…was all I really wanted. But, Alas, our French dream, is over. We’d spent the run in towards the auction day (last Wednesday, or it should have been) trimming and trimming our budget down to the bare essentials. The core of what we needed in order to make any move into a dream move. For Jen, it’s always been about a lively house, family together, a making special of events and life and things, and the Writer’s Retreat was non-negotiable, regardless of how successful a straight B&B might be. For me, the office in Alas was basically perfect. A room of my own big enough to lay down the old woven carpet we’ve valued so much here in Jam Jar 1, and on top of it my big desk, with a notebook ready to hand. I obsessed about what furniture I might have – an indulgent ‘thinking’ chair, a corner to watch Inception and Moneyball endlessly, another corner to paste the walls with ideas and scratch out new projects. Gunny, my faithful typewriter available to be called into service when it was time for the real, fingers-grubby, hands-on type of writing. A perspex panel on the wall to fill with left-brain-right-brain scribbling, plot flows and nuggets of realisations. Bookshelves, obviously, surrounding the wood-burning stove, natch. A sober but plush colour scheme. A professional office. And yet, now that our house in Alas is a footnote in the previous chapter, all of that lushness sloughs away. Even the room, the rug and the desk was so much dressing up. I’ve written two verses of my epic poem in the last two weeks, using nothing but a notebook and pen, taking me finally within finishing distance of the project, of any project of real worth for the first time. Losing our escape (because there was plenty of escape involved) to France hasn’t dulled our dream, it’s just forced us to think differently, and in doing so I’ve discovered that actually even that amazing prospect wasn’t quite right, didn’t quite ring true, wasn’t perhaps ever going to deliver exactly what I want. Quite possibly that’s my survival mechanism in place, abandoning what is now out of reach, and maybe there’ll always be a hankering for more regardless of the dreamlike quality of the life we eventually reach. Jen’s always pushed the idea of decamping to a barge, trundling the waterways like nomads and living off our frugality and wits, always heading for somewhere else. Always moving. Like sharks. Perhaps that’s the only way to live as a dreamer, like a shark, never stilling in the deep but pressing on into bluer waters and fresher currents. I’ve never committed 100% to the barge idea, but there are many ways to keep moving. To live the dream life we’ve set out for ourselves without compromising or backsliding on the motivations that led us to Alas, but travelling differently, maybe constantly, perhaps for ever, however long ‘ever’ ever turns out to be in the end.