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.












La maison triste


‘But only a host of phantom listeners,

who dwelt in the lone house then

stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight

to that voice from the land of men…’

The Listeners.

Walter De La Mer

On our first day of house hunting we set off in a anticipation of seeing a three story house in the middle of the French countryside, near the beautiful town of Lassay Les Chateaux.

We met up with the French estate agent, and off we went following him through the countryside at breakneck speed and found ourselves going  out of Lassay back the way we came!?

Blimey! We thought, this is a way out!

As we pulled into a quintessential tiny French village, there was no sign of any three story houses. We followed the estate agent into what can only be described as an alleyway rather than a road that ran  behind other…

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The ‘Mad’ summer has begun…


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It has been a mad week!! Literally our feet have not touched the ground. We have viewed six houses, some weird, some lovely, some overpriced and some in deep rural parts of France, some too deep and rural!! Some viewings have been weird, some have been lovely, some of them have been shocking when it comes to price, and one has been a second viewing, but more of that to come in upcoming posts.

Karen and Dylan hit Ambrieres last Thursday night at 11.30pm. I had cooked a chilli and rice in advance which gave us time to catch up, drink wine and chat before eating at 2am!! The next day we were out house hunting by 10.30am and did not get back until after 5pm, it was a long day with a  lot to take in; and this has pretty much been the pattern for the week, adding to that some shopping, drinking wine in the summer evening sun, and drawing up lists of costs and pro’s and cons with regard to the houses we have viewed.

Because of the house hunting we have found small villages  in neighbouring villages to us that we did not know existed, including a stunning village called Sept Forge which is situated  on the river Mayenne and is truly idyllic. There is a tiny lane that winds down beside the river  with steep steps cut up through the forest that lead into the village square and it’s medievil church. Another two words come to mind when walking down this lane looking for one of the houses we were going to view, and they were tranquility and  sanctuary.

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The Welshie’s have not disappointed, in fact it is fair to say that they are now a pack, with Dylan being well and truly accepted by our two, with Wiglet as Dylan’s surrogate mummy (she even pulls her along by the back of her neck!). To watch these two together is a delight as they bounce around the garden talking to each other in Welshie, with Dylan virtually permantly attached to Wiglet’s side.

Harley has had his work cut out as the alpha, but has done a good job and Dylan know’s when to behave when Harley tells her – it is what he says that’s it!! He is totally worn out and whilst I was drafting blogs in bed today he stayed firmly attached to my leg asleep, and dreaming.

But the funniest one of all was yesterday when this stubborn little ten month old Welshie finally gave up, half way across the sofa she was climbing, and this is how she fell asleep…

Karen and Dylan finally moved into the house they had rented on Tuesday – simply because we had been too busy, and having too much fun in the garden to check the perimeter and move her in. The house she is renting is beautiful, massive, and really pretty.

But most of all this week we have laughed, we have planned (as much as you can for three people who really try and live each day as the only moment!) We have sat in the dark by candlelight listening to the owl in the tree (I still like to think it was the one whose life we saved two years ago, as it hoots at us) and Karen has screamed as she moved a bag in the kitchen only to find a huge toad hiding under the bag having been chased there by the dogs – This is one of the things we have to look out for as they are poisonous to them. But it made Rich and I laugh whenran off down the kitchen – all part of the adventure my friend, all part of the adventure!!


The weather has been mostly sunny, with no real rain, and it is now  finally coming into it’s own with temperatures averaging between twenty three degrees and twenty five degrees. The forecast is for a steady increase and next week it will be up in the 30s again. So we have finally gone mad and a pool has been purchased *after about an hour and a half in the shop trying to work out the size and how big a cover we needed, base we needed and what cleaner we had to buy – Karen and I are writers, mathematicians we ain’t!! Bet you can guess whose job that is going to be tomorrow – and it’s not going to be me or Karen!!! It is so big it should be full by about Tuesday!!

But now I must go folks we have a BBQ at Karen’s house and a sleepover – how weird is that!! I think it is fair to say that we all feel young again, and excited at what life has to hold.

Katch up soon – promise- more blogs to come.


La maison triste


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‘But only a host of phantom listeners,

who dwelt in the lone house then

stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight

to that voice from the land of men…’

The Listeners.

Walter De La Mer

On our first day of house hunting we set off in a anticipation of seeing a three story house in the middle of the French countryside, near the beautiful town of Lassay Les Chateaux.

We met up with the French estate agent, and off we went following him through the countryside at breakneck speed and found ourselves going  out of Lassay back the way we came!?

Blimey! We thought, this is a way out!

As we pulled into a quintessential tiny French village, there was no sign of any three story houses. We followed the estate agent into what can only be described as an alleyway rather than a road that ran  behind other houses, it was so small you could not drive into it, definitely no three storey houses here! The estate agent then stopped and  proudly showed us a tiny house, tucked away between other houses.

‘I am sure this is not the house I had arranged to see.’ Said Karen, but by this time she had booked so many she was starting to doubt herself! So we decided to go where life takes us, and followed the estate agent into the house.

As we walked in it was clear that the house had not had someone living in it for some months and that the person who owned the house had been a lady, and that she had clearly died. It had literally been left like the Marie Celeste, with all her belongins just where she had left them the last time she had come home. The tiny kitchen and living room looked as if she had just got up one day and left, forgetting to take her coat, that was hanging on the back of the door, or her sunglasses, in the dish on the table, with her. The canisters for her garlic, salt, pepper and coffee were all there, just waiting for her to come back and start to cook again.

And that was it, the house had an air of sadness permeating through it because it was clearly waiting for her to return; it was sad because every time the door opened it was a stranger that entered and not the person who had so clearly loved it; in fact it was if it sighed when we came in, because we were not the person that it wanted to see.

It was a strange tiny little house with only one bedroom in the main house and the kichen and living room; you had to climb some steep steps into the bedroom, the lady had clearly not been wealthy  but it was also clear that what she had she loved. Never more so in the pretty little two tier garden at the back, which could only be described as a haven, something that she had cherished once. With the lilac tree, and wisteria tangled and trailing over the little archways she had put up; there were roses, and blackcurrants, clematis and the ever popular and beautiful hydrangea, in all of the vibrant colours that you get over here in France growing in abundance.

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The lady had built a little arbour  which was now smothered  with all of the climbing plants vying for top space as they tangled amongst each other because there mistress was no longer there to bring them under control.

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Outside there were more steps leading  up to a separate bedroom, come apartment where, the estate agent explained to us,  her son would sleep when he came to visit with his family. But you got the distinct impression that was not often, and it made you wonder why he had not come to collect some of his mother’s treasured posessions.

It was so sad, her family photos were everywhere, nobody had come to the house to take them and the memories that they held and cherish them, as she so clearly had. It reminded me how our cherished posessions are just things, that when we are gone they just sit there with nobody to love them anymore. That the memories that we cherish are often not memories that others cherish, even though we have those people in our memories all our lives, they do not hold those memories as dear as we do.

As we left the sad little house it was glad we were not going to buy it, it did not want us, it wanted it’s mistress to return, and, I am sure, would continue to look after her treasured things for her, because it did love her, more than others it would seem.

Cherish every moment folks, live for yourself and not just others, you come into this world alone and you go out of it alone, so live your life for you and those that love you will come along for the ride.

It’s  always the small simple things that remind me of what life is about.


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The mini bus of life

One of my favourites, goes hand in hand with my last post


When I started this blog the aim of it was to help those who were questioning their lives and where they were going to, perhaps, make a drastic change, or to listen to what life was saying and question where they were going. I have always been honest and told you about our adventure warts and all, and also about what drove us to make that change and live the life we are now living in France. (For those new to my blog please look at the posts under the reflections tab.)

So I have been promising this post for some time it is my theory on life, and how I look at my life now and choose to live it.

As we all know whether people like it or not we are on a journey (I am sick of all that crap about the J word, or that people…

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Another gate opens, another ship sales from dock, and the crew is getting bigger all the time


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When I first started this blog, I chose the tag-line carefully….

I said in my intro to this blog that I was writing it for all the people who were wondering ‘What if?’ Or, like us, were thinking that there must be more to life than this – and not necessarily material things. who were thinking about making change, about people who were thinking about stepping off the path that we are all led to believe we should follow, and going off into the woods to see what life may hold.


I have written about serendipity, one of my most favourite words, and something I believe in: A series of events that we were not looking for that add up to make something wonderful.


I have written about our mini-bus of life, and asked who is on your mini-bus, how many people do you allow on your bus, give them a seat only for them to try and  influence you  to do what they think you should do, often because they want to feel safe in numbers, and need to know what they are doing is right?


How often? When, in fact, you should not let them influence you at all. How many people have told you that your mad? That you need to keep doing what you are doing even if it is clearly killing you?


I have had people contact me from all over the world to tell me that I have made them think. Not least when I share my experiences with regard to mental health (I am not going to call them issues, they are not issues they are just another part of the body that sometimes find’s it hard to work with all the shit we are bombarded with!!) Some of those people have made me cry, to know that my words have resonated with them. Some have made me smile when they start to make change.

I have made people laugh and I have made people cry, but most importantly for me I have inspired people. Not least our friend Karen:

I share her blog often, Dylan’s Welshie World. It is a blog about her puppy and her antics, but it is not just a blog about that, it is a blog about how that puppy has changed Karen’s life, how Karen has stepped off that cliff (or fell off! As she said the other day!) at a time when she needed the love that, sometimes, only a dog can bring.

You should read her story it is a young blog , but it will make you laugh out loud and make some others who have been on the hamster wheel for so long ask themselves if they need to make that change too. Karen has been brave, she had to overcome the worry of opening up to the world – but the response she had has been life affirming.

So I have inspired Karen, she has set up her blog after years as a high-flying editor she went back to writing, doubted herself because it had been so long,  until I convinced her and now her blog has become a hit and she is receiving high praise for her writing. – See, she just had to believe and have someone believe in her, of course she could write!! The things we come to believe!! Because we listen to that spin doctor in our head!

A series of events led Karen and I to being back in touch and closer than ever; sadly Karen’s dear mum died, her last remaining brother died a short time after, and, as death does, it started Karen on a path to looking at her life and the career that had defined her. Then a person who she had known for many years and got back in touch with showed that they were not the person that she thought they were all along, and left her at a time when her life was in upheaval. Just as that happened we got back in touch, I had sold a story to one of the Magazines that Karen edited, and, although we had seen each other over the years, I came back into her life at a time when she needed someone who would listen, had been through something similar, and would tell her the truth. In addition my husband makes her laugh all the time, and she needed that.

So Karen came over to see us, fell in love with our dogs (who couldn’t)….


Karen returned home with the firm intention of finding a Welsh Terrier puppy. They are hard to get, and there is normally an eighteen month waiting list, but serendipity clearly had a plan for Karen, and she rang a breeder who had just had a little girl puppy rejected because she had a kink in her tail. The breeder  liked Karen, liked the way she talked about the breed and just knew that, although others were waiting, Karen would love this Welshie with all her heart, and she does.

In the September Dyls came home to live with Karen, and the rest, as they say is history…

As Karen came over more and more and fell in love with the serenity of France, it made her think about her life again. No least watching Dylan run free around our garden like a mad thing helped her decide to come to France and spend the summer here and see where life takes her – she is starting to understand that she is not doing the driving!!


So  today Karen packed up the car with the final bits and bobs, and she is now in France, with Dylan, and on her way to our house. On Saturday she collects the keys for her rental and she will be over here for at least two months, maybe more, who knows what we will find in our house hunt.

We have a new member of our family, two in fact, and she helps me in the same way as I help her. We are both straight talkers, and so alike, whoever is driving this bus knows what they are doing!! Not only that Karen loves my husband and his mix of madness, and vulnerability at times.

But it does not end there…. In August Jen, another old friend who we have all got close to again over the past year, is coming over for another adventure, travelling on her own, something she has not done for some time! Who knows where life will lead her; and then there is my other dear friend Mary, who has been inspired to sell her home in Herne Bay and go to pastures new in the countryside of England and take that chance. She says I have inspired her, and for that I am truly honored.

So over these last three years, I have read the Tao, learnt to let my ego go, to still be kind (even to arseholes! Oops!).

I have learnt to unlearn all that I had learnt – that material things are not important, and often make you unhappier, to not plan way in advance – you only have this moment that is all you are guaranteed; I have learnt to laugh in the face of adversity, to know that you can survive even when that spin doctor tells you that you can’t. Of course you can you wake up tomorrow and you are still alive! I know the people that count are sitting on my mini-bus and that all the others, whilst of course allowed to have an opinion, are not the ones whose opinions count where I am concerned.

I am thankful every day.


I have read others stories as part of my book research, and my heart has broken all over again for those people, and I have learnt to just be me, and happy in my own skin.

But most importantly I have learnt that I can touch people with my words, from all over the world. Whilst it is an honor to be in the top twenty expat blogs in France, it is the people who I inspire who make me want to do more and more. For that I thank you all…..




And the rivers became raging torrents!


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The sun has finally peeked through the clouds, after four days and nights of virtually constant rain, sometimes the type of rain that comes with a monsoon.

The weir that is so pretty in our town is now invisible the water is such a raging torrent

Our friends attended what should have been a wonderful June wedding on Saturday, but the rain was so torrential they decided to return home to check their guests were okay, and that the electricity had not been affected (a common thing out here in bad weather, as the electricity runs overground because France is so vast). There they were in their wedding attire desperately trying to get their four wheel drive car out of the mud, it was so entrenched. By the time they got home they were covered in mud, and toasted the ‘happy’ couple with a beer and a glass of champagne, thankfully with the electricity in situ. But the poor wedding party fared worse, they lost their electricity, which meant the hog roast was off the menu as was the disco!

Yesterday the rain was still in play, and poor hubby went off to work at a friends only to find himself trapped as the river at the bottom of their garden exploded into the garden and up to the house. His van is still trapped there, and he had to drive one if their vehicles home last night! He had to climb through the undergrowth to get out if the garden, it was that or swim!

It appears that France has had fifty days rainfall in just two days. People have died and all of the rivers have succumbed to the water and become lakes instead.

Sort of makes our leaks in the kitchen pale into insignificance…


The Deluge


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Last Friday the weather was beautiful, I spent the afternoon in the garden taking photos for social media, and realising that I couldn’t sell some of my finds, these ones are staying with me.

As we sat into the early evening drinking wine, the wind started to get up and the black clouds rolled in again. The thunder came rumbling down the road, carried by the thick black clouds and in we scooted. The rain came and that was it for the evening.

Saturday morning arrived and it was darker than the gloomiest winter day, literally black! We had been off grid all night and remained that way as we raised the blind, heard the thunder, and saw the lighting striking out from the black clouds, there was torrential rain and a raging torrent that used to be our road.

Forget the winter winds, forget the tornado, or the well drying up, this time there is something to be said for living on a hill!

The black clouds held on all day, rolling in over and over again blowing off into the distance and then rolling back again, they clearly thought that they had forgotten business.

The dogs hurrumped, and sighed and slept, the cats slept, and we cleaned the house.

My poor flowers that on Friday were stunning…

have now been washed away, they are so sodden I cannot dead head them, my beautiful clematis has it’s wonderful heads bowed, and it is fair to say the garden is a tad wet. My glorious honeysuckle that is filling the garden with perfume, is still trying, when you can go out there the smell is beautiful, a smell of summer, a wet one!

Sunday came, and more storms came with it. Pictures started to appear on Facebook of shops in Mayenne, large supermarkets, whose roofs had cracked open and they had to be evacuated, other shops flooded out and attended by the pompiers (fire brigade) who were having to pump them out.

I gave up with my wet washing, decided to be typically English and pegged it out, in the rain, anyway. There is no pollution here, so it will be wet, but it will smell nice. Might have something living in it by the time I get to bring it in, but it will smell nice!

By the evening the sun came out, it is still really hot here despite the rain, just wet! So we took the opportunity to have a vin rouge in the garden for a couple of hours, until the rain came back!

Our poor phone keeps cutting us off mid conversation with people because it has not had a full charge in days, as we are so often off grid!

Today there was a promise of a respite according to the weather forecast. It did not happen and this was our terrace earlier today…

The ironing pile has gone down, odd jobs have been fixed, lawns have not been mowed (are you kidding!) but are still growing, and our kitchen roof, or our tarpaulin since losing it over two years ago, has held up well. Although we have had moments of putting bowls out all over the kitchen, and, as we always do, we have laughed about it, but that is for another blog.

And tonight? Guess what? It’s raining! But we don’t care, because we have each other, our animals, our friends, and, as you know if you read Karen’s post, an exciting summer ahead.

I don’t complain about the weather, to quote Byron Katie, you just have to love what is.

Comfort food tonight homemade sausage roll, with our local butchers sausage meat, chips and beans. You can take the girl out of England………


A funny old Sunday

I will be blogging, tomorrow now, because Karen is joining our adventures and coming to France. For those who are having difficulties read her blog, and back story, this will inspire you, make you laugh, make you cry, and help some of you know you’re not alone, we’re all in it together in this blogging world.

Dylan's Welshie World

And so today has been a funny old day. But more of that later.

The past week has been so busy getting everything organised for our summer in France. And yes cutting the grass is on the agenda, but that’s Tuesday’s task!

Like my friend Moira said recently in her blog, moisfrenchadventure – and by the way, I am so proud of my friend that her blog has been named in the Top 25 blogs about living in France, a real achievement as there are hundreds – I too have become a woman of lists.

There are things we need to take with us – Branston pickle, salad cream, HP sauce, proper English teabags – I have never been tight, but I am not paying €5 for these little tastes of home. The shopping bags are brimming!

Dylan, of course, is a demanding, though not spoilt (well not much) little…

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole……

For all my new readers, a story about our beautiful boy, and how life reminded us about what is important.



Being a firm believer that life show’s us the way, and that when we don’t listen life pours it over our head in buckets to make us see what we need to see,  that is exactly what happened to us over the last three weeks.

As you know from previous posts things had been hard, we worried about money, work, bills all the things that you can overcome, that are not insurmountable but at times you let that little spin doctor in your head think they are!!; So we worried just the same and did not remember life’s lessons, that it will all come good in the end if you believe it and, do you know what, it can be worse, get a perspective!!

Therefore, because we did not listen, just after my last post on the 19th of November, Harley our beautiful Welsh Terrier became ill. He became so…

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