I might as well …


… start writing.

Let me explain where I’m coming from. About three years ago my partner and I started to look for a place out in the country. Amsterdam is cute, lively, liberal and fun yet very crowded, noisy and hectic. Not even close to places like Madrid, New York or London, but still.

A place outside of Amsterdam was not going to be enough. We needed S-P-A-C-E. And the Netherlands do not have space at all. You could try the corners of this tiny country like east of Deventer or north of Groningen, but there’s nowhere you’ll find a place with just the sound of birds.

Besides that we’ve always wanted to live abroad. Spain, Italy or France: you name it, and we’ve been there to check it out. Our #1 choice has always been Spain; the country is great, the people are special, the food is fun (and muy delicioso!). But all that is a flight away. Spain–or at least the Sierra Morena which we aimed at–is simply too far away for a weekend out of the country. You need to book a flight, pack stuff, check in, wait, fly, pick up your car, drive to the house, and then… you’re even more tired then before you left!

Chateau de la Forge

Chateau de la Forge

So we started seriously looking for homes two years ago in an area between 4 to 6 hours’ drive from our home. We looked seriously at several places.

The first contender was this beautiful Chateau de la Forge in Commercy. A bit too far… around 8 hours from Amsterdam…but –OMG– it wa s a dream house. Eight bedrooms, six bathrooms, two living rooms, a drawing room, two dining rooms. This house was great! The garden was the size of a small park; yes, it was huge and so was the price. We made an offer just a bit on the low side and they never wanted to talk with us again. That was a pity, since it truly was a remarkable mansion. (BTW, if anyone is interested, it’s still on the market.)

Monastery at Bois des Dames

Monastery at Bois des Dames

A few months later we got a second call from our contact in France. This time he wanted to show us an ancient monastery chapel. Really our thing, he said–and he was right.

The chapel and priory were situated in a valley surrounded by forest. The Dutch owners had started some renovation we’d call demolition. Demolished ceilings, half-broken fireplaces… it was a mess to say the least. Taking all this into account, we again offered miles less than the owners wanted. We saw a crisis coming and we sure didn’t want it to be our crisis.

The Dutch owners took it off the market again, and they are continuing their dramatic work.

We sure hope the ghosts of the 48 Germans buried in their garden do not obstruct the renovation.

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