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I discovered Massat after meeting the father of my 3 children who lived here. I fell in love with the place so I wanted to stay. Before then I worked in orchards in England (the country where I was born) and travelled for 7 years in a number of different continents. It was during these travels that I got to learn all about fruit trees.

When I step out of my home, I am surrounded by nature; the sky, trees, mountains, birds, flowers, and wind, rain or snow.

By my front door a chestnut tree provides shade and fruit to make vegetable paste, and next to that there is an elderflower tree for juice and jams.

Around the house there is pretty much everything I need to feed myself, for heating and for building material. It’s a feast for the eyes!

I spend most of my time working in my vegetable garden and orchard, or collecting fruit and mushrooms from the forest. I prepare food for winter and the spring by drying or salting it, or storing in jars (using sugar, salt or cooking to transform the ingredients). Cutting wood for heating also takes up a lot of time; faggots for cooking and heating water, larger logs for heating the house.

It’s been 7 years now that I’ve spent my winters restoring an old abandoned house into a liveable home – mostly on my own. In Massat almost everybody rebuilds their own place so I get advice and help when I need it.

Every day is different because of the weather and the seasons (not to mention my own needs and those of others).

In the valleys around Massat many people live like I do, so there is a great group spirit and a lot of communal help. Among many of my friends, we consider ourselves a big family. We might have our differences but each person is accepted the way they are. We feel good here.

My house is almost finished now. I am adding a small bed and breakfast place so I can share this beautiful place with others. It’s nothing fancy but it’s all ecological and I’ll prepare vegetarian meals using produce from the garden.

What are my greatest challenges here? The steepness of the land because this makes working it so hard – and wears out one’s body a lot. Snow also frightens me when I have to drive the car in it.

My hopes are to be able to continue living well like this - and to show others how one can live simply and healthily, with lots of joy, in harmony and with the wealth of human kindness. Above all I want to share all this with my children one day because it’s for them that I’m trying to create this beautiful environment ……