About Me

Welcome and thank you for stopping by.

I started this blog when we literally ran away from London. We had many of the stresses that living in a bustling city involved and hankered after the Good Life, living in the countryside, surrounded by woodland and meadows, biking on Sundays and having land to grow our veggies, build the huge greenhouse I always wanted to be lost amongst sweet smelling tomatoes and my favorite runner beans and have a few chickens to boot.


We found an old run down barn, a plot of land with only the cows to keep an eye on us and room to create a future studio – just perfect. So in 2015 we took the big leap. We had a jungle of brambles to hack down and weeds up to our shoulders, but we found a garden and a small arbor of trees too amongst the wildness and knew this was home.

The few chickens multiplied and then we added three crazy Tolouse geese and I started to illustrate and write, something I had’nt done since childhood. After a couple of years and a small inheritance we bought the Farmhouse as the chickens and geese had outgrown the barn and true to chicken maths, we now had guineas, ducks and a batchelor flock of cockerels! I was also adopting unwanted poultry. Finally in 2019 we bought a cottage in the hills and a factory. Both having a background in decorating and construction we felt we could take up the challenge and although at times it feels daunting, its the life we chose and love.

I also changed my name. Leaving England was an important step in changing my life, changing career and moving on in many ways – stories I will share. I kept my Scottish name from my father, and added the French Castille to always remind me of the country I love the most.


This blog is all about our transition to France, our love of the countryside, our poultry homestead and our renovation projects. I am also on Instagram: judi.alexanderc and on Facebook: Thistle Cottage and Pastoral Needlecraft. In 2021 I began my new career after retiring from tax, and I now illustrate, write children’s books and design whimsical fabrics and home decor. My poultry were the catalyst for this. I never imagined I would adore these birds so much, find so much affection from them and companionship. My designs can be found at: http://www.judicastille.shop If you love any of the designs, or want bespoke, just drop me a message.

I photograph a lot of my surroundings, like hedgerows, wildflowers and combine these in my designs. Over the next few years the factory will be ready for our printing projects and the sewing machines will be stitching away. I worked for many years in industry and having my own factory is a very natural thing and here in France you can have premises very easily. It was a full circle connecting my life here with my old life back in England.


Tony my husband and myself will be doing extensive refurb works on the barn and other buildings and gardens, keep an eye on the blog for these projects. And if you want to know all about jointing and pointing masonry, well there will be an article for that too.

Judi Castille

Contact me by email: judicastilledesign@gmail.com

16 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hey Judi, noticed you haven’t posted for a while. Just want to say a quick thank you for supporting my blog, and I’m sorry that I haven’t given the same in return. Your site is absolutely wonderful. Hope you’re well 🙂


    1. Hi Garry,
      Thanks. Yes I am very new to blogging and the last year has been mad running back and forth in Europe setting up premises re our pine syrup business and the photography suffered, although its been doing manufacture shots this week and I may be able to sneak a few onto the blog..top secret stuff! Got to get the habit as blogging so creative.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice to find another bit of confirmation that i m not the only ‘ slightly mad’ ex-pat from the UK, with multiple projects to fulfill…..You must have a similar garden to mine……i have the same rough ‘prairie style’ for the most part,(which my cats love), but I am aiming to contrast this with more formal spaces using geometry through hedges, shrubs, raised beds gravel paving & slate……Along way to go on a shoestring budget and not great health, but slowly I will get there. Remembering to enjoy the process….
    Interesting to read about your progress…..glad you’ve escaped ‘accountancy’…..for life in the fresh air of the French Countryside…


    1. Hello Hilary, Thanks for your comments. It is daunting. My rather mole invested lumpy grass patch seems a long way from the elegant arches, outside kitchen and extensive wildflower and herb garden areas I dream about – but we made progress this year, excepting in catching that mole! Health and budget also play a bit of mischief with me too, so please feel free to comment often and update me with your progress too. Just about to post an article on pointing and one on tomatoes.


  3. Found a way here through someone’s blog. It is worth visiting. 🌹
    I read your about section and I’m pleased to know you.
    Now I’m following you so will explore your blog more.
    I would also love to have you reading my blog so plz visit my blog and give my posts a read so that I have a constructive feedback. Thanku in advance.💞


    1. I am trying to do all the things I always wanted to but events got in the way. I regret not taking stronger decisions to follow my heart. And now with the chance to do what I want I am filled with nerves and anxiety about failure. Aren’t our heads filled with complexity!


  4. I’ve enjoyed all your photos. Thanks for sharing them. Your life direction is amazing. Getting close to plants…building your life around that…admirable. Wish you and your family the best!


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