Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Tempus Fugit

Two years ago today we were sat outside enjoying the morning sun with a groggy cat and no furniture barring two camping chairs and a bed kindly left by the sellers in an empty house. The evening before, we'd arrived at here in Charnizay to start our adventures living in Sud Touraine.
31 July 2010: weeds to tame and one of our 2 camping chairs
As we were travelling with our cat Shadow we'd taken the tunnel and given him a sedative we'd obtained from the vet. Despite giving him only a very light dose, the poor lamb was still zonked the next day. While he wobbled around his new domain slightly dazed at what master and mistress had "done to him" we surveyed the place over a cup of coffee. We had 12 days until our furniture arrived to paint, and generally make presentable our house now that the works we'd had done were finished.

Over the next few days and weeks we wore a rut in the road to the area of large stores in Joué- and Chambray-les-Tours. We bought paint--loads of white paint!! We invested in a plethora of cleaning materials of all types and colours. When we arrived the house was filmed in a lovely layer of builders dust and dirt.  A garden table and chairs were acquired so we had something to sit at. By the end of the furniture-less days we'd whitewashed the entire house and weren't keen on seeing a roller or bucket of paint for a long, long time -- if ever!

We bought things we'd never owned before, but were needed living in the country: a saw horse, a chain saw, hack and hand saws, a ride-on mower, a much heavier strimmer, a wheelbarrow and another ladder to name but a few! Meanwhile Shadow had discovered the ensuite bathroom  and the joyful fact that he could just squeeze himself behind a panel and vanish totally from view only sneaking out occasionally to snatch some food. It caused us some serious worries as to where he'd got to before we caught him eeling out of his hidey hole!! Once we'd been here a couple of days we let him go outside to explore and he promptly went onto the roof! Little did he know though, that his days as an 'only cat' were numbered. Katinka took up residence in October 2010.
Shadow on the roof, August 2010
One morning early, soon after we arrived Antoinette saw a martre [pine marten] outside the kitchen door. It was as astonished as she was! In those first months we saw it again. Sadly we don't see it any more -- we assume it is now too noisy here with us as permanent inhabitants. The fouine [beech marten], more used to sharing space with humans, was around for quite some time. However, last summer we think it was dispatched by our neighbours. It was living in their attic and probably creating an unholy mess.

The red squirrels, fox and other animals are always a joy. Earlier this morning looking out over the terrace we saw regular visitors: three chevreuil [roe deer]. They ambled along the field boundary. We never tire of seeing whatever wildlife there is on offer, be it large or small; with the exception of the pine processionary catepillars!! Those we do not like!
We've had a lot done to the house: moved the kitchen, reconfigured a room to create a downstairs shower room, installed an en-suite upstairs, had floors laid and a fosse septique system installed in November 2010. A drive was put in before we moved in and the terrace  --last of the big works for now-- was finished a couple of weeks ago.
October 2010: two cats on the roof
We've learned how many stare of wood to order to heat the house in winter and how to stack woodpiles. We've watched the seasons change and discovered what plants & flowers we have. We've ripped out bushes, cut back leggy trees, learnt to slalom between the trees on the ride-on mower. In November 2010 we floundered round in the heavy clay soil to plant some young fruit trees while doing good impersonations of 'Margo' in 'The Good Life'; though happily not in yellow sou'westers!

So here we are two years later. In some ways it seems only months ago that we moved here, in other ways we feel we've been here quite a while--both in the nicest possible way!

Above all we've met many friendly and helpful people:- both French and expat, and we have made some good friends. Looking back on two years life is good and we feel we are beginning to properly settle in here.

28 comments:

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Niall and Antoinette:
We have been most intrigued to read this post in which you describe some of the early days spent in your French home. What you do not say, perhaps happily they did not occur too often, are those moments of wondering what you had done and actually let yourselves in for.

Your house looks to be so very pretty and we are sure that, gallons of white paint later, you have made the inside equally charming. It is so good that you feel really settled in France - a wonderful country - and we do so hope that Shadow is still with you and does not mind too much sharing.

The Broad said...

I just loved reading about all you've accomplished and seeing how charming your house is -- so very French, isn't it?

Pollygarter said...

Congratulations on your second anniversary in your lovely home! Many haooy returns of the day.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane & Lance - of course we had moments--happily few and far between but they happen anywhere you go and we've lived in a fair few places :-) It seemed churlish to mention them on a beautiful summer's day.

Shadow is still very much part of the collective; he's just far more camera shy than our tabby show off :-).

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Broad - yes it is a classic longere--couldn't be more French or more typical of the region.
Hope you're enjoying the Lot.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Pauline - thanks :-)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Great post and it is good to learn more about you both. We are lucky enough to have met you, but I hope next time we will have more chance to to talk. Last time there was so much to catch up with and so many people to do just that with.
You sound as if you have made a really nice home for yourselves and I envy you seeing the wild life. Keep well, Diane

GaynorB said...

Congratulations!

You've achieved a great deal and made a beautiful home for yourselves. We've enjoyed sharing it with you, both in person and via your blog.

Keep enjoying the wonder of it all.

the fly in the web said...

Odd how time seems to expand and contract...two years can seem like a lifetime...as if you've been nowhere else....or like a snapshot.

It looks lovely and I'm so glad you and the all important felines are happy there.

wcs said...

Happy Franciversary! It's a nice feeling, eh?

Unknown said...

Congratulations, we have had our house in Charnizay and still like it after 9 years! Not full time though. I read your blog regularly and it keeps me in touch with Charnizay when I am in the UK so thanks - and have many more happy years - the Macdonalds

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane - the wildlife is a real bonus :-).

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - thanks :-) Sometimes it feels as if we haven't done much; other times we're quite surprised at how much!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - it is a moggie's paradise.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Walt - eh bien oui!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@MacDonalds - thanks for commenting & glad to hear you enjoy the blog.

ladybird said...

Congratulations on your two years in France and the excellent job you have done on the house. Hope to see it in 'real life' one day! And the cats too, of course ;) Martine

Carolyn said...

Congratulations. You've done a lot with your house and land. And you say the patio is your last big project? Wish I could say the same!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - standing invitation next time you're in the Loire :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Carolyn - patio isn't the last big project---just for now :-) Need to save up a bit before we take on the renovation of our barn which, we suspect, will be fairly expensive.

Perpetua said...

Doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself?:-) Congratulations on the first two years and here's to many more of them in your lovely house and beautiful surroundings.

PS Painting BEFORE the furniture arrived sounds like a really good plan to me.....

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - LOL we know our weaknesses. If we hadn't done it then we would probably still be saying 'we should really paint the walls' to each other now!

Vera said...

I can't believe that you have been here for two years! But then I can't believe that we have been here for over four! Just like you, sometimes it feels like we have been here forever, and other times that we have just arrived.
But now we have our smallholding running the local wildlife has taken a step back, apart from the marauding fox last spring and the deer who got stuck in our field, so we are still reminded that there are wild creatures about.

Vagabonde said...

Congratulation on your two years and all the hard work. My father used to love to deal in real estate and bought several older French homes, then with his buddies they would fix them – it was a lot of work, so I know how much you had to do, and then all of this in a land that is a bit foreign, so it was even harder I believe. But now you have this lovely home and can enjoy it. “Bonne continuation” as they say back home- Google translates it as good luck, but it is not that, it is more like “continue to have a good time.”

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Vera - it is surprizing how time 'works' isn't it :-) Hope the scything is going from strength to strength.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Vagabonde - merci! Vous etes tres gentille.
We knew the area quite well which is one of the reasons we searched for a house in this region of France. Google translations are dodgy more often than not!

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Congratulations on your achievement and anniversary, we know from personal experience what it has taken you to create your lovely home.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@LindyLou - thanks and there are projects yet to come.