Relocating, renovating, regenerating

Sunrise over French alps

We are constantly on the move; regenerating ourselves, our ideas and horizons, through travel and exploring or relocating and renovating houses, all as jobs or life require it.

After a summer of regenerating ourselves and indulging our passion for travel we have also thrived on the changes that our business and our life choices have brought. The result is we are relocating again.

We thoroughly enjoyed renovating and regenerating a 1960s bungalow, transforming it into a contemporary home.  We learned a lot about building, renovating and, enjoying the privilege of living there, we learned a lot about us. We surprised ourselves when the day came by how difficult we found it was to leave.

We both felt a mix of nostalgia, apprehension and excitement as we stood one last time in the now empty rooms together.  A pair of Muntjac deer came to say goodbye and we smiled as each of us silently pictured the wonderful memories of our time there.

Time to move on, we nodded to each other, we had made our home in this house for a short time but our hearts have already relocated and we leave the house to be regenerated into their home by the new, young family.

Relocating this time is driven by our enthusiasm to expand our holiday cottage business outside of the UK and what better way to do it than guided by our passion for the outdoors, the stunning landscapes of the French alps and for renovating houses.

On a visit to the French Alps last year we fell in love with a tumble down barn in dire need of renovating and, though it wasn’t in our plans quite so soon, we decided that regenerating the ancient building into a luxurious and unique chalet could be a perfect fit us and for our holiday property business, sheepskin.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Over the year we have been through the processes of French planning, selling in Oxford and buying in France and are now, for the foreseeable future, relocated in Morzine, France.

This week we started renovating the ancient French alpine barn, or Grange in French, with the plan of sympathetically, regenerating the scruffy old man into a more contemporary and unique modern gentleman.

This year we will continue to transition each day between laptops and perhaps, not to flip flops but instead to snowboard boots and hiking boots.  We have been out and about getting to know the slopes and back-country of the Portes du Soleil…

…exploring the Aprés ski places, especially our local favourite a micro-brewery and great place to relax, Bec Jaune.

Each day we will be visiting the barn/building site as we help the team with the renovation…

renovating, regenerating French alps property…and then regenerating ourselves with fresh mountain air, exercise and indulging in great local food, ales and wine.

We will be out exploring with the future guests of our chalet in mind so that we can point them to the best spots during their holidays with us.  We will also be searching for other like-minded chalet owners who have done their own regenerating of a beautiful, traditional building here and want to share their home with Sheepskin guests.

When we have a moment during the renovating, we will post the progress on the barn as it is regenerated into a chalet for the Sheepskin holiday property collection.

If you know Morzine and the Portes du Soleil and have tips on best places to eat, drink, ski or snowboard please do comment below.

If you have already done or are in progress of renovating of a chalet in the French alps and would like to talk about joining Sheepskin as we launch in the mountains again please comment below.

Gower holiday, close to nature

Memorable Gower holiday close to nature

Our recent Gower holiday was made all the more memorable with our days spent close to nature.

Before the hours of daylight got too short and the days a little too chilly to sit for hours, by the crashing waves, watching the end of a fishing rod we planned a short holiday for a few days of fishing on the Gower peninsula.

We started each day of adventure and exploration before the sun rose above the horizon and meandered back late each evening.  Every day memorable in its own way and each with new discoveries about Gower.

We had fished off breathtaking Rhossili Bay beach before and know you can reach the small headland at Burry Holms and some great, quiet fishing spots but only at low tide. High tide was 7.30am that day so to get over to the headland and back safely before then meant an early start…Peaceful Rhossili bay beach to Worms Head Gower

The 5am alarm was certainly a memorable part of our holiday; jolting us out of a deep sleep in this peaceful place on Gower.  We thought about snoozing but knew that getting up in time to see the sunrise over Rhossili Bay would be more memorable than a lazy morning.

We were far from disappointed; even stepping out of the cottage in the lane, where few street lights pollute the sky, the stars were bright in the still black and clear sky.

After a walk through the dunes in the twilight we were rewarded with a truly beautiful and memorable sunrise over the Gower coast and along deserted Rhossili Bay.Stars at sunrise Rhossili beach Burry Holms Gower

As we sat, mesmerised, on the rocky outcrop at Burry Holms we both gasped as we spotted an otter peak out from the rocks below then sprint across the sand.  The returning tide was just starting to wash our foot prints away on the beach where the otter dived into the waves lapping on the sand.  We were both so excited to be so close to nature and to share such a memorable experience.Fishing at sunrise Rhossili Gower

Finally with bait in the water we were joined by other natives and were close to nature again when a couple of seals popped their heads above the waves just in front of us.  The seals were certainly more interested in our fishing rods and bait than any fish and for the next few hours followed us to each new fishing mark.

The morning was one of the most beautiful and memorable on our Gower holiday even despite the lack of fish.

We explored the paths to Worms Head in the afternoon.  A crisp clear day meant the view from the coast walk of Rhossili Bay beach towards Burry Holms was spectacular and certainly will be memorable.Beautiful deserted Rhossili Bay Beach Gower

Another twilight walk along the long winding path from Rhossili village to the National coast watch hut, looking out to the causeway to Worms Head, we explored the various beautiful bays along this stunning part of the Gower coast.Walking Gower coast path

Each day different paths, different rocky outcrops, different vistas, always a wonderful sunrise.  Each day also the same attention from the seals which equally amused and frustrated but made each day unique and overall a very memorable holiday on The Gower peninsula.Gower seals enjoy fishing

We gave up fishing and instead enjoyed a few pints of locally brewed Gower Gold ale, delicious and dangerously quaffable.  In the pub we got a few handy tips for fishing spots and bait from the locals that Adam put in his memory banks for next time.

Yet again Gower amazed us; a small corner of Wales where the stunning coastline helped us to experience a very memorable Gower holiday and enjoy, as we always do, being close to nature.Memorable Gower holiday close to nature Gower seals

 

 

Finding our rhythm in Coastal Croatia

Wanting too find an easy rhythm to our travel we planned to return to Coastal Croatia and some of the places we found and enjoyed on previous trips.  Off the coast of the Croatian Peljasac peninsula, the beautiful Korcula island was our destination.  As the ferry docked, near Korcula old town, and all felt very comfortable and familiar we had the desire to improvise a little and so rather than head directly to the small harbour town of Lumbarda we drove instead to the far end of the island and to the Vela Luka.

As usual the guide book had little positive to say about the small town of Vela Luka, not many ancient sites or churches in the 19th century fishing village, it could be just our kind of place. We are not constant seekers of ancient sites but rather search for inspiration and interest in every day life and enjoy the diversity of local cuisine.  Vela Luka and its people looked like it had kept a frenetic pace during the hot summer season but now felt relaxed and sleepy as the ebb of tourists slowed.

We wandered the harbour and back streets, bought provisions in a small shop and then, reluctantly, headed to the hills to the only camp site nearby.

Camping Mindel promised to be a tranquil site, hidden amongst olive trees on a crest above several bays.

Camping Mindel Vela Luka secluded camping

Within a short wander we found a sheltered bay where waves lapped gently over with rough grey rocks leading down to the clear blue water, a great fishing spot for another day perhaps. We swam in the beautiful crystal waters but were disappointed and concerned to see another bare and almost lifeless sea bed. A great concern and a frustration for Adam who, ever hopeful, had spent several hours sorting and packing his fishing gear this Mediterranean trip.

The evening sea breeze dipped the temperature quickly in the shady cove so we flip flopped home as quickly as we could. We joined a few of our fellow campers on the roof terrace and were treated to a stunning sunset across the Mediterranean to Hvar island accompanied by the rhythmical ticking of Cicadas and the twitter of Housemartins swooping on the breeze that rustled in the olive trees below.

It seemed though that we weren’t all in the same groove; some couples came before the evening sky even started its performance, stayed for the first tinges of red and then left (dinner in the oven?), some snook in half way through, chinking plastic glasses of beer as the orange glow began but still left before the finale.

We stayed until the very last ray of light had disappeared and the Cicadas all fell silent.

Croatian sunset from Korcula island over Hvar

We were woken early and rudely with a dawn chorus of toddler cries and percussion of spoons on plastic plates, really not our favourite tune so we departed quickly to go explore the other bays on the peninsula.

Rather than walk the conventional footpaths to each of the bays we chose to search for a route from bay to bay along the rocks and there was, along limestone and stark white rock formations separated by flinty, pebble beaches in secluded bays.

Beautiful Croatian coastal walk

It was a peaceful interlude as we picked our way along the coast, the vista out to sea was ever changing as were the colours and textures beneath our feet.

It was difficult to see if many others had come this way or not, we seemed not to leave a trace though some of the smoother tops to the white, chalky rocks could be from the tread of human feet over time rather than the wash of the sea.

We crossed small beaches of limestone screes below tree covered cliffs where our path was marked, at least for a moment, by musical notes as our feet shifted the rock fragments to clink against each other making, almost metallic sounds, like the bars of a broken Xylophone.  Though we followed closely in each others foot steps and in the same rhythm the music we each created was completely different. Adam’s foot steps created their tune, my melody was a new one played on a slightly different ‘keyboard’.

As I clambered I wondered how many different compositions there may have been, each fleeting, never to be captured or recorded only to be enjoyed by those there to listen. We had certainly begun to find our rhythm again here in this peaceful corner of Korcula island.

craggy shore line stone scree Croatia

Customised Camper…

Celebration time we have finished our customised camper!

After several early mornings, long days, lots of sore hands and just a little bit of of getting wound up with each other, we have now rebuilt and slightly re-modelled our custom camper van to be even better than before.sink cooker in customer camper vanStill with our hand made cushions from Melin Tregwynt fabric, bags of room to store our wine and food in the fridges, our customised camper is now more solid and with more space to store our kit.

And as a finishing touch, we even sprayed the silver VW badge satin black!  Beautiful!  Wave if you spot us on the road!

We have our maps, lots of them and we’re ready to go! Our personalised camper van road trip, a new adventure…

Europe map & fridge in custom camper

Whilst travelling through Croatia last year, we brought some of its vibrancy home, we call her Fleur. She flourished in our apartment in Zurich and even survived the British winter in our building site. It therefore seemed a poignant as we start to our trip in our newly customised camper, to re-plant Fleur in our garden, to enjoy the summer sunshine whilst we are away…

Summer flowers outside