We are Pumpjack & Piddlewick and welcome to our life.
Pumpjack, a.k.a. David, is an eccentric, mad scientist oenologist and author, and who, I think, unknowingly acts as the creative muse to me, Piddlewick, a.k.a. Alycea, who finds most of the items for our shop, as well as writing for this blog.
In our middle ages we found each other and, due to varying circumstances, gave up everything, completely changing our lives to pursue the proverbial dream. And when we say, ‘gave everything up’, we mean literally everything we had, including a steady income. We jumped off the cliff and started down the wine making road on a Ducati touring motorcycle (since sold) and have not regretted one moment.
The choice to chase the dream was an easy one, but the lifestyle has been and is hard. The flip side is a real passion and true enjoyment in the day to day, and in what we are doing. We have never been happier, more frustrated, and more excited about living life.
But why do it?
As for the Why, When and How? After David received his Oenology & Viticulture degree, in his early 40’s, we began travelling the world following the harvests (otherwise known as vintages) and making wine in such places as Northern Spain, New Zealand and California. With a dawning realisation that vintages were rather like a very exciting hamster wheel, we chose to get off and take the leap to pursue the dream of making our own wine.
France was the focus, in particular Burgundy, as a long held passion for our Pumpjack. We arrived with essentially all we owned in 3 large suitcases, and no jobs or income lined up, but what we did have was an opportunity to look after a small Château, near Chablis, as Caretakers (Gardiens in France) in exchange for a place to live. So we were lucky enough to begin our French life in a beautiful place, we just had to make the rest happen.
We are Making the Most
To make the most of the little we had we decided to follow a simple lifestyle. We learned how to (had to) recycle, upcycle, forage, wildcraft and to make the most of a restoration garden.
We used our first year here to begin learning French (as neither of us really knew much at all), to get a sense of the French culture (and whether we like it), and most importantly figure out how one goes about renting, buying or even finding a vineyard.
The entrepreneurial spirit
To support ourselves and the Dream, and with true entrepreneurial spirit, we put our creative juices (or should that be creative wine?) to the fore and put our hands to many and any tasks. In consequence we have enjoyed a great variety of odd jobs, such as pruning vineyards, being a chef, selling stuff on ebay, giving wine tours, refurbishing shutters and ultimately and finally (hoorah!) setting up our own businesses.
Pumpjack developed his vineyard work into a negociant business, and has since gone on to write a book (Loaded for Guccifer 2.0), which is surprisingly not at all about wine. (He’s so very versatile.)
Piddlewick started our Shop on Etsy (and thus ‘Pumpjack & Piddlewick’ was born) focused on all the fab vintage and antique finds she’s discovered here (often with a particular focus on wine, surprise, surprise). The shop keeps growing, bulging at the seams with wonderful finds, and she has since expanded to a second shop centred on the French Silk Scarf (a particular passion of Piddlewick’s). Her third is now underway as she develops her love of decoupage, paper crafts and creating cards in to her new shop Taking Time Too, offering printable digital downloads.
Life Goes On
And as life does progress, the decision was made to stay, buy a house and live in France. Time was taken to decide on a location near Beaune, for better access to more variety of grapes for Pumpjack. A home in a village, where we could walk to everything we needed and wanted, from requisite boulangerie (bakery) to bars, cafes and of course great dog walking. And as we always wanted to build or work on a home to make it our own, a restoration fixer upper was sought, complete with large (restoration) garden.
And then there is the day to day. We look after varying amounts of ducks, depending on the season, (including the Chief Waddler, Maggie), 3 cats (Gigi, Lapsong and Noisette) and a standard size dachshund called Chewie. The frolics that this group of animals get up to means we are constantly kept in a state of laughter, bemusement and even the odd tears.
We also like to write about the various humorous and strange goings on we encounter in France in our French Findings posts. Then there are our musings that make up our life in our Vignettes, as well as the additional cultural history we uncover as we research items for our shop. It all adds to our journey as we discover our adopted country.
We hope you enjoy our story, our discoveries and join us in pursuing our dreams.
Glad that we have found each other online. Good luck with the blog – and, of course, your big adventure in France!
And you! It is our first year’s harvest and although very small, we are very pleased (about 400 bottles total). It will take us we think about 3 to 5 years to totally recover, replant and improve the vineyard to its actual capacity. All being well. In the meantime we are setting up a negociant license – and learning French as we go. All good fun and hard work. How has your year been?
I’m gearing up to make the move. Posting every day for a year (now weekly, in the second year of the blog) focuses my mind. I make numerous trips over each year and have even managed to extend my role at work to take on managing our international relations, which involves frequent trips to Paris…
Wonderful! It’s a great thing to be able to do what you love, and be where you love as well. Where are you moving from? When will you make the move?
Ah, the €64 million question… We’re trying to put ourselves in the strongest position to be able to make the move from Brighton. Not quite sure when yet. On verra!
Now that is coincidence! We moved from Brighton too. David (Pumpjack) went to Plumpton for his Oenology degree and from Brighton we left to the harvests (gaining experience) – north hemisphere (Spain), Southern Hemisphere (New Zealand), north again (California), before deciding we had had enough of that and it was time to pursue our own life. And so here we are. When you’re ready… When the time is right…
Hurrah hurrah for the Gay Hussah (just because I like the rhyme) but really hurrah for you following my blog (very flattering and I’ll endeavour not to disappoint). I’m now following you – irrisitible names but really because my own boffin two brained husband and I are searching for our maison principale (we have a small house in the south of Cantal) where we plan to grow a few vines and make some wines (just for us – nothing like as serious as you) but you are bound to provide mahusive inspiration.
All vines are good vines if they make wine, no matter how many. We planted 90 vines here at the house we look after and they are coming into their 3rd year, so we may get grapes this year. Like you, the plan for these vines is purely wine for the family that own the house, and maybe a couple bottles for ourselves of course. The rest that we look after (currently) we are negotiating a Fermage agreement. The amount of work in recovering this vineyard is astronimical, so have just set up as negociants to make wine from other people’s grapes. Stretching our wings to find what works here in France.
Fascinating and I will read through your posts and share your blog with my husband 🙂
Pumpjack & Piddlewick, what a wonderful adventure you are on. Thank you for following my blog and I am thrilled to have found yours. I will certainly take some time to browse your posts. I hope your day is a happy one! 🙂
What a lovely blog! I admire your derring-do and am surprised that the cat hasn’t eaten the duckling… 🙂 Thank you for the follow.
It’s been a beauteous journey with the animals in particular and discovering that amazingly, on the whole, they get along. 🙂
And an American, originally from those same California vineyards, is also delighted to be sharing your adventure!
Welcome! and hope you enjoy.