Monday, 21 September 2015

I'm Staying.



I know I do go on about where I live, but I think with good cause.

I came to live here partly because of Philip Oyler's delightful 1950 book 'The Generous Earth'. His description of the way of life, and the general environment, was enough to make me pack my bags and take advantage of what sounded to me like heaven on earth.

His title couldn't have been more apt, and it's at this time of year that it really becomes so poignant.

I arrived in 1972; 22 years after Oyler wrote his book, but nothing much had changed. However in the past 43 years life has dramatically improved for most of the locals. They all now have inside loos, running hot and cold water, and far more efficient farm machinery. People were still ploughing with oxen back in '72; now all that has gone.


The lovely architecture is still here; many of the neglected gems having been sympathetically restored by either English or Dutch ex-pats. On the down side, few farms now have a house Pig, nor do they have farmyards full of Ducks or Geese, and the hectare or so of vines that accompanied most farms have now mostly gone too.

These days farmers concentrate on making life as uncomplicated as possible. Few milk cows, tobacco farming has gone, and new crops such as sunflowers have taken over. Philip Oyler would notice quite some change.

But somehow the place still seems the same. Our friends and neighbours are still charming and generous, the landscape continues to enthral me, and the food is still excellent. I can't see any reason to leave.




25 comments:

  1. We have been here only 13 years, but the difference is remarkable. Like you said, indoor loos, hot water etc, but rules and regs on keeping animals, selling surplus at market etc have all made life here change, and not for the better. What is the point of making a little cheese if you can't sell the extra one or two pieces? Can't keep a few sheep anymore to mow the grass and provide a lamb or two, nor a pig... all these changes have come about since we arrived. We have registered our sheep etc, but the costs mean we might as well buy meat from the local Intermarché. All our French neighbours have given up on livestock - they don''t even gather the blackberries anymore. It seems it's only the mad Brits and Dutch that are keeping it all going. Well, in my neck of the woods that it. Still love it though and would never go back to live in UK.

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    1. The decline in good restaurants is due to interfering government civil servants deciding that home produced foods are no longer allowed to be offered on their menus. Madness.

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    2. That 's just not true and if you do not like how things go on, just move back to UK. Foreigners love to critisize , not even paying taxes in France but enjoying the comfortable life.Somehow "schizophrène" I would say. You can delete, but I know that you would like to argue, it's your character.

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  2. Probably will be joining you in France when little'un leaves the nest. Might even get the bug for growing stuff if that land is so generous. Haven't decided quite where yet but I have some ideas.

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    1. There are only a few provisos; you have to love France, love good food, love wonderful countryside, and love freedom.

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    2. I was taking that for granted.

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    3. Now I do parlay it a bit. Would have to brush up though!

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  3. Madness it is. It's so true - governments have interfered at all levels of our lives and taken away so many simple pleasures. It's all about ever expanding government departments, more paperwork, more and more incompetent jobsworths, working by "the rules", and nothing to do with quality of life. Europe will eventually sink under a sea of paperwork.

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    1. I've been eating in the same restaurant for over 40 years. It's part of a farm, and the kitchens etc are all run by wonderful women. Years ago we'd eat their own ham, their own paté, their own vegs, and their own meats. Now everything has to be bought in; and they wonder why there's a decline in French gastronomy. These days we eat far better at home!

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    2. The rules on selling surplus produce come in tbe small print of the contract to grow made with the buyer. It is the same in the UK. Eg Ribena contracts will not allow farmers in the UK to sell the surplus blackcurrants grown. As for pig or sheep or cow in the garden, now gone, you can blame the EEC for that. Animal passports and inspections and red tape put off all but the few.

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  4. At my last location, when I arrived, there were still lots of farms and livestock. Once the area became discovered by yuppies, the farms gave way to developments, and the yuppies were screaming for accoutrements like cable tv and later, high-speed internet. They also wondered why the country roads were so poor. Well, those roads were constructed at a time when the population was more sparse and not every human aged 16 or more had a car.

    I did wonder where those same yuppies who were waxing poetic about arugula (rocket) thought they'd get their grass-fed beef from since they didn't like the smell of agriculture. sigh.

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    1. Or they complain about the cock crowing, or the cows mooing, or the sheep bleating, etc.

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    2. Bet they all drive 4x4's that have never seen a dirt track !

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  5. . Interesting post Cro. In our local paper on Saturday there was a photograph of Hawes, high up in our Dale, in 1959. There were horses tethered in the main street and the one or two cars that were there we parked off the road.
    It struck me that my son was already born than - yet how much has changed. Hawes is now clogged with Harley Davidsons every week-end, The Wensleydale cheese factory churns out tremendous cheeses by the score in every flavour you can imagine. So much has changed - and yet the folk are the same.

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    1. Change for the better is OK; change for the worse is not.

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  6. A friend of mines parents used to have a very run down cottage and barn just outside Castillones, which cannot be a million miles from where you are. The friend now lives in Lyons and his brother I think owns the cottage. When I went in the late 1970s tobacco was still grown, the smell was fantastic and the local markets were brilliant. My mother still has some of the cheap and lethally sharp kitchen knives that I bought.

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    1. I think it was last grown here about 12 years ago. It involved a lot of hard work.

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  7. Register your animals? With the government? What is that about?

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    1. Probably tax gathering. After a recent bout of some chicken disease, we were told that all flocks of over 12 birds had to be 'registered'; no doubt at a price.

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  8. I like the well-used look of the book in the photo. I can understand how you would have been inspired to investigate what Mr Oyler described.

    As you say some change is good, some not so good. It's grand that after many years you still do value the decision you made.

    Best wishes.

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    1. Yup, still happy here, and they're still allowing me to stay.

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  9. Don't get me started on the rules of living a simple life! Ha! no such thing nowadays. All cloven hooved animals are registered here in the UK Donna as are poultry if you keep more than 50 (of any type) I see the point of it but couple that with what seeds you can grow and how things must be moved and if you are allowed to sell your milk and is if so how much and smallholding/ homesteading can get quite complicated and difficult.

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  10. Many of my friends have migrated to France or have holiday homes there and I was, for a brief few years, tempted myself but my Lewis home and my life in New Zealand displaced it. As for the rise of bureaucratic control so much of that is our own fault: the blame culture and the (originally) US desire to sue at the least possible excuse.

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