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 that had been accumulating into their pores for years, then lime plastered or plaster boarded. Ceilings had to be taken down to reveal original beams, then repaired, then painted. Toilets, sinks and bath replaced. Shower built. Windows had to be fixed, shuttered had to patched-up. Walls had to be drilled into to hide the ubiquitous electric wires. Hands began to lose their sensitivity and a general state of pain moved in. Nerves got tighter. Money got thinner. Sleep became impossible. Shouting became the normal way of speaking.
Sometimes we felt we’d never see the end of it. We’d walk into this house covered in bags of plaster, paint and tools and never imagine it would one day become a space full of warmth, full of laughter, full of joy. We’d walk idly from one room to the next and just get on with whatever it was we were doing without thinking. Because if you started to think you’d realise your baby still had internal organs, and hair and nail and eyes to grow and that you are about to collapse from exhaustion and you’re yet still so far from the end.
We planned every little detail and still we could never picture how this house would look when it was finally fully formed. And when the day finally came, the result was so beautiful that even us, its parents and the people who helped transform it along the way, couldn’t believe our eyes.
To say that Maison de la rivière was a labour of love is an understatement. ‘To have all this,’ whispered Alistair into my ear last night on the terrace, looking at the expanse of green bordered by the river, that we own, ‘you have to pay a price.’
Exhaustion, both physical and mental, truly and fully settled into both our bodies and souls for quite some time, and yet, just like the mother who hears the first cries of her newborn, we were overjoyed.
‘Nothing worthy comes for free. You pay it with a lot of hard work.’
THE SITTING ROOM
For more photos and additional information please head over to lamaisondelariviere.com and check out our Gallery.
To book your stay at Maison de la rivière click here. We are now open for business all year round.
Beautiful photography by Vincent Lacoste Photography.