We are Matt & Ali Cooper; with 2 kids aged 7 & 5.
Matt is from all over but most of his upbringing was in Oxfordshire, UK, and Ali grew up on a farm in Yorkshire, UK.
Matt studied Marine Biology at University and learned to dive, joining the Royal Marines after graduation. Sadly this didn't work out because of his rubbish night vision! He was medically discharged and went into the IT industry where he spent 15 years. He started off as an hardware and software engineer, getting his Microsoft MCSE qualification, then started and ran a charity fundraising Dotcom with Ben Brabyn, a friend from the Marines.
He kept diving though, working with Florian Graner, a Biologist and underwater cameraman, working as a diver on documentaries in Norway and around the world (but nearly always cold water!).
Being a physical guy and very practical in many fields, he always felt like a frustrated farmer and sitting at his desk day after day started to take its toll on his health and happiness. Now he can work outside doing any number of projects, and he is a different man! He has taken up hunting and loves the peaceful time in the forest, as well as providing ecological and humane meat for the family as we don’t buy any commercial meat for ourselves.
Ali did languages at university; French & Spanish, and then spent about 10 years in the yachting industry; mostly cooking on private or charter sailing yachts in stunning locations all over the world. She based herself near Nice, France before meeting Matt who introduced her to SW France, where they got married and had 2 kids. Having grown up on a farm, she wanted a similar up bringing for her kids and feels very lucky to have managed to give them such a lovely childhood, as well as feeling very at home in nature herself.
In 2013 we decided to embark on a big renovation project with Ali's parents, Nigel & Gina. La Taillede was the 3rd property we visited and looked no further. As soon as we saw the place we knew it was the one!
Nigel loves working with wood, and as La Taillede has it's own forest, we purchased some good machinery so Nige is very happy spending his days in the barn, making what ever is needed out of wood.
Gina is chief soup maker and keeps everyone going with her nourishing crew lunches, using as much of our own produce as possible and she helps out with the kids too.
Also part of crew up here are Dani & Luka, who arrived in December 2015 as part of the work-away scheme. They intended to stay for 2 weeks and are still here! Dani is American and is a great chef and does lots of painting & varnishing too. Luka is our Swedish saw-man! He is very versatile; he casts all the concrete kitchen tops and makes lots of things in wood as well as fitting the work Nige makes. As they are also ex-yachties they are a perfect couple to help Ali with hospitality for the gite business. A wonderful, very practical couple who have become part of this place and part of our family.
Last but not least is our large collection of animals; we have 2 dogs, Rocco & Tai, 3 cats Tom & Tillie & Bandit, 1 donkey called Martin, 2 naughty Pyrenean goats, a flock of Cameroon sheep, various pigs and some chickens.