Most weeks I don’t give House With No Name a second thought. Friends are keeping an eye on it for us and I’m pretty sure the cheeky dormouse who moved into the attic in the summer is having a whale of a time there with his pals.
But now the weather’s getting warmer (hooray!), I can’t wait to get out to France. I’ve got a picture of my tumbledown farmhouse above my desk and can’t help marvelling at how different it looks from five years ago. It has new windows, custom-made in Germany (much cheaper) and painted a tasteful shade of pale grey, a gorgeous south-facing terrace and a new tiled roof. I never thought I could get this excited about a roof, but it really is a work of art.
Before the work started we got a message from the local mayor. Friends told us we should get round to his office double-quick. “He wants to meet you,” they said, “and he’s only there on Tuesday afternoons.” This sounded scary. Was the mayor going to put an immediate stop to the building work because we’d failed to get a crucial bit of paper? Or did he simply want to give “les nouveaux Anglais” the once-over?
It turned out to be a bit of both. The deputy mayor was in charge that day and was ultra-charming. He told us the local commune numbered precisely 222 (all French, except for us and a Dutch family who bought a small chateau 25 years ago) and invited us to a sheep-roast in June. We politely expressed regret and said we’d love to, but our teenagers would be doing exams. You never know, maybe another year.
STOP PRESS (I've always wanted to write that!): Coming tomorrow. A fascinating interview with Karen Wheeler, beauty writer extraordinaire and author of Tout Sweet, Toute Allure and Tout Soul.