Gloriously eccentric and soulful castle renovations with Leo & Claire at La Mouline

I put out a request for Bards to send in Stories and Pictures of where they were and how they were doing, learning, being and becoming more bardic.  Rejoicefully I received this from Leo and Claire… I’ll let their words and pictures tell you about their adventures volunteering in magical places in the Pyrenees and beyond..

In November last year Claire & I went to volunteer at Irving, Julianne & Oscar’s “La Mouline” (near Rennes-Les-Bannes in the south of France) through the HelpX volunteer organisation.

Leo & Claire at La Mouline

Irving Bastin, for over 30 years, had been renovating a derelict building – possibly a former castle or monastery. More recently he had done this with the help of his partner Julianne, baby Oscar & Jasper the dog.

What made his renovation so unique is that Irving had restored the castle using things he had found in the street and in dustbins, recycling everything from cutlery to beds to religious statues. He even made a table by placing an old car windscreen on top of a broken statue of St. Joan of Arc (see below).

Table made from St. Joan of Arc

I slept on a bed that was attached to the wall on one end and the edge of the floorboards on the other, with a 15 foot drop on either side (see YouTube video below).

Irving’s philosophy on work was truly unique. While looking for some nails to fix up insulation on his roof, he insisted that we didn’t sort out his box filled with screws/nails/pins/dirt as he said that a disorganised box always offered the hope that somewhere within it lay the screw or nail he was looking for…

Irving’s kitchen of reclaimed objects

Our stay made me think of the Incarnation. When we recycle or repair old objects, we imitate Jesus who Himself came down to restore Creation’s brokenness.

Watch Claire’s video tour of part of La Mouline below…

“Cleo” the chick at La Mouline


  1. interesting to hear another persons perspective on the place. i stayed there too.

  2. Hello 🙂 We met Irving and his tremendous house there is now around ten years. We did not have the opportunity to mean seeing him and din't have news in spite of two mails (maybe lost?). We are happy to see that this place always exists…

    Stephany, Adrien and Lola.

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