My husband, Graham, had always wanted to live in a field in France and in 1996 he got his wish. We had bought a rather broken down little fermette with an adjacent barn sitting on the top of a ridge with great views and terraced land. We were told that the previous owner had used it as a holiday house but had made the mistake of taking a girlfriend there while his wife was away and had paraded the said girlfriend round the village. Naturally when this piece of gossip reached the wife’s ears, he was told in no uncertain terms never to set foot in the village again and to sell the house and holiday elsewhere. Our good luck.
It was our intention to renovate the living quarters and convert the barn to be part of the house. In our innocence we had proudly saved £8,000 to pay for these renovations. Some £40,000 later, we had done it, thanks to Graham working in Paris and Germany Monday to Friday for around three years, leaving me to deal with all the building works. Hence my French vocabulary consisted mainly of building terms and with a rather strange accent. After 15 years and when we had both had limb operations, we decided to sell; at the time I was immobile and not allowed to put one of my feet to the ground. The Monday morning arrived when Graham left for the airport to go to Germany, I was wondering how on earth I was going to look after myself until he came home on Friday evening. DLC, as it was then, to the rescue. Everyday someone turned up with flowers, my prescriptions, shopping, even meals on a plate ready for the microwave. I was very touched and grateful.
The house sold surprisingly quickly and we moved to a big village near Bordeaux to have easier access to the Grand Theatre and the opera. It was a big mistake and it didn’t take long for us to realise we missed our previous environment and the friends we had left there. It took another two years to sell up and we were very happy to move back to the area we had missed so much.
Sadly five years ago Graham had to move to a retirement home as he was suffering from Parkinson’s. He is now virtually immobile but thankfully I can visit him fairly freely subject to Covid restrictions. Having now lived alone for 5 years, I find i have acquired a few extra talents that I used to rely on Graham for: pulling a wine cork no problem, opening various bottles and cans etc., especially those incorrectly marked “ouverture facile”, French tax forms, closing wonky out of line shutters, moving heavy plant pots, etc. I find my most effective pieces of equipment are screwdrivers, oven cloth, and a lightweight hammer ( useful for all sorts of things), if nothing else works, bash it.
I think the DLCI is a splendid organisation, I know it takes a lot of work to keep it going successfully so a big thank you to the Committee for their inspirations and application.