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Quote of the day: ‘Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?’ Phyllis Diller

This is the old animal housing Simon and I decided we were going to turn into a gite over ten years ago.

The gite now, is to all intents and purposes finished, despite Simon’s insistence it isn’t. Yes, there are still things that need to be done but it is very definitely up and running, and has been for seven years now.

There are always things that are going to need doing but just let’s looks at how much Simon has achieved.

Simon is always very keen to point out the things he is not happy with. He seems to forget about the enormous accomplishments in between the hiccups.

Le Perchoir gite is happily rated pretty highly by the all-important star systems that TripAdvisor and Airbnb shove in your faces.

As Simon is the only able bodied humanoid here at present, he is tasked with the tedious but necessary job of cleaning the gite prior to our first guests arrival next week.

One thing Simon cannot stand is the infernal whine of our very inexpensive vacuum cleaner, the vacuum of deaf. Ski slopes have snakes of death formed by dozens of small children learning to ski behind an instructor. It is imperative to avoid them as they weave their way down the mountainsides. We have the vacuum of deaf.

The noise it emits gets right through you. To use it is a question of having to try to zone out. It makes a truly horrible din.

Bought about seven years ago, it has coped reasonably well with the excessive dust this old, in-progress-of-renovation French farmhouse harbours. But that noise is truly hideous.

Simon’s tolerance of it is minimal, piqued by the traumatically mortifying teenage memory of his mother vacuuming at his 18th birthday party.

Obviously scarred for life.

The double upside of Simon cleaning the gite is that not only am I not having to do it, but he marches back into the house stating that the racket made by the vacuum of deaf is intolerable and he can’t stand it any longer. We need to look at getting something better.

At last! I didn’t think it was possible for him to be so animated about a vacuum cleaner, or me to be so excited by the prospect of a new one. I think this just goes to show that currently the bar has descended to an all time low in our life expectations.

As there’s not a lot else for me to be capable of getting my teeth into at present, before you can say ‘A spotless house is a sign of a misspent life,’ I’m on our now fabulously fast internet and researching sparkly new cleaners.

It has to be light enough for me to carry easily, good quality and of course, quiet as a whisper.

I settle on a Miele and although it ticks the two first boxes, worryingly, it is the noisiest one on my shortlist, possessing a noteworthy 76 decibels. Nevertheless, I close my eyes, press ‘confirm the order’ and spend the two following days worrying about just how noisy 76 decibels could possibly be.

I think Lot et Garonne has finally started to arrive into the 21st century, as no more than 48 hours later, white van man hurtles down the drive with it in his clutches. This is a vast improvement to ten years ago when we first arrived in France, when next day deliveries took two to four weeks and were considered acceptable. Not totally out of the woods yet though, as the French still love a cheque and their paper dossiers.

Progress though.

Feeling slightly alarmed, we unpack it and I tentatively plug it in, expecting to hear the shrill scream of the vacuum of deaf.

But no, it is as quiet as a whisper and it actually cleans in half the time.

No infernal screaming noise. No remaining traces of unpicked up fluff and detritus. I heave a huge sigh of relief.

Photos today are simply so you can see the difference in what we took on and what we have ended up with.

Three years of getting the gite done. Seven years of working. Now it’s time for the house.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Jill, a RHS gold medal winning English professional gardener, garden designer and landscaper living in South West France since 2012. This is a personal account of my gardening life, some of the jolly and occasionally not so jolly japes that ensued while working, that probably caused my subsequent back problems.

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