It's been a pretty full on year for the pair of us at Maison Grillou, has 2016. Yes, I know, I know, they always are (one day we'll slow down, honest ... though perhaps not quite yet!). But this year has been one of The Big Ones. I've been looking back.
We began the year as it went on, really - with paintbrush in hand! Not only over at Maison Leela, where work continued right up to spring and beyond, but also in L'Atelier d'Artiste where after completely repainting the kitchen walls, I decided at the (very) last minute to give a few bits of furniture the chalk paint'n'wax treatment to lighten up a slightly gloomy corner. Yep, you first guests of the season never knew, did you, that I was in there waxing and buffing right into the early hours before you arrived?!
First published 15 October 2014
As lots of you know, each year we do our best to support a number of dog rescue charities and associations: this year (2014) we're supporting Twilight Chiens, a doggie 'retirement home' in Dordogne; Carcassonne SPA, who do fantastic work rehoming abandoned and stray dogs, and Lévriers Sans Frontières.
This is probably an unusual kind of article to include in the website of a holiday barn in the Pyrenees. If you don't like reading about the blacker side of humanity, look away now; otherwise read on. But first, a story.
As many of you know, a few months ago we were adopted by a dog called Hobo, who simply arrived one day and never left. After much detective work, we discovered that Hobo has a long and complicated history; he's originally from La Réunion, a tropical island that's a département d'outre-mer - a fully fledged part of France (and the EU) in the Indian Ocean. Brought to the mainland by a member of his original owner's family, he then moved on again to live in Clermont, a village near us, with yet another member of the same family; sadly though one of their existing dogs had other ideas and did everything she could to make his life there untenable. Eventually Hobo took matters into his own paws and set off in search of a safe forever home where he could finally, after three traumatic years, settle down; after weeks of roaming the hills and checking out many dozens of local houses, he found us, and we're very glad he did.
Hobo's previous human told us he's a greyhound-dalmatian cross. Knowing him as we do now, his mix is fairly evident: he's like that well-known illusion of two faces and a vase - sometimes when you look at him he's an (almost) spotless dalmatian, other times he's clearly a greyhound. We think his greyhound ancestry may actually be that of a Galgo (Spanish greyhound) - possibly the most abused dog breed on earth. And that's where article really begins.
We've been writing here and there and about this and that since we arrived at Maison Grillou in 2007, just as we did back in our Norfolk days. From 2008 all the way up to the end of 2012 I blogged regularly about our first years in the Ariège and our - um - adventures renovating this house and welcoming its first guests. If you really have nothing better to do (or just want to see what we used to look like or know what we got up to in those days), you can still read those early posts here: