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  • Writer's pictureJohann Chabert

Learning countryside life from scratch

Gardening, home improvement, hosting, language learning, cultural adaptation, social networks... We learned a lot since October 2021! Here is to realizing we know nothing!

How to change a lightbulb in 10 lessons

Barely exagerating. Moving to this beautiful stone house at the age of 45, my experience in home improvement was absolutely non-existant. Obviously after a bit more than a year I still have a lot to learn. But looking back at the ocean of ignorance I'm coming from, I'm pretty proud of my achievements.

Here are a few random pictures and examples: renovating a terrasse - even though I should probably start again as the rain has already damaged it -, repair and repaint a bathroom, change a kitchen focet, put frames on the wall (most of them are still there), restore a wooden table, repair a washing machine, a swimming pool water pump... Credits and thanks to our friends, neighbours, Youtube tutorials, and big up to my brother, DIY guru, always on call to help build a kitchen from scratch!

Gardening, a new hobby of mine

For this one, credits to Angèle. Angèle who can do anything, and is not afraid to teach it! The jungle we found when we arriver - previous owners were coming only a few weeks per year - slowly turned into a decent garden. Aya and myself learned on the job how to cut, pick-up, plant, water... and also to burn stuff, as it's legal here (winter only). Among others, we cut down a cypress tree blocking the view, gave a good haircut to the cherry tree, almond tree, olive trees, mimosa, as well as the Japanese and French plum trees. We picked up kilos of fruits, among which blackberries, wild strawberries, mint, plums, 16kg of olives and 100 kg of chestnuts. All of this turned into jams, oil, pies and cakes.

New language, new culture, new life

Aya did the hardwork in terms of emotional and intellectual adaptation! Leaving Japan to live abroad is one thing. But leaving Tokyo to come settle in the deepest French countryside, not knowing the culture, not knowing the language, and not even knowing how to drive... in a place where Japanese friends are quite hard to make. Not a piece of cake. On top of it, she came to a new family she haden't even met once. Congratulations to my wife who took up the challenge, an can now chit-chat in French with the neighbors, her hair dresser and the local baker... She also took classes organised by the French government on how to be a good French citizen (quite interesting), and passed a French test to get a longer visa here. Her everyday struggle reminds me how challenging our language is!

Unforgettable encounters and social experiment

Opening a B&B was definitely a good decision. Every moment with our guests was a blessing and taught us so much. Very different people visited us: friendly and noisy bikers, exhausted hikers looking for rest, families of every size and every origin with incredible stories, young and less young couples coming for a first, second or third honeymoon... All surprised us by how benevolent, respectful and caring they were. We are still learning the hosting business, but we love every part of it.

A bit of hi-tech, but not too much

I learned marketing in a previous life. Old school marketing, dad marketing... TV ads and all. Today is different, and neither Aya nor I excell in the understanding of social media. And we don't want it too much in our lives. But we are trying to catch up a bit. Aya, who didn't even have an Instagram account until recently, started a Youtube channel, telling her story to Japanese people who are very curious about French lifestyle.

So now we know it all?

Of course we don't! So much to learn. And if you live in a house you know there is always something to do. To come: repaint upstairs rooms, fix humidity issues in one of the bathrooms, build a chicken house, rebuild a fallen wall in the garden, and make new friends! Come see us, we have a lot to show you!


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