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  • Writer's pictureCatherine

Two Months in France

Another month has passed so I’ve now been in France for a whole two months! It feels both incredibly long and very short, it’s so strange.

Lots has been going on which has made the time go very quickly.

The first very exciting news is that we have bees! Early in May on a Sunday evening, we got a call from Christophe (Magali’s Uncle) that he had caught a swarm of bees and asked if we would like to have it but it would have to be "right now", of course we said yes... and then we panicked. We quickly found a place that could work, not too far away from the house but far enough, south easterly facing and enough space to go around the back of the hive as to not disturb the bees when checking them. We took some of the concrete blocks that used to be the walls in our house and set them up in readiness for Christophe and Marion’s (Magali’s cousin) arrival. When they arrived, we showed Christophe where we planned to put them and he said it was a great place, so after a few tweaks to our set up, Marion brought the small hive from the car to the spot. After some helpful pointers, they were back on their way and we now had a beehive, fingers crossed I’ll be a good beekeeper and not let Christophe down! I’ve just ordered my protective outfit so will hopefully arrive soon and we’re organising a bigger hive with Christophe so that the bees will have enough stores for the winter and we may be able to get some honey in the Spring next year.

We’ve seen a lot of the European hornets about the place though, they’re so big and scary we decided to make a hornet trap to try and catch them as they’re not good for our bees and other pollinators, so far there’s been no success but we’re trying a few different bait recipes ('How To' blog coming soon).

We’ve been doing a lot of renovating and work around the house, there’s so much to do and so little time, I’m kind of glad we’re not working at the moment as I’m not sure when we would fit in time to work with all that we're doing!

We’ve been sanding our cast iron radiators in readiness for painting. They’re very rusty and not in the best shape after being in the humid garage for over six months and were already a bit rusty from being in the house. We started painting the first four last week with a natural paint, it’s quite hard to get used to using it as it's a little different to normal paint but they’re looking great. We’re about halfway through of all the radiators that need doing, so we still have more sanding and painting to do. We also sanded and painted two of the exterior lights and we've already put them back, we're super happy with how they're looking.

We removed all the old electrical cables from inside the house in preparation for Jean-Guy to put in all new ones, it was lucky we did it as a lot of them were quite burnt and some didn’t seem like they were in the best condition. Jean-Guy has been doing all our electrical work this month with some help from Dominique and we helped where we could so it’s almost all ready for before the plasterer comes to do the walls. We’ve also been trying to clean the house before the new walls go up to minimise the old cobwebs and dead insects within the walls and ceiling (along with dead vines!) so it can feel a bit like new. It’s definitely not a fun job (I’ve found my jaw really hurts afterwards as I’m clenching it the whole time I’m cleaning!) but it does look so much better where we’ve done it, hopefully the rest won’t take too much longer to do.

There’s also been a lot of work by the builders, they’ve built a new wall in the kitchen/dining room, filled up a lot of the holes in the concrete blocks, removed the big pile of old walls from the front garden and our windows have just started to be installed after a three week delay. The plasterer is coming next week and the windows should be finished too so it will start to look like a complete house again very soon, can’t wait!

We’ve also found time to work in the garden. We created a makeshift greenhouse out of the old concrete blocks and bricks from the walls in one of the old hangars and placed all our seedlings on it as it gets a lot of sun. I've made a design for one of our gardens and we’ve made new beds based on that plan. It’s really starting to come together and we’ve got a lot of growth so we’re really happy. The trees have seen a lot of fruit coming out as well, we’ve been eating a lot of cherries from the amazing cherry tree we have, as well as all the beautiful roses, it’s been great to see all the plants blooming and trying to figure out what they all are! We’re slowly learning but there’s so many plants, we’ll get there one day!

It’s not been all work though, we went to the open doors at L’Arbre de Vie, an eco village and permaculture farm in Maumusson. It was pretty cool and we took away some really great ideas. We’ve also been going to a lot of Vide Greniers to try and find some lights for our kitchen to no avail but we have just found two on Le Bon Coin (the French Gumtree) so we’re super happy we’ve got another thing ticked off the list. We also rode our bikes to Combrée to Les Filles du Lavoirs, an organic/local ingredient restaurant right on the pond. They do a set menu of one main and one dessert, it was simple and delicious (and a huge portion size), we sat outside in the sun enjoying the afternoon, it’s a definite must-try if you’re ever in the area!

We just wanted to say thanks again to everyone for all the help and kind words of support, it’s definitely a hard slog both emotionally and physically but we’re getting there. I’m still struggling to adapt, being in the campervan probably doesn’t help as it still doesn’t seem like home, it’s difficult to get in the mindset that I’m here forever (for now at least). Hopefully, once the house is done it will feel like we’re in a place of our own, bring on August!


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