ROSIE’S TIPS FOR RUNNING ECOFRIENDLY GÎTES
to all the amenities and tourist sites for guests. Mont St-Michel is close by and the coast is an hour’s drive, but it’s a beautiful journey through the countryside so people enjoy doing it.”
This lovely way of life is certainly one Rosie and her husband Simon, along with their two boys Tom and Ben, have enjoyed since they moved and Rosie talks enthusiastically about the boys’ “lovely childhood, running through fields”. The carefree existence is a luxury that many young families hope to find at the gîtes and Rosie and Simon are more than happy to share it with them, embracing the opportunity to make cosmopolitan connections with their guests that come from all over the world.
“Some people arrive and are very quiet and others are more chatty, and we’ll quite happily sit and enjoy a glass of wine with them. We’ve made some great friends, one family in particular who we see every time we go back to the UK,” says Rosie.
But perhaps the real star of the show is the family’s pet boar, named Boris Johnson. “He’s a gentle giant,” laughs Rosie. “He’s a lovely attraction and the kids especially always seem to remember him.”
But beyond making memories, Rosie and Simon are keen that staying at the gîtes will promote a more environmental lifestyle, and whether that’s through providing guests with re-usable shopping bags, encouraging them to use the onsite recycling and composting facilities or showing the kids around the wildlife holding, there’s a hope that guests will remember their time in Normandy when they go back home.
“I would love to think that they take something like that away with them,” says Rosie. “I just try to set that idea, that little spark. If you tell people all the things they should do to make the world perfect, they’re not going to do it. But if they make little changes, like walking to school one day a week or buying one pack of organic meat a month, then you gradually have a greater influence,” she says. But for those who need more motivation to go green, it would surely be Rosie’s reasoning as she pops those seasonal greens in the pan: “It’s just all about having a lovely life.” • Insulate to keep the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Thick curtains are also great at keeping out the cold and don’t forget to lag the water tank and pipes. • Buy reclaimed and second-hand. Look at second-hand sites online, keep an eye on the small ads and visit car boot sales. Enjoy giving something old a new lease of life. • Refurbish what you already have – get old chairs reupholstered and mend broken items. • Be creative. We made a coffee table for the gîte by cutting down the legs of an old school desk. • If buying new, choose eco-friendly goods such as wooden products from sustainable forestry projects. • Donate or sell things you don’t want rather than sending them to landfill. • Use energy-efficient lighting and increase natural light levels with skylights and light tubes. • Plant a wildlife-friendly garden and grow some of your own vegetables – you can even do this in pots if you have limited space.
Read Rosie’s next gardening column in our October issue
Rosie and Simon love the rural lifestyle Normandy has afforded them and their sons Tom and Ben; the family enjoy dining on fresh, seasonal produce from the garden’s vegetable patch