|Irish Winter Storm - Lahinch, Co Clare|
Courtesy Pat Flynn & Irish Weather Online
|French Winter? |
(Snow covered Alps, seen from the hill behind Ceréste)
A couple of years ago, we started thinking, could we get away from this? Martine always said no, there was the livery business to consider and the girls were still in school. Anne had fewer ties, her daughter is a little older and has been independent for some time, but there was the horse, the dogs, the cats and the chickens, and of course the puppy-walking to consider. Well, last year, the current Guide Dog pup was due to go into training in January, the cat population had thinned drastically, she found a willing friend who would look after the horse and the chickens (thank you Ann Browne!), so the dogs, Bonnie and Fionn, found themselves in the vet's getting their rabies shots during the summer of 2010.
January 3rd, 2011 found Anne, Martine, Bonnie and Fionn leaving Cork at 4am to head for Céreste via Rosslare, Pembroke and the Chunnel. What a fun trip we had - but that's another story! On January 10th, Anne said a very nervous goodbye to Martine at Marseille airport and faced into three months of the unknown.
She arrived back in Cork on April 2nd relaxed, fit, lightly tanned and with two happy dogs, absolutely certain she was going to do it again.
Over the next couple of months, and over several bottles of French wine, a plot was formed.
Martine's long suffering husband, George (he has suffered financially for many years because of the equines - we'd be loaded if we didn't have horses!) is a tele-worker, and can work from anywhere. All he needs is a good internet connection, a phone line and a reasonably close airport (he travels a lot). Anne's cousin Rod and his wife Angela run a B&B during the summer in Céreste, but in the winter of 2010/2011 they had decamped to New Zealand to visit family. Would they like to do it again and rent their house (fully equipped with broadband, office equipment and even an office!) to Martine & George? Hell, yeah they would!
Would it be possible to keep our horses with the local horseman, Olivier Malfait? Pas de problème!
Anne's jeep would struggle to tow two horses and Martine's jeep is somewhat elderly - could we get the horses transported across England and down through France? Yes, (for a price).
What about Granny, who visits Martine & George at least once a fortnight - her only family in Ireland. Would she consider coming to France? Well, yes she would!
|What about us?|
What about Denis, who has been Martine's sidekick with the horses and vegetable growing for many years now - we couldn't just bail out and expect him to look after the whole lot - could we?
No, we couldn't - but we plan to have 25 year old Pepper and 2 year old Lily looked after by a neighbour, Aero will be looked after by our daughter Tansy who has been bonded to that horse since he was 4 and she was 13, and we are hoping that Denis will keep Paddy, his wonderful cob, at the O'Sullivan family's Skevanish equestrian centre where he will have plenty of company and even an INDOOR SCHOOL!!
The cats and chickens? Daughters Aideen and Tansy will take it in turn to stay in the house, keep an eye on things, feed Fat Cat and Skinny Cat, and look after the chickens in exchange for eggs, leeks and curly kale!
For Anne, things seemed a little easier - she knew exactly where she wanted to stay in Céreste and had already made an approach to the owners about renting from January to March.
Her chickens had all died (of old age) but against her better judgement, she had taken in another two which had been rescued from a battery farm. No worries, Ann Browne was once again happy to add the two extra girls to her flock!
The current Guide Dog puppy, Roxy, who has her own blog, would only be eleven months old at the end of December - would she be too young to go into training? Would she need to go to another puppy walker? That issue has yet to be resolved, but given how everything else is falling into place, we reckon it will work itself out.