So there we were in France, on the side of the road trying to make a phone call in practically non-existent French to the motorway recovery company (someone had allowed the AA European cover to lapse …). It was April 2017.
We were on the first day of our great adventure; a couple of months before our trip we had made the decision to follow a dream that had been smouldering for the best part of 10 years. Indeed, when we first met, one of the first conversations had been about a desire to one day live in SW France. After breaking down and being recovered 3 times, we finally got to our destination. We were completely won over by the Charente region of SW France we had come to explore.
We looked at 4 houses and knew as soon as we saw it that the farmhouse on the edge of St Vallier was for us. Never had either of us felt such a strong pull towards a material object. But it was more than that to us … this house represented health, vibrancy and new beginnings. It not only looked good, but smelt good - earthy and honest and had a warm history which we were immediately invited to become part of. Not only that, but it ticked at least every box and then some, as it was situated very close to two scrumptiously creative places; Aubeterre and Barbezieux.
We made an offer the following day on this, the house we had no idea existed (the other 3 we had researched on the internet, this was in TV terms, the “Mystery House”).
In June, we signed the preliminary papers and by September the house was ours! We lived in a small 4 berth caravan from August 2017 till March 2018, going back and forth.
Starting a new life and actually “going for it” had followed 2 years of soul searching brought on by my being diagnosed with Breast cancer in early 2015. I had given up a very successful but stressful teaching career, and decided to go back to my artistic roots. Craving creativity, we felt nothing could be better than to invite like-minded people into our house to share ideas, experiences and friendships.
Our vision is to be able to provide a creative, warm and friendly atmosphere for guests who wish to acquire new skills whilst on holiday in beautiful rural surroundings. We are committed to providing value for money as we want our holidays to be available to as many people as possible.
We love the outdoors (Lawrence was a greenkeeper and I worked with horses for a long time), animals, gardening, theatre, and of course music and books! We are keen foodies and love nothing more than gathering around the table with close friends and family for several courses (over several hours!).
Lawrence loves his carpentry and has made bespoke furniture in his spare time. I am not quite so practical - I love to get to grips with my knitting, sewing and drawing. I still love my art – as a fine art graduate, there is nothing I enjoy more than surrounding myself with creative people and ideas.
We intend to keep some animals for their fleece for spinning, sheep are a definite, alpacas a possibility (and who can resist an alpaca??).
In short, it looks very much like we have a future of growing vegetables, feeding animals, collecting eggs, mowing, shearing, cooking, cleaning and of course meeting all of you, making great friends and enjoying your company!
We look forward to seeing you soon,
Natalie and Lawrence