• Our journey

    One year of Frenchfully

    It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in France for over one year. It’s hard to believe that three days ago we celebrated one year of Frenchfully (the blog). But what’s even harder to believe is how much we’ve packed in one year! We arrived in Biarritz in November 2017, with no idea what the future had in store for us. We were excited about starting a new chapter; a new adventure in a new country. We were fed up with life in the big smoke and yearned for the comfort and peace promised by the countryside. A few days later we moved into our new forever home, Maison de la…

  • Our journey

    Launching Maison de la rivière

    Alistair and I have been trying since the day we got on that plane to Biarritz on 6th November 2017, leaving London for good. Nine months went by and we finally had a baby: Maison de la rivière . Ok, I know that’s not a baby in the traditional sense, but it’s a baby nevertheless. A baby we gave our sweat to, our tears, our days, our nights, our money and, to a certain extent, our health. What was supposed to be a straightforward project of decorating, turned out to be more of a full-on renovation. Walls had to be cleaned of wallpaper, then left to dry out the moisture…

  • Daily life,  Our journey

    A quiet and predictable life

    This morning I go through my Facebook feed and read a post about a friend who lived close to where we used to live in London (Streatham) listing all the lovely things she will miss about her house, as she prepares to move to a new home, and all the things she wouldn’t miss. ‘Pollution and grime. Not feeling safe enough to walk to or from the station after dark. No sense of community.’ To which somebody posts a comment saying ‘There isn’t much sense of community anywhere.’ It makes me think of the conversation I’ve had with Alistair a few days ago when, reminiscing about our former life, we…

  • Daily life,  Our journey

    The Trickster in our midst

    It’s been a little over six months since we moved to France. The actual anniversary day of us moving into our new home went by without us noticing. We were probably absorbed by the multitude of things we need to do on a daily basis. The pleasant winter activities of feeding the chickens and letting them out for the day and feeding the five goats have been taken over by worries about cutting the grass that is not far from being knee-high, getting rid of the brambles, clearing the path towards the river, finishing the renovations at the gite, decking the concrete base that we inherited from the previous owners…

  • Daily life,  Our journey,  Work in progress

    The joys of pollarding trees

    When we moved to Maison Barbe in November 2017, we found the driveway covered in leaves from the four huge plane trees on both sides of the entry gate. Walking around the grounds, we’ve identified another four, even taller, plane trees, three of them sustaining the goats’ hut. We didn’t think much about it, but have subsequently found out that the said trees need to be pollarded yearly so they stay under control. If you don’t know what pollarding is (and neither did I until now), it is a method of pruning that entails cutting the higher branches of trees to restrict their growth in height. I didn’t know what…

  • Daily life,  Our journey

    A tale of two goats

    As you probably know if you’ve been following our French countryside antics, the purchase of Maison Barbe came with thirteen chickens and three goats. About a month ago, we lost one of them, Mika, to a ghost pregnancy that turned toxic. Her departure left the remaining two goats, Tilly and Poppy, genuinely bereft and not even breakfast gave them any more pleasure. It was during their grieving period when Buddy came into their lives. Buddy is a on-year old boy goat that belongs to our friends Echo and Darren from Chambres-du-Pont-de-la-Legende.  Despite being a beloved member of their family, they asked us if we could take him in, as he lived…

  • Daily life,  Our journey

    It never snows in this part of France!

    We were told it never snows in this part of France, and yet this morning we wake up to a thick blanket of snow. We make our way as usual towards the chicken coops to get the hay and the feed for the goats (we figured out that we need to feed the goats first, otherwise they don’t get a single bite to eat because the chickens, lead by the new rooster who appears to have no shame, have worked out that they can get a second breakfast chez the goats). It is still snowing heavily when we get to the goats huts. Obviously, they are going to get breakfast…

  • Our journey,  Welcome to Frenchfully,  Work in progress

    Maison Barbe: in the making

    This is Maison Barbe, the cottage we have been renovating since we moved in last year in November. Happy to report that the works are going well and we can finally see it transforming under our eyes and becoming more welcoming than how we found it. To add more space to its somewhat small rooms (typical for this type of béarnaise-style farm house) we have decided to paint all the dark-colours in white or light grey, as you can see from the photo below, which is the living room. We are keeping the original floor-tile, but all the dark bricks surrounding the wood burner have been covered in light-grey paint.…

  • Our journey

    Life and death at the farm

    When we moved to Maison Barbe, we inherited 13 chickens and 3 goats. We have been told they are very easy to look after and require very little. The chickens are funny and they follow you around in hope for more food. The goats, shy at first, also come when food is on offer. We soon also acquired three hedgehogs who are currently hibernating in the coop next door to the one that serves as the chickens residence. Alistair was in London for a week when, one morning, having just let the chickens out of the coop, I noticed the rooster stumbling, as if over something, and falling to the…

  • Our journey

    First night in our new home

      I never thought my French was any good, to be honest. I had learnt it in school  many years before and not practised it for over fourteen years. But I was perfectly capable to talk to the notaire and understand the contract, as well as his jokes. An hour later, we received the keys and drove off to our new home for the first times as owners. Our property comprises of a renovated barn that has been done-up to a very high spec and a farm house that the previous owners rented out as a gite. As charming as the farmhouse was, it was also in desperate need of…