Time needs to slow down. It sometimes feels like we are participating in one of those Kevin McCloud building project programmes on TV where people renovate castles with a £2.50 budget. I now appreciate that the tales of set backs and general melodrama may after all be reasonably accurate. We seem to finish one project only to find that the list of ‘to dos’ has grown. This inevitably involves another visit to the Brico Marche and some highly experimental french techno-speak; generally accompanied by a lot of pointing and miming. Fortunately,the staff are always very accommodating and only laugh occasionally at our efforts.
Since our return from Whitley Bay, it has been full-on. Apologies for the lack of Blogs. The Stewart Clan arrived, meaning I had 3 Stewart sisters (Marion, Alison and Fiona) and one mini and very excited Stewart (Anna) to deal with. To be fair the elder Stewarts are pretty excitable too – as you can see from the photo. It was a great help having some critical friends to test drive the gite, Hirondelle. Breakfast on the terrace with fresh locally baked croissants from the boulanger in Castelnau was a particular highlight. They provided some excellent feedback with a few ideas for improvement. Anna who is eight, helped by exploring and finding lots of little spots for adventures. Alison has a fabulous photo of her running through the meadow, hair flying with seeds floating around her and a broad beaming smile – just magical. My lovely sisters-in -law were a great help, letting us get on with our epic list of stuff to do. They took over catering and we had some delicious meals together.
The weather has been glorious over Easter. Everything is coming to life. The vines are amazing to watch. The speed of growth is phenomenal. Both of us worked all day every day which was tough but rewarding. At least when we finished in the early evening, it was still warm enough to have half an hour together in the garden with a beer and a kir.
Our devotion to painting, plumbing, stripping (wallpaper!), cleaning and general fixing meant that there was little time to socialise. Friends, Les and Ella, who live near Condom, kindly invited us for lunch on Easter Sunday but knowing what happens at your average french lunch, far less a special occasion, we knew that there was no chance of returning in a fit state to get anything done. Therefore, we regretfully declined. However, Les popped over last week and volunteered his labour for the day which was incredibly kind. He came bearing an amazing chocolate cake – thanks to Ella. We did manage one early finish and were invited to wander over to visit our very supportive neighbour’s Fenella and Doug, for l’apero. A great French tradition and one we hope to embrace fully when things are a bit less hectic.
Having my right hand woman for 2 weeks made a huge difference but there is still a lot to do as I now, single handedly, run around like a maniac dealing with all the finishing and not so finishing touches prior to opening. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can squeeze in a visit to Fources for the annual Marche Aux Fleurs at the weekend.. Fources is a beautiful, circular medieval village nearby (Plus Beau Village) and hosts this huge market every year. Joop and Marijke who used to own Le Poteau, have told me that it is stunning. Watch this space for photos.
We can only hope now that enough people find out about us to provide us with some customers and that we have thought of everything – I suspect not, but hey ho!