The right side of rustic

First things first, let’s get the latest on the weather out of the way. Yesterday, Bastille Day, saw the last of the rain. It has continued to pour, hard. But today has been dry and for the week ahead the forecast is nothing but sun. The rain has been unbelievable, but then we see what’s been happening with floods in Edinburgh, London and the horrific recent events in Germany and it highlights the comparative minor inconvenience of our internal drips and external dodging of muddy puddles. But yeah, the sun it seems has at last got his hat on. The last six weeks, as well as our morning walks in the rain, have been afternoons largely spent painting, decorating and relying on the skills of local workmen and the help of our lovely neighbours.

Our new gite became ours at the beginning of June. We set ourselves a six week time frame to make it clean, safe, and as beautiful as possible, not knowing that under close scrutiny (the sort of scrutiny it seems, not applied when viewing a property with an intent to purchase), there was a deal more work required than we first thought. Our gite is over 350 years old. We love its location, its history, its character and its charm. It’s rustic. We love rustic too, but there is most definitely a difference, or a not so fine line between rustic and broken, dangerous or simply shoddy. Can a rustic finish not have a straight line of paint, or a hole not filled, or just a modicum of care and attention to detail?

Until six weeks ago the level of rusticity in our gite was well below that not so fine line. Now, with less than a week until our first guests arrive we have kept and enhanced the charm, painted some fresh straight lines, and with the help of Shaun the electrician, Alan the plumber and Carole and Frank our amazing neighbours we can very soon reveal our new, very much improved gite. La Terrace de Citron will live up to its name. Yesterday we made a list of the things we still need to do and buy. It’s a long one, but we think we’ve got it covered. We’ll be working on making it as perfect as possible until the night before our first guests arrive, and then probably the following morning too.

You may think Shaun, Alan, Carole and Frank aren’t particularly French sounding names. You’d be right. We’ve seen the work of a local French craftsman in our gite and heard about the differences in workmanship. If we’re honest, we are relying on our neighbours to guide us, and on English speaking builders as our French is still work in progress. Monsieur Frank has been building houses (mostly the wooden parts) for as long as I’ve been alive, and has been a huge help. Carole too, and considering they’re about six weeks away from moving into their own self-renovated house, they’ve been amazingly generous with their time. Last week Frank showed me how to apply render. I tried not to embarrass myself when giving it my best shot. It’s still on the wall. Painted too, so yeah… tick.

So, the shower room has been totally transformed, the terrace is looking vibrant and the whole gite is fresh, soon to be fully equipped and about five days from being ready. Instead of afternoons spent painting and decorating we’ll be excited, very much hoping our guests will be enjoying the fruits of our labour. Then the changeovers will begin, and a covid clean will mean the very highest standards of hygiene and sanitation. We take our responsibilities very seriously and expect our washing machine to be very busy and bleach and disinfectant to be our constant workmates. The last six weeks have been busy, but that’s how we like it. Now, with summer here and Rochechouart advertising a summer full of events, we’re ready, prepared and just a little elated to be fully-fledged gite owners.    

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