Hello/Bonjour, we are finally here. In France. In the perfect house. I can scarce believe it. Of course everyone has their moving stories… of moving. Ours has the appropriate degree of suspense, involving a stuck train; a five hour wait in a carpark; an excitingly uneventful ride through the Tunnel; a mad dash to French customs to get the vital piece of paper for importing the car; parking in the wrong place; a lot of hand waving; the Cat needing the loo urgently, just as the customs officers were checking the car; finally getting said vital piece of paper; a long road trip south, to arrive eventually at 4.30 am; collapsing onto the blow-up bed only to be awoken at 7.45 am by the movers, come to deliver our stuff. A lot of coffee was consumed. And pastries. Much to our continued amazement, the Cat behaved impeccably through all of this, not even complaining when the Boyfriend drove at over 60 kph. The Cat does not approve of speed. Or moving. Usually.
The Boyfriend had to return to London the following week for work. I amused myself by unpacking. Searching high and low for the screws for the dismantled furniture, eventually finding them in the wrong box. Playing with paint samples. And showing the Cat how to use the catflap. She had never seen one before. I made the mistake of poking the flap to show her how it opens. After a careful inspection of this suspicious contraption, she copied me. Forcefully. And loudly. The Cat is not a possessor of finesse. It was some little time before she was persuaded that it was not just a one-way door and that it is possible to come in, as well as go out. I am very proud. The Boyfriend has conceded, finally, that the Cat is in fact the cleverest cat in the world. And not just in the room.
If moving house is tiring, moving house and country is exhausting. Our days are long and full, and still there is much to do. Everyone we have encountered has been very helpful and welcoming. We have got most of the necessary admin stuff sorted, though I am still in discussion about how best to structure my textile business here. In the meantime, I have turned my attention to renovation. And the garden.
The bones of the house are good. She has been much loved and lavished with the best. We are in thrall to the oven. It’s a De Dietrich (no, me either) and must be at least 20 years old. It has graphics… that move! When we turn it on, a little chef enters stage left and says “Bonjour.” When the food is ready, he comes and takes it out of the oven, saying “C’est prêt.” Well, not literally you understand. We have to take the food out ourselves but you get the idea. It’s just so cool. Our venerable shower has a radio, a seat and jets that massage your back. Heavenly.
There has been rather a liberal use of grey paint throughout, which I intended to remedy as soon as may be. We made a start in the smallest bedroom. It was going to be a quick and easy job. Well, now not so much. Someone used the wrong kind of paint on the walls. They could not breathe, resulting in a few damp patches but fortunately not mould. All of the walls have had to be stripped, just in case. It is now a project. In the meantime, we have been hanging our pictures. The Salon is almost a room… my textiles, artworks and furniture finally come together. I am very well pleased with the result. Now to get rid of the grey, find that vintage drinks cabinet, and a rug. I have my eye on the striking Garden Maze by Nordic Knots.
I confess to being one of those tiresome people that moves to the country and falls in love with the garden. I have plans for it, involving flowers and vegetables, the soothing buzzing of bees, a pond, and a hammock in the shade of the Linden trees. So far, we have spent a considerable time on the much less glamorous and definitely more arduous pursuits of trimming and tidying, pruning and chopping, and digging. Or rather I should say the Boyfriend’s parents have. For they are Gardeners and like to be Doing. And actually know what it is they are doing. Thankfully my hacking of the roses was not in fact murder, as feared by the aghast Boyfriend when he saw their sorry state. Still there is much to do. The garden is home to a wonderful selection of trees and to an enterprising squirrel that likes to bury walnuts and acorns in the flowerbeds by the house. We have had to pull out two walnut saplings, grown so big as to require a length of rope and the car to uproot them, lest they uproot the house. I have mixed feelings about this squirrel, notwithstanding its beautiful Titian-red coat, cute tufty ears and engaging way of bouncing across the lawn. We may yet have to have words.
Eventually. “Eventually” is now Le Mot du Jour. Eventually the grey paint will be banished, the dahlias and vegetables will be planted, my textile business will be re-established, I will find my glass candlesticks, and I will get to laze in a hammock in the shade of the Linden trees. Eventually… for a moment.