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  • Writer's picturePaula Dalton-Kirby

Bonjour et une Bonne année

Happy New Year. We hope that you all managed to have a lovely Christmas despite the grim position we all find ourselves in today. 2020 has certainly been different. I feel that we may have been one of the lucky ones. Or rather we see ourselves as lucky. Despite only seeing each other twice we both remain safe and well, and we have seen the business go from strength to strength taking bookings from July through to the end of November. It has been very rewarding to know we were able to open Finders Keepers France for those needing to relax, refresh, recharge and forget COVID (just for a couple of weeks). We have our fingers crossed that 2021 is a much better year for all.

As a result of our season starting later Darren was able to redesign and build Marcadis Gite Garden, transferring it from a basic courtyard garden to a lovely two tiered social area, going down a treat with guests. The fabulous mood lighting allowed guests to relax into the early hours.

Due to the COVID travel restrictions, 2020 saw us welcome mostly German and French guests; highlighting to us the importance of a multilingual website. Wanting to keep the business 100% in house, I agreed to be the website developer and accountant. No pressure I might add jokingly. Christmas saw a full revamp of the website, hopefully making it a little more appealing and easier to navigate. My next mission is to turn it Multilingual.

Despite owning Finders Keepers France since 2016, I have failed miserably with speaking and writing French. 2017 saw me start French classes in Birmingham, UK; however 6 months later it saw the Military move me elsewhere. Unable to find a local class in my new location I opted for Duolingo which is great for words but not sentences. January 2020 saw me start Private online lessons only to end after 3 lessons due to COVID and Nursing commitments. 'You will pick it up when you finally move here' I am regularly told. However, I don't want to wait until I move there in 2024. So, in Short, this year is my year. I will be completing all Facebook announcements from now on in French plus I have started a French diploma, and will be starting back with Private sessions as soon as my Nursing profession allows. Wish me luck.

Well what did 2020 bring us apart from COVID and uncertainty? Or rather what has Darren done whilst left alone.

Shady Rest - Well she has undergone a dramatic change over the past year. A change we needed urgently after we found it was starting to turn into a stable. 22 chickens and 3 cats happily using the sofas to relax on and unwilling to share when required. To date the fencing and gates are in and we are waiting for warmer weather to finalise the planting and flooring. Darren finished it just in time to have a small, socially distanced, COVID allowing, Christmas get together with friends and neighbours. Spring 2021 will see it come to life with lots of planting.

Sunrises and Sunsets - We are so thankful for the positioning of Finders Keepers France. We get to experience the magnificent sunrises at the front of the Gite and main house, then watch the sunset in 'Sunset view', to the rear of 'Shady Rest'. Pure perfection. The skies here are truly breathtaking at this time of year. We are able to watch the fog roll in from the valley, and on a very clear day we can even see the Pyrenees.

The animals are all doing well. The chickens are back to being free range now that the gates are on 'Shady Rest'. They enjoy chasing the cats around; and begging at the back door for food has now become a regular occurrence. Spring will see us complete another rescue. Their eggs remain popular with neighbours, providing us with enough money to redesign their coop and garden and to include a chicken play area with swings.

2021 is expected to be a very very busy year with lots of plans, should COVID allow. This week has seen tree surgeons around the grounds removing all of the old, dead and unsafe oak trees in preparation for the opening of 'Walnut Grove' Glamping site. This has resulted in extra work for Darren however a fantastic future log pile.

We have now taken delivery of the GT330 Luxury composting toilet all the way from Finland plus the Camplux gas boilers for the showers. Work can now get underway on the ECO outdoor shower and toilet for the Luna Gold Tent that will open in early June.

And finally, we are hoping that we can finally welcome visitors to our 'Open Gardens' day scheduled for May 15-16.

Well, that is a short summary finalising 2020 and for many saying a good bye to it. We all welcome 2021 with open arms and hope it brings happiness, freedom, families, and money to those with businesses.

Thank you once again for reading and following our blogs. Stay safe and warm through these difficult times and we hope to all be back out there again soon.


Darren and Paula

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