The French country life is not for everyone. Easter Saturday afternoon and I am happily painting my new book shelves (Farrow & Ball Lamp Room Grey) when the phone rings. It is a friend from London with a maison secondaire in a nearby village and he is not a happy bunny. With a high pressure job in London, he has been looking forward to his Easter break for weeks but has just arrived to find glacial weather and howling winds. His chimney stack has been blown away, his internet isn't working and his new front door won't open or close. Worse, there are mouse droppings in the sitting room and his outside light doesn't work when it is supposed to, but instead switches itself on and off during the night. 'So much for a rural bloody idyll,' he mutters. 'I wish I'd bought an apartment in St Tropez.'