When we began our French adventure in 2014, it’s fair to say that we knew we had a project on our hands, but I don’t think we, or anyone else, could have predicted the challenges of the last couple of years.... a pandemic, the loss of freedom of movement, and not to mention a few other dramas which befell us recently. But, fingers crossed, we are still here at Maison du Guit, healthy, now officially French residents, and cautiously planning a return to hosting our various courses.
Happily, visitors to the gite have continued to stay throughout the pandemic, undeterred by Covid, a bushfire in the garden, or a barn collapse. Thankfully we were on a brief trip to Kent when that last disaster occurred, but our neighbours working in their vines heard what sounded like an explosion coming from Maison du Guit.
The resulting small mountain of rubble has now been cleared, although there is still plenty of work to do to tidy up. Thankfully the house, studio and gite were all unaffected and remain ready for visitors.
The year before the barn disaster we had a small bush fire to contend with. Martin was on our tractor going over some cut grass on the football field. We were in the middle of a very hot spell of weather, and heat from the hot engine sparked a tiny flame in the grass which within seconds spread like…....a wildfire! Fortunately, the wind blew the flames away from the house, but that meant they headed towards the vines. The owners of the vineyards, our neighbours, Alice and Paul arrived and looked distinctly uncomfortable as the flames relentlessly marched towards their crop. We did our best to put out the fire, but with only a garden hose and a bucket there was little chance of getting things under control. Thankfully the pompiers from Riscle arrived in the nick of time, and speedily doused the blaze before any serious damage could be done. Our field however was burnt to the ground and blackened, but everything else was fine, and the field is green again and full of wildflowers. What’s more pictures of the fire and the pompiers hard at work can be seen on the calendar the fire service produced for 2021.
On the plus side, Maison du Guit became a place of refuge for us from Covid when it was at its worst in 2020/21. The French health system kept us safe and provided the vaccines we needed in a timely manner. Unsurprisingly there were no food deliveries, but French supermarkets operated a reliable click and collect which kept us safely well stocked with the essentials. We spent most of the winter in the gite, together with the three dogs and the aged cat (on his first ever visit), because, being properly insulated, it was far easier to keep warm than the house. For the first time ever we were apart from our boys for Christmas, so we had our lunch with neighbours, beside a roaring log fire in our dining room. Throughout the winter Claire continued to work as normal, counselling and tutoring online, while Martin and the dogs went on long, and usually sunny, walks through miles of surrounding vineyards, keeping fit, and practising his French with long suffering farmers working nearby.
This winter we are all back in muddy, but centrally heated Kent, where we finally spent Xmas with our boys. We are now waiting for the more signs of spring to break through, before returning to France to prepare for the sunny days of summer.
We have been sustained throughout these challenging times by happy memories of sipping chilled wine by the crystal clear waters of the pool, leisurely dinners and much fun and laughter with our guests. Our tutors are all keen to run their various courses again, and we are already getting enquiries, and taking bookings. We will of course continue to be hyper -vigilant about Covid, and ensure that all visitors are fully vaccinated. So we are very much looking forward to welcoming new and returning guests, particularly those who booked two years ago, and have waited patiently ever since. We have everything crossed that those happy, carefree, summer days will be returning in 2022