Happy New Year to you all. We hope that you all had a fabulous Christmas and are looking forward to a great 2023. 2022 was another good year for us however, like everyone, it had its ups and downs which I will tell you more about.
This year is certainly a great year for us as a couple. This will be my last year working for the Royal Navy in the UK. I officially leave the service early next year so this will be Darren's final season on his own. Phew I hear him say. Over the past 6 years we have achieved so much despite being apart, turning our hanger barn into 'Shady Rest', upgrading the workers cottage into 'Marcadis Gite', clearing the lake and adding decking areas, developing 'Sunset View' with its lounge area and dipping pool, not forgetting the registration of the business and opening our doors to lots of fabulous guests from all over the world. We were certainly blessed to fall upon Finders Keepers France when we did and even luckier to have the approval to share it with all of our lovely guests. We are looking forward to what the next 6 years brings for Finders Keepers, and are certainly looking forward to what 2024 brings as husband and wife. Lets hope its not a divorce lawyer ha ha.
Here are just a few photos showing how things have changed over the past 6 years. We sometimes forget how far we have come and what we have achieved. Plus we must not forget the recue animals that have made it their home as well - 1 dog, 4 cats and 22 chickens.
Sadly we lost our little rescue dog Alfie in August. He had been with us since 2005, so he was part of the furniture. Things will never be the same without him. Old age (18 years) got the better of him and he is now resting up by the church, overlooking the chateau. The ladies (sunflower, dumpy and ginger - the cats) are enjoying their freedom since Alfie sadly departed. They now bravely come indoors to investigate and regularly can be found relaxing on Alfie's chair and even my sofa whilst I am away. Frank remains as timid as ever and can be seen watching from afar, still not brave enough to join the ladies.
The chickens are back to enjoying their freedom around the grounds. They are confined to their large secure compound through summer. This is due to their addiction to Darren's luscious flower beds. After devouring the flower heads they take kindly to digging the soil and moving it onto the grass, much to Darren's annoyance. So the agreement is that they stay in through summer when the gardens are at their best, then have full run of the grounds from Oct - April, helping with the weeding.
Once again we have decided to hold off on opening the glamping. This will allow Darren the chance to get on top of some urgent repairs. 'Sunset view' will receive an extension with an undercover relaxation sofa area. The lakeside will see a well over due upgrade with a new decking and dining area. Not to forget, Marcadis Gite has seen another new sofa and chair with soft furnishings. Its been a busy winter and will remain until we open our doors in June.
May has always been my favourite time of year, not just because it is my birthday and wedding anniversary. May brings spring, lots of flowers and bulbs. The gardens are absolutely breathtaking. Every year Darren puts so much hard work into getting the gite and grounds ready for opening, May comes and goes and we never get the chance to stop, sit, and enjoy what we have. So this year we are closing the Gite in May and having the grounds to ourselves. We are going to have a garden party for family and friends and soak in the fresh air, blue skies, green grass and beauty. Sorry to all of our guests who visit in May. There is always June to October available.
Tuesday will see me return to my face to face French classes after a 3 year gap. Sadly COVID and my nursing profession put a stop to my sessions, resulting in my French communication training coming to an abrupt end. Thankfully this year sees many evening classes re opening so I am very excited to be back. I was hoping to be more advanced with my French vocab by now ready for my move. I will let you know how my first session goes.
Well I must go. Bookings are coming in thick and fast since our website went live on the Albret Tourism website.
Have a lovely Sunday everyone. Thank you once again for listening.