It has been ages since I wrote anything besides work related articles so I thought our latest adventure and those that are sure to follow merit dusting off the old keyboard and recording our progress and the ups and downs of our move to France…
Moving to France
Yes, we are moving to France! I think the reality of the situation only struck Gavin and I as we sat in the notaires office in Masseube, initialled a hundred pages of documentation (no exaggeration!) and held the key to Maison Bernis. After four years of planning, months of mortgage uncertainty and loads and loads of form completing we stood a little astounded and quite overwhelmed in front of a beautiful maison de maître style home with outbuildings and land. Strangely enough it felt as though we’d always been there and even our usually cautious three-year-old was exploring confidently.
How does a wood-burning stove work?
Our first challenge was heating our new home with a wood-burning stove… Gavin insists that he likes the system and that it is very elegant. I, however, am less enthusiastic. For one thing, you have to be patient, you need time and you need to make sure that it does not go out. You also need to clear away the ash daily. (This takes some skill. I think we were all taken unawares by the wind at least once…)
To me, the stoves one redeeming feature is the beauty of the log stacks and I did enjoy wheel-barrowing the logs from one of the barns to just outside the kitchen. There is a small wood on the property so I’ll have to concede that a wood-burning stove makes very good economic and ecological sense, but the house was very cold until Granny Lynne arrived with her farm and fire know-how and patience.
Making a good start…
Things really started to get going when and Granny and Granddad arrived. The cupboards were polished and lined, beautiful old beds were found in attics and fitted together, the gardens were cleared of lots and lots of brambles and the stables mucked out. Fortunately we were also able to relax in the evenings – sitting around the kitchen fire with our books or dreaming up the perfect configuration of our homes to be (ours in what was the duck house and Granny and Granddad’s in what was once the chicken run and piggery!).
We returned to London with Gavin saying he feels fitter than he has ever felt before and with the motivation to return to Maison Bernis as soon as possible. The next big step is to sell our home in Treviso Road and move back to our one-bed flat in Manor Mount. (Sorry Amanda!) This will mean that we will be able to forge ahead with our plans to transform Maison Bernis into an events and conference venue of beautiful and understated elegance. (Think weddings, week-long retreats, celebrations…) And, we will be able to build a home for our family in time to come too.
We have met some amazing people to get to this point. Thank you Nadia for finding us the property in the first place. If anyone is looking for a France property finder, Nadia is the best! Take a look at her blog: http://foothillsoffrance.com/
Our estate agent, Sarah, has been simply wonderful too. Thank you Sarah! Besides helping out with everything from accommodation recommendations to childcare, Sarah has introduced us to a Monsieur Battaglia (love the name) who has agreed to come up with a proposal for Maison Bernis for when we next visit in March. I can’t wait! Until March then…
Nadia’s property finder network: http://www.frenchentree.com/french-property-finders
Sarah’s estate agency: www.france-property-sales-gascony.com
Mortgage advisor (Elena & Rob): www.internationalprivatefinance.com