Following a seemingly relentless sixteen-hour car journey from Nottingham to Charente, we arrived with trailer still attached to the tow bar. Paul and I were taking building materials and a rotovator to store in our barn, ready for renovating the building and planting in springtime.
It was dark when we reached Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, but the smell was unmistakable. Sweet woodsmoke and the aroma of the Linden trees were redolent of a perfume. Christmas lights were strung around the square and a frost glittered on surfaces – even the statue of Ludovic Trarieux looked as if he’d had a sparkly makeover.
The following morning we drove a few miles to the tiny hamlet of Bellon and unloaded the trailer. I make that sound easy, but everything felt incredibly heavy in freezing fog and drizzle.
Paul and I walked around the field and the task ahead seemed so much more daunting than we'd first anticipated. It’s amazing how much the verdant canopies, long grass and fat hedgerows of summer, hide overgrown trees, un-pruned bushes and neglected land. It also became clear that our field was overrun by rabbits, which meant the added expense of rabbit proofing the perimeter. I love rabbits, but I’m sure they love eating lavender plants too!
A very welcome surprise was to be invited into a neighbour’s house for hot mulled wine and mince pies. Andy and Sal are also renovating their property in Bellon. They say that the sunsets are beautiful and if you’ve seen my Facebook timeline, you’ll know that I have a weakness for tangerine skies.
Paul and I spent New Year’s Eve in Aubeterre Square, waving sparklers and dancing to Leonard Cohen’s, Dance Me To The End Of Love. Have you ever watched the film, Scent Of A Woman? Here is a beautiful clip where Al Pacino, a blind, retired soldier, dances with Gabrielle Anwar to this incredible song.
Click for song.