An immediate reaction to wanting to move, but having set ourselves a schedule: “Don’t look at properties yet!” Or, of course: “Don’t get carried away! Don’t think you can have what you want! Don’t set yourself up for disappointment!” The main problem seems to be the idea that looking early is a recipe for misery. That having agreed a timeframe for someway into the future deciding to look at what is possible is likely to ruin everything, to run the risk that we could get attached to something we can’t have. Something we can’t have. That’s the root, of course it is, this projected idea that we need (that anyone needs) protecting from falling for something out of reach. What is out of reach, though? Falling in love with someone out of reach is unpleasant but isn’t it better to experience feeling anyway, even at the cost of heartbreak? Isn’t it better to find houses and areas and villages and situations that we could fall in love with even if they will never return to the market, even if when we’re ready to buy we’ll never find anything to match those things? We’ve been through so many stages already and the only reason we’ve managed to progress our dream onwards and keep it alive and driving us forward is because we’ve allowed ourselves to fall in love with things, to fall out of love with things, to become attached to something we can’t have. This is vital for pursuing a dream. Every dream house or dream location we see that we know won’t be around or available or necessarily right for us when we’re ready to buy has taught us what we want, what we’re looking for. It’s not good enough for me to have a dream without inhabiting it. Without fully realising it in our imaginations. And falling for this house or that house is a crucial step in progressing the levels of the dream – moving from ‘what an amazing idea’ to the next idea, the next idea, and on to ideas about how we’ll live in these places. And while I feel that the people telling us not to look might be able to understand this from a distance, I don’t get the sense that they’d ever understand the next level of this embracing of always looking early – that of always being ready. We spent so much time dreaming of the Forest that when we turned to the Wye we already knew which was more likely to suit us, without waiting until it was ‘sensible’ to explore in detail. When Jen received the email about the B&B in Ventnor we’d already fallen for and left behind at least three or four houses, heartbreaks all but all heartbreaks that had taught us more about the dream we were pursuing – all of which made us ready to embrace this new opportunity, to explore it fully without needing to disentangle us from our Wye thinking. And by throwing ourselves into the Ventnor dream, by delving into the deep detail about mortgages, job plans, income and bookings, by truly accepting that we might miss this thing because the timeframe might not work BUT WHO CARES LET’S JUST DREAM IT ANYWAY we readied our thinking for the next major leap – abandoning the UK altogether. I have been called lucky or charmed on many occasions but my experience has assured me that opportunities are there everywhere. I once struck up a conversation while buying flowers with the shop owner who told me he’d inherited £300,000 and didn’t know what to do with it. The B&B we stayed in the night of our wedding was run by a guy who’d ended up splitting with his wife and soldiering on alone, as he explained to me while we paid our bill. Had we been more ready in either situation these opening of people’s lives to us could have resulted in amazing opportunities and led to amazing results. Thankfully we were ready when Moms started to talk about moving to France in 2011 and selling her house, which is where this all began. But without being ready to jump in with both feet, by holding back and fearing to look early, there is no opportunity that can be taken and made into something wonderful. Always looking early is always being ready for the next opportunity.