Admin for Visitors


Turning Stuff on


-          Keys. The front door opens with the purple dot key. You have to lift and push to open. The other doors generally have keys in them

-          Water needs to be turned on in the mill room. There’s one small stop cock in the far left of the mill room (other side of the kitchen). It’s the one on the left hand side of the two (the other turns on the hose in the garden).

-          Electricity needs to be turned on in two places: one in the kitchen for the front of the house, the other upstairs in the big central room for the back.

-          Gas for cooking needs to be tuned on at the cylinder in the mill room in the usual way. Turn off when you leave.

-          Central Heating. Shouldn’t be needed from April to October or so. Just lift the flap and push the red button in the mill room and all should start. If by any chance it should run out of oil whilst you are there, the number to call is in the right hand drawer of the kitchen units, or better please call Andy and Lisa (see below) to help order more.

-          Shutters. Most of the shutters are shut in the house for security and weather reasons. Please open as many as you want, and close them again when you leave.

-          Fridge, please give it a wipe, close and turn on, and on departure, reverse. Seems to survive ok.

-          Freezer. If you are there for a few days, given it a wipe and turn it on. Leave open and unpowered when you go.

-          Washing machine is in the kitchen. Press the On button on the far right, then press the left hand button which looks like it’s supposed to delay starting (Depart Pause), and it works fine.

-          Dishwasher also in kitchen.

-          Fire. For cold evenings, you need to bring in wood, worth running 2-3 days ahead to ensure it dries out.




-          There are beds to sleep seven (2 of them bunk bed), plus several more mattresses so we can probably do 10 people without much trouble.

-          All the bedding is in the upstairs bedrooms, in bags. Please use what you need, probably best to air it or iron it if you can face it on the first day, and wash it all and put it back in the same place if you can please when you leave.

-          There are dehumidifiers all round upstairs. If you see water in them, please do empty it out, and if by any chance the tablets have run out completely, please put a new one in (there are some lying around or they have them at Super U).


Keeping the House Tolerable


-          The house gets dusty, buggy etc as might be expected and there’s a Hoover and various mops, brushes etc, depending on your degree of commitment and enthusiasm. It’s impossible to get it really spick and span.

-          Tiles downstairs – don’t look too good. We’ve tried to get them to shine but it’s very hard.

-          Kitchen floor –needs sweeping daily as people generally move in and out through here.


The Garden


-          During the spring and summer, things seem to be unbelievably fertile, so the main problem is the grass. It grows 8 inches in five weeks in March-April. We have a ride on mower in the shed at the back; please do use it to mow the lawn(s). It takes normal unleaded petrol (there’s a red container in the back shed). They key to the mower is in the right hand drawer of the cherry wood sideboard in the kitchen.

-          Re weeding, please try if you have even the vaguest idea of what is a weed and what is a plant. Especially the paths. We’ve laid some black plastic down for the winter on some paths to see if it helps for the next year.

-          Watering. Please do some if the weather is warm.

-          If you are lucky enough to be there during the fruit season, please pick and eat what you need from the orchard. If there are really too many and you are feeling really generous, please make preserves or jams.

1.      Raspberries: End June to mid-August,

2.      Redcurrants and blackcurrants: Roughly the same

3.      Apricots – July - August

4.      Plums: Several different types, including a red cherry plum in the drive, July –September

5.      Apples  - August-September

6.      Gooseberries - one small plant.

7.      Pears – August- September (The conferences at the end are the slowest to ripen).

8.      Figs –August-September (tree at the back).

9.      Grapes –never ripened yet but they are still new.

-          Pruning. The roses probably need pruning, as do several other plants…

-          If you are there for the mushroom season, there are several books on the subject as we do have edible mushrooms in the garden, though I can’t say they’ve been particularly delicious so far. Let us know what you manage to eat, and whether you find any good mushroom place places nearby as well.

-          Espalier. If you happen to be there during a good pruning time, the espalier probably needs pruning. Maddy

-          Wood needs chopping if you need fires or want to be useful. There are various piles lying around. There is an axe for the more macho, a small electric chain saw, and a larger chain saw (not to be used without chaps please, as its 45 minutes to the nearest hospital with your legs in a carrier bag…hard to drive).




-          We do 90% of our shopping in Super U in La Chataigneraie. It is excellent quality, cheap and local. Just a bit impersonal. Local Bordeaux choice is unbelievable.

-          Would be nice if there were wonderful local shops but they aren’t too plentiful. There are some good small shops in La Chatainerie, and there is a bread shop in Breuil-Barret open in the mornings, but that’s your main option locally.

-          Super U is shut Sundays, but Intermarche in the centre of La Chataigneraie is open Sunday morning (mostly used by English people, it seems). There’s a Lidl as well but I’ve never been there.

-          Fontenay and Coulonges both have farmers’ markets, which are worth visiting.  Coulonges is Tuesdays and Saturday.

-          Lots of DIY shops if that’s your thing. BricoPro just at the main roundabout on the way to La Chataigneraie is probably the best.

-          A few antique shops in nearby villages as well, though nothing stunning.


Other Practical Stuff


-          The nearest hospital is at Fontenay-le-Comte.

-          The local chemists have lists of doctors. There are several in La Chatainerie.

-          Local churches have notice boards with times of services (Roman Catholic).



-          an English couple (Andy and Lisa) who live up the hill, who have access to the house for emergencies, and who help us out with stuff that needs fixing or doing. They’ve been in the area of several years and know far more than we will ever do.

-          The French gentleman on the other side of the stream valley who works his garden with great enthusiasm and

-          A Parisian lady who owns the house which overlooks us on the other side of the stream and road, who is only there very rarely.


Hmmm. What else. Well, sit out in the evening, listen to the stream and the birds, drink good wine and forget what day it is…