Rosie Hill blogs at Eco-Gites of Lenault. She and her family have lived in France since 2007, and opened Eco-Gites of Lenault, a family-friendly holiday cottage, in 2010. Her blog covers a wide variety of subjects from parenting to France, green issues, animals, gardening, cooking and life on the smallholding. She can also be found on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Bloglovin’ and Google+. If you are interested in making a booking or finding out more about the gite please visit her website – Eco-Gites of Lenault.
This is a day in Rosie’s life…
“Na da da da nah dah dah” …. well something like that marks the point my day starts with my phone singing in my ear (music never was my forte). The boys have to be at the school bus stop at 7.15am so it is most definitely dark at this time of year and not fun to be dragging myself out of bed. However I manage it and this is one of the few times in the day I do have quite a set routine: get boys up and whilst they breakfast (it’s far too early for me to eat) I switch on my ancient computer and allow it to warm up during which time I set the dishwasher on, put in a load of washing and take down any dry washing before heading up to the bus stop with the boys. Once back it is still too dark to do the outside animals making it the perfect time to check emails and catch up with bloggy things. Being December means there are not too many booking enquiries coming in for our gite (holiday cottage) and annoyingly rather more spam/scam emails than genuine holidaymakers. I still can’t quite believe how many people want to share their inheritance with me or make a booking for 12 couples from India (and is it OK to pay by dodgy cheque for more than the amount required and return the excess money by bank transfer straight away). Errrr NO!
As the light creeps over the horizon I can head out and do what I call animal rounds – we have a veritable menagerie of farm animals which all need feeding, their water checking, beds sorted and various other jobs doing. This will possibly involve swearing at a hay net that flips over dumping it’s previously dry contents in the mud, slipping in said mud and having muddy water splatter up my leg in the pig pen. Yes, mud features highly in my day in December. Oh for a good frost! By 10am all the farm animals and pets are fed and I can settle down to a lovely warm bowl of porridge with some of our home grown fruit on top and catch up with social media. Simon will have headed off to to work sometime in between and I will have the next part of the day to myself.
The animal rounds will be repeated at the end of the day at sometime between 4 and 5pm at the moment. In between I therefore have approximately 6 hours of daylight – not a huge amount of time to get things done outside. Animal pens may need cleaning and there is always something to do in the veg patch/polytunnel when you are trying hard to be self sufficient in all your veggies. The dogs will also need a walk and on some days the boys have lessons cancelled so can be picked up early meaning a 26km round trip to Condé-sur-Noireau. Bearing in mind on a full day they will not be home before almost 6pm I do try and pick them up when I can but it does mean I lose outdoor working time. I also sometimes look after a friend’s child over lunchtime and he needs picking up from the school in the next village – bye bye even more daylight working time! Today I also decided I had to start some Christmas things or we will never be ready come the 25th! So I wrote a “To Do Before Christmas” list, panicked slightly at the length of it and then did set to and started to tidy and clean the front room. All this meant that today I only managed to do a bit of gardening and the turkeys did NOT get cleaned out. Oh well, their time with us is limited as they are destined for the freezer and Christmas dinners very soon (Point 5 on “To Do Before Christmas List” = slaughter turkeys. I bet that wasn’t on your list!).
What else might I fill my day with? Well there’s our gite for a start. Whilst our house may at times take on the look of a war zone I always mange to keep the gite tidy in case we have a sudden late booking. In that case beds will need making, a cake or biscuits baking, the fire lighting, the welcome box filling and any last minute cleaning done. Outside will need a tidy round and supper cooking if they have ordered that. I also spend time on marketing, keeping our website up to date, blogging, social media and updates on the various sites we advertise on as well as dealing with enquiries (see para 1) …. and some of these are in French which always makes things a bit harder. Whilst I am fairly OK speaking French face to face, writing it is harder (thank goodness for online translators) and speaking it on the phone is challenging. It’s one of the hardest things to do when you move to a country where they do not speak your mother tongue, but needs must and I am gradually getting more confident dealing with bookings in French. Having to tackle so many things in French can mean they take longer than if they were in English: phone calls from school, rugby/athletics/music clubs, official paperwork, things for Simon’s business … it’s all a bit more demanding when it’s in French.
At the moment we have no gite guests in but with so many other plates still twirling up there above my head I am a great list writer. At the moment I have the aforementioned Christmas List as well as a Must Get Done Today List and a December Gardening List. Without lists my life would fall apart! But I digress. As well as housework, child minding, collecting one son early and the second at the normal time and that bit of gardening today, I also gave the dogs a walk, helped with homework, chopped some wood for kindling, lit the fire (twice, as I let it go out the first time!), cooked dinner, set up my Animal Tales blog linky and wrote this blog. Before bedtime I still need to write my own blog post for tomorrow and possibly shout at a boy who SHOULD be in bed but is wandering around upstairs!
Then of course all this changes on Wednesdays, when the boys are only at school for the morning, and Saturdays when they are not at school at all, thank goodness. On these days being a taxi to sports events takes up much of my time. On Thursdays I have a regular date with a friend and we meet up at the local market for some much needed gossip, shopping and wonderful French espresso coffee. This leaves Sunday as our real family day together. Pancakes and roast dinners tend to feature highly here and there is always time for a board game or three. We like board games.
There you have it then – a day in the life of an expat Mum living on a smallholding in France and running a gite. Small parts of my day do have a regular routine but on the whole life is varied and would quite possibly fall apart were it not for my lists. Lifeis good … or should that be” La vie est bonne”?! Merci for reading!
Rosie is taking part in my #DayInTheLife project, a series of posts where people write about their typical day. If you would like to take part, please fill in the form on my blog post here.