Our Quirky 300 Year-Old French Home Renovation Adventure / August 7, day 17: Our view & thoughts on village life

We made it! Our first night sleeping in the house was actually fine! To be clear : we are not moved in yet. We probably won’t move in until late August / early September.

The other day when we found out that our airbnb couldn’t accommodate us this week (Aug 6 – 12) we were too beat to look into getting another airbnb. We had just slept in 6 different beds in 6 nights (one of which was a moving van halfway between her and the south of France)- so we had zero energy to research airbnbs and zero desire to stay in a hotel.

So we shrugged our shoulders, said fuck it, let’s stay in our house! We bought a good mattress & candles from IKEA the other day and I have to say – the bed was DREAMY, so large and comfortable, and the candles were still burning when we awoke this morning. I was surprisingly OK all night – no fear, no ghosts, no lying awake with toothpicks holding my eyes open…

Sean sawed wood to create the support for the mattress. This bed is meant for a very high mattress though – so we’re going to add a boxspring or two. I love being in a bed high above the floor. We also got faux lambswool rugs for both sides of the bed – once we mop the floor several more times we’ll put the rugs down.

The town awakens around 6:30 it seems, with gentle noises and bird song. This will be such a gentle and beautiful place to awaken every morning! If we live another, say, 30 years? That’s 10,950 mornings! Over 20,000 coffees in bed! Over 40,000 bird songs! And at least 5,000 of Sean’s adorable morning drawings!

Sean’s morning drawing of me in a plush super deluxe hammock – he’ll no doubt draw me dozing in our new bed in a similar fashion!

However, I am super grumpy today. I’m sick of peeing in a bottle, of having a thick layer of dust on my clothes, of my fingers tasting like antibacterial wash. If not knowing where anything is, of shaking rubble out of my bags and purse and shoes, of feeling slightly gross and unsanitary, of not having a functioning sink…because although we have running water now, the sink pipe in the cellar had come undone so this week we need to reestablish the connection.

Mostly I don’t like brushing my teeth because it involves spitting into a bucket, then washing the bucket out, etc…it seems that you use more water by *not* having running water in your house.

At least we know that if this week gets on our nerves too much, we can book an airbnb. There are just so so so many things to do — spending an hour on the airbnb website seems wasteful. But we might have to.

We began today by hopping in the car at 8 to get coffee! After that we went shoppimg for work site stuff: a bucket, soap, plumbing pipes, tissues, antibacterial wipes, a hose, toilet paper, bottled water…

Next we’re heading for the recycling center – we gaver seen it yet but we’re excited to use our new card. Hopefully the unsightly heater that runs beneath our front window will fit into our car so we can bring it to the dump.

Where we’re starting today:

I love the open plan! It feels like a city loft with rustic touches of beams, rafters, and stone. Industrial + rustic.

Before we cleared the ruble away
After tidying up…

My jobs today involve scraping the wallpaper off of the glorious ancient beam in the entranceway. The previous owners had covered it in plaster and wallpaper so it rotted somewhat in there…we took a peak. It’s such a bummer that a majestic old beam like this should be hidden.

I can’t wait to see this grand old giant without the wallpaper! I hope the damage isn’t too bad. Hopefully we can just scrape the rotten surface and treat what remains.

My next job is to peel away the most wallpaper from the living room. There’s a fine layer of mould on it. THANKFULLY, the house doesn’t smell like damp or mould at ALL. It has no defining smell at all, which is a blessing, truly, because my sense of smell is bionic.

But…there are so many things I LOVE. I absolutely LOVE our view : some people might argue that it’s not a view at all, that is just a street – but to us it’s reminiscent of Parisian streets, and the back alleys of so many French villages we’ve visited over the years.

This kills me!! I love it so much.

We were tempted to buy a house in a remote area with atmospheric mountain views, surrounded by vineyards – tempted by the dramatic feel, the privacy, the grandeur…

But I knew I would feel isolated and feel like the world had passed us by. I lived in a tiny village for a year in Buckinghamshire when I first moved to England, before I moved to Oxford – and although it was absolutely gorgeous and came with a sprawling garden (and gardener!), a separate artists’ studio / apartment and had a turret staircase and 3 levels of 17th century character, the only things that ever passed by our windows were tractors and horses…

I was living in a picture postcard but it was so very isolated and quiet… I realized that though I crave (and need) solitude and silence, I prefer to create that stillness within earshot of humanity. This was a surprise to me.

I really do love the happy clamor of people outside – neighbors walking their dogs, talking to one another, watering their flowers, tour groups going by, and even the sound of trucks whizzing by at the end of our road comforts me. After living 4 years in the historic center of Florence, Italy, and before that, living 6 years in Oxford, England, I’m very much accustomed to small cities and their benevolent hustle and bustle.

Lunch on the work site

We topped off the day by going to the recycling center in Descartes for the first time – in 102 degree heat! Whew! Celery sticks filled with peanut butter and yellow raisins saved the day.

Very excited to use our recycling center card and feel like real residents! We managed to dispose of a lot of wood, a huge metal heating unit, and fiberglass (which we got permission for before heave-ho’ing it into the tip.

We also went to the shops to get a camper stove, hoses, all kinds of building and camping stuff.

A motley assortment: hose pipe, water, carrots, bucket, toilet paper and a toilet seat, of course.

Feeling very industrious and triumphant!!

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