This was not what we were intending, when we decided to buy Maison Lamothe. We thought it was time to put our feet up and call it a day. I would write and Marco would keep bees. But as often happens things don’t work out quite as you’d planned.
After we’d signed our ‘Compromis de Vente’ (legally binding agreement to buy) with our notaire (solicitor), we both started thinking. If we’d fallen in love with the place, why wouldn’t others? Soon our creative juices were flowing and the opportunities were boundless. And I think we’d drive each other mad if we didn’t have something to focus our minds on!
The previous owners invited us to lunch and shared their experience of living in the house. As did another English couple who still live locally and who had owned the house about 25 years ago. And after we moved in, we soon met lots of our lovely friendly neighbours. Everybody told us how lucky we were to caretake this magical place and how important it is to share our good fortune with others.
And although to begin with we were somewhat abashed about announcing our plans given our change in direction, the first responses have been amazing. Rather than thinking we are mad, everyone has been full of ideas and we can’t wait to try some out. With lots of rooms for people to stay, and room to extend to create workshops or entertainment spaces, and woods and private little garden rooms where we can create secret places to hide away or seek creative inspiration, anything and everything is possible.
We’ve hurried to get up and running, so that we can start receiving guests. No time like the present to hone our hospitality skills. We’ve already had several ‘guinea pig’ sets of guests; family and friends. No-one gives you better feedback than family – never backward at coming forward with advice on things we’ve missed so that we think we are now ready to give a great guest experience.
But there’s so much we want to do, to get things even better before what will hopefully be our first successful summer season. And then there’s the longer-term projects that will be on-going, so I’m not sure when I’ll ever get time to write and Marco certainly won’t be keeping bees any time soon, which I think might be a good thing.
Of course, we can’t do this on our own. Thierry, our gardener, and all-round good egg who seems to know everyone and about everything, has been a complete godsend. Good humoured he politely rolls his eyes at some of our more mad cap schemes and keeps Marco’s current enthusiasm for a potagerie under control. With Thiery’s garden already under the constant threat of moles and wild boars, Marco’s endeavours provide a threat on a third front.
We’re also getting to know our neighbours too. It’s amazing how much happens in these sleepy little French villages once you start scratching the surface. I am now working one afternoon a week in our local co-operative Épicerie (grocery store) which is run entirely by volunteers and sells great local produce. Marco has joined the choir.
So much to do. But we are loving it. Hopefully, some of you reading this will join us soon and share the place we are so lucky to live in. As well as a fabulous place to step off the World and take a relaxing break, you’ll also be able to track the progress (or otherwise) of Marco’s vegetable growing.
Michelle Martinez – November 2019