A Season Of Gratitude

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An early spring morning. The grounds wake up, all soft greens and sweet blossom, birds are chirping, and the sun warms gently. A sense of exciting preparatory activity. The long-awaited signs of a fresh start and the generosity of nature. What better day to resume work – all new energy and enthusiasm- on our not so tiny house project?

We’ve grown accustomed to dealing with drab days when the work feels unsurmountable, and the restoration of the aviary has been particularly demanding. It has steadily been the last priority on our endless list of urgent tasks. That’s life when you’re taking care of an estate with crumbling buildings and an encroaching forest. The original idea seemed feasible enough. To turn a decrepit woodshed, which was once the chateau’s peacock aviary, into a small gîte. An extra room, to offer coaches a private little sanctuary.


In 2019, we got to work, but disheartening setbacks soon appeared in many forms. Like everybody, we like to move forward, and nothing is more frustrating than having to retrace your steps and complete a task you thought you had already checked off the list. I’ve had to reread some of my own blog posts to remind myself that we’ve made good progress during four years. Feel free to do the same by clicking on The Aviary (2019) and on Elusive Beauty (2021).

After removing and refitting the roof to make it watertight, excavating the floor, repurposing old cobblestones, consolidating the walls with lime mortar, putting in windows and a wooden floor, charring wall coverings, and laying a small terrace, we did much of it… all again. Disheartening, like I said.

So, where are we now?
After a steep learning curve, we’re now about to finish a bijou bathroom and mini kitchen. Thomas has built a staircase to access the sleeping attic. Next up are installing an antique wrought balcony fence as a railing and restoring the original shed door.


The seeds of our dreams that we planted years ago are starting to bloom this season. To celebrate, Thomas and I are going to escape to the tiny house for a short break on our own estate. No more chipping away at the value of our experience. No more second guessing. No more looping into scenarios of how we could have handled things differently.

I cannot wait to spend a couple of nights here, not quite believing that we built this place by ourselves, with our own hands and lot of perseverance. We will be dreaming of course, of what to do next. We’ve had many fresh starts in this château life of ours and we’ll have to take many more in our stride. After all, this is a lifetime project. And what a joy and privilige that is.

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