In the autumn of 2002 we made the decision to move to France and put our house in the UK on the market. Greg has always been a keen fisherman and helped run Seaford Angling club for over 30 years, he had always dreamed of owning his own lake one day.
Although we loved where we lived in England we knew that as far as our two children were concerned, we should make the move sooner rather than later in order to give them the best chance of becoming integrated into the French educational system and picking up the language.
We spent a lot of time searching the internet looking at French properties and were lucky enough to come across this house which was described as a 'Villa with three lakes, in need of renovation'. When we came out to view it in January 2003, the agent could only find two of the three lakes and the house hadn't been looked after for over 20 years. However, it had the right feel about it, plus lots of potential, and a perfect setting. Our first offer was rejected, so we offered the asking price, which was accepted. It was the first and only house that we had viewed in France.
We came back in March to see the elusive third lake, now called Jungle Lake as it was so overgrown, and to sign the preliminary contracts. We finally moved here at the start of August 2003 and so started the process of starting the business and adapting to the new French way of life.
The first thing we needed to do was get the Specimen Lake up and running ready for fishermen. We added to the existing stock with common carp, mirror carp, grass carp and three big catfish. We restored the little chalet by the lake and kitted it out with cooking facilities, running water, heater etc. then added a proper flushing loo and solar shower. The covered eating area to the side of the chalet was built a couple of years later and made a welcome addition.
Then we converted the old outbuilding (previously used to make wine, process goats' milk into cheese and house some of the animals) into the gite and stocked the Coarse Lake with bream, smaller carp, roach, black bass etc.
The longest project has been Jungle Lake as the dam was in a very poor state of repair on our initial viewing; by the time we arrived some months later, it had collapsed in the middle due to damage by coypu which had made burrows into the earth. The quote to repair it was in excess of €20 000 which was completely out of our budget so we bought an old JCB and a large tipping trailer to go behind the tractor and gradually, over a few years, we managed to re-build the dam. Jungle Lake is now a carp runs lake with some large carp for good measure and has lovely caravan located at the top end of the lake, looking down to the dam.
There have been lots of additions and improvements added over the last 15 years as time and money have gradually allowed us to make other necessary changes. The main one being the upgrade of the old original chalet at the Spec Lake to give much more satisfactory accommodation and a better kitchen area.