Looking Back

Looking Back

Friday, 19 April

Five years and one week ago today, we took possession of a house and garden and the surrounding fields in the Perche.

After a summer-long search for a place in the country within a two-three hour radius from Paris that needed no renovation work, we circled back here, one of the first houses we'd visited and had initially rejected because justement it needed work. But so did every other house we'd seen since. And the Perche, protected from development by its Regional Natural Park status, with its rolling hills, hedgerows, forests and ponds, was my idea of heaven. Ditto the prospect of a house at the end of a lane with no visible neighbours but a historic town and even a golf course for David within a 10-minute drive.

A jewel in the Perche

Anniversaries are a moment to take stock, and since we signed for the property on April 12th, which is also my birthday, it seems doubly appropriate to consider how the last five years measure up.

Between Covid and our top-to-bottom renovation of both house and garden, this hasn't been just any five years. Our new-old house provided an ideal shelter from pandemic germs and lockdown rules - we could walk for hours and never run into a police officer or anyone else for that matter. And the renovation consumed us to distraction. Time got lost in a yesterday-forever cloud.

Social distancing

But beyond those singular circumstances, the best word to describe our life in the Perche these last five years is generosity.

First and foremost and especially at this time of year, the nature here is munificent.

Under the spreading oak tree

As are its skies...


And the light...

Rain and shine at one time

And the stone...

Close up

But all of this was apparent to the naked eye and added up to why we bought this property in the first place, even if at first glance we only sensed the aesthetic richness. What we didn't see or expect was the human generosity of the place. Starting with the artisans who carried out the renovation work. Their skills were a wonder to behold, but they also often went beyond the call of duty, helping us out of many a mini-emergency, including a fire breaking out in the field, when they literally used the shirts off their back to put it out.

(Saint) Christophe

Then green-guru Claire entered our life. She not only took the garden in hand...

... she also introduced us to a seemingly endless number of people, including Estéban, who created three ponds and plaited some hedges (plessage)...

Woven wonder

...Samuel and his son, who do the heavy gardening, and finally the entire Weber family, from Patrice who, with the help of his sons, turned our fields organic...

...to daughter Florie who is our talented gardener and tree trimmer. Patrice and his wife Dominique have become friends, as of course has Claire herself, along with others in her large circle. We've also had extraordinary luck with friends of friends (a well-meaning introduction that often goes nowhere).

Then there are those invisible neighbours, whom I sheepishly approached one by one that first summer when The Indefatigable One (aka la Princesse, aka Tasha) was regularly scampering across their land in brazen disregard of property limits.

My kingdom

I expected if not harsh words at least a certain froideur from those that our dog had trespassed against, but instead we got invitations for drinks or dinner.

Pascale is my friend

The fifth anniversary is traditionally celebrated with wood, an apt material in this case, given all the trees in our life at Deux Champs. It is meant to symbolise the strength and sturdiness of a relationship that is maturing. It also implies roots taking hold. I'm looking forward to the next five years.

You can visit my website here and follow me on Instagram here