A New Career

A year after successfully taking in French students for English immersion sejours, in July, for a number of reasons, we decided to call it a day.  We’ve met some lovely people through this activity and are very happy that we keep in touch with quite a few of the children/ young adults and their families, many of whom have become good friends . 🙂

Since we’re not yet in a position to completely retire (!), we needed to find something else that could help bring in an income for the next few years.

After initial discussions with  and recruiters at Leggett Immobilier (an estate agency based in France), in October, we decided to give it a try and took part in a week’s training programme.   Initially, Edward will be the registered agent (he needs to be fully registered and qualified with a set number of training hours under his belt to qualify), but I shall also be working alongside him in support.  It was an intense few days but we met some lovely people, both Leggett staff and other trainee agents – we both felt inspired and motivated, if a little daunted by the task ahead….

Back home, we’d managed to decorate the study before the ‘real’ work began on finding houses for our portfolio…. While we previously used the study as best we could, it was taken over in the main part as temporary storage of all my studio equipment/ prints/ paper, etc.  Two years after moving into La Biochere, it was definitely time to sort it out!

  

   

Phew!

As soon as the training was over, we made a start on ‘prospecting’ for houses for our portfolio.  There are various ways of doing this and we have a number of tools at our disposal but the best and, probably most successful way to find vendors, has been for Edward to call them directly to see if they would like us to help them sell their houses.  This seems to be quite the opposite experience in the UK, where ‘cold callers’ are given short shrift, often having the phone slammed down on them!  It’s early days but we have lots of support, both at head office but also within our regional team and trainer.  So far, pending final signatures, we have 3 houses to start our portfolio, with several others in the pipeline.  It will be a little while before our books are up to optimum number and we start getting interest from buyers (we’re aiming for around 70 houses of ‘rolling stock’ by July next year), but it’s exciting times and hopefully will bring in some income in the coming months…..

The Chain Gang at La Biochère

Ever since we moved into La Biochère, we’ve known that we would need to do something with the courtyard.  It was, for many years, a working farm and so hardcore, rocks and stones have been compacted down and layers of gravel added at intervals over that time, I suspect to make it easy for farm machinery to move around the yard and into the barns and fields.  Of course, now it is our home, we don’t need such an expanse of yard, while the mud that has accumulated over the years harbours weeds and sets like rock in the summer,  but becomes a big problem for us in the winter months.

In the first few weeks of moving in, we created the island bed, to break up the huge area and make a focal point…

It has made a big difference to the feel of the place but we still needed to do something else to improve this huge area….  While I tend to focus on the detail, Edward is great at seeing the ‘bigger picture’ and has come up with lots of ideas for breaking down the land around La Biochère into more manageable areas.  His latest idea was to reduce the size of the courtyard by creating some more beds in the areas that are no longer used by vehicles.  By doing this, we would also be reducing the area that we would need to prepare for new gravel!  So, we started by marking out the beds, following the marks made by cars using the island bed as a turning circle…

   

While Edward had the unenviable task of breaking up the ground with a pick axe, I started scraping up the mud from the rest of the courtyard, which was then deposited onto the new bed that Edward had been working on.  It was back breaking!  Then, for a break from the heavy work (!), we took the trailer up to our friendly farmer’s field, to bring back rocks to edge the bed…

   

As we are working during the week, prospecting and mandating houses for our portfolio, most of the work is done at the weekends (weather permitting) but it’s coming along slowly but surely…

  

It feels like we are getting closer to having the gravel delivered and being able to walk in the courtyard without getting muddy feet or nearly slipping over in it!  But, there is still a way to go…. Rock collecting and more mud scraping lined up for the next bout of work on the chain gang!

Meanwhile, autumn is turning into winter and the last of the leaves have been strewn around the lawn, courtyard and barns.  Before work could continue on the new beds, a few hours were spent raking the leaves… I’d planned to rot them down in the compost bin, so emptied one of the bins onto the newest courtyard bed in readiness, but then Edward lit a bonfire to clear some of the bigger garden rubbish, and it seemed more sensible to burn them this time!  Still, I managed to empty a compost bin for future use 🙂

   

Light Work

In between working in the courtyard, we decided to make a few minor changes inside the house.  When rained stopped play, it was the perfect opportunity to come inside.  Now we have become more settled, it’s more easy to cast a critical eye over the different rooms in the house and we’ve realised that while the stone walls in the living room and dining room add some character, they do make it feel quite dark and ‘busy’ – it’s difficult to find any definition for ornaments or pictures, it’s a bit like camouflage!

So, one rainy day, I set about painting a ‘test’ area, before taking the plunge and covering the stone walls either side of the fireplace and the part-partition wall between the living room and dining room.  After feeling a little unsure to start with, we’re really happy with the result – it glows in this area now and it feels much cleaner and brighter than it did before 🙂

  

  

And Finally….

As the nights draw in and we get cosy in the living room with the roaring fire, Edward came up with another idea to make it easier to collect the fire wood when the weather is bad….

So now we can just nip outside the door to pick up a few logs instead of trudging across the muddy yard to the barn when it’s raining – genius! ♥