If you're wondering why it's been a bit quiet on the blog front of late it's because I've been ruminating (and as my Aunty Connie used to say "can'tknitneatnall ...).
A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and started to write a pedantically detailed list of everything that still had to be done in order to be ready to present Grillou to guests in mid June as planned. After 11 pages of A4, and with at least as much more to go, I gave up: without even trying I could see that it was as impossible as trying to find the square root of minus one.
We've been working at this now for just over a year, seven days a week, anything up to 14 hours a day. With the best will in the world, I don't think we can up that. And to be honest, I think there's a limit to how long we - anyone? - can go on working at that level. We were doing okay when we were working mainly on L'Atelier d'Artiste - although it's by no means finished, the work there went much more according to timetable, probably because it was effectively a brand new conversion and so was like painting on a blank canvas. But La P'tite Maison has stymied - and continues to stymie - us. Everything we've done there - and that's a lot - has taken three times as long as I'd calculated it would. And it's not just us - The Perfectionist has been working in the dining-room-to-be for what feels now like most of his life, but still has a good couple of weeks to go (and that's with everything going to plan - ha! - and a following wind ...). In moments of despair we've all wondered if La P'tite Maison is jinxed (and in really bad moments, whether it's haunted), but rationally I know it's because the whole area was never really finished in its previous existence and so we're dealing with all the aftermath of, for example, walls that had been plastered but never primed or painted, other walls that never made it beyond the rendering stage, radiator pipes that crossed a room hanging off a beam, and lighting either non-existent or in the most bizarre places (none of which were useful, or even functional). And all the rest, too boring to mention.
To realise that meeting the deadline I've been holding for two years looks nigh on impossible was depressing, to say the least. The other thing it did was make me realise just how tired I was. I was still doing all right physically, but mentally I was exhausted, mainly from holding all those blasted spinning plates up in the air for so long. Another couple of months pushing on at the same rate seemed do-able; another six distinctly not.
And so as those who bore the brunt of my miserable git-ness will testify, I spent a not too pleasant week or so trying to find my way through the whole dilemma. When could we expect to be ready? What would it take? Could anything be simplified or dropped? (No!) Could anything more be contracted out ? (No!) How to let down those people who've already expressed an interest in booking for early summer? How to stop the grass and the weeds from growing? And so on. Round, and round, and round.
Today was a beautiful day - blue skies, early 20s in the shade, birds singing their hearts out - and this afternoon I - radically - took some time out from La P'tite Maison to hoe the potager. And it's funny how going back to the earth puts everything into perspective and makes life seem simpler. Yes, we could choose to up the ante, work 18 hours a day, forget all the stuff about enjoying the process and just get our heads down and do the necessary. That way, we might possibly make ourselves beautiful enough by July. Possibly. That would mean no potager, doing nothing more outside than keeping the grounds under control, no apéros in the garden, no time away from Grillou, no time with friends, no festivals, no swims and probably no sleep. By the time you got here for your Slow Holiday we'd be foutus (look it up!). Now what on earth would be the point of that, either for us or for you? Call it corny if you like, but hospitality for us has always been about the joy of sharing our home and our food with others, not about 'being a business'. Or, we could choose to drop the deadline, breathe, carry on taking pleasure in what we're doing, still work hard but live something of an ordinary life at the same time. Which, of course, is what we came here for. (And I have a sneaking suspicion that in the contrary way of the universe, letting go of the deadline will actually free up the stuckness and let things start to flow again ...).
Eh bien. There's no contest, really, is there? I'm off to sow some carrots.