What a language English is. How can four little words possibly sum up the last year!
An explanation - Regular visitors to this website will know of my determination to breed dual purpose English Springer Spaniels. I have a passion for the breed, the whole breed, and all aspects of the breed. One sees many examples of beautiful ESS who have no working ability, and fantastic working dogs that hardly conform to any part of the breed standard. My aim, particularly since starting to work with Poppet all those years ago, has been to try to breed the complete ESS. Good conformation, adherence to the breed standard, with brains and good health. That is the goal.
I was becoming increasingly disillusioned with living in the UK. The negative attitude to dogs as a whole, and hunting dogs in particular. When fox hunting was banned and I was no longer able to hunt with my horses I knew that the writing was on the wall. When the ban on docking was muted, and several other pieces of intrusive dog legislation it was time to go. I wanted a country life, the peace and quiet to be able to enjoy my animals.
I had been looking at Normandy or Brittany, being an easy commute to the UK, but Thierry pointed out that the weather there was atrocious, and it was much warmer here in the Dordogne/Lot et Garonne region. It is almost a year to the day that I made my first house hunting trip, and I am sitting in my farmhouse at Segalas, with my dogs in the garden, and my horses at the back door. Calm, quiet and a warm Sunday afternoon.
So for everyone who has emailed me asking how we are and how we are getting on, over 500 emails when I finally regained my system, here are some piccies for you.
This is a view of our stately pile from the back. We have a farm of almost 6 hectares. The living accomodation comprises of three rooms, two of which are habitable, the third room we are using as the "girls room". We also have a sechoir and a veranda, electricity, running water and the usual "modern" amenities. Luxury it is not, but with some cleaning and a bit of paint splashed here and there it will certainly do us for now. We have an original large fireplace which will keep us warm in the winter.
The house is set in one third of a barn of 400sqm, There is another range of buildings of 375sqm which contain among other things a large bread oven, a porcherie, a wine cellar and chai. There is also a large hangar which will become stables for the horses in the next few weeks.
This is a picture of the front of our house taken from the top of the hill on the other side. As you can see we have absolutely no neighbours, and all of the land around our house belongs to us. There is a lot of work to be done here, and I hope over the coming years to turn this farm into the sort of place where I have always wanted to live.
When I say "we" it is not the proverbial royal, but living here are four generations of Canouan's and of course the horses.
The "Canouans" are Poppet (who is), Pip, Rachel, Pomo, Paula, Ping and that half frenchy Tina, and the equines are Bounder, Emily, Polly and Molly.
We live two minutes walk from a beautiful lake. The lake is very full at the moment as there has been an inordinately large amount of rain, but the neighbours tell me that in the summer when the water level drops it has a gently shelving beach. We shall look forward to that, but at the moment the dogs simply enjoy the cooling water at the end of a hot day, and just two minutes from our back door step.
The walking here is fantastic. Our lane sees two or three cars a day, and one of those is Genvieve, the post lady, so we can walk along the randonees for an hour or more and not see, or hear, a soul or a vehicle.
In France people are permitted to walk wherever they like, and walk we do. I am looking forward to riding the horses out when they have had sufficient time to recover from their very long journey, and I am sure that once again, as was the case 30 years ago where I lived in the UK, it will be quite safe to have some well behaved springers trotting along behind.
Mr Pomes and I went for a walk together together this morning. Some of the girls are in season so he needed a cold shower, and afterwards told me that he felt much better for it. Then a little rest on the back door step, his favourite place, before taking up the paint brush.
More ...........
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