We did it! We have moved to France. For a long time we have wanted to move here but we didn’t want to uproot and leave our home and friends in Brighton just for a change of scenery; we wanted a change of lifestyle. After much discussion about how it could be done, Muriel had a look online about the possibility of renting and managing a bed and breakfast. Within 15 minutes of searching down in the comments section of a similar thread, she found a post asking for people to manage their B&B. The comment had only just been placed and it felt like fate, so we got in touch right away. A few weeks and skype calls later we were flying out to meet the owners and check out the place. Although not in an area of France we knew or had ever been to, the house was lovely, the owners were really nice and of a similar mind set to us. All their produce was organic, there was a massive garden with loads of space for our boys to explore and plenty of potential to share our passion for food. We quickly realised this was a chance we couldn’t let slip. That was in May and the owners were leaving in August so we had just a few months to pack up, get ready and move our lives to France.
To make a long story short, the move has been a rollercoaster ride. The packing took a month, the transportation of our stuff was a disaster that should have taken two days but took over a month, half of our belongings are still in boxes and the list of tasks is unending (which is why we haven’t had a chance to do any blogging or even let our friends and family know what we’ve been up to). Now as things are starting to calm down we thought we’d take some time to let you all know what we’ve been up to for the last couple months. We arrived in peak season and the place was fully booked. Two days after we arrived with all of our belongings, we had our first guests. It was a mad rush to unload our stuff, unpack essentials and hide all the boxes away before the first guests arrived. From that point until late September we have had a constant stream of guests staying and it has been a massive challenge to try to unpack our stuff while accommodating guests; but we are getting there.
As well as breakfast for our guests we run a table d’hôte. This is where the guests have dinner with us, we do a big 4 course meal and we all sit down and eat together. We absolutely love this element and it is a big part of what we wanted to do. We were a little worried because we only cook vegetarian food and the French aren’t known for their veggie ways. However we have done a lot of meals now and every single guest has loved all the food and been very impressed, we have even had a few vegan and vegetarian guests.
Along with the house came 2 nanny goats, 4 hens and a rooster. On the 3rd day after we arrived the boys ran out to collect the eggs from the hen hutch and 5 seconds later ran back in screaming. There was a buzzard in the chicken’s pen, it had eaten the cockerel and two hens. It was an awful sight and quite an introduction to life in the countryside, where wildlife is on our doorstep. Since arriving we have adopted a kitten who managed to work her way into our lives, first by sleeping with the chickens then on our doorstep and now on our sofa. The goats are awesome and have been a constant source of troublesome entertainment, they are true escape artists and garden terrorists.
Between all of this we arrived in harvest time. So as well as everything going on inside the house with guests, boxes and animals, outside everything was calling out to be picked. The garden was overrun by squash, pumpkins and courgettes, in amongst the weeds there were plenty of green beans, carrots, beetroot, raspberries and we even uncovered some fresh turmeric plants. There are peach, apple and pear trees here that came ripe just a few weeks after we arrived so had to be picked and processed. We now have jars and jars of canned peaches, apples and pears, bottles of apple juice, jams and fruit sorbets. The garden has two walnut trees and is surrounded by hazelnut and chestnut trees. Every time we stepped outside we could hear the nuts falling onto the wooden decking and knew we had to keep picking them up before the wildlife did. This region of France is famous for its mushrooms and according to the locals this has been one of the most abundant years. Even with our poor knowledge of the area and mushrooms we have managed to pick and eat plenty of ceps, parasols and even a giant puffball.
The land here is amazingly fertile and lush green, there is plenty of woodland and all the trees are now quickly turning to their beautiful autumnal colours. On sunny days the temperature still reaches the high twenties so we are enjoying being outside as much as possible. For us the list of things to do inside and out is still endless, but we are really enjoying this new life. We have plenty of space for you all to come and stay so we look forward to seeing you all out here soon.