When Ben and Jen first suggested “moving”, my knee-jerk reaction was, “but we’ve just settled here, made friends, work, socializing, I don’t want to move again!” Then when they extrapolated all the info and laid out the plan and number crunched the cash flow situation, the thought of not having to work until I was 70 sounded appealing! I thought, well, I’ve done it once (moved area, started again) I can do it again. I like the look of the Forest of Dean, close to family, and it would progress the original Jam Jar Dream. I felt I would be ‘going home’ as my father’s family are from there originally. France was mentioned briefly as an alternative, I remember saying to my friend Sue “I’m not going there!”
So after Ben and Jen did the recky of suitable areas and couldn’t find anywhere worth moving to, the focus turned to…France. I think we are spoilt here by beautiful countryside, and because it’s such a pleasant place to live, people tend to be pleasant. So once again, they did their research, juggled the figures, and laid before me – the Ariege, and the sort of property we could achieve. I spent an evening google-earthing the area, after we had booked a recky holiday in April. Wow, what stunning scenery. I drove the google-earth car all the way from Seix, past Le Trein, all the time stopping to take in the 360 degree view, with the Pyrenees in the background. My previous visits to France have been memorable for the lovely places and friendly people, from Brittany to the South of France. I love their laid back laissez faire approach to life and they seem to have their priorities right. Less work, more focus on family and socialising. Yes, I can do this, again, why not? I can still have what I’ve achieved now, but even more.
My concerns were, initially, we have to be sure as there’s no turning back. It would be hard to get back into the UK property market if it didn’t work or if we didn’t like it there. Now…so what? if it goes tits up, we just start again. C’est la vie! Another concern was that I woud miss nursing. If we stayed in the UK, I could do occasional and part time. Now having had time to think about bringing my retirement forward and all the beaurocracy that’s coming into practice, I’m looking forward to being a stay at home Nana. I know family will be more distant in miles, but with skype and facebook they will feel no further than now. Also if I’m not working, I’ll have time to visit and spend quality time. Spending recently a few days at brother Dave’s, I shared our ideas of moving to France, expecting to have to justify it, but he said go for it! This really rubber stamped the plans, and allayed any doubts that it was a completely insane idea. I’m really happy Jen has found Nadia. Someone to hold our hands initially and hopefully be our guiding angel.
The last few days, I asked for an update of plans and timescale. They had it figured out to about 2 1/2 years – 2018. So, I’d be 61, getting on, would I have the energy to do all I wanted to? Would I adapt to change so easily? Could we bring it forward – say 6 months? Once again, Ben looked at the budget and said yes, we could move next year. Oh, OK. Yes, this is really going to happen. Having talked through the stages, we could be living the pot de confiture reve this time next year! This is our last Christmas in Lechlade, though it feels like a first proper Christmas with a tree, and with Seb and Cal being the ages for it to be a magical Christmas. Now the idea is rooted, and possible, I can’t wait to begin a new life, again. Especially having watched a video of St Girons and its people dancing, loving life, having fun, all sorts, types and ages, I think we’ll fit in OK.
We have a very good life here, so what am I looking forward to? All being together, every day, doing what we want. I’m looking forward to waking up to sunshine, opening windows to clean air, spending days outside gardening and teaching the kids about nature. Being part of the community – slowly integrating as our language skills develop, showing off to visiting family and friends how we have mastered the language. I’m looking forward to being hosts and meeting lots of new people, making people’s holiday experiences unforgettable. Time to do sewing, jam making, bread making, living.
We’ve a lot to do and a long way to go yet. Stuff to sort, ends to tie up. House to prepare for selling, packing up belongings, moving to rented, finding a property, handing in my notice – that I’m not looking forward to. Sorting finances and forwarding addresses. I’ll have a small pension in 2017 which will hopefully pay for my trips home. Poor Charlie won’t be happy. What will I miss? Damp miserable weather. Miserable, rude people. Pollution. Fat people. Extortionate prices for decent food. I will be sad to leave friends and family, but it’s not Australia, and I think I’ll miss the little English eccentricities and customs, but I’m sure there are equal characters yet to meet. So, better get on with those text books!
P.S. This was my original plan, before the Jam Jar Dream, to run away to France.