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It's a new dawn, It's a new day...


Just after 7am, Roddy is promptly up and disappears for a trip to Aulnay to see a guy about installing WiFi, TV and Sky. I have to wait in for the postman as our SIM card gets delivered separately apparently, and has to be signed for.

The early morning light throws sun kissed rays across the bed enticing me up for some yoga on the terrace. It sounds like Roddy is back though, what’s he forgotten? No, wait, voices... I jump out of bed and run downstairs.

Opening the door I notice a large old red truck parked alongside our house near the back by the terrace. A searing sound ignites the angry buzz of a chain-saw hastening my stride back upstairs to throw some less revealing clothes on. It appears that somebody is cutting down our fig tree.

I recognize the guy. It’s Damien! Bloody hell he’s finally starting the terrace extension! He really did turn up when he said he would this time - “Summer!” I greet him with a smile of surprise and make him and his young employee double espressos.

Roddy will be so pleased. We are desperate now for rapid progress and the extended terrace will create be a bigger space for my yoga sessions. By 11am the workers have vanish without word - early for their lunch I presume. I can’t really blame them it’s now 42 degrees out there on our south facing terrace and way too hot for out-door yoga now.

Yesterday was not the best day. I had it with painting ceilings and walls. Though pleased with our new builder Mark and the work he’s completed on time, I was now faced with painting the gîte. Well actually it’s a small two bedroomed house when you really think about it and that’s a hell of a lot of painting to be done.

I stood blankly staring at the shower room wall's after applying a coat of dulux white matt I’d dug out from the garage which turned out to be a more drab-grey incorporating a thread of dirty biro blue in it and not the on-trend shades of recent years. It was more like the tone you would see running through a 73 year old’s varicose veins. This coat had preceded an application of very insipid watery french paint of which we are stuck with two massive tubs.

Feeling fatigued and frustrated, despair struck and the tears rolled. The plaster I’d previously used to repair the dents and marks in the walls was a hideous dark beige and SO rapid dry I couldn’t keep up with it. The smooth creamy paste promptly turned to thick crumbling rock hard globules the consistency of concrete. I would have to apply at least 10 coats of this rubbish paint to disguise it! The paint I’d brought out last year had also dried up creating an impenetrable skin on top, cracked and only fit for the dump. Then I noticed the electrician had forgotten to put in a light switch for the staircase - how on earth did we possibly manage to miss that before settling the facture?!

To top it off nicely a blood vessel had popped in my eye (I won’t post a photo) and I’ve cracked a different tooth to the one I had an emergency repair appointment for before leaving England. It has left me with a razor sharp point like a static medieval sword that every time my tongue involuntary swash buckles passed it, it slices into the side red raw resulting in my somewhat muffled dialogue. Did I mention the subsidence on our south facing wall?

Roddy caught me mid-stream tears flowing, disillusioned and down.

I finally confessed blurting out “I want to sell it.” The dream is gone.

I thought he’d be cross but my rock of support was also feeling defeated. His way of allowing tears to roll had been in the form of mowing the lawn on his sit-on tractor. Going round and around the land in continual circles for what seemed to me like hours on end... His release. His meditation. His form of tears. He suggested we pop into Ruffec tomorrow and speak to an estate agent. This old longère has finally beaten us.

We knew the pitfalls from the outset. It wasn’t even a run down type of renovation project, we knew that would be too ludicrous whilst living in the UK. We had given ourselves a very realistic 10 year plan to achieve the results we wanted. It turns out we are now into our sixteenth year... It was never supposed to be a holiday home, we were meant to move out here shortly after we bought it but life’s rich tapestry, as they say, weaved us in and out of other unexpected different directions.

Nearly there, Nearly done we told ourselves every year. Each year we lovingly improve this old rural farmhouse, it slaps us back bitterly with another little annual piece somewhere of added deteriorations. You know, the one’s that a shiny new oven for the gîte won’t put right. I remember hanging some beautiful curtains in our living room one year (one’s I’d swapped a client for half a head of highlights and a restyle) only to return the following to find holes in the hem’s, chewed by mice where they’d draped on the floor, ruined.

Both feeling utterly deflated we sat on the terrace for a bit watching the sun go down in silence.

We really are irrevocably, beaten.

Then Roddy piped up with... “My mum would never give up.”

Damien returns after 2pm with a huge digger. Wow! Good timing from yesterday’s cutting and mowing, the digger will be able to maneuver between the front gateposts now. More importantly Roddy’s hard pruning back the Laurel away from the entrance gates and halving the size of our great Walnut tree, which had heavily draped itself in drunken stupor hung-over precariously on the electric cables and telephone wire, has allowed more space and freed the cables. If any cables were to get wrecked, we are liable to pay.

With the fig tree gone and roots scraped out with the digger, Damien and his young lad start the process of extending our terrace. The old bbq is smashed up and strewn amongst the other bits of broken hardcore ready to be laid to rest beneath the concrete carpet due to be spread and fixed tomorrow. Damien also confirms it’s the fig tree that’s caused the annual increased growth of the crack in the wall snaking up the side of the house, not subsidence. Phew! That’s really good news...

Roddy says he’ll help me tomorrow. Better still there’s are two solutions to the weak french paint problem which we just can’t waste. Roddy points out there’s nothing better than runny paint for the spray machine to facilitate the tired bedroom walls. I intend to crack on with the shower room and have had an idea re the paint solution for my work.

I rummage around the cupboard under the sink in the old kitchen and find the trusty secret ingredient for making up my own chalk paint recipes. It will thicken the paint up, allowing more promising coverage whilst having the all-important sticking factor. Poor Annie Sloan hasn’t had a look in these past years - well, maybe not so poor Annie Sloan...

Our evening accomplishment saw us putting together a smart new gas bbq Roddy had purchased earlier, a necessary accessory for sunny climate outdoor living. It came with the usual Ikea sort of jigsaw puzzle instructions of course yet in French, almost taking us two hours to muster.

Dusk soon unveiled the stridulating sound from crickets, which I love - makes me feel so Mediterranean! then one or two bats appeared joining in natures little evening soiree weaving above us and below, beneath the eaves of the house and around the trees.

As night fell we sat and wondered at the seemingly endless deep dark sky above yielding a spectacle of stars that glistened like zillions of tiny sparkling diamonds.

Today has been a good day, indeed it’s been a new dawn, new day and we are really feeling good!

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