We're back in the house and have been so for a couple of weeks.
To begin with, I was too busy to post, then had too much to say. So I walked round carrying ideas for posts in my head, started to jot some down, but gave up in disgust.
I thought moving would be easier this time. (After all, it's the third time in three years - England to France, house to cottage, now cottage back to house - we've had plenty of practice.) But it wasn't.
So I grumped at Tod, Vita and friends. Tod cooked. Vita barked. Friends helped clean, repair and paint walls and got little thanks for it. Tod came up in itchy bumps when scraping paint off our old lime walls and finished at A&E on a drip. Banned by the doctor from working in the house he stood on the veranda and wax coated all eight of our new doors. How on earth did we finish up with eight?
I crawled over the pine lounge floor tinting and waxing it a deep oak colour. For a brief evening after Tod polished it (by then he was ignoring the doctor's ban) the floor looked beautiful. Builders' mess was everywhere. Each cobweb hanging from our impossibly high ceiling in our new entrance hall (ex gîte / apartment / whatever) was a small hammock of sawdust. We thought we would just finish painting and cleaning in time, then the removals men said they were bringing our furniture out of store a day early. So I grumped and Tod cooked. Vita barked. And it rained.
The removals men brought the heavy stuff up from the cottage and we foolishly said we'd do the rest. It's a long way down and back when it's the tenth journey and not yet lunchtime. And all my papers and books sat in sad piles in the cottage waiting to be moved among the bed fluff and dust . And it rained and was cold. And I grumped some more and stayed down in the warm cottage late at night watching old movies. And Tod cooked. And Vita wondered where she lived and barked.
Dirty wood from the dismantled kitchen units lay on the veranda and old doors and shutters stood stacked against the house walls. Empty cartons piled up in the garage and tools were in the cottage when we needed them in the house and in the house when we needed them in the cottage - or in neither place because they had crept into the garage. And my papers and books were in sad piles in my study which had no shelves and hadn't yet been cleaned. And I had a fight with the Ikea system I'd lovingly brought from England and planned to use in my super new walk-in wardrobe. So in temper I threw it away and went to Bordeaux and tramped round two Leroy Merlins, Conforama, Castorama and Ikea, while Tod cooked and rescued the shelving system.
And then, gradually, I stopped grumping. My shelving went up and my computer came back to my study. A Castorama system holds all my clothes (summer and winter) in my wardrobe. We've moved the wood and the doors from the veranda, books are in bookcases, the television's in its new corner in the lounge alongside the open colombage that we backlight in the evenings. We've made trips to the communal tip and found secondhand oak chairs and a coffee table in the local Troc. We linger over meals in our bright, modern kitchen. I've planted troughs with geraniums and Tod's polished the long oak table on the veranda.
We finally feel at home again and we've invited friends to supper.
In the 1970's I lived in Brazil and I wrote home to my mother in the UK every week. Those letters became the story of my life there. In 2007 I moved to south west France. Not quite sure where "home" is, I have no family left in the UK. If I did, these words would be my letters home, capturing the first impressions of my life here, to share, enjoy and perhaps re-read in years to come.