Surely there should be some way of marking the fact that we arrived in France three years ago today.

A spectacular meal with all our own food, perhaps; to show how far we’ve come down the road to self sufficiency. Pate with home-made bread to start, maybe, followed by pork bolognaise with pasta made from our own eggs, then tart with home-made jam, summer pudding, or crepes flambéed in a friend’s do-not-drink-under-any-circumstances eau de vie?

Sadly not.

You see, we’re a bit knackered today, after a yesterday spent canoeing down the river from Siorac to Limeuil, followed by dinner in the square at the marche nocture in Mauzac, followed by a film outdoors next to the abbey in Cadouin (all after taking care of our own animals and the neighbour’s veggie patch and house while they are away).

So we’ll have to make do with a bottle of our own very excellent elderflower champagne. The good life’s not so bad, really.

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So we got Planning Permission last week. Which means we can now buy the smallest, ugliest ‘house’ in the world (‘now’ in a pretty loose sense – ‘on Thursday at 2pm’ being more precise). Which means we will soon be moving into our own yurts on our own land (we have some fairly major reconstructive surgery to do first, including adding an unnecessary sewerage system and building a kitchen and bathroom) and open the business we brought with us nearly two years ago.

(How time files, as our paperwork will testify.)

Hardened drinkers will recognise that a bottle of cheap sparkling wine-type stuff was definitely in order. Which I discovered to my surprise and delight can be made more enjoyable and longer lasting with the addition of some equally cheap mixed fruit juice. Who knew?

A few days ago, I went to the local wine shop (cave) for our regular box of Bergerac rouge (five litres for €14 – and very nice it is too).

While I was there, the owner invited me to his Beaujolais Nouveau soirée. Which, of course, I accepted. “Is it any good this year?” I asked. “Well,” he chuckled knowingly, “it’s not Margaux.”

(I’d love to know what he meant.)

Yesterday being the third Thursday in November, I went along.


And tasted the new wine, accompanied by free soup, nibbles and this man…


It was easily nice enough to bring back the most expensive bottle for the evening – a slight extravagance at €5.65 for 75 cl.

It certainly wasn’t the Margaux. I left that in the shop, with its €42 price tag still attached.

There are two reasons why I haven’t blogged for a while:

1) I’ve been working.

and

2) I’ve been working.

Let me explain.

A few weeks ago, tired of waiting for any kind of permission from the DDE, we started working on the land.

Day One saw me, medieval-style slashing weapon in hands, pruning saw in belt holster and secateurs (sécateurs) in pocket, clearing space in the woods where the guest yurts will be. If you find yourself doing this, I recommend cutting the small trees as close to the ground as you can – to save cutting them again when you discover the tripping hazards you’ve just created.

After a few minutes, I was interrupted by the thundering of hooves.

Hunters, I thought, already wary about being shot at (not wearing orange, on unfenced land, unprotected by “Hunters will not be invited to dinner” signs).

The noise got closer. The ground shook. Then several adult deer, including a stag with serious antlers, burst out of the woods about a hundred yards (metres) away, charged across the field, and disappeared into the woods on the other side.

Our field, I thought. Our woods, I thought. It was a perfect moment.

And one that definitely beats staring at a computer screen (he says, staring at a computer screen).

Now we have become more organised, me and Clare take turns to spend half a day working on the land, and half a day looking after boy (I don’t know which is harder). Leaving the rest of the time for chores, although many evenings have been spent indulging in Season 3 of Greys Anatomy, recently bought from UK ebay.

Wednesday afternoon (which, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know is no-school day) and Clare has taken the daughter to her riding lesson (more on this later, with pictures), a load of nappies is being treated in our washing machine (all our stuff arrived from England recently – more on this later), and I’m about to spend some time staring at a computer screen.

Copywriting.

Unbelievable.

But there are two reasons why this is better than the copywriting I was doing before:

1) It’s about some kind of climate-control device, translating from the French into English for an Indonesian audience. (I know.)

and

2) I’ve already been paid. (A whole bottle of wine.)