At a stage of life when one prefers and should be in comfort, I find myself in Burgundy, away from my husband, with only a dog for company, camping out in a property that needs everything restored, and much added and updated.
What did I do to deserve it? I don’t know, but I must have done something good as it is a happy existence.
About 200 years ago, my husband’s ancestors lived and made wine in Burgundy. It has long been his desire to return and the opportunity came up for us to do so.
Or more truthfully, we made it happen that way. We were outgrowing the existing home and our highly energetic dog needed more than walks to expend his excess and more than a courtyard to complete his tail chasing circles. So, despite Burgundy being many hours’ drive away from the place of work, as the housing market moves very slowly in France and as it is expensive to move, we thought it a better idea to not make the middle step and just go straight to the place where my husband (hereinafter referred to as ‘H’) wants to semi-retire.
I am here to keep it occupied, project-manage all the works, do some DIY myself and eventually furnish it.
Which is why I feel the need to start a blog. Despite having lovely and friendly neighbours, they have their own lives and it takes a while to build up friendships and a social life. It is also nice to, hopefully, reach out a little further, or perhaps to simply record life as in a diary, just for me, albeit a rather public diary.
Our initial search for our new home took us driving up, down and across almost the full breadth of what we rapidly became to appreciate was the vast département of Burgundy. A tiring exercise to effect during the short breaks we could allow ourselves, so whilst each trip reduced our search area, the criteria of what we were looking for conversely became more grandiose. It must be difficult for agents, we buyers don’t really know what we’re looking for until we see it.
It was an area that H didn’t need to convince me of its attraction: the ochre tinged stone of the houses, the range of delicate pinot noir wines to accompany the Charolais beef, the garlicky snails, the ‘proper’ seasons rather than the almost incessant grey skies of where we were living at the time, and the equally sunny disposition and relaxed manner of most of the locals.
When we came across the house we eventually bought, I had a coup de foudre, more so than H who when he looked at the buildings saw the huge work required, whilst I could only see the pretty end result, skipping that whole living-in-years-of-building-site-misery step . It was an old winemaker’s house with outbuildings that hadn’t been attended to since long before the death of its co-owner. In short, it was the typical sort of place that foreigners take on to do up – well, as foreigners we mustn’t disappoint.
After some poor negotiating on our part, we then went through the lengthy process of obtaining a mortgage in France – first a long approval time (we perilously presumed everyone was getting on with the file without constant chasing) and then an even longer time to actually obtain the funds.
But get it we did. And so here I am, with dog.