Long Term Lets, a Big Decision Made and Changes To Come - Do you Fancy a Long Break in the Beautiful
Busy times at the Patton household - no change there! ;o) At least we like to be busy! But, after long discussion over the past year, we have made a big decision which will involve big change!...
We are currently back in the cottage temporarily whilst making alterations to the barn to make it comfortable for winter living. This includes installing the chimney and wood burners we have purchased second hand, replacing the current very old and holey, ill fitting wooden barn doors with front and back external French double doors (therefore giving further insulation and stopping drafts) and the temporary-fix fitting of roof insulation (the silver roll stuff) to the A-frames at ceiling height to catch the warm air and keep it in so that it cannot escape up to the full height of the roof apex, which is very high! I know, it is going to look like the missing shuttle in the star ship enterprise, but at least it will keep us warm! It is, after all temporary and will be re-used when we insulate the roof at high level later on before fitting the ceiling, so it makes sense!
The weather is not being very helpful at the moment and is holding us back time wise, but we will get there as soon as we can!
As you will know, we are now advertising the cottage for long term lets. You can find the details on the following link: http://www.rentaplaceinfrance.com/long-lets-1268.html We are hoping to find a long term tenant from mid January/February 2016 in an ideal world, as we will have the work to the barn done well in advance and can move back in, being cosy and comfortable, whilst the cottage is being used and paying for itself (well, almost! Our rates for long term rentals are extremely competitive and will not quite cover the mortgage, but will help a great deal towards it!) Although summer lets for us are more lucrative, our preference now is for long term tenants for various reasons, but mainly to tie in and enable us to carry out our new plans, which is where the big change comes in!...
If you are regular readers of my blog and have read the feature stories, you will know that for well over a year now, we have been upping and downing on whether being here in rural France is the right thing for us specifically as a young family right now. We absolutely love the working lifestyle (although the French tax, social contributions and cotisations take a rather large chunk of earnings and can be hard to keep up with!), the long hot summers, the sheer beauty of where we live (which I really do admire on a daily basis and we never take for granted!), the simplicity of life, the ever changing landscapes, the wildlife, the fresh air, , fresh winter walks in the forest, cosy winter nights by the fire, the freedom, the space, the amazing life long friends we have met - both French and English, the beautiful villages steeped in history, the food, the brocantes, the vide greniers, restaurants, lakes and beaches!!!
You really cannot fault this area - it really is idyllic and we really enjoy living here! We have come a long way and have accomplished some amazing things as a team together, learning so many new skills along the way and working together through the highs and lows, making us even stronger as a family unit. We have taken on a new language, which we are by no means fluent in, but can confidently share evenings with our French friends, handle telephone calls, deal with paperwork and hold normal every day conversations without hesitation, which is pretty amazing really! Summer is well away with the language and speaks and plays with her friends at school very freely and confidently - we are very proud! And then there is the satisfaction when we stand back and look at what we have created! The place really has been brought to life and is now smiling!
It truly is a special, one-off place and the knowledge that we have added to that is extremely fulfilling!
Not in any way have we ever regretted making the decision to buy our beautiful house in France or to make the jump over here and take on the adventure of living here and we never will.
There are however many things about the English lifestyle that we miss, most of which I have mentioned in a previous featured story.
We have come to the conclusion that in the here and now for us and at our point in life right now, we want to live a little younger (if that makes sense?). We would like to go out more with friends as a couple. (We cannot do this a lot where we are in France as we do not have many babysitters available and who don't already have their own children to look after and in England, we have a huge family desperate to spend time with Summer, all within close proximity!) We miss the Englishness of things like children's birthday parties and discos, Christmas and the slightly "over the topness" of it all. School sports days! Nativity plays! School uniforms! English pubs! English banter!...
We would like Summer to have more influence from extended family, giving her more stability and support.
We would like to enjoy all the many things that we enjoy about France still, but be around family more and have the right balance, which for us means switching the percentages of time that we spend in England and France.
The traffic in England is certainly not something we miss, but we will just have to deal with! ;o)
We also have plans to extend the family in the hopefully not too distant future and feel that we would like to do so in England, with the family being a lot more included than they would be if we were here.
So, the decision is that we would like to base ourselves in England again, rent out the cottage in France long term and spend the majority of school holidays in France, continuing with the barn renovations on a slower timescale and looking forward to it becoming our long term holiday home and even French getaway when we are a little older and have more flexibility to spend longer periods of time here and to go between the two countries when we want/need to.
It is not going to be easy and we have a lot we need to do to be able to prepare for and make the move, including maintenance around the grounds here to roofs on outbuildings, making sure they are all water tight etc, as well as the works to the barn, getting the cottage let out, organising a property to rent in UK and planning work over there. We will be continuing with the furniture sales and Scott's deign business, Plan_170 will still be running, with him making regular visits to France. I, on the other hand, will be looking to base my work back in UK.
We will not be looking to do the summer lets next year, as we know how busy we will already be hopefully settling back in over in UK, but we will certainly be continuing to make regular visits during school holidays and carrying on with the internal barn transformation whilst we are doing so.
If all comes together as we hope it will, we should still have the best of both worlds, but just with the time spent in each country reversed. All we can do for now is put all our efforts into finding long term tenants, sorting all the work that needs doing and keeping our fingers tightly crossed!
It truly is such a special place which we enjoy living in so much and I hope whoever lets it enjoys it as much as we do, which I have no doubt they will!
Our only real concern is keeping Summer's French language up, but we hope that by speaking French regularly at home, doing French curriculum work exercises with her (as we currently do with English), keeping in touch with our French friends via skype and regular holidays in France will all help her to continue with it, as we hope to ourselves.
I will of course continue to blog in regards to progress we make with the barn and whilst we are in UK, I will carry on with regular blogs of the progress of our initial renovation to the cottage.
Well, wish us luck! And of course, if you yourself, or if you know anyone who is interested in a long term break in France and you feel this could be the ideal place, please do get in touch!
For more information and picture of the cottge, its grounds and the local area, please visit our website: http://www.frenchcountrycottages-vendee.com/index.htm