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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

The end of an era

We've been living in Aude since mid November now and luckily the move went really well! We managed over a three day period to sell Chateau Moorhen, drive down south with the three cats in the Moho then buy our new house with no hitch whatsoever, phew! Whilst the removers were moving our furniture in I sat outside so I could direct them to various rooms, and enjoyed not just the amazing view but warmth from the sun, despite cool air temps. The cats seemed to enjoy their time in the Moho, but no, we won’t be taking them on Moho holidays with us! 😁

I think the boxes are all unpacked now but we are still putting pictures and shelves up, and Keith has just erected Ikea cupboards for the laundry and utility rooms (we have two utility rooms!) because although the house is a decent size with plenty of cupboards, it’s much smaller than our old house. Talking of which, do I miss it? No, not one bit! I’m very happy here. I don’t know what to call the new house yet though. 😄

Not long after moving in we had a break from the unpacking and drove two hours away to the Herault dept to a Christmas market. There seem to be quite a number of British organised Xmas fairs in the Languedoc region, so plenty of choice. This one was held at a beautiful Abbey, the Abbey of Valmagne, which is also a wine estate. We had a very enjoyable day and ate a tasty Chicken Tikka Masala for lunch, with a mince pie later on, to get us Bah Humbugs into the Xmas spirit (didn't really work, after all it was still only November!). There was also a fish and chips van! There were hundreds of stalls through the cloisters and the church as well as outside. 

My brother came over for Xmas as he is alone now that mum has gone, so I went to the trouble of putting a few decs up, and cut a few small branches off a conifer which I stuck in a vase then decorated like a tree. I forgot to take a photo though, but it looked really good until the branches started dying. We had some great outings, the best being lunch in Roses in Spain on Christmas Eve in 20 C sunshine! That was what I had been dreaming of for several years, occasional really warm days in winter and being able to ‘pop’ to Spain now and again. It’s just over 2 hours away via the autoroutes, but the journey is superbly picturesque so the time goes by in no time. What a day that was, sitting outside a restaurant eating tapas, looking at palm trees and the beach. Bliss!

Yum! So much better than French food!

Looking towards the marina at Roses

On the corniche road near the Spain/France border, on the way home

We had more outings with my brother so I hope to get those photos posted at some point, but bear in mind the depression has not lifted completely, it's very weird as I feel so much happier, yet I still face certain things which are Impossible Tasks, blogging and posting regularly on social media being one of them. Replying to emails. Sending Christmas cards. Getting out of bed in the morning. Having a shower/washing my hair. I didn't realise that this was a 'thing' until my husband came across this article, then it all became so much clearer and he now understands why I don't get up until lunchtime most of the time. I haven't even sent change of address letters yet. However, it's great feeling happy again, and I have managed to write this post. Small steps!

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Some pics of our new house

A few pictures of our new home....... first however, I’d just like to thank those of you who commented on the previous post. For some reason, Blogger and iPad are refusing to let me post in the comments section so I can’t say thanks individually. I’m in England at the moment so I can’t use my desktop computer.

The following was taken on our first visit, when the weather was awful. The second visit the sun shone for us so we could see the pool and view in all their glory! Note the perfect gravel with not a weed in sight! 😄

Across the quiet lane from the house, looking south east towards the Corbieres, with the peak of Bugarach just visible. Incidentally, there is an LPO (Bird Protection League) vulture feeding station near Bugarach which will be great to visit when the vultures are being fed - we have witnessed this in Spain and it’s pretty cool!

This is me at a campsite at Tarascon sur Ariege where we spent a few days relaxing after the house viewings. The campsite was up in the mountains proper, yet only an hour from our new house! The Ariege was so green in comparison to the parched lands around Carcassone; green means wildflowers and butterflies, which as you know, makes me happy. However I love seeing the dry Mediterranean landscape too. (I have to stop here as in the edit section where I put the blog post together, I can’t see anything except in the html bit, so I can’t add anymore photos/text!).

Monday, 9 September 2019

Chateau Moorhen is sold

The house is sold and we will be moving mid November to our new abode - in the Aude dept of Languedoc Roussillon! Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you!

Well things have changed around here - if anyone is still following this blog then you might have noticed the distinct lack of posts over the last few years. I’ve mentioned having depression before, which, despite taking medication for, just didn’t help that much..... when I was home. Miraculously the depression lifted totally when we were away in the Moho, or even when I was in England (where I was a lot last year as my mum was poorly and passed away early this year). Every time I came home from a trip I fell into a slump again. I no longer loved this wonderful property and doing so little about the house and grounds made more of a burden upon Keith, as I’d be crawling out of bed about midday and then doing very little after that as I had little energy or enthusiasm. Something had to change. 

After 15 years here one hectare of land and a three storey house was too much anyway; it was starting to get too much to look after even pre cancer. We aren’t getting any younger, and we always said we’d give it 10 years then think about it. The thought of moving though, with all these years of accumulated junk both in the house and in the barn was enough to put us off! A fire in October which burnt the barn down saved us clearing through all the stuff in there so we now only have essential tools in our nearly empty replacement barn. We did think about moving a few years ago then decided to stay, but my depression got worse so 18 months ago we decided we would put our house on the market in the spring. However where would we move to? That one was easy. Where did we holiday, a part of France we loved, sun, sea, mountains, exotic (to us) birds and butterflies? Around the Pyrenees of course, in the Aude or Pyrenees Orientales departments. But it’s hot down there and we don’t like very hot weather....... however, the more I thought about it, if we had a pool to jump in when it was boiling, and aircon at least in our bedroom so we could sleep at night, then why not? What attracted me the most is the amount of warm days during the cooler and cold months. How fab to be able to jump in the car to go to the beach in temps of 17c or more in December or February instead of freezing cold up here (seems that is when we get sunny days mostly in winter in Brittany, the frosty days). The more we thought about it the more interested and excited we became. We also wanted to be able to keep our Moho at home too, as it’s a pain having to take her back to her lock up after each trip, not to mention only being able to park her outside our gates, so a bit of a walk up and downhill when loading/unloading.

A bit of tarting up in the paint department and the house was duly put on the market, we excitedly awaited viewings..... then nothing. From May to the following February we had precisely two viewings! Then things changed for the better earlier this year, and we had approximately two viewings a month. All middle aged couples, but nobody wanted to buy..... Frustration after frustration for us and we were sick and tired of cleaning and tidying ..... then one more couple arrived. I was home alone that morning, sitting in the barn whilst the agent took her clients around. After they left (or so I thought) the agent came up to me working in the garden saying could they go and sit at the dining table because the couple wanted to make an offer. What, now? I was flabbergasted! This wasn’t a second visit! The most amazing thing is that this couple are youngsters, both only 27, but they fell in love with the house and land straight away - a coup de coeur as the French call it. I’m so happy they are buying it as they love wildlife and nature, and when they came around with their parents later on to show them their new house, I spent quite a while discussing various insects with the guy! He will be in his element here, as they currently live in an apartment. 

So, Compromis de Vente duly signed we set off down south to view properties that we had lined up. I’d been watching the market for about 18 months so had a number of favourites, some of which had reduced their prices whilst I’d had my eye on them. I could tell which houses were overpriced and which were reasonable. We visited my favourite house first and all the houses we saw after that were all compared with that. There weren’t any houses that came close to it, and none which ticked almost all the boxes like house that did. The only downside is that it is the furthest from the coast, so less ‘Mediterraneany’, but with sunflowers and some vineyards around mixed in with the more regular crops like wheat and maize it will be different enough. Plus the view from this house is incredible! The village is perched up on a hill like many of the neighbouring villages and the house is set on the crest just a few minutes walk from the village. You can see the Montagne Noir round to the Corbieres hills, with the peak of Bugarach rising high above them. A pool, aircon, beautifully maintained house and low maintenance nice and tidy garden, no brambles in sight..... Sold! It was a very reasonable price too. Funnily enough, the sellers are English and are returning to England after 15 years in France. 

So we will be moving in a few months, in the Moho with our three cats, which should be fun! Not as fun as originally planned, which would have included Andrea, the Last Chicken Standing, still going strong and laying at about 8 now! Luckily for all of us though, our buyers have offered to adopt her, so she will no doubt have some new young hens to boss around soon. I’m so pleased about that.

What will happen to the blog - well I don’t plan to close this down then start a new one, but what I am hoping is that with renewed enthusiasm I will be able to post about my new area and the things we discover - from bugs and birds to beautiful medieval villages - and more mini breaks in the Moho. I did think about doing short posts with just a few photos but more often, as I felt I could cope with that. However, as I spend most of my time on my iPad rather than my iMac, for the life of me I cannot figure out how to get a photo from my iPad onto Blogger. If anyone knows how, please let me know!