I suppose the first post in a blog should be an indication of what the blog is all about. That seems a fairly simple idea. However, sometimes it’s not that easy without going into lots of details, so I’ll summarize matters and just say that we had been trying to sell our house in the UK for over 8 months before it finally sold. My wife (hereafter called “LSS” for Long-Suffering-Spouse) is French, and her father (hereafter called the aged FIL for Father-In-Law) was living on a derelict farm in the middle of France.
His health had been deteriorating over the past year or so, and we had decided we would go and live on the property with him so that we could be of some help. However, I need to mention at this point that the aged FIL’s house is something which Dickens would have had no trouble recognising. The roof tends to leak when it rains, and the walls are not exactly what I would call solid. Apart from that, there are only four items worth mentioning. Although there is
(A) electricity and
(B) cold running water, the mod cons stop there. There’s no hot water unless you boil it yourself in a kettle on the gas stove. There’s no bathroom, but there is a
(C) hand-made concrete kitchen sink (this is where the cold tap water supply is, and is also where the washing-up is done). The
(D) lavatory is at the furthest end of the house, outside. It’s simply a hole in the ground, covered by a bench with a plastic toilet seat. It does have rough wooden walls and a corrugated iron roof. You don’t want to spend too much time in there, especially in winter, because it’s extremely draughty.
As regards personal hygiene, what’s that? If you want to wash, use (C) above.
The property itself is around 30 hectares in size. It’s shaped like a large letter “W”, with two houses, one at either end of the “W”, a kilometre apart from one another. They stopped farming here about a decade ago, and the land has been returning to its natural flora, namely mixed woodland. The soil isn’t much good for growing anything else, if I’m honest.
The house in which we were going to live is called “La Darnoire”. In the patois of the region, this literally translates as “La Terre Noire” or “the black earth”. Because it is. The house itself has been empty for some 30 years. There is an electricity supply. And a well. And that’s it. No bathroom. No telephone. No running water. It’s even more basic than the aged FIL’s house mentioned above. With a couple of small advantages though; the roof doesn’t leak, and the walls are more solid.
So we have lots to do in order to transform the living accommodation into something a bit more modern. We’d like to do this as ecologically as possible but using modern methods. However, the entire principle of the project is to renovate the property by using as little money as possible, for the simple reason that selling a house during a recession generally means the amount of money left over is extremely limited! And at the same time we intend to be as self-sufficient as we can be, growing our own food etc.
As far as earning a living, LSS is completely bilingual in French and English, so one plan of attack is in utilising these skills in translation, and assisting businesses that would be interested in opening branches in the UK. As for me, I have several websites which bring in a little income, and my second plan is to write a book about the renovation process.
Where was I? Oh yes, the house had finally sold. The aged FIL was in hospital, so we decided to start off by staying in his house until such time as we could make the other property livable – more on that later. We left the UK around lunchtime; myself on the ST1100 motorcycle, and LSS in her car with the cat as a travelling companion. We took it easy, stopping for a break every hour or so and using the back roads in order to avoid motorway tolls. We finally arrived at around 1 in the morning, and the only one who was not tired from the trip was the cat.