On a cold December day nearly two years ago, I escaped to France from the grey Oxfordshire countryside in a car packed to the roof with flutes, music, suitcases – even a digital piano. The perfect storm of Covid and Brexit had created the opportunity to realise my dream of living life French-style. The plan had started to form a few months earlier, when I discovered an 18th century “maison de maître” in a picturesque village. The moment I saw it I was smitten. I knew it would make the perfect home and flute studio in France.
It just needed a bit of work…
For the first six months I focused on the major building works needed to create our flute studio in France. The first task was to convert the top floor of the house into a music studio, library, and study. My French vocabulary quickly expanded as I managed the project, procurement, and tradesmen. Words like ‘plasterboard’, ‘circuit breaker’, ‘scaffolding’ and ‘architrave’ soon tripped off the tongue – although it has to be said A-level French does not fully prepare you for sentences like “I need a quote for sandblasting the joists” or “two triple sockets on that wall, please”!
The music studio is over 1200 sq feet, about the same size as an average three-bed house. Taking it from total wreck to completion meant managing not just the fun things like paint colours and light fittings, but also the bones of wiring, plumbing, insulation and plastering. It was an all-consuming but highly creative project. Although gruelling at times, in the end the vision that I had the first moment I saw that empty space came stunningly to life.
The final moment arrived when the piano was lifted into its new home by crane. The whole village turned out to watch this thrilling but nerve-wracking moment. The event even made it into Le Sud-Ouest newspaper!
The amazing crew from Griffioen Transport BV lifted the piano into place through the top floor window.
And then, at last, in May 2022, we welcomed our first Flutes in France participants . The vision was complete.