Our Big Family Road Trip: What a welcome!



Our Big Family Road Trip/Mike's 40th Cake
Our Big Family Road Trip/Mike’s 40th Cake


During our trip we have had the pleasure of staying in some pretty great places and meeting some fabulous owners.  For the most part we have been welcomed with open arms and made to feel at ease immediately.  We feel very lucky to have come across such wonderful people during the last couple of months.

We are now coming to the end of our trip.  I still have so much to write about and so many things to share – and I will – but I just had to get online tonight to share the most amazing welcome we received earlier today.

We have now arrived at the second to last property of our trip in the Puy-de-Dome region of France.  The property is owned by John and Morag McQuade and their 13-year-old twins Rachel and Georgia.

John and Morag left England and moved to Puy-de-Dome 16 years ago after purchasing an old mill – which was nothing more than a shell – and completely renovating it into a family home and separate gite.  Well, the work on the family home is still underway but the gite is complete and what a job they have done!

Spanning over four floors it provides more than ample space for large families and groups.  The ground floor has an open-plan kitchen and dining area with living room, plus large bathroom which also houses the washing machine and tumble dryer on the ground floor.

Three double bedrooms are on the first floor, one with en-suite, plus a shower room.  There is then a further floor – the galley – which is perfect for children and has its own toilet.  In the basement is a games room complete with pool table, table tennis and table football games.

There is a pool outside which is covered and fenced off, ensuring younger members are kept safe, plus a terrace and garden, as well as parking at the front of the property.  It is situated in a tiny village in the Puy-de-Dome yet has the convenience of a well-stocked supermarket and petrol station less than a five minute drive away.

The views are amazing, amidst green countryside and farmlands.  Really, you could not want more.  See it for yourself here.

Whilst we loved the description of the property when we were planning our stays – hence the reason for booking it – what we hadn’t banked on was the overwhelming hospitality of the owners.

From the moment we arrived we were made to feel welcome.  We felt reassured that if we needed anything at all, we wouldn’t be considered a bother to them.  They were there to help us and they wanted us to enjoy our stay – if there was anything we needed we only had to say.  They weren’t just saying it, they actually meant it.  Do you have any idea how much difference it makes when you are welcomed so genuinely and so warmly?

We settled in quickly and admired the views from the windows.  It didn’t matter that it was raining.

‘If we were going to be stuck in the rain in any place, this is the house to be,’ Mike said.

It was true.  The house was comfortable, warm and had everything we needed and more.  There was plenty of space and enough to keep the children occupied, from the games room to the multitude of books lining the shelf along the wall, to the thoughtfully provided boxes of toys, games and puzzles.  The typical mother-of-young-children in me even appreciated the stairgates, and the plastic plates and cups in the kitchen cupboards.  It’s the small things, you know?!

When Morag popped over to make sure we were okay she added that they had a small surprise for us.

Oh yes?  What could it be, we wondered?

This… !


The very wonderful McQuades
The very wonderful McQuades


Look at our fabulous cake – a Big-Family-Road-Trip-slash-Mike’s-40th-birthday-cake made by a friend of theirs. As you might already know, Mike turned 40 earlier this year – so this cake was a celebration of all-sorts in one – excellent!

Ali, their friend, is an ex-Kent girl herself and now living in France.  In fact, she comes from Gillingham which is very, very close to us in Rochester – we used to live there ourselves!  Ali is starting out on a road to cake-making and I think you’ll agree that she seems to be a pro already.  Look at it!  Each family member is on there – even Ben and Stephanie – and Jalopy the minibus takes his place too.  This cake was truly a work of art – unbelievably fantastic and delicious too!


We were all bowled over by our surprise!
We were all bowled over by our surprise!


We were absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness shown to us.

Rachel went to the trouble of drawing a picture for Mike too – can you believe she’s only 13?  What a talent!


And 13 year-old Rachel also gifted this picture she had drawn herself
And 13 year-old Rachel also gifted this picture she had drawn herself


The world needs more people like the McQuades and Ali.  Kind people who can bake scrummy cakes (which I am sure was non-calorific, and so that would allow me another slice as I type this, wouldn’t it?).  We’ve been walking around all evening smiling away at this amazing gesture of kindness.  How absolutely overwhelming it was.

So there you go!  If you need a large holiday rental which has everything you need in a beautiful part of France, and kind, warm (although slightly crazy, it has to be said but if you’re anything like us you’ll feel quite at ease!) owners, this is it.

We will definitely be back!


(There is one other place which is a must-stay if you’re planning a trip to Italy – again with a fabulous owner.  I’ll write about it very soon.)



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One thought on “Our Big Family Road Trip: What a welcome!

  1. Looks like an amazing cake and a great young artist there too! Glad you are having a lovely time and Happy Birthday!

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