What a whirlwind nine months it's been since arriving at Cariton last April. When we arrived the garden was especially beautiful with Spring flowers blossoming every day. After several lawn mower breakdowns, we got the large area of lawn trimmed and delicious to walk on. Bare-footing is one of my favourite things to feel literally grounded. So when overwhelmed by moving house, country and starting a new business all at once started to kick in, a quick stroll softly calmed my over stimulated brain.
The field next to us, just mud when we arrived, has been lovingly tended and sprung up into a thriving vineyard of young vines, beautifully laid out in satisfying parallel lines. The area has an abundance of independent small producers of great wines and organic food. Their produce can be found in the local markets and shops in the village.
One of our first jobs in the guest house was to remove the old textured wallpaper surviving from the 80s. Luckily I met Jen Sugg, who was a star at removing it with me, and we were able to chat sharing joys and worries of DIY projects, unexpected hiccups and balancing family life whilst we worked. As we worked, we uncovered some of the original wooden beams. Jen's partner Matt then came and spent the next few weeks re-plastering all the upstairs rooms and hallway. Newly smooth and prepped we began painting with the great help of Erin Rose who spent the summer with us as a volunteer. The room colour we went for in most rooms is a soft lavender reminiscent of the delicately scented fields in Provence. The window frames all got a sand down and fresh coat of soft grey paint as did the old shiny brown painted beams. The upstairs bathroom got a new wall and a re-tile and the wash areas upstairs all got new hand basins. Our French electrician, Jean-Noel, updated all the wiring in the old house and fitted smart new silver switches and sockets.
A new kitchen has been fitted and fire-escape/one stunning treetop balcony built, once again by expert craftsman Matt Sugg.Having completed paintwork in three of the four bedrooms, the kitchen and the lounge/dining area, we've still to finish the hallway, the last bedroom, the 2 bathrooms, and the workshop space. Now putting the call out for more volunteers to help us be ready to open by Spring. Not only is it a big task to do alone, it also deserves the energy and love of many so it can serve the many who will come to stay and enjoy the loving vibration it was created in. We were delighted to be joined by the joyous company of Jon and Penny Athawes for 10 days in September. They lovingly 'put the garden to bed' for us, tidying, weeding, clearing, creating fire pit area and harvesting beaucoup fragrant bunches of lavender!
Despite things being all go with the project, we've had a few weekends and nights off and enjoyed some fun local festivals, Tempo Latino was especially vibrant and lively, as was the Marciac Jazz Festival a short drive away. More locally was our town Montreal's Medieval Evening with buzzing market, music and fire show. As well as luxuriating in the abundant nature when we can, we like to soothe our souls with art gallery trips, those in our town or those further afield. More about that in another post. Oh and the great Brocante in Lectoure is also a must visit to browse at all sorts of interesting finds and treasures. Hmm... all this talk of art and nature I feel another picturesque stroll coming on.. the painting can wait one more day right?
If you are in the Gers and would like to book Matt for your building project you can contact him here: Matthew Sugg