Our dream house dream life search has had water running right the way through it. One of the things we’ll miss most about our current home? The deep, freestanding rolltop bath we put in. The place we reconnect when the kids are asleep, get to talk and feel content, hatch new plans and take stock.
The thing that makes Lechlade such a vibrant place to live? The River Thames. The route we love to take on walks to nearby pretty villages? The river. A secret walk where time stands still? Our ‘secret river walk’ along the Coln.
Our favourite spot to return to when we feel the need to ground ourselves in our kith? The crystal clear shallows of the River Leach. The spot we gravitate to on birthdays, new jobs, when I was overdue with Cali, for a ‘baptism’ in its waters. A place we have endowed with a restorative, affirming power, to help us acheive in life.
The reason we discarded the Forest of Dean for the Wye Valley? We knew we needed to be close to the river in order to be happy, to feel right. The walk we did with the kids on our first research trip to the Wye that blew us away? Along the river. And the pub that cemented Pennault as our number one village in the valley? Right on the river.
Trading up from the Thames to the Wye made us sure the move was going to give us a better life. Wild swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hopping back and forth from Welsh Wye to English Wye villages. We wouldn’t be much closer to beaches for the kids but the beaches of South and Mid-Wales were opened up to us for the first time, and one of them had a waterfall onto the beach, and dolphins in the sea.
When I got the email about our honeymoon B&B in Ventnor, of course the Isle of Wight, with its dinosaur footprint beaches all around us, and only a short walk away, bumped the Wye down to second place. The views from the house? of the sea. The yacht-filled English Channel that we looked out across on our Honeymoon and felt we could have been on the Cote D’Azur. And the clincher? A plunge pool that the kids would go crazy for.
But it wouldn’t be the South of France. It wouldn’t be swimming in the Med on his birthday in November, a moving experience that has stayed with Ben and made life in Italy the ultimate fantasy. And so when I decided to look at other parts of the country and beyond, and discovered how much more we’d get for our money abroad, Ben was beside himself. I had looked for other more affordable options on the Isle of Wight, in North Devon and in Cornwall, I had even considered south-west Ireland. Of course we should be moving to the coast!
A search in France revealed 278 properties with 5+ bedrooms. The first result was a ‘perfect wedding venue’. Only 34 properties came up on the same search for Italy. Granted rightmove.co.uk probably isn’t the best site to find properties abroad, but France started to look the more likely option for our dream move. As we started to narrow the search down to the most attractive regions to us as a family and a business, the coast again became the focus.
We’d love to look in Provence, on the Cote D’Azur, in the Languedoc; and in Italy in Liguria, but we’ve taken a shine to what’s on offer in the Midi-Pyrenees, and have decided to centre our new search on the Canal du Midi.