This home in France is an amazing place. There are so many wonderful jobs to do. Normally one would be squeezing these jobs into a weekend or a short burst of annual leave, but in France, now we have retired, we have time to graze amongst the tasks.
We left the UK to the news that it is now the second most congested country in the E.U. Brittany as ever greeted us with empty roads and streets. We had sunshine, sleet, rain and mist on our latest journey to our home with some far-reaching views and the feeling of splendid isolation (although we are only 9km from the nearest village).
Once again we had packed the camper-van to the gunnels with more furniture and equipment to fill our home and allow us to undertake anything from groundwork to baking bread. On our way to our home we took a short detour to our favourite bakery only to find that it was closed for 2 weeks for a family holiday. We keep getting caught out by the opening hours in France and the added challenge of people living their lives around their businesses feels wonderfully old fashioned and only serves to add to our joy of being here. We called into the charcuterie only to be told that she too was going on holiday the following week so wouldn’t be open either!
This latest visit saw us continue to decorate the main house that we live in. We now have a hall, lounge and kitchen that are brightly coloured. Every day we walk around our field and plan our adventure; where to place the vegetable plots, poly-tunnel, chickens, the wood/copse that Jill is planning. We are a little bereft of heavy equipment ( apart from our 1960s tractor – that I am yet to use in anger), so most of the work is manual whether it is digging new borders, groundwork to ease access, picking stones out of the ground or felling small trees. We must have made quite a sight walking around an acre of our land with a wheel barrow picking up any large stones that will cause problems to any mower or strimmer (not that anyone would see us!). It is a very relaxing job when there is no urgency. Jill has also found time to become a detectorist; finding mainly farmyard metal!
With no TV in France we actually have time to read. Jill gens up on French ways of life, whilst I finished what has been the best factual book I have ever read; ‘Norwegian Wood, Chopping, Stacking & Drying wood the Scandinavian Way’ by Lars Mytting. We have many old logs in the barn, small trees to remove and a number of large trees to manage, so this is an essential read. There is a lovely quote within the pages that rings true; ‘wood warms you twice; once when you cut it and then again when you burn it’. These words sing in our ears as we make log piles and start to remove trees that have self seeded too close to others. We are keeping a count of every tree we remove to ensure we plant another in its honour.
Our command of French is improving. We have joined a garden centre club, asked to taste a local sausage delicacy, engaged in conversation with a lady who could speak no English and bought a bird feeder when we had to ask for where they were located in a large store. Small but significant steps for us both. As a bonus, English friends resident in the Cote D’Armor introduced us to the wonders and great value of second hand shopping in France to help furnish our second home.
The aforementioned bird feeder has been infested with blue-tits and chaffinches. A green woodpecker has visited our lawn and a huge gathering of red kites has soared overhead, swirling around in a ‘wake’. The view around our home has been sprinkled with snow, dusted with frost and shone down on by stars; all of which we have time to admire. We can’t wait to return again…..