We’re almost 5 weeks into Covid-19 lockdown in France as I write this, my first blog. Let’s hope my ‘promise to self' of continuing this writing experience lasts once things return to normal – whatever that new normal might be but let’s hope that includes more mindful moments for everyone rather than a return to the old normal of fast paced 24/7 shenanigans.
As Mike is in the middle of renovating our kitchen in La Ferme (our own home at Cousserat), after spending three years completing the loving restoration of our two gites, we are currently residing in Le Peuplier, the one bedroomed gite chez nous. What an absolutely delightful experience it is to get to know one of our holiday homes firsthand and discover the joys of staying here, much as our guests do. There is so much to love about Le Peuplier and one of my favourite features of this gite are the amazing, solid oak beams in the spacious bedroom.
I love waking up and staring up at them in the morning in the soft yellow light coming through the tiny window behind the bed, curtained in Indian silk from a trip to Rajasthan. To think that the beams could still be hidden under a plaster boarded ceiling had Mike not had the vision and tenacity to take the ceiling down and spend several days sand blasting them himself.
Sadly, we’re unable to welcome guests to this beautiful part of South West France at the moment but we consider ourselves to be so lucky to be experiencing lockdown, or ‘la confinement’ as it’s termed in France, in such a fantastic part of the world with so much outdoor space and, so far, great weather. We are so grateful for this and everyday think about those who have no outdoor space, food, shelter or suffer hardship.
A big positive of this situation is that we are able to work in the garden and in the gites, making them ship shape for when we are able to open to guests again so that they have the best time possible in Bordeaux wine country. Of course, we also have more time on our hands, like others, especially as I (Penny) am working less as a self-employed work psychologist and am unable to travel back to the UK. I have therefore been spending about an hour every day lying in the hammock, watching the mulberry tree leaves sprout and grow week on week, looking gloriously green against a bright blue sky.
The hammock is one of the best places to just ‘be’ at our holiday cottages, gazing at all the trees, vines, woodlands and all other wonders of nature. This state of being mindful is so amazingly good for our mental health and wellbeing that it is no wonder when our guests stay we can see them changing to a state of calm and relaxation over the first couple of days. Cousserat is also one of the best places to get a good night’s sleep – I have been sleeping so well since the lockdown began, partly due to the calm ambience of the Le Peuplier bedroom and the super comfy bed but also the silence of the nights here in rural France and the calming effect of the days spent gazing at greenery of the grass and trees (green is the best colour for good mental health according to research).
So, these are just a few of the things you, the reader, can look forward to when you’re finally able to visit us again and this is just the start! In my future blogs I’ll be telling you about some of the places you can visit in the surrounding area such as St Émilion, Bordeaux and Bergerac – if you can be bothered getting out of the hammock that is!