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  • Writer's pictureCatherine

Summer is Here!

After Magali’s last trip, I was super jealous of all the work she had done and the great time she’d had so I was looking forward to a few days in the French countryside. We left super early, we’d accidentally booked a flight that left before the first train left Stratford so we had to take a rather expensive cab ride to Southend Airport. It all went smoothly so arrived with plenty of time and even had time for breakfast, which for us is a rarity. Jean-Guy came to collect us at Rennes and I got to sleep a little in the back of the car which I seriously needed. It had been a very busy week with friends, Wimbledon and gigs at Hyde Park plus the 3am wake up call, had all made me completely exhausted. We arrived at Châteaubriant where we would be staying and said hello to Catherine, Magali’s mum. I had a bit of a nap outside on the terrace in the sun before we set up lunch outside. We had time for a quick dip in the pool which was so refreshing, it was an amazing feeling. We then quickly got ready to go to Sophie’s (Magali’s cousin) birthday party. We stayed for the afternoon, catching up with family, eating lots of cake and sunning ourselves, it was really nice but hard to stay awake and engaged. We headed back to Châteaubriant and had some dinner outside before heading to bed. It had been a really lovely day and I’d already started to relax, which was much needed.

We had some breakfast before heading to Le Boulay with Jean-Guy. We started setting up for the day when Dominique and Jojo arrived who had kindly offered to help us move the last of the heaviest furniture. They attached some poles and pallets to the tractor so all we had to do was get the tractor close enough, basically into the window, and get the furniture onto it. We started with the desk in the living room, but we had to empty the drawers first as they hadn’t been emptied yet. We easily managed it onto the tractor and then carried the empty drawers to garage. Next, was the wardrobe in the bedroom that we would be turning into the living room. We opened the window and moved the wardrobe closer to it while Jean-Guy got the tractor into position. We got it out the window then went to pull from the outside. We got it onto the tractor and turned it around. The only problem was now the tractor was too long to actually turn around the corners of the house! We tried a few ways before giving up and another few plans were hatched. The biggest difficulty was not only do I understand minimal French but I had was that all three of the men were saying different ideas and they all left to start setting it up before actually deciding on one, so I had no idea what was going on! Jean-Guy came back with a trolley which we then managed to take the wardrobe on to the garage. Along the way the doors came off so the guys set about fixing them. Magali had to go and start the BBQ so I tried to help where I could on the second wardrobe from the main bedroom but I was struggling with any ordered plan as the guys kept saying different things and choosing a course of action without any verbal indictor so that was pretty much impossible to understand. As I couldn't put my strong muscles to use thanks to the language barrier, I started helping Magali getting lunch ready and the table set up. We had a lovely lunch outside, enjoying the sunshine, the food and the company. Afterwards, I cleaned all the dishes while everyone else started purging the heaters, ready for us to move those into the garage too. The guys were moving them on the tractor to the garage while I measured the gaps between the hanging hooks and put them onto them on tags. Magali was tiding the garage to make more space so I was helping her in between making tags. Hubert had come around to feed the rabbits so we had a quick chat before getting back to work. We finished the day with a drink and thanking Dominque, Jojo and Jean-Guy for all their help. We went back to Châteaubriant for a swim and dinner before heading to bed. It had been a hard day but we’d achieved so much, all of the biggest things are now out of the house and now all we need to do is remove the boxes and kitchenware. I was so happy with the day and ready for tomorrow’s meeting with the architect.

We drove to the house in the morning and had a coffee while walking the entire property, discussing ideas and plans that we hope will come to fruition. It’s so calming being there, so even with all the worry about what will happen in the future, I was so relaxed and enjoying every second. We decided to have an early lunch so we wouldn’t be eating when the architect arrived but also gave us time to plan what we wanted to ask him. We then did some soil samples from around the property as I was doing a Permaculture Design Course and was preparing for our presentation which included surveying the property.

Marc, the architect, arrived and we got down to business. As always, he answered all our questions and was really helpful but there were a few things that hadn’t happened like we’d hoped. We came away with a clearer plan of what was to happen next but a little disappointed as now the dates had been pushed back to January meaning we would have adjust our move dates again. We’re still hopeful that it will all go smoothly but we didn’t get the high like we usually do from Marc’s visit so we spent a bit of time going through the house discussing what we’d talked about with him and other ideas. We then set about weeding around the assainissement as it was getting too close to the filtration plants. There was a nest of midges so they were everywhere, it was hard work (and quite gross) but we managed to move them to weed around them. We also had to weed a little in the assainissement itself which was quite hard so we did what we could.

We then cleaned and tidied the house and packed up the car. We drove to Châteaubriant with enough time for a quick swim before the football started. France were playing Belgium in the semi-finals so it was going to be a very tense evening. We managed a quick dinner at half time and it was a really good match. We had a great time watching it as well as celebrating their win before heading to bed.

Before After

Wednesday was a quick day with a stop to the shop to pick up our treats for London, before packing and heading to the airport where we had a pre-prepared sandwich and worked on my Permaculture presentation all the way home. It was a shame to leave so soon but we’d accomplished a lot in the very short time we were there. It was also great to get away from London for some fresh air and a chance to relax from the usual day to day. I can’t wait to head back for longer in August!

Thanks again to Jean-Guy, Catherine, Jojo and Dominique for all their help!


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