be my dream.
    Congratulations and well done with the beautiful work so far.

  • Congratulations on your move and your next adventure begins. So pleased you will continue to blog as your little stories and views bring a much needed dose of ‘French’ in to my life. We hope to catch up with you and Roddy again when we can next get over there from Oz. Stay safe and well and watch your backs! It all looks absolutley gorgeous.

  • I’m a southerner but I have a French soul. I so enjoy opening up my iPad to find an update on your blog. I gleam an amazing amount of information to further my love of the French style and life. Should we be allowed to travel this year, I look forward to visiting your area. Please keep your blog and I would like to know how your children are taking the move. I love the new house and my imagination goes wild knowing you are near the water.

  • I was thrilled reading those news….what a wonderful decision and if even not finished it looks already so cozy and I can feel the good vibe of that house. All the best and keep us in the loop

  • These are indeed the best of times and the worst of times, but you have an opportunity for a lovely fresh start. I love your new place, and you will have fun decorating it the way you want. Thanks for sharing your concerns, your joys, and your beautiful way of life. It all lifts my spirits!

  • Welcome back! I’ve missed hearing from you. Good luck with your new home and new community. I’m sure you’ll make it Wonderful! Hope to visit one day in the future!. Smiles, Paulette from Texas

  • can’t wait until the gite is ready to accept visitors! looks like the picture-perfect place to stay.

  • Congratulations Susan. So exciting. It looks beautiful. Love the stonewalls Thought that I hadn’t seen a newsletter for a while from you. Look forward to beautiful pics of the renovation.

  • Looks beautiful
    Very interested in coming to stay with you.
    Please email through details when available
    Thanks
    Moy

  • How wonderful for you! Congratulations! You were wise to take your stones with you. They are so lovely! Along with the zinc tubs. Hope your friends hang in there. We’re all suffering during this strange world. Wishing you the best.

  • Congratulations Susan on your new house. I know you’ll have fun updating and remodeling. I am so jealous, it sounds perfect. Loved the photos

  • So glad you are back, missed you and your family news. Such exciting news. Congratulations on the new house, may it bring much joy and happiness to everyone that lives and visits there. You will work your magical touch and make it your dream I am sure. Would love to visit France again, but being in a wheelchair it rather limits my options. Have you ever thought of a disabled friendly gite?
    Anyway, a big welcome back and please keep well and stay safe.

  • Oh wow, wow and WOW – WordPress has once more thrown me out and I didn’t get any updates at all for the longest time. I thought you’d ‘just’ struggle with the ‘new (not) normal’ like everybody else and I did worry quite a bit about your guest-business. NOW I will have to catch up with all the missed posts FIRST, before I allow myself to get too excited (massively over-excited might be a better word!). There was just one thing that made me sit up and that was when good old Roddy wrote to me on WApp: ‘….today we move the last bit out. Yikes….’
    But although I wondered about his comment, I then said to HH: Oh, I’m sure he means moving the summer equipment outside! And that was that.
    Also, I really didn’t follow blogs, which may have been a reason that WP closed many of my most beloved ‘followed’ blogs. My youngest sister died (tomorrow a month ago), on the day of our wedding anniversary, and all the weeks before (and after) really took a toll on me.
    But no excuses are being made – I didn’t know what monumental changes went on in your lives and I’m absolutely spellbound by your news. Congratulations and yet, also a tear in my eyes for the cosy and friendly gîte at your ‘old’ place. There would be SO MUCH to say to all of these news – I am sure – so, for the time being, I’m just very, very happy for you, your family and your zoo – which makes me wonder what happened to the chicken? And the ducks were never ‘replaced’ anyway?! There will be so much more to natter about.
    Keep strength and joy levels high – you’ll need them – and keep us updated on ALL of it. You absolutely are not allowed to stop blogging – you are a national treasure for me and I LOVE and adore your wonderful tales with the enchanting photos. It’s also a gift to see your family’s development, the girls growing, although hélas, the boy’s gone… the dogs are getting older – haven’t seen ‘Bentley’ for a while, but so do we.
    Love and greetings, Kiki & HH

  • Best Wishes for your new home and venture……
    It sounds exciting! I am so hopeful that travel will resume soon. I want desparately to travel to Europe again.
    Thanks for showing the animals in your pictures. They look happily settled.

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