The only water tap at the house is over a massive stone laundry sink in the furthest part of the garage, and the installation of this tap was greatly anticipated because we had no water source at all when we arrived at the house in August
Arriving at midnight for my first solo visit in October, I was none too happy (terrified, actually) to discover that an enormous spider lives on the windowsill above this tap. On the first morning when I went to get water he marched right out of his web and across the sill to take a look at me. I dropped the empty bottle I was holding, and backed off in a cold sweat
I calmed down when he returned to the entrance to his web, where he remained for the rest of that week, observing me
With no way of getting around the water situation – I needed to fill bottles with at least 25 litres a day for flushing the loo, cleaning myself and the house and for making camomile tea – I could not avoid at least one visit a day to the sink of terror. So I reminded myself that he was here first, and to curb my extreme fear I named him ‘Quinn’. Through the week greeted him each morning and evening as my fellow resident, nattering away to him in French as I leaned over the tap
As a coping mechanism the friendly approach worked. I am not crazy enough to imagine that it was social interaction for ‘Quinn’ and for the whole week I didn’t take my eyes off this huge ancient spider faded to a shade of dark blond (did I actually just make a spider sound like Brad Pitt?), but I was no longer so scared and was at times actually glad of the company
Charlotte was horrified to hear about my regular chats with him, until she saw his photo – it’s hard not to be impressed by him. When I returned from my January visit she was as disappointed as I was that there had been no sign of him at the entrance to his web. I hope he’s OK and hasn’t decided to move on from his comfy domain. I have tried to be a good housemate
A friend came to visit from Provence on Tuesday. She arrived mid-afternoon, bearing bread, cheese and champagne (she even brought champagne flutes) so I abandoned yanking fabric from the walls and we enjoyed a lovely boozy afternoon snack. Her plan was to stay overnight but due to car trouble she has been here for two. This has been priceless because she had brought her work clothes and she helped me with the dirtiest jobs possible – clearing things from the attic, and bagging up about half a tonne of charbonne from the second floor (we carried it down all the stairs to drop it in the garage with the other several tonnes). It would have been impossible for me to do alone and it took the entire afternoon, working solidly. We looked like Dickensian chimney sweeps when we finished, but it is a relief to have achieved it. Of course, the house is once again filthy throughout, covered in black dust!
The other unexpected bonus is that she has been staying at a quirky B and B down the road, an enormous house which I have wanted to go inside ever since I first came here. We went down to check her in and the owner, Guy, very kindly offered to show us around. It has amazing original belle epoch ceilings and is a masterpiece of recycling. He even has a terrace with a fantastic view of the mountains, something we can never have
This incredible paper sculpture dominates the courtyard. It was made by a Brazilian artist who stayed at Guy’s house. He was full of ideas, and suggested using our courtyard to screen films, projecting them onto the huge wall. Well, we just have to do that, don’t we!
Guy knew the lady who owned our house. Apparently she fell totally in love with the house but her husband would not move from Castelnaudary. So she never got to live in it, which was a source of great sadness to her. He was clearly very fond of her, and he spoke about how she was a very attractive lady, not very tall, and always well-dressed. She didn’t walk well towards the end, he said. A few years back she was paying Taxe d’Habitation because there was furniture in the house, and she called him to ask him to clear the everything out. It must have been terribly difficult for her, because she was giving up on her dream of living there. Apparently she hoped that whoever bought the house would be in love with it the same way, so it seems that fate has played a part here
Baz was worried that the house would be too cold for me to stay in. I hate to admit it, but he’s right, and I am very grateful to be staying in a very warm and cosy apartment, just a few steps from our house. It’s lovely. The walls and ceiling are crack-free and tastefully painted and the central heating and double glazing are just luxurious. It’s even got a TV. I know that our family will be more comfortable staying here than in our house, even when the house is ‘done up’
My charming neighbour thought it was hilarious that I had bought the house opposite (he mentioned that he had seen it online himself). It has taken him three years to do the work, and while I don’t imagine that the house was in such a sorry state as ours to start with, I have great respect for the taste and restraint he has shown throughout
See what you think:
This morning I was enjoying the view over the river under clear blue sky, and I realised that if anyone came to Quillan for just one night and stayed in this apartment, they would be completely entranced by the town and its situation. Funny, then, that my first reaction to the town last year was less positive. I am delighted that staying in such comfort is allowing me to relax and fully appreciate the town and its people, who are warm and kind – it’s impossible not to feel relaxed and at home
Please just take a look at this lovely post, which I just found. I think she makes a very good point for an Art Nouveau revival. We really do need beautiful things in our lives and there is nothing more lovely than the curves and strength of Art Nouveau. And take a look at the Butterfly Chairs by Eduardo Garcia Campos – aren’t they amazing (wish I could afford a pair)!