Is it really the middle of December?!

Trip Start Nov 27, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  , Limousin,
Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our time at La Forge has come to an end, and we can't quite believe it. Where did the last two weeks go? Normally of course, two weeks would be the end of our holiday, it would be time to pack up and head back to Blighty. But I've just spent the morning vaguely plotting our route down to Portugal instead, and picking out a few choice places to explore on the way. Accidentally, our route will probably have us following the same road trampled by thousands of pilgrims on the Way of St James Pilgrimage over the years, on their way to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.

The last two weeks here at La Forge have been a wonderful, relaxing but motivational start to our travels. It's difficult now to sum it up. We've been made to feel so welcome the whole time by Peter and Julie, and have had a lot of fun! In terms of 'work', we've made rustic furniture for the kitchen (ceiling clothes rack, shoe rack, wellie boot rack), hauled hay around, chopped trees and built raging bonfires, assembled a polytunnel that managed to survive some bloody fierce wind, made paper pots, and spent far too many hours trying to make Brian the van more watertight. In terms of relaxation, we've done a lot of it! We've carved spoons, read books, gone for a few walks, watched and listened for birds, explored a couple of local towns, and enjoyed some lovely evenings in a warm and cosy kitchen chatting and drinking beer. We also ATE A LOT OF FOOD. We ate far more food than we worked for but have been assured that this is not a problem! It's difficult not to pig out when the food is so good, and Julie's many soups have been a gastronomic delight.

During our time in this beautiful part of France, we have also met some of Peter and Julie's lovely neighbours; other escapees from the rat race who are now building lives as nearly self-sufficient smallholders on stunning pieces of land. All of them are an inspiration, and our host's advice and take on life in particular has been fascinating and provided some valuable input into the development of our own dreams for the future. I have a list in my diary of several wonderful books from their bookshelves that I have dipped into whilst here and now need to get my hands on and read properly over the next couple of years; books with titles like "Handy farm devices", "The woodland way", and "Cottage economy". In return, we have shared bushcraft, tracking and woodsman books that we are carrying with us, and Alex has been tutoring Julie in some bushcraft techniques!

We also spent a lot of time making friends with the beautiful cats and dogs. Some of whom may accidentally find themselves press-ganged into a life aboard Brian the van if separation is too traumatic for me. I make no apology for the large number of cat and dog photos below; they are exceptionally lovely and loving, and have provided too many hours of cuddles to count. Even the big bad dogs (ahem) have endured a lot of hugs. For those of you who love cats, the two tabbies are called Tabby and Emily, the two dark tortoiseshells are called Monkey (aka Bobble Belly) and Little Monkey, the pink cat is called Mr Pink, and the five gingers are called Thomas, Little Thomas, Pretty Boy, Cuddle Cat, and The Other One. I just called them call Ginger, as it's bloody impossible to tell them apart except by the number tattoo in their ear (which of course Alex memorised and spotted that the two ginger mum's have the same "unique" registration number - ooops!).

I can't believe it's nearly Christmas, and that we'll be in Portugal in a week. We were hoping quite naturally for a warmer Christmas than we're used to, but rather ironically the weather forecast in Portugal is not looking too promising. It's definitely milder than the UK but rain....? Wind....? Bugger :-)

So, in conclusion, it has been very difficult to sum up our time here. It's just been wonderful, and we will miss this place, the animals and our lovely hosts. But it's time to carry on with our journey. The pictures below will hopefully give you an idea of what life has been like at La Forge!

Oh, and as most of you reading this are English, we thought we'd better mention the weather. We've had wind, rain, sunshine, and this evening the beginnings of snow! So there you go.

Love, Laura and Alex

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Peter on

We are really going to miss you guys, it has been a blast. Come back and see us soon. XX

Debbie Big Bum :) on

I can hear your joy, and a degree of disbelief that this life changing experience that many dream of but you two are pursuing, is underway! I hope you have a B R I L L I A N T adventure. I am really looking forward to your updates. xx

Tim on

Alex your cat design has been ripped off by a time traveller and used in a childrens TV show from the early 80's !! i am going to start a campaign for ITV to reimburse you for the Blatant IP theft that was was Bagpuss !

Lynda Hall on

Hi Laura and Alex. Good to hear how much you are loving your new life. Just to take you back - currently doing the Xmas stuff at the Backs ie the carols in the courtyard and all the old traditions - seems odd not to have you dashing about! You'll have a very different Christmas and I hope you have a fantastic time in Portugal. Festive greetings to both of you. Take care, Lynda

Uncle Keith on

I just love reading your blog.
The 'photos are fine - more dogs please and more of you!
Enjoy yourselves and have a wonderfull Christmas. We are going to stay here on Rebak Marina Resort, Langkawi. Lots of sun, beach and swimming pool. It might take a bit of getting used to!!!
Lots of love,

Susie and Godfrey on

Have a great time in Portugal. A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you both. Lots of love.

Also please send me your email address as I've lost it.

Nige & Jayne on

Morning Campers, hope you had a good christmas wherever you were/are and that the new year will bring more adventure for us to read about. Take care and keep having fun.....

lifeinbrian on

Thank you for all the lovely comments, everyone!

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