I can clearly remember when Pete and I first discussed buying Chez TêteBlanche along with my parents, and the all-important question he asked me. I had only visited the property once with my dad, and yet here we were, the four of us, about to make an offer on a house in rural Aveyron, that my own husband and mother had never even stepped foot in!
“Can I make this house a home for us?”, Pete asked me.
Without hesitation, I told him he could and of course, the rest is history (or if you’ve forgotten or you’re intrigued, you can read about it in the earlier pages of this blog!). We are now well into our second year here and slowly but surely, our home is starting to take shape, both inside and out.
I previously promised you some photos of the upstairs bedroom renovation and since the work is practically finished, I have quite a few to share. The small, dark cubby hole of a room we have been using for storage for the past couple of years has been transformed by Pete’s meticulous hands, into a sleeping area for our daughter:
To access this small bedroom, you first have to go through the playroom, which can evolve into a study area as the children get older. For the moment, we are using the playroom as a temporary bedroom for our son, so Pete can get on with renovating the next room in the house, the upstairs bathroom! After the bathroom, all that will be left to do in the house will be Alexander’s bedroom, the landing and downstairs corridor, kitchen, outside terrace and our bedroom, which remains to be finished! I haven’t even mentioned the remaining work to be done in my parents’ rooms and the garden. If you haven’t guessed it by now, we are in this for the long haul!
While Pete was busy doing all this hard work upstairs, I was outside in the garden harvesting courgette after courgette. They just keep on coming! We have also had a lot of success with butternut squashes, plums and some very tasty sweetcorn.
The outdoor beef tomatoes are starting to ripen, although after an early harvest of cherry tomatoes inside the polytunnel, the numbers now appear to be in decline, probably due to the extreme heat and lack of ventilation! Next year, I think we will grow all of our tomatoes outside, even if it does mean we have to wait that bit longer for them. Another idea that we have still to work on is our bean teepee! Although a vast improvement on last year, I just can’t understand why I find it so hard to grow beans! I tried to grow them up the sweetcorn, but they never amounted to much. I tried to grow them up the teepee, but only a few came through, leaving large, patchy areas…it’s not exactly the den I dreamed of for the children! I really do like the idea of a teepee, but I am now moving further towards the idea of an ornamental teepee for next year as a more permanent structure, with fragrant jasmine and sweet peas. As for the beans, luckily my neighbour is exceptionally good at growing them organically, by the kilo and not only has he given us loads of them to eat, he’s also promised to come and help me in the garden next year so my beans get the best start.
I really love the fact that we share each other’s home grown produce on the hamlet. We recently found an enormous, football-sized puff ball mushroom in our garden and there was plenty to share with the neighbours, even if some were rather dubious of our mushrooming knowledge in fear of eating a poisonous one! There is an abundance of apples that are just starting to ripen in another neighbour’s garden and they told us to help ourselves whenever we please. The children are in their element. You must understand that our son and daughter eat on average three apples each a day! We have one old apple tree in the garden, which gives us a lot of fruit but it is not yet ripe, and a young, imported Granny Smith tree which we planted last year and has not yet produced any fruit. Maybe it would be financially advantageous to plant some more apple varieties this autumn, to assure we can meet the demands of our children’s tummies!
We have yet to harvest the potatoes, although only time will tell if we will beat last year’s 57 kilo stockpile. I am going to cheat next year and buy my potatoes already sprouted. I have found that as the potato planting season starts, all the local garden centres reduce their potato prices for clearance. As I had previously chitted potatoes in egg boxes on the windowsill with success, this year I mistakenly, tried chitting my potatoes in the polytunnel, thinking they would get the ideal amount of light. This said, it was surely the polytunnel’s humidity and heat in early spring that contributed to the somewhat lack of sprouting. I planted them all, nonetheless, on Easter Monday as is the tradition around here. Many have grown into plants that have already flowered, a promising sign. Many didn’t come through at all and I’ve since replanted carrots in their space. We shall see…