Now what? Life in rural Ariege

Burblings about adjusting to life in the deep south west of France or "la France profonde" as they call it here and the challenges of restoring a ramshackle collection of tumbledown buildings. I mainly write about local festivals, events and celebrations and, most of all, the weekly ritual of combing vide greniers and brocantes for pre-loved vintage treasures.

28 February 2012


At last I can write about REAL progress on our massive project turning a motley collection of agricultural buildings into a comfortable, efficient and (hopefully) beautiful home.

We battled torrential rain and high winds last year and eventually finished the roof ealier this year. The painful process of fitting the hugeTrilatte roofing panels to the crooked stone walls and wavy beams is now just a bad memory. All that remains is cladding the underside of the panels and fitting the zinc guttering.

We decided to focus our attention on the "new barn" (that's the ugly concrete block building on the end) and have now fitted wall insulation and constructed the inner walls. The pipework for plumbing and the electrics are in place.

But here's the most thrilling progress to date.

This is the new barn before work started. There were 4 enormous openings covered with metal doors and panels.

These had to be blocked in to support the new roof structure and window openings were formed (left hand side ground floor).

This is Harry (left) and Gareth installing the first window frame. And here is the final result... we have windows!

Thanks to our current builders for their hard work and loyalty. There's still a long way to go but I know we can, and will, complete this project.

22 February 2012


I haven't blogged now for 2 months and the reason for this has been mainly due to the inescapable fact that I have been finding life in rural Ariege difficult and stressful recently. There have been many reasons for this. The primary one is, of course, the difficulties with our huge, apparently never-ending restoration project. The weather has been unkind to us. Weeks of wind and rain severely hampered the completion of the roof and to cap it all we weren't able to even get to our barns for 2 weeks recently due to the Siberian conditions of extreme cold and deep, deep snow.

There have been other factors too. I now acknowledge that I suffer from SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder) and I got really quite depressed when we were pinned down in the house for so long. The chilly glare off the white snow is no substitute for sunshine to me! The recent treachery of so-called friends has also made me question how much I want to live here at all. I realised quite suddenly that I miss my old friends, I miss my mum, I miss my (former) fluffy cat and I miss strong cheddar cheese. I have been almost ticking the days off the calendar until we return to Britain for the first time in 6 months.

But early this morning my innate sense of optimism returned. We had to leave the house early to be up at site by 8am because, quite unexpectedly, our windows were being delivered. Here are some pictures taken on this morning's 10km drive.

These two were taken just outside Leran

The view from Mireval d'en haut looking over Le Peyrat to the Pyrenees.

Yes it's been pretty tough recently but the beauty of this place just stops me in my tracks sometimes. And our project is now leaping forward. By close of business today we might have our first window installed.

I guess I just need to make sure I bring a huge supply of strong cheddar back with me to deal with the dark days