A house is not a home….



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Sealsea- (2)


Three years ago yesterday i moved out of my beautiful house, by the sea, to start this adventure. I loved this house, have always said it was the most beautiful house I would ever have the privilege  to live in. Edwardian, with so many original features….



I had put my heart and soul into it, worked so hard on it renovating and decorating and making it into our home.

We were so rushed when it came to moving day I do not even remember closing the door for the last time, but I do remember sitting in the pub that night with tears rolling down my face. When my book comes out you will understand why the house,  for Rich (and now, as time has gone by I realise  for me also),  had become contaminated; it could never be the home we thought it would be; and as three years have passed I have come to realise that.

So then we found our house on the pinnacle of the rolling hills that are Ambrieres les Vallees, and we fell in love. For me it was bittersweet, it was not the house I had left, it was not the house that had taken part of my soul. But over the three years, despite the well running dry, the crappy cesspit (literally, all over the cellar floor sometimes!!) and the mold on the walls; it has shown me this …….


I sit in my bedrom and I look out at this my favorite tree and I feel at peace


And over the years I have realised that a home is about love, companionship, laughter, and tears; it is not the house, it is the people in it. I look at my husband, and he is happier here. I know neither of us could go back to a house where you could reach out and touch your neighbour, surrounded by people and noise. We are too used to the peacefulness that surrounds us; and I have finally come to realise that I do not miss my old home, it was ONE of the most beautiful houses I lived in; but this is the most beautiful home. It has not taken my soul it has replenished it.


A chair is still a chair, even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight


The late great Luther Vandross..


Have a good Sunday folks.












Changes are coming…How living here has taught me so much


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This was the view that greeted us when we looked through our old and very tatty kitchen window, the old oil tank for the central heating system. We never used the system, firstly because it was so old and dilapidated it didn’t work, and secondly because there was no point in having it repaired because we didn’t have the four thousand euros for the oil every year!

People said to us that we should go back to the Notaire (think French Solicitor ) and lodge a complaint against the farmer who had sold us the house, because he had said it was a working system; this would be the same farmer that owns all the fields around us and could easily make life difficult for us, and we decided that what was the point in arguing over a heating system we were never going to use. It got me thinking….

I have always been the kind of girl that came out fighting, nothing would beat me, because I wouldn’t let it. I am not going to say that my strength did not enable me to come through some of the most difficult times of my life, mostly when I felt abandoned and alone, and I would not have survived without my fighting instinct then; as M Scott Peck explains in ‘The Road Less Travelled’ people with strong personalities are ‘blessed’, but, and there is a but, it is like having the equivalent of ten strong horses in your back yard and trying to control them. Living here has enabled me to do that.

It has given me space, space from people, space from life, with nature all around me. It has given me time to re the Tao Te Ching, and now Deepak Chopra, and it has given me time to contemplate what I have read and understand it. I understand that to come out fighting may get you what you want, but exhausts you in the process; and I understand that you can achieve the same result most times without fighting at all; or you may even decide that you just don’t care enough.

So back to the oil tank, that was taking up a lot of room in our chemin, where we could put another log store. Now talk about life showing you the way, earlier in the week two scrap metal merchants arrived unexpectedly and asked if we had anything they could take; Rich seized the opportunity and offered them the very heavy, and impossible to move oil tank. So out came a huge chain from their big truck and it was tied around the tank, and they pulled, and they pulled, and the tank would not budge! They all decided it was best to leave it when up came the farmer, the farmer who sold us the house, in his gigantic tractor; he jumped down spoke to Rich and without any further discussion lifted the oil tank out of it’s resting place and plonked it onto their truck. Simples!

This is my view from my dilapidated window now

It proves my point, better to be friends than enemies, you don’t always have to do battle; would the farmer have helped us if we had fought him about something that did not matter? I think not.

Choose your battles wisely, and even then go away and think about them.

Look out for more blogs, more changes are on their way….



Warm autumn days, preparing for winter.


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It’s been really warm here over the past few weeks, some days have reached over twenty seven degrees, with a beautiful warm breeze.

We have taken advantage of the weather and Rich has been busy sorting some things out in the garden, putting a log stall in place at the side of the house and stacking the logs from the Sycamore that was cut down earlier in the year. Normally the wood takes a year to season, but it has been so hot this summer it is tinder dry and ready to burn. Over the past few years we have stored our wood in the barn, but given that we are now clearing that out, and that it is farther to trek in the bleak midwinter, having stock to hand just outside is better.

The rest will be stored in the old goat shed – the two remaining chickens are on the move (another job that is being tackled soon!) Along with chopping up the logs that are all over the garden (literally).

In addition we have a full log cupboard indoors waiting for the winter onslaught.

I too have been busy, I have signed up for a wedding fayre, or Salon du Mariage, for this Sunday and have been busy designing hearts (and some stars), they are not exclusively for weddings but do make beautiful Aisle decorations, table decorations and gifts; all bespoke all different.

As I have sat in my garden embellishing away I have stopped to look around, and thought there could be worse places to work each day.

I know when to count my blessings.

Here’s one of them, as I sit here writing this, he is laying beside me…..

Have a good day folks, remember do what makes you happy.


Oh sss…sausages!

Dylan, the Welshie who proves that she’s to clever for puppy class ..

Dylan's Welshie World

We’ve been practising. After last weeks news that we have been entered for our Bronze Good Citizen award, Dyls and I are on a mission.

So it was with determined optimism we went into puppy class.

Dylan as usual had to do her meet and greet with everyone.

Not just the pupsters in her class, but those leaving the earlier class.

They all now know her and cry out “Oh here comes Dylan”.

What was the quote JFK said “I’m the man that accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris”.

Oh how I can relate, as that’s how I feel when I go anywhere with Dylan.

So after a protracted meet and greet, we remembered that Boo the cavapoo was on holiday this week, and Molly’s mum still grieving for little Maisie- see last weeks post- had decided to give class a miss tonight.

Dylan was without her girl band. But hey…

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The balloons


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I had to share this, as I sit here in my garden on a balmy autumn evening, because I look up and this is what I see….

Balloons flying high in the sky all around our commune. What a sight to see!

Every year there is a balloon race in this area because of the hills and vales of the valleys they have somewhere safe to land, the first year we were here they crashed into our trees!

It is the things like this that help me count my blessings every day. So to celebrate the simple things we’ve poured a glass of wine and are sitting here watching the balloons go by.

What’s not to love?

Have a good week and smile at the small things..


To always have hope – Feels like home


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When we moved here, three years ago last month. our pampas grass was small and not growing well.

It was squashed between numerous pine tress that overshadowed it depriving the poor pampas grass of any light; add to that Harley would lay in it as if it was a little nest and it did not stand much chance. Despite this it continued to live, but no grasses would appear in September and stand tall and majestic with their fronds blowing in the wind.

I love pampas grasses. I always wanted it to grow, lived in hope that one day it would have huge grasses, the size of paddles, blowing in the breeze and framing our beautiful view. Well this year we choppped down most of the trees – we had to some were dead, some posed a risk to the electricity cables – and the pampas finally got the light that it needed.

‘It won’t grow’ said Rich when we talked about it one night, ‘Harley still lies in it and squashes it!’

But I held on to hope. I had started to get the vibe that this old French farmhouse, and it’s ghosts of the past two hundred years, had finally accepted ‘Les Anglais’ and realised that we loved the house as much as they had. Being French they knew that, although we had not had much money, we would do our best to look after it; and, suddenly, things started to go our way: The trees were chopped down, the front door was replaced, the gate was replaced, the water connected, we now have French vehicles, our roof will be done before winter. We have the support and help from good friends, some considered as family, and help from those who care, and as the year went on the pampas grass grew and grew.

So here we are now and this is our pampas grass

Things are changing …..

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan

Have a good weekend folks never give up, always have hope



Can you have too much Kindness, Empathy, or Conscientiousness?


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Kindness – the quality of being gentle, caring and helpful

This is a post to make you think, all of the questions are rhetorical, but I would love to hear your opinions.

Since living here, as some of you may know, we have experienced many people who have turned out to be (how shall I say it given the topic?) not very nice. They have taken advantage of any kindness we have shown them, any empathy that we have felt and, given their nature, most often than not totally abused our conscientiousness. In fact as I have researched this post I have struggled to find a quote that I can use for kindness.

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So it makes me wonder if the bastards are starting to beat me!

Over the past few months or so I have been thinking often if there are there times when we can be too kind? I believe that all things are lessons in life and that because I am naturally kind life is trying to tell me that I need to protect myself sometimes and not always give people the benefit of the doubt; it has made me wonder – When do we stop being kind?

I have often had it said to me that people mistake my kindness for a weakness. Is that them? Or is it me?

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I think that it may well be them and that their need and to feel superior, and to use people and abuse their kindness is because they are ultimately insecure in themselves or in their lives.

So this brings me onto Empathy.

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As some of you may know I had an incredibly stressful job back in the UK. My job was with the NHS, the National Health Service, and main provider of health in the UK. The main part of my role was to oversee all of the feedback that came into the organisations that I worked for and to improve service from that feedback. But ultimately it was to deal with complaints and concerns that came into the organisations.

Now I have a strong sense of empathy, I cry when I see other’s predicaments, my heart goes out to people and I have always, from a young age, been able to see that ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I.’ But there is a problem with having a strong sense of empathy and that is that other’s can abuse that, and eventually transfer their problem on to you and believe that you are the one either responsible for it, or solely responsible for sorting it out. Had I known then what I know now perhaps I would not have had a breakdown….

‘Empathetic Reactivity – When too much empathy is bad. With empathyyou will feel their stress, anxiety, and anger in your body. You might feel their pain emotionally and physically. … Taking on other people’s feelings so that youlive their experience can make you susceptible to feelings of depression or hopelessness’
Now clearly I did not learn, and since coming over here I have continued to be taught the lesson because I did not learn. There have been the lonely people, who at times were completely and utterly rude to me; but would then cry and say how lonely they were and I would go back to visit them, even though there behaviour had been bad. In fact there have been a lot of lonely people who I have had empathy with and been kind to who have then been rude to me. Perhaps now I can see why they are so fucking lonely!!
I have had negative people who, only when I have stepped away from them have I seen how negative they were. I continued to be kind to them but can only see now that they too were negative because often people stepped away from them, thereby making them lonely – there seems to be a pattern here!!
That then makes me ask the question can we be too conscientious?
The definition for consienciousness is ‘governed by conscience, to do something according to one’s inners sense of what is right – to be principled.’
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Now here lies the problem- What happens when the people you encounter don’t have any principles or conscience? Or when they do they are selfish principles where their consience will always put them first? So here you will be, with your kind empathetic principles or conscience; and there they will be with their selfish, or bigoted principles or conscience, and who do you think will end up being taken advantage of?
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I have come to realise that, through my lessons since moving here, I should remember that not everyone’s conscience considers others first; and that an awful lot of people will not take the painful course.
Add to the mix out here the ‘Have’s’ and ‘Have nots’ – the people who have money and those who, like Rich and I, live hand to mouth each day. that then makes it very difficult; because often the ‘Have’s’ more often than not, sadly, don’t have any empathy and they sure don’t have an ounce of consciousness so they take advantage of people – I am not just talking about Rich and I now because I written of this often in this blog (see ‘It’s time someone said it’ or When do you stay quiet?’) of how people have been exploited over here.
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You may have guessed that I have mulled this question over a lot over the last month, and considered life’s message and this is my conclusion:

Yes, you can be too kind. But.. I believe that you should be kind first and then see the reaction and consider it and if the other person is not kind to you don’t continue to be kind, but importantly don’t be unkind either, just step away.

More importantly always you consider yourself when being kind, do not do it to the detriment of yourself.

With regard to empathy – Yes I totally believe that you can have too much empathy. But I don’t want to lose that ability, I don’t want to be sucked into the dark side, so I have come to the conclusion that sometimes I need to reign myself in. I cannot give my all and I should not try.

With regard to conscientiousness that is easy for me, I will always be conscientious to others, because that is my prinicple, do unto others as they would do unto you. But that is a double edged sword because what do you do when they do bad things to you?! For me I will not necessarily do them back (again I don’t want to be sucked into the darkness) but I will step away. I don’t need that shit in my life anymore!

So everyone what do you think? Is there such a thing as being too kind, and what happens if we all stop being kind just because of the ‘Haters’?

Here’s what Mother Theresa had to say, and I think she is right….

Image result for kindness quotesI love giving you something to think about at the weekend!!


It’s getting serious!

Anither funny, but this time heartbreaking post about our naughty little Dylan. Dog lovers it will bring a tear to your eyes.

Dylan's Welshie World

Puppy class took a serious turn in more ways than one tonight.

So as usual Dyls bounced into class. Lots of playing and jumping with Boo. She even decided to spare the time to play with Boycie the feisty pug.

Her latest crush Aslan the Leonburger is in holiday, but undeterred Dyls turned her attention to Nico the pointer, who seemed very happy that the most popular puppy in class was giving him the time of day.

He’s a bit younger than Dyls, but clearly she likes a bit of a toyboy – the little minx.

Mind you, given how I have a crush on Tom Hardy, I can’t really criticise!

Dylan’s other bff, Molly was back tonight, but was in a foul mood. The reason came to light later.

Though Dyls and Molly started off playing nicely, Molly suddenly turned and had Dylan’s Salvador Daliesque moustache in her mouth…

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Changes are coming: The crap we keep


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So here I am at 18.30, my time ,and I started to write this blog at 14.30!! That is what it seems to be at the moment busy, busy, busy…

As you know from my previous posts, with the titles including the words changes are coming, we had water fitted last week, took the pool down, met the bank manager, and decided it was time to clear out our barn.

That is one of the things when you embark on a major life change such as this, the crap you bring with you! Heed my warnings all you adventurers, you may have thought that you had got rid of all the crap you did not needm but guess what you haven’t!

Then three years later, when you decide that perhaps you should go through those boxes of stuff that you thought were so essential you paid a fortune in storage for them, and an even bigger fortune in moving costs; the same stuff that you then leave in your barn for three years (obviously because it was that essential!) only to go through it one day and say ‘What the fuck did we bring that over to France for?!

So as we climbed over the crap, (treasured possessions as once was) we realised that we had a task on our hands.



As I have said before when we moved from England we were on first name terms with the little old ladies at the cancer charity shop (sorry I don’t give cancer a capital c anymore, it doesn’t deserve it!); so much so they all shouted ‘Rich’ when he went in with even more stuff that we gave away (like an episode of ‘Cheers’ only in Herne Bay in England!)

When we moved we thought we had been mercenary, we thought we had been hard, only to discover during this task, four boxes of our son’s stuff that we could not throw away ‘because he might need it one day.’ He needs it so much that he doesn’t even know it is here. Then there was the box with chipped plates, one random saucer that had not cup to go with it, and (I kid you not) glass jars that I used to put candles in!!

There were the broken lamp shades (it is safe to say not one surived the move), broken lamps, a plastic chair (which was weird because we have never owned plastic garden chairs), old cards ( I swore I threw them all away) old postcards, T.shirts, peices of random paper and even open envelopes!! There is no room for sentimentality when you do something like this, you have to let go of the old to make room for the new.

In addition a lot of the things we had brought over with us were reminders of people who stopped being in contact when we made this move; perhaps they decided that we were a bit too ‘out there’ for them, or that we made them feel as if they may be boring. (Yep, there is an irony there!) But let us not forget I was inadvertently told recently by someone that I was ‘full of hot air.’ At least I think it was inadvertent,other than that they were just being fucking rude!! But only if I gave a crap! (Oops there goes my hot air again! Better to be that than boring!)

So we went through everything (in one half only and it took two days) and let it all go (again)


We also discovered that other people had used our barn as a dumping ground and we had so many empty cardboard boxes (‘for Moira’s etsy’ they used to say) some with no lids and some with shit that other people had dumped in it!! Thanks one and all, and just to get it out there, I don’t want any more boxes. If I want them I will get them, I’m that sort of gal!!

But we did find our memory box, and, because we have changed we let some of that go. You cannot hold onto the past; I let my mum’s top go. I thought that I had let it go when we moved over here, I kept it at first, after she had died, because it smelled of her, it was her favourite top and she had worn it often;  I had moved it with me three times, because I thought it kept my mum with me but when we made our move over here I clearly remember saying ‘I need to let this go’; but I must have decided that, at a time I needed moral support, then I needed to bring it with me one more time. My mum died twenty one years ago, that top is not her, her spirit is free, not in a top from Marks and Spencers! So I have, now, let it go.

We did keep George, the wooden snake that Tom picked on our first holiday together as a family to Menorca; and Srog, his frog that I bought him from London Zoo, and there was some stuff we put back and said ‘Perhaps next time we go through this we will let this go then..’ We know that we are changing all the time you see.

There is stuff that needs to be researched, as I believe it has a value now, and it would be good to pass that money onto Tom, because most of the things are his after all, like is train set, and his action men still in their packaging.

I am going to sell Tom’s beautiful cherrywood cot/bed (yes can you believe I  moved his cot over here, because my mum bought it for me); but I am letting it go. I have learnt so much over the past three years, and one of them is that material things are not necessary to keep the memories. That is such a beautiful cot that I would rather a family who needed it, had it to cherish.

On Saturday we loaded up our new van and took half of the stuff to the dechetterie (the dump) with the other half to go on Wednesday. Most of the cardboard boxes are going on the bonfire (quick all those who say you shouldn’t have fires calle the Marie!) and our barn is tidy with boxes in there (also waiting to be burnt) and we now have less than half of what was there and a tidy organised room.


Now all Rich has to do is sort out this lot on the other side!!


You might have guessed, still lots of work to be done.

But most importantly my post is to say, let go, let go, let go, life is too short, let go of the crap and good will come your way.



Someone who has been inspired……go girl

Sev In France


As a child I used to love jumping into puddles with both feet – you remember that don’t you? seeing a puddle, running and SPLASH! Well, that’s what I’m doing now taking a run up and jumping in with both feet and creating a blog! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and didn’t think I’d have the courage to…..until recently when a lovely lady actually said to me “well why don’t you?”. So, here goes… a blog about my life in France, past and present, tears and laughter included.

We’ve been in the Pays de La Loire for 15 years now. That’s me, hubby Brian, daughter Amy and Mum Wendy. It’s been an adventure – it still is an adventure. We started with a mini “farm”, it wasn’t planned that way but with our love for animals, it kind of took its own path. You’ll read more about the…

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A moment of poignancy as autumn looms

For those who have been reading this blog for some time, you will know that autumn always evokes a feeling of both sadness and anticipation in me. Sadness that the summer is over, and no more so than this year after the fantastic summer of madness we had, but also anticipation of the beautiful colours of autumn, the time of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is already upon us. (I love that quote, what a fantastic line that sums the autumn up!!) but the days are still warm and the nights cool.

After a busy week (you may have guessed I have blogged nearly every day and there is more to come) Rich found that life had showed him the way with regard to the list of jobs that he had to do today, and that he only had a few hours of the afternoon and evening left to get something done, so he turned his attention to the pool – it needed to be dismantled and put away for the winter.

As  he set about taking the structure of metal poles away and this is what happened…

Now you may or may not know that our Harley boy the Welshie loves water, and the swimming pool this year was a reward for surviving his horrific operation last year when he nearly died. Although Karen bought Rich the pool as a birthday present it was also a gift for the dogs, but mainly Harley because we knew that hydrotherapy would help him. And, boy, did he have a wonderful time!!!

So as Rich took the pool down today he was despondent, his tail dropped and the look of sadness he had on his face reflected how Rich and I felt at that moment, knowing that the fantastic summer was gone. He stood in the last inches of the remaining water and despondently splashed his paw in the water. It reminded us both of how last summer Harley had been so well, with no sign of what was to come, and then we nearly lost him in the November, you can never take anything for granted.

After the pool was hung up to wash and dry Rich compensated by playing with Harley with the hose (we can now, we have water!) but we both said that, although we were looking forward to what was to come, we were both sad for what has passed.

Who knows where we will all be next year, with each other God willing.

Enjoy your weekend folks, don’t moan about the weather, enjoy everything life has to offer you because soon it will be over…and although there will be more to come if you believe I also believe that you should allow some room in your life for a little poignant moment…..