Well, this bit of the adventure, anyway.
After four trips to France to find the right house in the right place, we've now paid a deposit on a house in the Loire valley. It has a hole in the roof over the staircase, hasn't been occupied for 35 years and is absolutely filthy. The garden is a mass of brambles (Rubus fruticosus agg) - which last time I saw them were as high as me - and a thriving elder tree (Sambucus nigra) which is preventing the garage door from opening. In addition to the house and garage there is a stable cum grain store, tasteful stone dunny (a la turque) and a woodshed.
Our surveyor has produced a report and somewhat Eyeorishly told us that it will take twice as much money as we were expecting to restore (and therefore twice as much money as we actually have). We are funding the project with the proceeds of the sale of my house in Australia and I am determined not to borrow any money, so Plan B is to do the roof and restore the house and then take a deep breath. Anyway, although we have ideas about converting the garage and the stable/granary into living space, we have not enquired yet about planning permission, so this may be pipe dreams.
We always said that we would not take on a house that needed a new roof, but now that we have had a little time to get used to the idea, we can see there are positives. If we are very lucky, fixing the roof will fix a lot of other problems as well - cracks in the walls, heat loss, general damp. Thus, once the roof is done, the rest is just decorating! Hmm...
The negative is that this will be the single biggest outlay on the house and we have to do it first, with inadequate French language skills and no experience of dealing with French tradesmen. Hmm...Pretty scary, so now I am deliberately blocking this part of the project out, and mulling over ideas for the garden. Getting the roof fixed is clearly bloke stuff, so I will delegate it to the bloke half of the partnership. It will ensure his French comes on no end.
I had an email from my friend Chris today, reminding me that her father approached the restoration of their house by first making sure there was somewhere pleasant to sit and have a drink in the evening. That is obviously my responsibility, and working on the garden plan is therefore entirely appropriate.