• Exterior of gite before renovation

In the beginning…

Honey Badger – small animal, not afraid of anything.  Will take on a lion and fight to the death.   Scoffs in the face of a hungry cheetah.

I am channelling my inner honey badger a lot these days.

What shall we do in twenty years time?  Do we still want to be doing our jobs?  Living in London?  Commuting? We can’t have been the only people to ask ourselves these questions after a couple of bottles.

What do most – normal – people do?  They get a hobby, book a cruise, learn to play golf.

What they don’t do is buy an enormous, derelict Mill in the Dordogne.  With a lot of forest, two rivers, a lake and a mill pond.  And a quarry.  And no mains water.

We did.

I’m a criminal barrister.  My husband works in the City.  This is not going to be a smug “look-at-us-look-how-lucky-we-are-despite-all-the-adversity” blog.  I’ve never written a blog in my life.  I’m more used to writing skeleton arguments in criminal trials.

As of last April we are the owners of Fontalbe. Slight smugness – it is truly beautiful, in an amazing region of France, in an idyllic spot.

We had spent two years looking at houses.  Driving hundreds of kilometres, testing the patience of our wonderful agent, Lisa.  We first saw Fontalbe on a miserable day and I was less than inspired.  I became more inspired (or drunk) after propping up the bar in our hotel and discussing what could be done with it.  We both began to get the vision.  Vision, after the local Eau du Prune is a dangerous thing.

The next day we saw Fontalbe in the glorious sunshine and the deal was done.

Fast forwarding several months (more of that in future blogs) and we were the owners.

We went to see it and realised the enormity of the project that we had undertaken (no internal walls, no kitchens, no bathrooms, limited plumbing and electricity, roofs a bit dodgy etc etc). Friends came down and saw it and made the obligatory impressed noises.  I’m pretty sure behind our backs they were mouthing “WTF?” at each other.  But it was ours and we were happy.

The builders have now been in for 2 months.  We have an amazing designer/project manager, name-check, Joris Van Grinsven.  We have towed a caravan down and even stayed in it with relative success.  We are full of plans for the future, and bore friends with photos and progress reports.  We have battled French bureaucracy and wept over Brexit.

We are at the beginning of an adventure with Fontalbe.

I hope that you might want to follow us on that adventure.  Minimal smugness allowed.
Fontalbe gite icon