If you have been following my story, you already know that we bought a French stone cottage/wreck in 2018 for my Learn, Eat, & Be Well – SW France, a program that I started in 2015 to offer holistic nutritionists and wellness professionals a continuing education vacation. You also know that we had serious buyer’s remorse and instead decided to renovate the house, flip it, and forget the whole thing happened. But after a month of renovations in August of 2018, there was no reselling the beast. In fact, things were about to get a lot worse before they were going to get better, for both our cottage and for us personally.
While we were away for the 2018/19 winter, dealing with our own personal challenges, we left our stone French cottage in the hands of professionals to do some of the serious renovations; rewiring the entire house, installing new windows and shutters, and installing a back door. In the meantime, back in Canada and for the rest of 2018 and most of 2019, our “dark night of the soul” continued, leaving our life in pieces along the roadside; betrayal from close friends, job loss, business loss, a near death health crisis, the death of our dog Bella 1.0, financial and legal errors by advisors, and the death of both our horses.
For our cottage in France, the picture was the same: the electrician stalled numerous times and then attempted to charge 30% more, our project manager quit half-way through laying the tile in the kitchen floor, and the window installer removed all the plaster around all of our windows leaving 2 feet of exposed stone around each window.
Nothing was going as planned for us and it was time for a new start. So, in the spring of 2019 we sold our beloved equestrian farm with no where to go but an uninhabitable house in Southwest France, which sounds very romantic in novels and movies, but not so much in real life. It was at this point that a real shift happened, and everything started to fall into place; a job offer from Ottawa arrived for my husband Tom with a start date of late August 2019. This would mean we could continue to live in Canada, we would have a small window to do some renovations on our French stone cottage before he started, and still have time to move to a rental house in Quebec. In July, 2019, we boarded a plane to France, with our new dog Bella 2.0, to spend the month of August renovating our French stone cottage, determined to build a bathroom and make-shift kitchen.
When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find new windows, shutters, electrical, and a back door!
A bathroom and kitchen were finally in our sights and, during our stay in August of 2019, that is exactly what we did.
With new hope in our hearts, we were starting to think, that maybe we could redeem the cottage enough to make it work for Learn, Eat, & Be Well- SW France after all. In the meantime, and without our knowledge, our stone cottage was rebuilding a reputation of her own as “Le Petit Bijou”.
Satisfied with our work, we locked up the house and returned to Canada with a plan to return to do landscaping and more renovations in spring of 2020….
Read my next story on how we braved the airports and continued our renovations during a pandemic.