I am sat at the table Alistair made from a wood plank that he had varnished himself and to which he had attached copper steel legs: the same one that dominated the kitchen in our flat in Streatham. Now it looks like a miniature in comparison with the vast space of the open plan first floor of the barn that it is now our home in the South West of France. Outside in front of me, there is nothing but nature. A river (Le Saison) is flowing through our land and the only other house we can barely see through the branches of the trees that line up the river banks is on the other side of it.
Our land comprises of ten acres of land. We have also inherited fourteen chickens and three goats from the previous owners. I wake up to let the chickens out and collect fresh eggs every morning. Yesterday we cleaned the chicken coop, but that’s about all the work they take. The goats are pretty independent and only need a bit of hay and maize to supplement their diet during the winter. However, I do feed them treats like bread and apples (they love bread, although in excess is not very good for them) so I can get close and give them a little pet. They are the size of a medium dog, but are sturdy little things and keep the land from overgrowing.
Listen to me – I speak like a farmer already and have only moved here five days ago. London seems like a distant memory. Which is shocking really considering that the last few months have been an all-consuming affair. The work had broken me, I was literally in pieces when we left. Waiting for the house to sell has been a story in itself, which I may have to dedicate a separate chapter to. Taking a gamble on the ever flailing pound meant that we barely scraped through to buy the farm in France. But we did and that is really all that matters. Sometimes it felt like we were running towards something that wasn’t really there. Yes, we had seen the farm with its chickens, and its goats, and its river, and its converted barn, and its cottage, but we had never lived like this before. We bought into something we had no idea how it tasted and whether we would love it or completely freak out about. We pushed hard to renovate the flat in Streatham, to get it sold (and let me tell you, Brexit hadn’t made that part easy) and enough money for it to pay for the farm and the additional fees. There were times we both wanted to give up. But there was no giving up, because we hadn’t made a plan B. We were selling the flat and if we didn’t have enough, we would be homeless and £60K poorer (losing the deposit we had put down and the notary and agency fees). It was always plan A.
And plan A worked in the end. After almost nine months of stress, we left London on 5th November with only a couple of suitcases with destination Biarritz.