La Belle Vie en France

Our journey into purchasing and rennovating our fermette in the South West of France

After a relaxing weekend, our newly installed Fosse Septic was due its installation commissioning by SPANC before being covered over with soil. So, early (08.00) on Monday morning, Mr. SPANC arrived and his inspection was carried out together with the obligatory discussions and photography to certify our Fosse as ‘Conforma’. That same day, all the documents and photos were sent to the SPANC offices to be signed off. We are pleased to announce that we can now officially and legally use our Toilette in France!! And we have a piece of paper to prove it.

As a result of filling in the large hole which formed our Epandage and levelling off the ground, we have a lovely flat new terrace in the garden instead of a steep slope. This then led to another idea which was to landscape the remainder of the garden on the side of the house so that we could have another nice area on which to sit and have al fresco dining without having to sit at an angle! After much discussion with our friend Nathan, he and his digger agreed to come back later the same week to create an additional terrace at the side of the house. This area will eventually be grassed and have shrubs planted around the border. Nathan began the task of removing a very large oak stump that was left behind from the huge oak tree we had felled back in January. This task alone took over 2-3 hours to dig up with his 3T digger, a spade, and a chainsaw. After much perseverance and just plain bloody-mindedness, the stump and roots eventually lifted out of the ground and rolled down the hill at the rear of the garden into the wood. We’ve been advised to leave it there and let the weather get into it, which will make it easy in two years to dismantle if we wish to, but who knows, it might make a great feature for the birds or even some chickens!

Removing a troublesome tree stump

Now the Fosse has been finished and before Nathan coming back, we started to tidy up the garden. Whilst Mandy went shopping, I spent the day fighting the terrain with a stump grinder and rotavator to tidy up and clear out the gully at the edge of our garden., ready to plant a mixed hedge of Photinia and Laurels.

Our friend Pete wanted some squiggly oak legs for the base of a table he was making out of the rounds I gave him a few weeks prior, and whilst tidying up, I found some logs which were perfect for said table legs. After a quick visit from Pete and a flash of the chainsaw, the legs for his tables were ready.

Throughout and to the end of that week, the weather continued to be warm and sunny. We celebrated my birthday with Pete and Colin coming around for lunch and much of the afternoon, ensuring they were home by bedtime. Yes, in France we are still enduring a curfew of 18.00 hours and there is currently no sight of it ending, on the positive side, at least we are not in a very restrictive lockdown. Mandy, once again excelled herself by cooking a lovely steak and being the wonderful hostess that she is. Once the birthday celebrations were over, on the Sunday afternoon I began cleaning my LUREM combination woodworking machine in the workshop. After cleaning and polishing the top, I started to practice using the machine by milling a piece of rough oak lumber. All is going well, and I still have all my fingers and thumbs……. just.  It won’t be long before my workshop will be producing wood items for our house and garden to utilise.

Two weeks ago, Mandy and I helped another couple to move a new beam for their work van into their workshop. After much heavy lifting, the 6 metre Douglas Fir beam was placed in its temporary home. We decided then to visit Clive and Jo for a quick coffee and a chat. Well…… a good couple of hours later we eventually get back home. Mandy then decided she wanted to show me the local plant nursery (1/2 an hour away) that she had been told about and from which she bought the Laurel/Photinia hedging. After a drive in the French countryside, our not very local plant nursery appeared on the horizon behind a lovely chateau. And with the lovely weather, it turned out to be a wonderful afternoon spent with each other doing what we like to do as well as enjoying the French countryside at the same time. By the time we got home……poof, the day was gone!

At the beginning of last week, the weather looked to be like another glorious French Spring week. I popped out to do some household chores, but on my return home to complete those chores, our local farmer managed to scupper my plans. Guillaume, our farmer friend has had our felled trees in his pasture land for the last month and he’s at the stage now where he wished to put his ‘Vaches’ into the said field now that the weather was improving. Guillaume turned up with new fencing and barbed wire ready to reinstall his new fence.  I was sharing that duty.  We both began clearing up the last of the branches and bought them from the field, placing them on our ever-growing pile of tree branches at the rear of the Well waiting to be chipped.  Whilst removing the remainder of the branches, twigs, and leaves, etc, and following a previous conversation, Guillaume decided the time was right to also removed the trees from across the road but directly in front of the house. We now have a clear path to the Sun.

At this point, thought should be spared for Mandy, who single handedly prepped the newly created terrace ready for sowing grass seed by de-stoning, rotavating, and endlessly raking the soil so that it was level, and because she is such a trooper 95% of the terrace was completed the same day.  Albeit and being a perfectionist, couldn’t help herself……the following day she continued to pluck stones and level the ground………… I must say a big thank you to my lovely, and tell her that she is ‘one in a million!!’

Guillaume and I finished installing the fence after a couple of days! I have to be honest, during this experience of French workmanship, I have concluded that there were some very dodgy health and safety practices going on, especially working at height with a pole pruning saw and power cables whilst stood in the bucket of a tractor. Please no comment!!! Now that the fence is up and the bank semi cleared, it now looks like a wonderful area to plant wildflowers and even some wild garlic. Permission already sought from our friendly farmer Guillaume. I just need to finish tidying up the tree stumps on the side of the bank, then Mandy is free to do her thing. The pasture field is now ready for his cattle to be bought up from the winter field to his Spring and Summer fields.

I finally got round to planting the laurel and Photinia hedge which had been sitting in their marked spot for nearly a week. As Mandy’s line was a bit wonky, I scrubbed her line out and marked out a brand-new boundary ready for grass seeding and shrub/flower planting. We didn’t quite make the seeding before it started to rain at the end of last week, however, there is a gap in the rain this week in which we should be able to seed the lawn.  Watch this space and find out if we achieved our goal.

This Friday (12 March) was our six-month anniversary of moving to the Correze. I know that when I say this, I also speak for Mandy…… the decisions we have taken and the journey we have and still are experiencing, have been the best thing we’ve ever done, besides getting married of course. If any of our readers ever get the opportunity to do what we’ve done, we would seriously recommend it.  Giving up the rat race and moving abroad has reduced stress levels, reduced noise pollution, and, by joining the slower pace of life has brought a sense of peacefulness that comes with relaxing in the sun and listening to nothing more than nature and the world going by.

The weekend was topped off with Guillaume and his wife Noura coming around on Saturday afternoon for an aperitif, a few nibbles and to watch Le Rugby Wales v Italy. A good time was had by all and it was the perfect opportunity to practice franglais, broken French/English on our side and broken English/French on their side. With the help of Google Translate on both sides, we had an amazing laugh.

As is customary in our blog, for now it’s time to hang up the keyboard, sit back, relax and have another bottle of my favourite beer. “Dry January and February” are now over and whilst it was fun, like everything else in life it must come to an end.

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One thought on “The Shape of the Land has Changed

  1. Lisa Galeizzie says:

    Love it! Actually made me emotional to read this weeks blog and look at the transformation you’ve made in just 6 months! So glad you were brave and took the plunge …… 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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