Living in Anjou is a wonderful experience. We've been here for nearly 20 years now we love it. Our house is fantastic, our garden plentiful, friends a-plenty. Lovely summers, mild mid-seasons and a good dose of winter which peaks with between two and three weeks of freezing cold weather during which we start looking up the rental prices of studio flats with decent heating.
That's the thing. If you live in an old 14th century house you have to learn to live with the bitter cold that eventually comes around every year. Putting aside the price of oil heating (which is now considerable) it is, in fact, irrelevant when rooms are big, ceilings are high and double glazing is not allowed by the Monument Historique. I am not sure what the normal temperature of a house in winter is nowadays but here, if we manage 16 degrees we are doing really well and waking up to find ice on the inside of the window is anything but unusual.
Every summer Anjou fills up with the Paris evacuees who come down in August to open up big rambling houses, check the need for new buckets to catch new drips in an increasingly crumbling roof, plant a few ready made tomato and courgette plants and then organise the summer social whirl for themselves and their children. (They are VERY organised these French!)
And every summer we are asked the same question over and over when we meet new friends. The conversation goes something like this:
"Oh, you are English, are you here for a holiday?"
"No, we live here."
"Where do you live?"
"Yes, but where do you live during the rest of the year?"
"All year round? But what do you do in the winter? Isn't it cold?"
"Yes, can be, very cold, freezing even."
"Brrrrr, of course you are British so you are used to it; we come down at Christmas but otherwise..." and here it tales off as a glazed (frozen perhaps) look comes into their eyes.
As it happens, I spent my childhood in a house where the central heating was turned on with a fanfare only if we had visitors staying and then turned off again whilst they were packing their bags. Those were the days of thick jumpers and brisk walks after lunch ("Anyone for a walk round the farm?" wasn't actually a question but a statement of what we were about to do.)
All this wittering on to introduce two recently completed items which I am really looking forward to wearing during the cold winter months. The first is Cacao, a snug and very warm jumper made from Drops NEPAL, a mix of alpaca and wool. And I do mean WARM!
And the second is a stash busting skirt designed for Vogue by Sasha Kagan for which I whipped through my left over Rowan Colourspun and Kid Classic in a very satisfying manner!
I'm rather looking forward to having enough leftovers for a second one of these.