Monthly Archives: February 2013

Our little gang of translation buddies

Part of our business plan for our guest cottages (in my head, anyway) is to appeal to as large a market as possible. One way of achieving this is to make as many nationalities as we can feel comfortable when they visit. So, I have begun to compile my little gang of translation buddies. The idea is to offer a holiday to a non-English speaking friend, in return for a little translation work – maybe the basic website, and some of the guest literature in the cottages. I’m going to be quite fussy, however, with my invitations.

I’d like to welcome the inaugral member: Bjorn, from Sweden, currently living in Barcelona. We recently worked together on a trip to Shanghai, and I thought – here’s definitely someone I would like to have visit! There might also be a BOGOF offer to be had here – his new husband is Brazilian (yes… I’m sure their children would be beautiful!)

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Our Aims for our French Business

Because I spend my entire working life in hotels around the world (some nice, some not), I tend to prefer renting apartments or villas when I go on holiday. Recently, I’ve been traumatised by the lack of thought and sense of style which have gone into a number of holiday lets (don’t talk to me about Spain!) When I go to live abroad in a house, I want a little bit of luxurious living that I don’t normally get at home. That’s part of the essence of my holiday – wanting to live in a nicer environment for a week or two.

We applied that theory with some success to our apartment in Nice, and got some fabulous feedback – we were convinced we’d managed to get our little space right. And now we want to do it again, on a larger scale. We want to take whichever property we fall in love with (with any luck, in April) and transform it into a must-go-to holiday destination in its own right. I know, it’s a VERY ambitious plan, but I want something to strive for over the next 10 years. I don’t want to be done with the property after 4 years, as we have with every other one we’ve lived in.

We’ve looked at the holiday properties we’ve visited over the last 15 years, in the UK, France, Spain & South Africa (we like to keep a narrow time zone!), and I think, for me, the most outstanding in terms of quality of accommodation, and service, is The Watermill in Suffolk ( This will definitely be a continual driving inspiration for us as we set up our new guest cottages.

As for further inspiration, this website ( was recently featured in The Times top 50 travel websites, and I would love to be able to create a property worthy of being featured on here. And, if we decide to sell some time down the line, I hope to be able to place it among this list: How many bright sparks have noticed that each photo on that site is taken in sunshine, and most can be seen with blue skies? Compare that to the majority of properties on the standard French agents’ websites. At the France Show recently, I heard an agent joking to someone else that all you need to sell a house is blue skies and blue shutters! I felt he was being flippant – that the buyer is too shallow to be interested in anything else. Fool!! I tell you – I’m definitely going to wait for blue skies before taking marketing photos!

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Kev’s first post!

Ok…. I have no idea where this will end up. Phill is out visualising and making some shop-keeper’s dream come true, so I thought I’d have a crack at it.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks plotting our little journey in the Spring – working out the best route to take and order to visit our shortlist. I just heard some sad news though – one of the ones I was most interested in has been sold. In fact – it was the very first one we were going to visit! That and a couple of other adjustments have freed up some space, so  we’re back to looking at property sites to fill in the holes. Look out for property numbers 38 and up over the next few days.

One worrying note, though, is all the press coverage about the weakness of the pound. It just means we’re facing a much smaller budget in France. For example, if someone had £300,000 to spend in France, in the middle of January they’d have had €30,000 more to spend than in the middle of February! That’s quite a chunk of money.

So, now we have to make the difficult decision about whether to go ahead an put our London home on the sales market soon, with the prospect of staying in smaller, rented accommodation for longer than we had intended, waiting for an improvement in the £.

Categories: Houses we are looking at | 1 Comment



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Stacey Kent – Ces petits riens (Impuls´s Rhode-Island Remix)


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Jamie Ivey – Extremely pale rose

Todays post is about yet another author who’s books i love, and  that have kept my passion for France alive through the winter months. He is Jamie Ivey who went on holiday to france for two weeks and ended up staying for six on a quest for the palest rose in France. I wont spoil to ending but ill just say he ended up moving lock stock and barrel to the south of France.

Notes from his publishers website

Jamie Ivey is the author of three books about the south of France: Extremely Pale RoséLa Vie en Rosé andRosé en Marché. He lives near the village of Lourmarin in the Luberon with his wife and daughter where he editsBlue Sky Living magazine and runs a rosé business. Jamie’s books have been published in the UK, the USA, Holland and China. Before becoming a writer Jamie was a corporate lawyer in the City of London. He has no regrets about giving up the rat race…

He has written four books

His first was

Extremley very pale rose


Click here to visit his book page on Amazon

Click here to follow Jamie on Twitter

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Karen Wheeler

After reading the Olive farm books by Carol Drinkwater i was hooked on tales of French life and found a book in a charity shop by Karen Wheeler called Tout Sweet.


Here is a synopsis

In her mid-thirties Karen has it all: a career as a fashion editor, a handsome boyfriend, a fab flat in west London and an array of gorgeous shoes. But when her ‘plus one’ leaves, she wonders if there is more to life than high fashion. So, she hangs up her Manolos and waves goodbye to her city lifestyle, deciding to go it alone in a run-down house in rural Poitou-Charentes, western France. Once there, she encounters a host of new friends and unsuitable suitors, soon learning that true happiness can be found in the simplest of things – a bike ride through the countryside on a summer evening, or six glasses of Pinot in a neighbour’s garden. If you’ve ever dreamed of chucking away your BlackBerry and downshifting, Tout Sweet is perfect summer reading.

She has written three books, the fourth is on its way soon I hope.

Click to buy her books on Amazon

She also has a great blog

I highly recommend her books they will capture you heart.


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The Olive Farm

One of the first books I read that really got me hooked on all things French was The Olive Farm, written by the Actress Carol Drinkwater of All creatures great and small fame.
Her book tells her story of her and her lover Michelle discovering a forgot, dilapidated old house high in the hills above Cannes, and falling in love with it. The struggle to buy it and the restoration of the house and land. I was hooked after the first chapter and have lapped up every book she has written since.
Here is a link to her website, take a look and maybe try reading The Olive Farm, you won’t be disappointed its a magical read.


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Our house shortlist

After hours of searching through property websites and looking at hundreds of houses we have collated our shortlist.

We are going down to France for a week in the spring to look at all of them.

Click here to see a google map with pins linking to the houses on our shortlist.

Categories: Houses we are looking at | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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