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  • Magali

Happy New Year from France !

If only I could express these last three months with onomatopoeias and sighs, it would take me the same amount of lines as this article I’m about to write! So I’m going to write words to be sure everyone understands, but I will try and make it short!

First of all, I must say that time has passed very very quickly, and I haven’t done half of the things I was planning to do. At the mean time, I also feel like time is dragging, and I would love to already be in March so that Catherine, both cats and I are finally reunited, and the moving to France belongs to the past. But let’s talk about the future later… Let me first resume to these very intense last three months.

I saw the family, a lot of the family, with many amazing events and occasions as we love them! There were 40th birthdays at Halloween, a 25th surprise party, Sunday gatherings, Christmas events and markets, mulled wines and aperos anytime… In the end, we didn’t forget to have some fun ! Some came from far, who we haven’t seen them in a long time and it felt good. Some came from very very far, like Catherine’s mum who came from New Zealand for Christmas and who left mid January. I also traveled a little, Catherine came to see me in November, and I went to see her in London in December. She then came to France with her mum for Christmas, then we went to Girona, Spain, to visit her brother Michael and his girlfriend Judit. It was the first time I go to their place. They are opening soon their own brewery called Dos Kiwis, and we gave them a hand during two days, painting the warehouse that will also be a bar.

We came back to London for New Year’s Eve (really the last one this time!). My cousin Marion joined us for a little week and we visited the city everyday. It was very nice and it pushed me to visit many places of London that I wouldn’t have seen again otherwise. We came back to France together at the beginning of January.

Painting or relaxing ? The choice was quickly done

So, that was the fun side… Now let’s talk about work, projects, plans and house works!

It was sunny and quite warm for a while before Christmas, so I managed to do quite few things outside in Le Boulay. Many of you know I love eating mushrooms nearly as much as cheese, but I started to be passionate about picking mushrooms. I collected about twenty different varieties, and started to read about them, only to find out that none of them were edible in the end. But it was fun, and we had some good laughs with my uncle Dom who tried to help me.

I gave my « first » English course to my cousin Mathieu, I am quite rusty and have no idea if I did well or not, but I hope to do it again soon, with even more people if possible :)

I finally found a moving company for our coming back ! One month and a half away from the due date, we were slightly starting to stress about this too… So we will be moving during the evening of Thursday 7th and arriving to Le Boulay on Friday 8th of March, with our driver Darran, the two cats, and all we can fit in the van :)

I had to say farewell to our architect who was supposed to take care of renovating our house to be ready for us in January. I can say for sure that we will not provide a good advertising for this one! So after a few appointments since being back, some excuses but no action, and after many emails trying to contact him and even a formal notice, I gave up and we are now about to sign with our new architect, who was able to hit the ground running. So let’s cross our fingers for this one, as after four appointments with her I’ve already met our builders, carpenter, plumbers and slaters, so we hope to tell you much more about it very soon… For now, back to square one.

Renovating nightmares

I met with our new Aquatiris guide, who came to see if everything was fine with our sanitation garden (or reed beds). I was worried because I found lots of holes from mice or rats and I hoped they didn’t dig too deep or made tunnels. But nothing serious thankfully, and the lovely Clement was even surprised to see how quickly the reeds had made roots on the first year, he even brought back some roots to show his colleagues back at the office! He also suggested a few ideas for how we can decorate the surroundings of the garden.

Regarding the house, things are going very slowly, but it’s definitely going forward. Dom and dad came to remove the last items from the kitchen before the builders destroy the walls. They demolished the kitchen completely! So from now on we are going to live in my parents campervan until it’s over, so maybe summer.

Bye Bye kitchen…

I spent quite a while going through insurances for the works as it’s a legal requirement in France but with no luck. Just need to go through all the quotes coming in few weeks. Very soon there will be very big decisions to be taken… So in between I took some pleasure restoring some reclaimed stuff that we will use in the house.

The lantern was originally a storm petrol lamp, which my dad reused for the house entrance when he was younger. It wasn’t working anymore so took it down and changed it. This new beauty will be soon our lounge ceiling light.

Not a lot has been happening in the garden generally speaking, but we did spend some time there during the nice days. My uncle Christophe came for two days to teach me how to prune apple trees. He made me climb to the top of the trees even though I am scared of heights, so that was pretty cool to fight my fear. I learnt a lot and I think I will be able to take care of the other orchard by myself. The idea was to get, next year or the one after, less apples but bigger and with much more sunshine for a better quality. And of course that will make the picking much faster. I also started to « save » the 2nd orchard from the ivy which is invading and killing the apple trees. It covers the trees to the top and leaves no sunshine at all, it’s very humid and the trees are rotting. But we do want to keep some wilderness in this zone, and after a course of permaculture that I had done, the idea is not to choose but to try to do both. So I will be making a path for us to be able to pick up the fruits, but the surrounding will stay wild, and hopefully that will work for all. To be continued !

I also started to make a calendar for sowing all our seeds, but we haven’t prepared the soil yet so will need to waste no time when we move in. Finally, on my last day before coming to London, Christophe came to install our beehive trap (or catcher), a special gift for Catherine. This hive will be able to catch a swarm gone rogue, hopefully, when days will get nicer. That would be for Catherine a fist box to tick in her future plans. We also planned another training on beehives at the end of February in Hackney City Farm in London, so that we will be able to share what we learnt with Christophe.

Pruning apple trees and installation of the bee swarm catcher

On the Tiny house and project side, to be honest it’s been quite stressful even though not much was happening. We have been worried about the bank and the loan. It’s going to be more difficult than expected to get this second loan because I’m not working anymore, and Catherine is about to change her job, for one which we don’t know what the salary will be. I’m trying to talk about the project to as many people as possible, and Hubert is helping me to get to the right people, and I sent them a whole file about what we will be doing. I also went to meet someone at the tourism office but no reply just yet… So it’s too many « ifs » and hypotheses for our liking, but it’s normal at this stage I guess ? If we have the authorisation to install the tiny house, if the loan is accepted, if Catherine gets a good job (or me), if tourists are coming to us, and if we don’t drown into bills… You see what I mean ?

The good news is, we received just after New Year the 3D images of our future tiny house! There were quite a few things to be changed but my heart went crazy when I saw the email. We are also working with my dad on the trajectory for digging the water pipes and electric cables from the garage to the land. With Catherine, we are finalising a survey about how people choose their accommodation. This will be integrated into our market research and will give us more details on what services we should provide and focus on. If you haven’t filled it out yet, please do ! It takes only 5minutes and we will be grateful forever :) In any case, I want to say a big thank you to those who have participated in it, to those who helped us in the house and in the garden, to those who read my documents and correct me when it’s needed, to those who feed me when I need a warm place to eat and the ones who give me shelter when I need to get up early in the morning… And a massive thank you to those who keep telling us that we will succeed, even though we doubt of ourselves at some points ! I can tell you that we read your messages more often that you think :)

Our first Romanesco started to show up few months late! So better not to give up too early :)

Who would ever be tired of looking at this everyday ?


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