Quentin picked me up from Ambert and we drove about 10 minutes to where he lived with 5 other people. His girlfriend, Julie, some French people – Pelagie, Sebastian, Sacha & Kevin. Kevin spoke English, as did Julie. Pelagie and Seb not so much but this was all fine and everyone was very friendly. Sacha wasnt home so I could stay in his room while he was away for the holidays.
The environment is absolutely stunning, located in a valley of sorts and the house overlooking the valley. A river flowed through the valley where the actual town associated to the house was – Marsac-en-Livradois and now the temperature had gotten colder, a myst would arrise from it, Im using the word myst here because fog is not really an accurate description. A truly mystical place with forests, open fields and lonesome houses scattered everywhere. Sometimes foggy and sometimes sunny, beautiful night skies and high mountain tops blanketed by snow but this wouldnt be the case for my entire stay.
It was awfully warm for this time of the year and they already had snow about 3 weeks back, what remained was only on the highest peaks and barely some in the valleys. The expectation was that more snow will come in the following days/weeks and I hoped to dodge that. 23rdof December is the day with the shortest daylight hours and I planned on staying there for Christmas and if at all possible, maybe also New Years.
In the “living room” was a dining table that we got on our first night (I love me a mission) and a big ol’ wood stove that they used as heating and to prepare food on. Very oldschool but very much to my liking. It all grew pretty organic as the food that they ate. Every Thursday there is a market in Ambert that we used to get most ingredients as well as things from their own garden. Pumpkins the size of my confidence were great ingredients for soup and other goodies. Every night everybody cooked together, cleaned and lived together. Everybody owned a room in the house but the living room was where everybody congregated most of the time. Quentin also had a dog named Obi-Wan and even though him being bigger, Lucy was still a bitch to him a few times. They did get along great though and I noticed that Lucy and Obi really liked the company they provided for each other. They had this game where they would constantly try to bite each others neck and I must say the Dog-Fu was pretty entertaining.
I didnt waste much time and decided to start fixing broken gear right away. My sleeping bag was a little bit torn from when I had Lucy sleeping in there and when I turned around, the thing came apart at the seams. Easy to fix though. My bag also showed some signs of wear and tear and that was easily enough fixed as well. I also wanted to finally fix my book binder as well as my pants. I would say that my pants had gotten the worst of the beating. Buttons came off, the fabric in the place where I had my phone in my pocket, but that rubbed against my bag when walking was getting awfully thin and a hole started to appear.
All this was easily fixed and I started on the things that Ive been putting off the longest. So sleeping bag and backpack it is for starters.
My parents had sent me a package with gifts for the December month that I was waiting on and in the post office in the Netherlands told them that it would arrive in 3 business days. I could track the package through their website and I had my doubts from the beginning, still.. I gave them the go ahead, thinking/hoping it would be alright. It was whatever, what happens happens but I dont like to overstay my welcome but this seem to be a recurring theme in my travel at this point. Its fine.
Besides there was enough to do for me next to fixing all my stuff, I had fallen behind on my diary and my blogs, my blogs were the most bothering to me so I decided to write a couple of blogs and post one every day until Christmas. More than fair in my opinion and it also felt good to be productive in that way. I set a nice challenge for myself and the words just flowed after that.
The house was an old farm, tons and tons of space all around and all the people living there took up about a third of the house. There was a big attic that was just a mess but an extremely cool room. When I saw it I immediately thought it would be cool to clean it up, not having any idea where to begin though.
In the first week I was there I mostly acclimatized to my new environment and getting to know several people that walked in and out of the house like they lived there, staying over for dinner/lunch and just chilling. Met some really cool people along the way and we spend some time hiking around in the area. Beautiful mountain tops where there even was some snow. Very laidback atmosphere all in all and it was a very good place to rest up and recuperate.
Everybody in the house had their own specific role, Sacha was the one with the green thumb, making most of the garden providing the house with fresh vegetables during the summmer, inventing/thinking up ways to make it all sustainable and the hillside that was full in the sun for most of the day was ideal.
Kevin worked with iron, welding and whatnot.
Sebastian & Pelagie had jobs but were great cooks (which was a group effort anyway).
Quentin made wood bowls/spoons/ladle’s and all sorts of other stuff. Benches and stools were also not out of the ordinary, just by looking and being creative. He never had an education in woodworking mind you.
Julie sowed and made things from textile.
Together we all kept the house clean/walked the dogs/cooked and it reminded me of this place I was during my first camino in the Netherlands although be it more of a dorm style than the place I went 5 years ago. This looked more like a group of friends that just formed a family and it was very heartwarming being a part of that for some time. Also getting to know French culture was a really useful and exactly what I hoped for.
All in all very organic, not just the food but also the social atmosphere. In the next issue Ill talk more about the house and the layout and the environment, Im sorry this post is a little bit of a mess. I have a hard time focusing all my thoughts into words, but bear with me 🙂