Here we are, coming up to the end of another year here at Le Chant d’Oiseau. Next year will be our 9th here, and we’ll have outlasted the previous two incumbents by two years. We safely negotiated the seven year itch, but not without scratching lots!
Sad news came in the form of an email a few days ago from Sue Higgins, to inform us of the sad death of her beloved husband, Terry. Terry & Sue were the first English owners of Le Chant, purchasing in 1990/91. They pretty much laid down the foundations of what Le Chant has now become. They set the tone with neighbours too, becoming great friends with our own good friends, Nicole & Lionel, and la famille Douaire. sue took on the task of teaching Lionel & Nicole’s son, Loic, English on a part-time basis when he fell behaind at school due to illness. We were in turn saved a couple of times by Loic being able to speak our language when we first arrived. That’s a legacy left by Sue & Terry. We in turn have tried to do our bit too, teaching Sylviane’s grandaughter, Julie, the basics of English too, and watching proudly as her own grades improve. terry & Sue came from Yorkshire, and they integrated well into this rural french life. Just this past September, we had a visit from one of thier guests, who has actually been here at some time or another during the last three English owner’s residences. He reminisced about Terry & Sue fondly, and we could relate directly to what he was telling us. Many people who now live in the area stayed here whilst their own house purchases were going through. Some have contacted us to pass on their condolances to Sue. We certainly learned a thing or two from them and they became regular visitors, and good friends to us in our own tenure here at Le Chant. Terry was much loved for his humour and he will be very much missed by all who knew him.
One of the things that Le Chant is known for are the many & varied species of trees that grow here. This in turn attracts a vast array of birds. Many different species (over 70 have been counted on site alone!) make their home here. This year though, out of a need to make safe the campsite for guests, and to improve our own lives here, we decided that some serious culling was necessary. Some 10 trees have been felled, or trimmed in the past couple of weeks, with three more getting the chop tomorrow! We’ve worked hard to re-use much of the timber we’ve gained and we’ll have a few surprises dotted around the site this summer for guests to use! Keep an eye on our facebook page for details and pictures soon!
This year also saw my 50th birthday! Yes, it’s official. Now that I’ve crossed the line, I’m allowed to be ‘officially’ curmudgeonly! So watch out! The day was just lovely, with a mass of pressies and cards waiting for me with a lunch in Saumur at one of our favourite places, the Pot de Lapin. This was followed by a surprise flight from the aerodrome at Saumur to Mouliherne to overfly our home. It’s actually really difficult to follow a route from the air as everything looks so different! I don’t think we fully appreciate just how heavily forested the area is! Still, we found it and pointed the pilot in the right direction. we flew low enough to wave, and be waved at, by family and campers down below! Some even took pictures of us as we circled!
Other exciting news is that our eldest son, Liam, is due to be married here next year. He and his fiancée, Jenna made a trip over to see us a couple of weeks ago from Cornwall, where they live. we saw vicars, churches, hairdressers, florists and catering people all in the space of a few days. We ate out, we ate in. We drank lots of fizzy wine just for research, you understand? All too quickly, it was time for them to head back home to Kernow, with the promise to return in the New Year. It was just lovely to have our nest full again, with all three of our kids and their lovely partners. Even though it wasn’t for long. The plans for the wedding continue despite the distance (thankyou facebook), and we’re gradually getting more & more excited.
We have so many people that visit us with their bikes, or borrow one from our motley fleet, that we thought it high time that we bought decent biked of our own. So, taking advice from a guest who has subsequently become a great mate, I invested in the first road bike I’ve owned since I was in my teens. Syb was duly presented with a new bike for her birthday too! We kind of decided that we needed to keep fit during the off season, and cycling was a great way to do just that. I’ve loved cycling as a spectator sport for years, and we’ve seen the Tour de France a few times living here. This summer, a stage of the ‘most beautiful race on earth’ passed once more through our home commune of Mouliherne. We had a packed site and gites, so most people found themselves swept along in the excitement of it all, and had the most fantastic time. More on that in a separate ‘highlights of the year’ kind of post!
My bike, ‘Wosie’, has well over 1200kms on her ‘clock’ now, and Syb’s ‘Frankie’ (It’s a Nakamura Valley, hence Frankie) isn’t that far behind. Wosie is a B’Twin Triban 3 from Decathlon. I highly recommend one to anyone thinking of getting back on a bike, or indeed, just starting out. It’s a comfy ride on a well built and sturdy (but not too heavy) frame, especially with upgraded wheels and tyres, as mine has. One of the highlights for me was to ride into Saumur & back one Sunday afternoon, purely on a whim. It was so easy, effortless (he lies). In fact, the outward trek was in fact exactly that. The return, however – well that’s a different story. One again for another ‘blog. But – since then, Wosie, Frankie, Syb & I have become good pals. Our fitness and endurance levels have certainly improved and we’ve lost weight too. Bonus! All we need do now is build on this into 2014, which will see a few more ‘challenges’ realised, I’m sure!
That’s about it for now, apologies for leaving such a long gap between ‘blogs, but as you can possibly tell, we’ve neither been idle, nor unhappy.
Until the next time, au revoir.