By Richard Wiles
A dilapidated, rat-infested stone barn set amidst 13 acres of overgrown wooded area and unkempt pasture may not be many people's imaginative and prescient of a possible dream domestic. yet for English couple Richard and his spouse Al, the cavernous, oak-beamed construction in a sleepy hamlet of the Limousin area of France is ideal. Tussles with French paperwork allied with fierce storms that wreak havoc at the estate do little to hose down get to the bottom of as they immerse themselves within the calm of this quiet nook of France, taking journeys in Richard's balloon and beginning their own llama farm. Their colourful, frequently eccentric buddies are regularly able to have the same opinion: the jovial ex-Gendarme and his spouse, who's capable of foretell the elements; a lonely widow who bargains copious quantities of gateaux in trade for convivial chat; and a brawny cattleman with suspicious reasons in delivering to wash up the couple's land. This frequently hilarious and heartwarming story is certainly one of stumbling blocks triumph over and goals fulfilled.
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Extra info for Bon Courage!
The prevailing atmosphere was one of intense calm, a scene in which simple farming folk would go about their rural tasks in this quiet corner of the countryside. As if to emphasise this, as we traipsed along the lane towards the farm, a little red tractor trundled past. Driving was a tall, gaunt man with a drooping moustache, wearing a green boiler suit, and clinging on to the back was a short, slightly hunched man with the same vague expression as his companion. Monsieur L’Heureux raised an arm in greeting, calling out ‘Bonjour Cédric!
Thanks for that boost of confidence,’ I said. ’ asked Hero, twisting the knife. ’ I tittered girlishly, embarrassed that I could not even draw on a smattering of schoolboy French. Because of my father’s job as a high-powered trouble-shooter for Scottish & Newcastle Breweries, a large portion of my childhood seemed to have been spent moving home and changing schools, and consequently I had missed out on the crucial start of French lessons and was forced – by a hideous twist of fate – to be subjected to double periods of Extra Maths while my peers were fast becoming bilingual.
Said Hero, bringing me back to the here and now. ’ Monsieur L’Heureux, who professed to speak no English, smirked cannily as if he understood much more than he let on. Urged to step over a rickety wire fence at the edge of the copse, we found ourselves enclosed within a tunnel-like, tree-lined pathway, through which the dappled sunlight filtered. This, we were told, was the route à la Pentecôte, an ancient communal way of historical and religious significance, which formed part of a pilgrimage held in honour of St Maximin.