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Bon Courage, Mes Amis! Book Cover

Bon Courage, Mes Amis!
Thoughts on restoring a rural ruin

Written and illustrated by Sheila Wright

ISBN: 978-1-901253-30-6
(Old ISBN: 1 901253 30 9)

182 pages, paperback, 146mm x 208mm.
3 black and white photos, 42 black and white drawings, 4 Plans
Published by Leonie Press, May 2002.
Reprinted June 2003

Price: £ 8.99 Postage and Packing:

e-Book versions
Kindle format ISBN: 978-1-909727-14-4
Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN): B00RPTXKHE
Click here to buy from Amazon

About the Book

In 1994, primary school teacher Sheila Wright suddenly had the means to buy a house in the Creuse department of central France but the amount of her windfall meant that she was looking at "the bottom end of the market". She found herself falling ridiculously in love with a very old stone farmhouse which had been abandoned for 50 years and had an alarming 20ft crack up the front.

As she looked round the old kitchen, the smell of damp stone and ancient dust was all-pervading. In the gloom, shadowy alcoves and battered wood frames were barely visible on the rough granite walls. Mysterious bits of string dangled from the immense beams above, and between these beams were dark, narrow boards through which light filtered where rain had rotted them away.

One wall of the room was taken up by a vast fireplace with a huge hearthstone. Up the wide chimney, past various sinister blackened iron hooks, a patch of bright blue sky was visible. The wall separating the adjacent cellar-like room from the adjoining barn had crumbled and fallen, covering the earth floor with tons of loose granite. The jagged top of this wall was now only five feet high and over this, the neighbouring cart bay, cow shed and stable were all visible.

From these inauspicious beginnings, Sheila, her husband Ron, their large family and many friends worked hard to create a holiday home full of happiness, music, laughter and love. Along the way (only 5ft 2in and in her mid-50s) she developed a passion for building with stone, constructing two granite staircases herself over a five-year period. French neighbours seeing the Wrights tackle their enormous DIY task fervently wished them "bon courage" which could perhaps be translated loosely as "Good luck - you'll need it!"

This book traces the story of the ongoing restoration in a series of chapters which also give Sheila's thoughts on aspects of Creusoise life and her experiences in France. It is illustrated with her own charming pen and ink drawings.

About the Author

Sheila Wright

Sheila Wright (née Jones) was born in Leicester in l939. On leaving Wyggeston Grammar School, she trained as a primary school teacher at Bretton Hall, Yorkshire, where she met her husband Ron. They lived first in Hertfordshire, where most of their seven children were born. In 1970, the family moved into a Tudor farmhouse in the Suffolk countryside. The birth of two more children, teaching, the care of pets and various livestock, and involvement in church and village events kept them fully occupied, but Sheila found time to gain an MA in Special Educational Needs from the University of East Anglia.

The fermette in the Creuse was purchased in 1994 and is a fascinating retirement occupation!

Sheila's hobbies include music making, drawing and painting, reading, spending time with the family (eight grandchildren to enjoy), gardening and escapism in rural France.

Subsequent to completing this book she managed to find time to write another one, initially about Drinkstone Village School, where she was Head Teacher when it was closed as part of a county council policy to reduce the number of village schools; it had been starved of funds for years. As the book progressed it expanded to cover some of the history of the village as well and was published as Drinkstone School and Village, A Suffolk History under our Greenridges Press imprint in October 2005.

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