Provence sabbatical day 1 – it officially begins

Our sabbatical in Provence officially begins. We find ourselves settling in to the farmhouse without auntie and uncle, and pinch ourselves again … is this real?

We’re looking at each other in bemused wonderment. Who would have thought that we’d be overwintering in the South of France? But here we are for much-needed R&R and to look after “Madonna” (an elderly, sometimes grumpy cat) in a gorgeous old farmhouse in a picturesque village?

Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

During our 4 months in Cotignac, we’ll be doing some TLC on this fab home in exchange for electricity, etc. So to make sure we’ve got the right tools, we drove down with “Smiley” (our Renault work van) and with “Muddy Boots” (Land Rover 90) for exciting adventures despite the wintery roads.

Enroute however, Muddy’s clutch decided to start packing up. What do you do? It’s Saturday afternoon and you’ve promised to be 1000km’s away by Monday. There’s no time to wait for a tow. So we figured leaving him in 5th gear was the best option and headed straight for the Autoroute du Soleil, instead of taking the back roads. We were handsomely rewarded with the first sunshine we’d seen in ages.

On our arrival, we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction. Auntie Penelope and Uncle Wolf introduced us to their friends and showed us the hows, wheres and whats. Pen had written a great A-Z of names, numbers, services, entertainment, and loads more. They want to make sure we enjoy our stay as much as possible, and that we don’t get cabin-fever. Actually, we get asked that a lot … 4 months of doing nothing??

Pen and Wolf left for Istanbul this morning, enroute to South Africa. It felt weird saying good-bye and walking back into their home … without them.

To thank Marcel for his humungous effort in Holland, I’ve insisted that he come here and do NOTHING. Okay, reading is allowed. And writing. But for the rest, I’ll do whatever I can to take the pressure off him so he can RELAX. Alongside Madonna, who has spent the whole day snuggled in Pen’s chair. He’s missing them already, but is allowing us to stroke him more and more. I’ve missed having a kitty to look after!

Sabbatical in Provence (day 1)
Sabbatical in Provence (day 1)

We will be moving from the guest room to Pen’s room, with it’s most fantabulous views across the valley, but it needs to be painted after the roof leak. So after a bunch of other “settling in” chores, I stripped the paint bubbles and started painting. But it didn’t go 100% to plan … it got all thick and chunky. Hmmm. My hubby gently reminded me that painters don’t usually work in Winter, and the room probably needs heating. C’est la vie! Tomorrow is another day. I’ll switch the heater on in the room first thing and make a fresh start.

My education with Pen’s stove continued as I set my attention to a yummy chicken and lentil soup; loosely based on Pen’s winner recipe with Balsamic vinegar that we enjoyed during the ApĂ©ro on Wednesday night … and of course, too many vins rouges.

Radio “France Bleu Provence” is playing in the background – nice combination of songs from all genres and a good balance of talking. It’s encouraging being able to recognise some French words, and get the ear in on those accents.

Not sure what tomorrow holds … but all we can say, is that it’s simply awesome to be here!! A huge thanks to auntie and uncle. And also to our good buds in Holland for handling our matters there xxx