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.

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


  1. I tell you what Nickie, feelings of utter disillusionment with some homesickness thrown in are pretty much something everyone struggles with from time to time living here. I'm not surprised either what with the recent crap weather, build troubles and the other problems you've had ^^

    A visit back to the UK will probably sort you out; once you get there you'll be champing at the bit to come back. Great news about the windows and the whole project pushing forward, that will really give you the morale boost you need, not to mention the return of the sun.

    Of course, you did make things hard for yourself by choosing Ariege. I keep telling you, Aude is so much better!!

  2. Nickie, we had to go back to UK because Frank's brother died suddenly, we were in the Liverpool, Manchester, Stoke on Trent area, couldn't wait to get back, cheese or no cheese. Awful coffee, awful motel, unbelievable traffic. Give me Ariege any time.
    PS As for so-called friends, ditch them!

  3. Beautiful photos Nickie. Sorry we missed you yesterday. Don't worry we can soon be out and about more. x Valerie S.

  4. Thanks so much all for your comments.
    Valerie C - so sorry to hear about Frank's brother and the false friends are history - we're lucky to be meeting much more honest, decent folk these days.
    Suzie C - you are a wize woman! Thanks for support, advice and genuine friendship you have given. Aude better than Ariege hmmmm we'll discuss this more over a bottle or 3 of rose x
    Valerie S - merci, you are also a wize woman and looking forward to getting together again soon x

  5. You can purchase mature cheddar(Cathedral city)along with an assortment of other English products in the Simply British shop in Foix.

    1. Ah yes, I've just learned that it is possible to freeze cheese so I'm now going to dedicate an entire drawer to cheddar. Hopefully this will see me through the darkest of days