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This site not work anymore .I have a new site and you can go there visit me. I dont go put more post here anymore ... If you like this blog go there .. I will be there for you ... Olá meus queridos amigos ... agora tenho um novo blog Este site nao funcionará mais , tive alguns problemas. Agora tenho um novo endereco de blog. Nao irei mais colocar post neste blog .. Todas as atualizacoes e novidades estarao no outro endereco .. Acessem... estarei lá pra vcssss Se vcs gostaram desse blog irao amar o outro .. mais atualizado e lindo ... Vamos láaaa .... visitem-me lá .. Beijinhos Lili

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quarta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2010

Property in France: Why we love living in the past

C'est la folie: It is les Anglais who see the beauty in old things.

By Michael Wright
Published: 12:00PM GMT 24 Feb 2010
Michael Wright Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY

Each year, I do a little more to improve La Folie. Yet the more I find to fix, the more I fear that something is being lost. It is hard to renovate a ramshackle old farmhouse, layered with a grimy patina of age, without wiping away its uniqueness.

Gilles would not agree. When he finally moved out of the atmospheric old Moulin Vaugelade, he declared that whoever bought it should simply knock the old house down and start again with something new. This is the rural French way: when you live with one foot mired in the past, you tend to appreciate the future more than those of us who, coming from fast-paced cities, recognise tradition as a bulwark against the shrink-wrapped philistinism that is steadily engulfing the world.

No wonder it is les Anglais, not the French, who have bought up so many of the old houses in rural France. It's not just that we are less fearful of spider's webs than our hosts. We are half in love with the past, too. We appreciate the riches carried down to us from there; we understand that it's the highest shelves of a haberdasher's where the most precious fabrics are kept.

I am feeling this especially in the kitchen just now, where I inherited a room from Zumbach and his predecessors that felt as if the Old Curiosity Shop had been shoehorned into a cave, complete with two fossilised ammonites plastered into one wall, as if to suggest that the house had been carved out of solid rock. Which, when I first saw the place, I rather assumed that it had.

The jumble of detritus that made up this old kitchen was never practical, nor even desirable, for daily living. But it was irreplaceable and it felt like home. One person could never come up with that haphazard aesthetic; it must have taken years, generations even, to create anything so bizarre. And whenever anyone revamps a house, however stylishly, it somehow always ends up looking just a bit more like all the rest.

People may say that our new kitchen is a case in point. Yet although I may regret what we have lost, I shall not be sad for long. It is just such a relief to have the thing finished; to have a dishwasher and a proper cooker, too. I mean one that gets hot simply by turning a knob, with no need for incantations, arc-welding goggles or a dangerous sports clause in the house insurance. We just have to remember not to use the back-left gas ring, for fear of blowing up the house.

What I like most about the kitchen, however, is the fact that this spanking new room does not look new in the slightest. There are eight wooden lockers with enamelled numbers, straight out of Le Grand Meaulnes, that Richard the menuisier found in a depôt-vente in Poitiers. And he has managed to fashion most of the cupboard doors from a job lot of 19th-century Canadian pine extracted from a barn clearance in the Vendée.

The reaction of our first few visitors is telling. The English mostly stroke the wood and say how lovely it feels. And the French do not know what to say. Our friends Yves-Pascal and Ariane purse their lips, glance at each other and nod sadly, as if I had just confirmed their every suspicion about the funny Englishman who has chosen to live at the end of the world with his sheep and his chickens and that bashed-up Renault Espace, which still exudes a powerful whiff of dead dog.

Does he not realise that this kitchen looks old? Has he not considered that those old door frames will be hard to scrub to a bleached shine? Does he not know that this kitchen could almost be, perish the thought, second-hand?

And so we shake hands and kiss and wish each other bonne nuit, and Alice and I return to the haven of our new old kitchen and sit at Zumbach's venerable table and gaze up at our comfortable cupboards and our higgledy-piggledy plate-racks, and at the two fossils in the wall that Monsieur Ducroux the plasterer has, as instructed, carefully worked around. And we smile at each other and think how much this already feels like home.

C'est La Folie by Michael Wright is available for £7.99, plus 99p p & p, from Telegraph Books (0870 428 4112)

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