Friday, July 03, 2009
Justin and Emily's farm
I made it to France just over a week ago. Flew to Pau in the Pyrenees with the lovely Ryanair for a few pence, before getting the train to Foix, several changes later and with the addition of bus journeys due to a local strike.
My idea is, that whilst I am waiting for my work visa for the US to be processed, I should fill my time constructively (by help exchanging) learn more of a foreign language (French), see some more of the world and be somewhere hot, in preparation for the California summers, and not spend too much money.
So far, the plan is working like a dream. I am in France, have spoken a little French, though I am staying with English speakers at the moment. The weather is scorching hot, even for here. I have spent very little money as my first host lives in a tiny farmhouse perched on the side of a steep, steep valley, deep in the mountains miles from anywhere and I have been maxing out on the constructive side of things.
Los Laous has the most amazing views of wooded slopes, the sounds of a stream in the valley, birds in the trees and the occasional deer, Oh, and the constant drilling, sanding and planing going on in the house. It is, at present, a building site, the house is in the process of being doubled in size to allow for twins, arriving any minute.... and the house is far from ready. A new kitchen has to be fitted now that the floor is down, wood burning stove, central heating, solar panel combination installed, windows fitted, I am glad that the weather has been kind this last week. Painting is progressing a pace, along with rendering the outside, fitting windowsills, doors, deck to the balcony and on and on and on. Justin and Emily, my hosts, have gathered an amazing team that get stuck in and get things done, friends and family, the occasional paid builder and helpX, though Ailedh and I have been the first real help through that organisation.
As usual, my skills have been well utilised. With all the building work going on, the hillside garden had been somewhat neglected so I was set to work getting it back into shape. Weeding, planting seeds in unused areas, supporting beans, peas and tomatoes, installing irrigation and making sure that it was all watered as necessary. Additionally, got to move their cows into an expanded pasture, spend a day felling trees and building a new pig park, great fun hauling tree trunks and slashing brambles with a French guy. Strimming nettles and docks from the steepest field I have ever been in. Mixing cement, peeling old render off the walls, cooking dinner and on and on and on.