Moving forwards

July 2014

So far this month there’s been a birth in the family back in the UK, which has brought much joy, and here in France, we’ve had two birthdays, lots of cake, fun and laughter… and we’ve found a house, visited it, made an offer (which has been accepted) and we’ve practically secured a mortgage, banked the deposit and are just waiting to sign the compromis de vente. Never thought I’d be able to say all that in one breath!

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Yet, this week I discovered I had lost a close colleague and great friend, in the most tragic of circumstances…a family man, in his early 40’s, with three children and a loving wife. To think that an entire family can be torn apart due the recklessness of one drunk driver is proving very difficult to bear. Words cannot express the sorrow, and nor will writing paragraphs about it ease the pain, so instead I would prefer to simply reflect on life and how important it is to make the most of what we have got, and I strongly encourage You to do the same.

We want to move now more than ever, to experience a new way of life and to have new adventures. Life really is too short to be working so many hours and never spending enough time with the family. We hope to be moved in by Christmas, providing there are no setbacks or delays along the way. Maybe this timescale is rather optimistic for France, where everything takes twice as long…we live in hope!

Pete is already designing his new garden-to-be, and is constantly learning new permaculture techniques and trying out new things in our Chamonix garden, which is coming along nicely. We’ve got wild strawberries, raspberries, red currants, tomatoes, chillies, peppers, spinach and kale, marrow, comfrey, wood sorrel, basil, chives, mint, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme, coriander and parsley. We are composting our food waste and recycling our rubbish as much as possible. Pete has even started to make his own plant feed, out of comfrey and rainwater…the odour is very pungent and most unpleasant, but the tomato plants seem to like it! We now know to lay more layers of newspaper, how to make the finest compost and that tomato plants just love to grow in hanging baskets!

In the vegetable patch, the planting was deliberately mixed up in an attempt to avoid one crop type being wiped out by insects. It appears to have worked so far. Pete did however plant some kale on its own, in another part of the garden, and this has been eaten by Cabbage White butterflies. Pete tied aluminium foil strips to our redcurrant branches, which seems to have scared the birds away, and stopped them eating all our the scrumptiously sour berries!

We’re treating this year as a trial run, constantly learning and adapting the planting to suit the environment. When we move, it will most likely take a year or two for Pete to get to know the land, to learn about sun and wind patterns…etc, but he is confident that by introducing new crops each year, we can be entirely self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables within 8 years. We’d like to be able to share any surplus with our new neighbours, and in the long term, look at marketing our own produce in the form of homemade jams, preserves, sauces, soups, cider…etc, which could be sold down at the nearest farmer’s market. Maybe I shouldn’t be giving away all our plans like this! The recipes will be top secret though, once they have been tried, tested and perfected. Wow, are we going to be fat!

Next month, I’ll fill you in on any progress on the house front, and show you some photos if all goes well, and in the meantime, here are just a few earlier photos taken of our Chamonix garden in the spring:

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