I’ve known Massat since I was very little. My grandmother lived here and I spent all my holidays here. At the age of four I had already promised myself, “I’ll live in Massat with lots of animals when I grow up!” Later I was attracted by the more ‘natural’ side of things in Massat - its alternative attitudes towards social relationships and time keeping! My friends from the mountains were so different from those in the city, and their way of life seemed an ideal for me. I’m from Toulouse originally but I lived in the countryside on a small housing estate next to a golf course. I came from a comfortable background, my father being a managing director of a company making aluminium parts, so I never lacked for anything. At 18 I had my own horse (it was that or getting my driving license!) and the moment I got my diploma in tourism I came to live in Massat with my horse and all my things! My dream was that my children should grow up in the countryside, far from the noise, pollution and hectic pace of the city. Joshua was born in 2007, Niobé in 2010. I still like to go back to Toulouse with the children, though, to do the shops or go on cultural outings – and to see my parents of course.
My husband and I got married on a beautiful July day when Joshua was 4 months old. There was feasting, horse-drawn carts, fair damsels and troubadours – since the theme was the Middle Ages!
We live simply in our old house (the new one is being built) but with all the modern comforts; I like having all the mod coms!
I enjoy the magnificent view of the mountains when I do the school run, and I often take my camera to take photos when the light or the atmosphere inspire me! Life is a lot easier for me since I passed my driving license in August 2008. Before then I went to school on foot or by bicycle in all weathers – which was not always easy!
Our activities are dictated by the rhythm of the seasons, something that is very important for us mountain inhabitants!
Let’s begin with autumn: it’s the return to school, tracing the familiar route to school with the children. This year I want to pass the interview process to become a school teacher, a long cherished dream of mine from childhood ….
Then winter comes around …. One returns home earlier because the days are increasingly shorter and colder! It’s the season for huddling next to the wood stove, not that that prevents us from having a good snowball fight!
Then it’s spring. We go out into the garden again, and the children are able to really make the most of our good mountain air. It’s also the season for treks, whether on horses, on foot or on bicycles!
Summer: the long school holidays are marked by swims in the river or in the water trough, by hay making, and a trip of a week or two to visit somewhere new outside of the Ariege - but never too far away!
What’s important for me is to make the most of my family, but that everyone also gets the chance to do what they like to do!
Even if we’ve had a few difficulties with our flock of sheep – which we had to sell due to financial and administrative reasons! - we managed to make our own cheese and yogurts which we sold on the markets, but this was still not enough to make ends meet so with had to find other work on the side. Besides, we could not expand because the local farmers preferred to let the brambles take over in the fields rather than let young newcomers start up farming.
At the moment I’m working as a school assistant while my husband is starting his business doing small building jobs (even if he is a cook by training!). We’ve started building a barn that will eventually become our future home! The children will grow up at their own pace and I will continue going to school!