When we set out on this adventure to move to France, I asked the kids to keep a diary of their experiences, their thoughts, their fears
and promised that neither Elaine nor I would read them unless invited to. They then said if they had to write it all down, so should I so I did.
I have published the diary of our move from the UK to this wonderful part of France as a sort of Blog.
If you would like to know a bit more about the characters in our story please,
A Man For All Reasons
Take one tired, brow beaten world-weary business executive with a beautiful wife and three gorgeous kids (more of them later) and pick the whole lot
up from a remote desolate island somewhere in the wild waters of the English Channel…well the Isle of Wight actually…. and deposit them lock stock and two
steaming baguettes in a small town in south west France. More [...]
A map of France was miraculously produced, and that fateful night we decided where we wanted to spend a good part of the rest of our lives.
We wanted to be below the cold isobar that on every weather map seems to run due east of La Rochelle, yes Normandy, Brittany and other points north
are beautiful, but decisions had to be made. More [...]
The next day we all sat around the dining room table, dreading sorting through at least a forest worth of advertising material and homes bearing no
resemblance whatsoever to our requirements. So instead, we reminisced about yesterday's rugby scrums, sweaty people, horrible coffee and ignorant or
perhaps uninterested sales reps. More [...]
The rain didn't stop that morning, but the shattering disappointment did.
The next property we saw was amazing, as was the one after that. Lunch time arrived punctually with the sunshine and the earlier nightmare was almost forgotten.
We had a couple of good eating hours before our next appointment and made the most of it at what has since become one of our favourite gastronomic
haunts. More [...]
How do you break it gently to three relatively young children, their relatively old grand parents and a died in the wool, set in his ways, obstinate, black Labrador, that, within a few months we (inc. dog) will be living, breathing and GOING TO SCHOOL in France?….
You do it very gently…and slowly….and carefully…and gently!! More [...]
Now lets face it, the local legal profession in France is not the fastest nor prettiest thing on two legs.
Our local notaire wouldn't have beaten the tortoise, even with a head start and a following wind and with his shrunken once black undertakers suit, stained with an exotic
mixture of, a couple of months worth of lunches, the odd Ricard and a light sprinkling of powdery off-piste dandruff.
So we were the proud owners of a gorgeous home in a wonderful town in southwest France.
All our furniture was in place, the brood had made camp in their allotted bedrooms and Elaine and I went exploring our new home. The living area of the house had been very
tastefully decorated with a mix of Anglo-French décor and we felt we could live with that for a while, upstairs was a different matter. One of the bedrooms had huge pink
rose wallpaper everywhere…walls, cupboards, doors and ceiling…sunglasses (and a large glass of wine, well that was my excuse) were needed to look in there….so we
didn't very often.
It is said by the local French population in these parts, that British immigrants to this beautiful area of the country have a three-year window.
What they are trying to say is that the Brits leave within three years, or divorce within three years, or go mad within three years, or unfortunately die within three years.
However once passed that three-year window they stay forever in their adopted country.
Across the last few years that joie de vivre has not dissipated but grown in stature, as have my three fantastic kids and wonderful wife.
Libby (aka BamBam) now has to be told to speak English when she is at home, she thinks in French, laughs in French, dresses in French, eats in French….
("Libby close your mouth when you eating") and is a proper little Mademoiselle.
Let me start by being honest, in hindsight we were foolish.
OK, all right, I put my hands up; I was very stupid, believing in the honesty and integrity of estate agents. I know, dear reader, you would have thought over my
long years dealing with this anomaly of British society, I would have learned my lesson, obviously I hadn't.
A visit to the Notairs, signed off all the money issues, price, agents commission, Notairs fees, and tax to our adopted country.
We did however get one little surprise, that at the time we didn't believe to be important; our buyer was going to have a mortgage. This bit of information was slipped very quickly
into the discussion by the Dutch delegate in between our lead inspection and termite report: No the woodworm didn't start pontificating about the dangers of lead
in paint and other bits of the house, but boy the Notaire did!
We tried everything to sort the mess out, bribery, begging, bitching and barter, nothing worked.
I have never actually understood whom the estate agent works for in France other than himself. I know that the Notaire works for both parties, and from his barbed
comments, at least I knew whose side he was on; ours, thank god!!
The move went smoothly and we settled into our ten-year renovation, building and decorating project under the supervision of my lovely wife, who
I have to admit, looks very fetching in a swimsuit, hardhat and Wellington boots.
So why was I sitting in a freezing cold hunting lodge, -8°C outside, at 10-O-Clock in the evening with 18 other very chilled people, a real
log fire with pretend heat (-6°C inside), some fairly grotty cooking wine and a pizza, well dear reader the answer is "La Liste".
Over the last couple of years, I have read with great interest the political machinations regarding hunting in the UK. I am afraid from a PC point of
view I have no real opinion either way on the subject, other than I liked the idea of the Stirrup Cup before the off, but I suppose they haven't
banned that yet.
It can happen anytime time between the hours of eight in the morning to eight at night. It starts with an eerie
low bass note and builds to a shrieking crescendo of earth moving, body piercing cacophony of sound, like
something crawling from the depths of hell, with a serious headache, indigestion and a major root canal problem.
Its usually about the end of January early February when a couple of my neighbours arrive unannounced
(usually with a bottle with no labels) to discuss the summer. Not the whole summer you understand, we would
all be too drunk by the end, to debate the entire five months of our holiday season.
Have you ever wandered into a shop or business in France to be greeted by a spotty adolescent youth in a dark suit, two sizes too small, who whispers a bonjour without looking you in the eyes, picks his/her nose whilst looking at his/her dirty shoes/trainers and mumbles "What do you want?"
If the answer to my question is a "bien sure" then you have probably just met a stagiaire.
If you are looking for a property to rent,or someone to manage an existing one,
in or around Saint Antonin Noble Val in the Tarn et Garonne (82) region , why not talk to us...Call or email Richard or
Woollam......We can help you.