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‘Pacas and mad Englishmen

Nigel Ashton of Bonheur Alpacas writes. Ah, there you are. Come in, come in, sit down there’s plenty of room. Right, so you’d like to hear about our alpaca life here in France then? Yes, you said you would, I’m sure you did. Well, you’re here now so pop the kettle on, we’ll have a brew and I’ll ramble on a bit about the joys of living here and teaching our ‘pacas to hum in French, some have picked up the local ‘patois’ very well.

Let me make the introductions, I am Nigel Ashton and along with my partner Yvonne Gardner we decided around ten years ago that it was time for a new adventure, we were both having a bit of a mid-life crisis as one does, fed up with our jobs, mine as a motorcycle mechanic and Yvonne as a garden centre manager, so it was time to do something silly.

Living in the lovely Meon Valley in Hampshire we spotted one day an open day at an alpaca breeder close to us. Fatal! Falling in love with these wonderful creatures we did some husbandry courses and then bought three geldings, one pregnant female and one older female companion. So, the first pebble had been cast into the pond, life was going to change.

As every alpaca owner soon comes to learn, they are addictive and we were no exception, more females soon followed necessitating more land to be rented to accommodate the growing numbers and that was when someone gave the wheel of fortune and fate a turn and I found myself helping move a friend over to the Charente in France.

Browsing estate agents’ windows is always obligatory and this only confirmed how affordable land was here, some even had what was fancifully described as “habitable accommodation, requiring some modernisation” next to a photo of a tumbledown pile of stone and tiles purporting to be the farmhouse. I’m hooked, I’ll happily live in a barn. Yvonne, fancy coming over to look at some farms, see how many alpacas we could have here?

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