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Hosts, Goats and Chambres d British stand-up comedian, mod, expat, goat whisperer (maybe) - and now Chambre d’hote host, Ian Moore’s unique insights into life in the Loire Valley will make you laugh out loud… There’s a point in my first or second book, probably both, where my wife, Natalie, and I sit down and have one of those ‘The future, what shall we do?’ conversations. We’d already lived in France for a few years, but the weekly commute back to the UK to perform stand-up had left its mark; a hollow eyed ‘dead man walking’ stare whenever I had to leave home and the family, a spine so damaged from overuse of budget airlines that it resembled a fairground helter skelter and a mini-bottle rosé addiction from trying to make the Eurostar feel more glamourous than it actually is. It was time for a change, we agreed. Time for a new chapter in our life. "We're definitely not opening a chambres d’hôtes" ‘Well one thing we’re definitely not doing,’ I said, tapping the table for emphasis, ‘is opening up our house as a chambres d’hôtes! We moved here for peace and quiet, not for other people.’ Natalie laughed, ‘Can you imagine?’ She snorted, ‘You as a host? Having to be nice to people?’ She could barely control herself now, which was slightly insulting. ‘No, definitely not a chambres d’hôtes!’ "Our Chambres d’hôtes opened last year" Our chambres d’hôtes opened in November last year in a u-turn so dizzying that the term u-turn itself seems inadequate, it was more a triple axel half loop with salchow and our heads still haven’t stopped spinning. So why the change of heart? Had the sardonic standup comic, the professional cynic, mellowed? Was I suddenly, that awful thing, a ‘people person’?
’Hôtes Well no, not exactly but in the end, you have to take what you have and work out the best way forward. I wanted to be at home more and concentrate on writing and the French house prices meant that, having sold up in Southern England, we had a big property with numerous outbuildings that would make a fine bed and breakfast independent of the family home. And, despite being told too many times for comfort, that maybe I wasn’t ‘genial host’ material, it was still a no-brainer. ‘I can change,’ I kept repeating, ‘not commuting every week will soften me.’ Of course, this was before French bureaucracy got involved, a combination of rabbit warren and threshing machine that has one purpose in mind, and one purpose only – to break you. For example, the necessary courtesy visit to the local Mairie to tell them of our plans added an extra 5,000€ to the bill when it turned out the new stable for the horse, let’s face it a glorified shed, also needed planning permission. ‘Your horse needs planning permission,’ said the Mayoress apologetically. ‘I don’t think we’ll get her upstairs to your office.’ I replied, to no-one’s amusement. When renovation on the outbuildings eventually began, it was a massive relief. Not just that the project, eight months after that Mairie visit had finally begun, but that our outbuildings were finally being put to some practical use rather than acting as a Brocante recycling depot. For years we had pitched a stall at the local Brocantes and every year, thanks to Natalie and the children, we’d come back with more needless junk than we’d set out with. Now it was time to end this rigmarole and dump the whole nonsense at the dechetterie. (My favourite French word incidentally, dechetterie, it’s the local refuse tip but literally sounds like De-Shittery – which is exactly what it is.)
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