Welcome to all those that have joined my blog over the past couple of weeks, good to know that you are joining fast and furious now! And I know that a lot of you have just moved over, or are thinking of chasing that dream, and having that adventure; so this blog has you all in mind.
I live in the Pays de Loire, which is primarily a farmland community; and I now understand why farmers wives have boot rooms and clean their kitchen floors so often; or just say “Sod it! It is just a piece of dirt!” because I have never cleaned so much in my life. If you don’t clean, because you are decorating, or busy writing a book you find that you will have dead flies accumulating on your window sill and many dead beetles that have made their way in under your front door, only to die once they have made it!! It is like they are saying “I know lets squeeze under that old door and then die once we get in there, won’t that be fun!” Silly sods!!
I will be honest I looked around my house the other day and, having five cats and two Welshies, realised that their was what looked like hairy tumbleweed cascading down my stairs. So out came the hoover and the resolution that I must clean something other than my kitchen every day. Then along came my book edit that was due, and my blog posts which, as you know, are often left behind; or the bedroom to finish decorating (if I say so it is starting to look fab, so watch out for other posts!), and embroidery to do for the pillow cases I am going to put on my friends bed when she comes out to visit next week, and it all went out of the window. I cleaned last week, and have come to realise that I like the sound of hairy tumbleweed Schloooping up my hoover. I like to watch the balls of fur hiding in the corner and saying to them “No good hiding! I have found you!” In an accent reminiscent of an American cowboy!! So I am going to save the cleaning for the end of the week just before my friend arrives.
But seriously living in the country means you have loads of fresh air, but also loads of dirt. In the winter there is the mud and the leaves, and the mold from where the roof needs repairing, and in the summer there is the dust, and the beetles and the flies. But when I look out of my window whilst sitting at my desk and I see this …….
I welcome the dust, and the critters that the countryside brings.
But life is more challenging out here just to survive, if like Rich and I and so many others you are surviving on a small budget. You have to buy logs, and if you have a burner the chances are you have to chop and split them, in fact the bigger you buy them the cheaper they are so we have bought one metre logs and will have to chop them down to thirty centimetres. Hay ho, burns the calories!
Then in the winter you have to argue who will go out in the cold and get them in, we bring them in by the wheelbarrow for my wonderfully designed log cabinet (all designed by me!!)
But you still have to stand in the cold unloading them and carrying them in! Then there are the twigs for kindling. Yes you can buy kindling but once you have lived out here on a budget you come to realise that you are burning something on a bonfire that you can use and then going to buy it! Which in anyone’s book is madness.
We have chopped down fourteen pine trees since living here, and chopped up less than half of them. The time has come when they must be cut because they have been seasoned for two years. Add to the the cob nut trees that have been cut back with still more to cut back and chop and leave in the garden to season for three years (Oh yes I am a member of woodcutters incorporated and all that entails!)
Rich and I have come to understand the importance of preparing for the winter, with this being our third winter here and after the HUUUUUUUGE electricity bill we had after the first winter here. The old stone houses are beautiful folks but they are cold!!
There is the lawn to mow, the pots to water, the walnuts to gather in September (let alone the cob nuts!)The trees to trim, the hedges to cut, the chickens to clean out. The cherry’s to gather in the spring, the leaves and cava apples to scoop up into the compost, and the big old fire to have in the autumn. So before you move here, ask yourself do you really need that much land? We have just under an acre and trust me, although others have said that our “garden is not that big!” (methinks that might have been the green eyed monster!) just under an acre is enough. Also if you are new don’t forget the potager that you are going to do, see just call us Tom and Barbara and Ooh Matron it’s gone Pete Tong and you may change your mind!
Every day I clean my kitchen thoroughly because my cats jump onto the work surfaces and God knows where they have been or what critters they have been handling.
Add to all of this the house repairs, the decorating, the replacing of electricity cables and putting up lights, which my lovely husband is brilliant at – this is the last set of lights he put up for me over my sink, using the beautiful 1940’s lampshades I found in a vide grenier.
Don’t forget the knocking down walls, putting the waste in the compost, shabbying of the chic furniture, and then changing your mind and doing it again! And trust me life will be busy, and I haven’t even mentioned work yet. Then there is cooking because there ain’t many takeaways that deliver out here! And even if there is can you afford them? And most importantly of all there is the drinking of wine!
You will have to buy gas bottles, and make sure you have a spare; and it is another job.
But would I change it?
Never in a million years. My life is rewarding, I know why I have to do something and what I am going to get from it, without a pie chart, or report that people don’t read, or take any notice of in sight!!
So my advice to anyone moving out here for a more relaxed way of life….
Especially the line ‘Ponder the difference between want and need.’ I think that says it all.
Look out for more to come