In the previous post I did a show and tell on our Loire home from which it was time a couple of years ago to move on and exchange the Loire valley for the Dordogne valley.
All those who have done some restoration on a house will know the toll it can take on mind and body. Repainting a wall is easy, restoring a whole house by lifting beams, removing floors, adding windows and doors…not easy. But the satisfaction on completing a difficult task is enoug inspiration to continue. In the meantime, while knackering away at the restoration of the old stone farmhouse, we needed to sleep, eat and bathe, probably in that order. We are lucky in that we have several barns on the farm and so one of them became our home for the next 7 years. At first it was only during summer holidays and 2years later it became permanent home.
In between working on the house, we equipped the barn for easier living. A stove, a kitchen sink, cooking tools, table…we are a family who love our food.. what is a space without some bling? A chandelier or two were hung from the make-do insulated “ceiling”. A wood burning stove provided heat in winters. We had an elegant shower made from an old tin tub we found in the barn and we used an old wagon wheel rim for the shower curtain. From an old wooden ladder we constructed a frame for a bathroom sink , also found in the old house.And yes, running hot water! We even had a bit of privacy by constructing a screen from two wooden doors from the old house., hiding a little dressing room behind it. Madame Pompadour in stylish attire, kept guard by the bathroom/shower/dressing room.
Below is a view on the dressing room behind the two doors, forming the screen for privacy..
Unfortunately la toilette stayed outside, a good 200 meters away, which is fine on good days, but got a little complicated on cold and wet wintry days. Today, 7 years later, we can recall some funny stories around our outside toilette which by the way, was brought up to modern standards without the wasps and stacks of newspaper.
Our very first night in the barn in 2008…just a sweep with a broom, a bed for us and our girls and a dinner by candlelight.
However many little luxuries we had in the barn, life was basic and challenging and we lived with the minimum to which we adapted fairly easily. Today I am convinced more than ever that the human race is spoiled and we live in luxury far beyond necessity. I can honestly say we didn’t miss television for those first years, we ate great food on only a wood burning stove/coal stove. We bought fresh produce every day in small quantities for years until we got a fridge a few years later. We washed dishes by hand in a tin bowl for many of those 7 years. I soaked our washing every night, rinsed the next day and hung out on the clothes line…I honestly admit though; that was a backbreaking task and far from adventurous! .
The first few years were bare and adventurous. The barn with its high roof was open and windy with the normal inhabitants you find in old stone walls and we shared the barn with an owl family, who lived there long before us and they weren’t eager to give up their loft for a few humans.
Our barn home in its early years: Drapes of old linens found at brocantes to hide the back part of the barn. A couch or two, cooking corner and always wild flowers. I loved those first years!
Of course, at some point,true to human nature, we, or shall I admit…I longed for more comfort.. So the barn started filling up up with cabinets and armoires and commodes and all my art stuff, brought over from the Loire home. I got tired of living out of a suitcase so the dressing room was invented. We started inviting some friends over, so we needed more than 4 cups and plates.
My art corner took up almost half of the barn, which I enjoyed..living and sleeping and working all in one spot. This concept is carried over into our house we are restoring.
Windows and doors got dressed up a little…our souls do need to see some beauty around us..?
These 7 years we had a barn for a home is one of the most precious periods of my life and an experience that I will never forget. It is a book full of stories, one that I might write someday, even if only for my family who can relate and will remember all these tales.
To be continued….
Until next time