The dream is in tatters. I’m actually sick of flicking through floorplans and pictures of properties. I’ve moved onto holiday and hen do planning. But Ben doesn’t have any other projects to sink his teeth into. This blog has been our writing focus, and I still feel too busy with my work to create the headspace needed to listen to and comment on the writing Ben did on his novel months ago. He’s working hard and wants to retreat at home into a fantasy world. But we’ve lost the fantasy.
I suppose the death knell was the email response we had been eagerly awaiting from a family friend living in France, with its warnings of the reality, the failed attempts of friends, and to have realistic expectations. It didn’t phase me because I felt we had realistic expectations. I was prepared for a complete lifestyle change, and had no hopes of transposing our British life into France. But it burst Ben’s bubble.
As a result I set to work crunching the numbers. I scoured the competition and set out the worst case scenario. What we’d have to live on if we had two run-of-the-mill gites to let, with no pool, charging the lowest I found being charged, at just ten weeks occupancy. £380 a month. That would barely cover food let alone any bills. The situation would look better with a more realistic three nice gites still at ten weeks occupancy, yes that’s just ten weeks out of 52! We could be talking £1250 a month. That would cover taxes, bills, food, car fuel. Just. Maybe? With nothing left over.
And that’s where Ben and I reacted differently. For me, that’s a comfort. I can see the numbers working and I think we’ll make ends meet. It’s always been about a degree of self-sufficiency. It’s always been about insulating ourselves.
I list ‘other income’: writing, writers’ retreats, child benefit, own veg and wood and water? Summer solar shower outside, wood-fired hot tub, bbq outside, gas bottle stash, stock pile dry food cupboard.
But Ben could not get over ‘nothing left’. No extra spending money. For him this isn’t insulation it’s isolation. It’s not self-sufficiency, it’s survivalism. It’s not the life he wants for us. He’s allergic to the idea of living hand to mouth. He doesn’t just want to make ends meet. So now he’s bursting my bubble.
I’m being unrealistic. He’s being negative. I’m not listening. He’s being selfish. I’m being unreasonable. He’s being narrow-minded.
It wasn’t a discussion. Ben flat out refused to live in such tight margins. He figured we had to find another way to make the dream work in France. I disagreed. His refusal to bend on lifestyle the dream be damned. It was a matter of immoveable fact for me. I was the one left saying it’s not possible. We finally agreed, but not as a team, ‘so then we don”t do it.’
Back to the drawing board.