Sunday, 30 November 2008

somewhere a place for us

After a couple of grim November days of freezing fog when dusk seemed to fall before 3pm we woke up to a frosty clear morning today and just had to get out for a walk.

We actually live in a really nice part of the country. Although Stoke itself leaves much to be desired we are on the edge of some great countryside including Derbyshire and the Peak district and wonderful walking country. Given a better climate (see above) plus a more laid back attitude to life it would be hard to see why anyone would leave.

Over the last 30 years or so I think we must have laid our heads for at least one night in almost every departement of France - many regions have called us back again and again so why settle on Tarn et Garonne? We have friends who have settled happily in Charente Maritime and Deux Sevres, and relatives with holiday homes in Brittany and Burgundy.

A few years ago we tired of the annual search for a suitable gite for the two of us and decided that as what we wanted was always basically the same - a nice place to eat and read outside, peace and quiet and somewhere to swim - we might as well buy somewhere of our own if we could find somewhere cheap enough. Given that prices in Provence were out of our range we settled on the Lot as a likely area to look for our holiday home as we had loved the area and it was less overrun by the English than the Dordogne. In the Autumn of 2005 we visited in the hope of finding our dream hideaway and visited St Antonin on the Aveyron where one of the agents we had contacted was based.

We immediately took to the area and loved the fact that it was less touristy than the Lot but was still very picturesque with loads to see. We were further seduced by a little fishing lodge beside the Vere which seemed almost perfect for what we wanted. We have had our share of problems with flooding (that tiny trickle of water becomes a raging red torrent fairly regularly and leaves a layer of red silt over the floor when it gets into the house - also fairly regularly), generator breakdown( there is no mains electricity), burglary (our last visit was somewhat fraught when we found the shed empty and just a pipe sticking out of the wall where the gas bottle should have been) and invasion by wildlife(loirs setting up home in every available jug and rucksac) ) but we have not regretted our choice and have visited five times every year for the last three years. The wonderful opportunities for walking have been a great bonus - we had not realised how good they would be until we started exploring the hills around us.

Each time we visit it is harder to leave and soon we hope to turn things on their head and make the trip south our "going home".

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