Ours is a story of when North met South and bonded over food and Borough Market in London. We were both working in the NHS and building our careers, enjoying life in London. Marriage and children followed with a move to Cambridge via a pub in Wokingham. As our family grew we wanted to be able to spend more time together and of course, enjoy food together. France was the obvious next step in our foodie journey.
We had spent a lot of time in the South West of France with friends and visiting some beautiful places and enjoying lots of fantastic food and wine. One of our most memorable holidays together had been to the wine village of Caunes Minervois in the Montagne Noire near Carcassonne. During this holiday we discovered the regional speciality; Cassoulet. This has become a special dish for us, we have incorporated it into our family Christmas tradition; goose for Christmas Day and cassoulet made with the leftovers to see us through to the New Year. Our hearts and stomachs have been lost to the South West of France since then!
At the same time the arrival of our children changed so much about how we viewed the world, the kind of future we wanted for them and the state of the world in which they and their children would grow up. We had been interested in the ‘slow’ food movement for a long time and appreciated the principles of sourcing food locally and eating seasonally as contributing to the complex jigsaw of actions required to safeguard and re-invigorate our environment. We have become more and more interested in sustainability; we renovated our house using a mixture of traditional and green materials; installed a solar thermal water heating system, insulated every inch of wall and floor and used triple glazing for our windows. These measures were both cost and comfort effective, we weren’t paying the earth and we were warm and cosy. Inevitably our holidays changed too, living in a city we wanted our children to spend time in the countryside away from streets, cars and screens. We found glamping holidays on farms and were hooked from the first one.
The idea of setting up our own business, providing space and time to explore nature but doing so comfortably and as sustainably as possible grew with time. Our increasingly hectic lives juggling children, work, family and friends left us feeling that we weren’t doing our best in any area of our lives. Children grow so quickly and we weren’t able to stop and enjoy even simple moments with them.
We made the move to Toulouse in August 2018, renting an apartment whilst we looked for the right place for all of us. We were looking for a place that we could take our children, far away from television and iPads which was safe for them to explore independently and use their imaginations to build dens or play games. As always, we looked far and wide and finally found our new home and business near to where we had first looked.
Our first sight of Montmaur was on a sunny but cold day in December. We parked opposite the Mairie and went in to ask about schools and found to our surprise that the village école was in the same building. The property we were due to visit was on the very edge of the village, within walking distance. As we got out of the car and looked at the stone buildings glowing in the sunshine and walked over to the meadow which formed the grounds we looked at each other but didn’t want to get too excited before seeing the inside of the house and gîtes. The field offered a potential site for our glamping tents but what about the rest? We weren’t disappointed. We had found the right place for us; a beautiful family home with four individual gîtes, a swimming pool, a meadow and spectacular views over the countryside.
We want to give people the chance to step away from lives which are becoming increasingly, and it feels never endingly, hectic. Time to stop and enjoy the sunrise or watch an eagle hover above a field, share your child’s delight at seeing a butterfly or sit in wonder as the sky reveals every colour as the sun sets.
We are looking forward to welcoming you to Domaine La Castagne and life at Nature’s Pace Holidays.
Liz & Peter