Diary Of A Move: Dismantling The Home We Made.

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November Sunrise In Ambrieres les Vallees France

As you can probably tell I am trying to cherish every beautiful sunrise that I see. There are not many left here for me to cherish. I know there will be new ones, I am not sad about our decisions, but those new ones are not here yet, and I firmly remind myself to live in the here and now.

When I find my new home I will put up a collections of the sunrises and sunsets that I have had the blessing to see whilst living here in France. It’s been a part of my life.

Life has took off now, we have less than three weeks left in this house. I have been packing for the last two weeks, and now every cupboard is empty apart from the stuff we’re using. The home we built is now being dismantled. I have held onto my sparkly lights until next week, just to feel as if we are still at home, but I know I will have to relinquish them eventually.

I have been mercenary, even selling our vintage Blue Willow plates, bowls and side plates, they are just not my thing, I prefer my plain white plates. It was only after I sold them that I realised that I had packed all our other plates and now we have no small plates or dinner plates, just platters! When I gave Daisy the cat some milk and cream she looked at me as if I had grown another head when I poured it out for her on a platter!

Dismantling

The shelves are coming down, our antique French mirrors are packed away and my bedroom that I lovingly put together is slowly being dismantled, but I am still trying to hold on to my sparklies in every room for as long as I can.

Our beautiful French buffet is now in storage along with our armoire, both have already gained scratches but I knew that was coming. No stress they can always be repainted.

The fourteen mirrors we have throughout the house are coming down. The old grandfather clock has been taken to storage and when I woke this morning waiting for it to chime out the time, I suddenly remembered it was now chiming away in our friends summer house. I hope the mice appreciate it, and don’t feel the need to re-enact ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’!

Our furries are stressed to the max, the dogs are getting tetchy with each other, and the cats have finally started to snuggle together after being at odds for years. We feel really guilty about our animals, poor Wiglet looks afraid all the time after her terrible start in life, and we have to keep reassuring her that everything will be okay, that she is coming with us. Harley pretty much takes most things in his stride but even he is getting arsy with Wiglet.

I feel sad because I know they all love this garden, and because I know they will have to move again from our rental into whatever house we find; and God knows what condition that will be in. I do know that the first job will be to fence the garden to protect them all. Despite my guilt I know that part of our decision is based on finding regular work, because we have responsibilities to them, and I know that they will love Ireland just as much as they love here.

We know in our heart of hearts that we are doing the right thing for us all; and we also know that if you want an adventure part of it is discomfort, and apprehension, and poignancy. But we’ve done it once, we know we can do it again. This time we’re just letting more stuff go, and going into the future with our eyes open, using all we have learned from this adventure.

As I packed up this week it suddenly came to me that the last five years have all been about learning things to prepare us for our life in Ireland. We know that life is mapped out, we accepted that a long time ago.

Life’s all about learning and facing your fears ay?

Rosie

Sunsets from my French garden in France

Memories. How Time Flies By…

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Memories are popping up on my Ipad. This one was from September 2016. It was the first time we experienced the ballon race that took place (cancelled the last two years) in this area. The balloons would land in the valley after flying past our garden. In fact one crashed into our huge oak tree one year. I had that surreal moment when a man stuck in the top of a two hundred foot tree looked down and shouted ‘Bonsoir’. There was not nothing to say but ‘Bonsoir’ in reply.

The little girl in the front of the photo is the daughter of our lovely neighbours Manu and Lucie. She is almost a teenager now, how time flies….

Rosie

New Horizons Are On Their Way

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Sunrise in Ambrieres 24 November 2020

It’s official: we hand the keys over to the new owners of our house just before Christmas .

So Christmas as we know it is cancelled this year, no decorations (the one thing I love about Christmas). But there is a chance our son will come to visit with his friend so we will all be in a gite together, and it will be a an alternative Christmas, which will be good, not least because it will be different.

One of our lessons from living here has been to to simplify, to realise that we don’t need ‘stuff’ we just need good people around us. I read the linked post before I linked it, and it made me cry.

I have changed so much from this adventure, isn’t that what stepping outside of your comfort zone is about, to change and evolve?

So it’s busy, busy, busy. Rich is working I am packing up, and the poor animals are stressed to the max.

A new day is dawning…

Rosie

Today’s sunrise no wonder this house healed me …

I Got To Thinking: Is Learning To Let Go What Life’s All About?

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I am currently sitting in bed, it’s 11.45 in the morning and we have allowed ourselves a morning lie in. It’s a busy time.

We have a very atmospheric sky today, and the pictures above are what I can see from my vantage point as I write this.

I am surrounded by sleeping Welshies and RD snoring away, and after our scare last weekend I have again been reminded to only ever live in the here and now.

This will be our second move in six years. In fact in our twenty- two, almost twenty- three years of being together we have moved four times, this will be our fifth move.

Over the week as well as frantically taking as many photos of the fabulous sunsets we are blessed with, I have been packing up our belongings and I was making decisions about what to keep and what to let go. As part of this I was boxing up the shoes that we had, supposedly, decided we were taking with us, after letting so many pairs go; and as I did so I found myself putting additional pairs in the clothing bag for charity. In fact it was as if I was having an epiphany: you HAVE to let go of the old to make room for the new.

The shoes weren’t the only things that led to this. I have my son’s cot in the barn, he is thirty-one years old, why the hell did I ship it to France? I know why, we were moving to another country and for the first time I would not have my son near to me, that first Christmas without him being there was a hard lesson. But now it’s what it is, he has his life, and I want him to live it, and I have learned to let go of the idea that we always have to be together.

Then there is a blue top that belonged to my mum, it was her favourite top, she wore it often. After she died I kept it, and dutifully moved it three times. I thought when we came here I had let it go, but no, when I sorted our cupboard at the top of the stairs there it was again, buried in amongst all the clothes we have never worn in five years. I let it go this time, with all the other clothes. Only this time was different: this time I held it up and said to RD ‘This is not my mum, this is a top. My mum is in my memories.’

After that I was then on a roll: the fridge magnets we bought in Disney twenty- seven years ago (when I was married to my first husband ffs!) off they went to the great dechetterie (dump in French) in the sky. Sentimental mugs, faux flowers, old earrings, and watches and bracelets, tarnished, were in the bin before they knew it.

All of this got me thinking is life really just one big on-going lesson about learning to let go? Is life really just a lesson in learning about why we hold on to things which then enables us to let them go?

I understand why I bought so many things from our old house with me. I loved that house, I found it hard leave it, and so I bought the things I could from it, because it was too hard to let it all go at once. But as the years passed here I realised I didn’t want to re-create my past, that I need to make something new. My old house had gone, and I was then ready to let the things associated with it go too. There are some things I love that I will take with me because I love the item itself, or the memory it conjures up.

As I packed away my thoughts developed further and I found myself asking does that apply to everything in life? Including the loved ones we have lost? Someone once said to me ‘every time you cry about your mum, you pull her back, and you never let her spirit free.’ I found it difficult to understand at first, but after reading and learning and listening and reflecting it becomes clearer every day.

When my mum was dying she promised she would come back for each and every one of us, so when my beloved Westie dog died I thought I would feel my mum’s presence, and my heartbreak was even more compounded when I didn’t.

I understand now that it was never going to be, because we are all spirits learning what we need to learn in each lifetime, and we then move on to the next stage of our enlightenment. Perhaps those who love us stay near for a time, but eventually they have to let us go, to enable us to grow.

Then there are the friendships that come and go, and sometimes come back again after we have all learned and evolved. I believe the right people migrate back to you, as I have written about often. But more importantly how often does life show us that we need to let the relationships go? Show us, as we evolve, that they weren’t what we thought they were at all? That the people were not what we thought? Or, thinking even more deeply, perhaps they were, and it is us who have changed.

I think that is one of the hardest lessons of all, we don’t want to see negatives in those we have spent so much of our life with. But if we are able to objectively, it can enable us to decide whether to still have the person in our life or not, without rancour or pain. It’s just what it is.

Letting go of pain, letting go of hurt, just letting go without bitterness, is probably one of the hardest things to do. When RD left me I learned from writing my journal that if I allowed myself to be consumed in bitterness I would be destroyed. That was nearly fourteen years ago, now I use what I learned to help some others who find themselves where I was, but now I also know it applies to so many things in life. But I can only help ‘some’ because the others do not want to ‘let go.’ And so they continue to suffer in pain. That experience has taught me to let go of the hope that I could help everyone. I can’t, people can only ever help themselves.

I have learned over the past five years that we cannot have the sunny side of life all the time. The Tao has taught me that where there is good there is bad, where there is love there is heartache, where there is life there is death. I had to remind myself of that last week when Harley was ill, I had to say it as a mantra, and despite the pain I felt, it gave me comfort and strength and it has made me live every day this week cherishing every small moment.

It’s amazing isn’t it, what you learn as you unpack and pack your life up again? And the time will come, in the near future, when we let this house go, and this adventure go, and we ‘let go,of the rice.’ (Mark Nepo, The Book Of Awakening

Have a good Sunday folks.

Rosie

Here and Now: The Small Things I Love

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Anyone who follows this blog knows that I have always loved the sunrises over the valley. I have shared them often with you, the photo above is todays sunrise and I promised more in one of my recent posts, I hadn’t forgotten.

At this time of year the winds can whip up quickly in the valleys, but despite their ferocity at times I have always loved laying in bed with my beloved husband and Welshies and listen to them whooshing around the house. and more than anything I love to hear the rain hitting the drawn down shutters. I lay in bed with all my blessings around me and I listen to that rain and I feel safe, and blessed to have shelter. It is a small thing to some, but living here listening to that calming sound has made me understand that it’s not a small thing, it’s the thing that people search for: a home, safety, love.

This week we were reminded again, to live in the here and now. Harley has been a little off colour over the past few weeks, and I noticed he was drinking more, and he had some accidents in the house. On Friday he literally wet himself in front of us, so I took him to the vet on Saturday morning. The outcome was that they wanted to test him for ‘Cushings’ disease. Of course I had already looked up possibilities of what could be wrong with him, and I knew that this possible outcome was not good. Harley is nine now, and I want him to live forever (tears in my eyes now.)

We booked the test for today, and we cried all day on Saturday, and I just kept saying my mantra ‘here and now, here and now’ over and over again.

I joined numerous Facebook groups to ask for advice. The outpouring of support from those sites, and our wonder Welsh Terrier Fan Club site was overwhelming. In these difficult times it was a joy to know that people are still good people, it appears thats especially where our beloved animals are concerned.

Our vet is a lovely vet, but he is an agricultural vet primarily and after much discussion, taking into account that many people who have had to deal with this disease advised to have his urine tested in a lab and a culture grown, that we are moving to Ireland in ten weeks approx, the complexity of dealing with the disease (if he has it) and the complexity of diagnosis (get it wrong and give him the meds with terrible side effects and it could kill him), and that he would have to be monitored we decided not to go ahead with the test. We feel that for now we have made the right choice. It would appear that Harley does too, as he has stopped drinking as much and has perked right up.

So that will be something to keep my eye on, because we have approximately forty days before we have to leave this house, and there is still so much to do.

A bientot.

Rosie

Run Around Now

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So after a slow start we have all signed the Compromise de Vente. Our buyers have a cooling off period but despite this they have paid their ten per cent deposit and paid to expedite the process, so it’s looking promising. It looks as if we will be leaving our home just after Christmas, if not before. Christmas is cancelled in our house.

We had started weeks ago with regard to getting the house ready to pack, including sorting the barn…

Yep! Why?

We have been clearing out cupboards, being really mercenary with letting things go. We have learned from this adventure that you have to let go to move forward. Despite knowing this I find we have to constantly remind ourselves. So due to this I am offering my son’s beautiful cherrywood cot, that turns into a bed, for free on a giveaway site. He’s 31, I think it’s time to let it go.

On Sunday we gave away his chess set and superhero figures to our neighbours little boy. I know why I bought them over here, I have realised that ‘letting go’ is a gradual process that, if we embrace change, happens over time. I loved my old house, it was the house where my son left home from, it was a beautiful house, and I couldn’t let it all go at once. But as we learn that change brings new things into our lives, so we let go to allow room.

There is a lot to do, and RD will be working for 3 to 4 weeks of the time left. So today we got up full of good intentions, despite both of us having a bad nights sleep, to crack on with clearing the goats shed, and the cellar. But I knew that we needed to plan this huge move, and the planning had to start from today, with everything to consider: money, the process, the order of things that needed to be done, and not least in the mix were our beloved animals. They have to be jabbed: the cats to enable them to go into the cattery at least 3 days before the actual move, and they and the Welshies need to have rabies jabs at least 22 days before the move.

We had to think are we taking the cats on the boat, for twenty hours, or fly them out to us. This would mean leaving them for up to eight weeks in a cattery, and I don’t want to spend a thousand euros on that. As part of our discussions we also both said we don’t want to leave them in France when we are not here. The decision has been made, they’re coming with us.

That led onto the discussion as to room in the van, leading on to ‘do we leave our stuff over here for months, or make arrangements to collect it sooner rather than later?’

To make all these decisions we had to contact the vets for prices for the inoculations, and a storage facility in Ireland, who acted like I was mad when I asked if he required a deposit, saying very kindly ‘Oh I don’t think there’s any need for that.’ We had to look up boats and what facilities they offer for our beloved furries, and so much more.

We need to find somewhere to stay for the ten days after the move, in France we have to leave the house at least 2 days before the sale goes through, because the house has to be clean, tidy and all blemishes and marks have to be made good. It’s all part of selling your house over here. On the day we all sign the final ‘Acte de Vente’ we hand the keys over there and then. There is no going back.

I wondered if we all pontificate when it comes to moving, because of that fear of change. I think we do.

So six hours after starting planning the day was nearly gone, but the plans have been mapped out on paper, decisions have been made and tomorrow we get up at 7! Hopefully I will get a wonderful sunrise to share.

Rosie

Nature reminds me every day….

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It’s been a crappy year for the entire world. I don’t want a ‘new normal.’

Recently I was both horrified and shocked, and truly dismayed to read that Denmark are to cull 17 million farmed mink, because 5 have a mutated form of Covid. The fact that they are farmed is bad enough, but they are going to kill newborns, young mink, everything. When does man stop thinking he owns the world?

No wonder nature is trying to cull us, in so many ways, as a race we’re clearly not doing it to ourselves quick enough.

So as a way of trying to raise spirits I am going to share the fabulous dawns that I am privileged to see almost every day.

Let’s not be blind to the crap, but let’s focus on the positives: the sun rises every day, and every day it never fails to lift the spirit.

We need to listen to nature.

Rosie

Living In The Here and Now- Small Moments

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Selling houses is stressful, there is no doubt about that. But more of that on future blogs. Just to say the Compromise de Vente (which means a commitment to sale) has finally been signed by our buyers, and we are due to sign next week. There will then be a ten day cooling off period for the buyers, fingers crossed it all goes well.

Due to the stresses it has been easy to forget that we only ever live in the here and now. So last week as RD and I sat in the garden in some bright autumn sunshine, I reminded him that we should make the most of our impromptu tea break because when we go to Ireland we are both going back to work, which means the time for impromptu tea breaks on any day will be gone. That we should treasure how much time we get to spend with the Welshies, because we won’t have as much time as this in the future.

Later in the week we lit our garden fire, and took two of our garden chairs to just ‘sit’ and watch the flames. We are both in the frame of mind that we just want to leave France now, but we should treasure the moments when we sit under some of our majestic oaks, with the dogs, and enjoy the peace and solitude that you can only find in nature.

Today we were invited to our lovely neighbours Manu and Lucie, for aperitif. We spent a couple of hours with them, playing drafts with the chess set we retrieved from our barn, a gift to our son many years ago and never touched. Trying to teach them,and us,chess with the language barrier was just too great! Their eight year old son loved it, and a relaxed fun couple of hours was had.

RD has been struggling with everything that’s been going on, but when we returned he said ‘that has really lifted me, today,’ I looked at him and said ‘That’s what I mean about living in the here and now, we give so much focusing on what we want in the future we fail to see what we have now. We let it go, and we stop enjoying it.’ RD looked at me and said ‘I understand.’

Happy Sunday folks

Rosie

A different Day of The Dead in France. The French have had enough…

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On Friday France went back into total lockdown. It’s more organised than the first, meaning Marie’s and official offices are open, but it also means that non-essential businesses have had to shut. (Or what are deemed non-essential, not quite sure who makes that decision! )

I am forever grateful that I chose to give up my job when I did, because the possibility of me being trapped on the Illes de Manche (Islands in the Sea) was great. I can’t afford that now when we are selling up.

I was going to update on the move, but in fact I am going to write about my local community and the current mood in France due to the second lockdown.

The 1st of November is La Toussaint, All Saints Day, and it is a bank holiday because it is taken so seriously. The French take chrysanthemums to the graveyards as a gesture of thanks to those they have lost. It is a revered day, but today the French are united in protesting against the second lockdown and its implications. (I would say for France but it is across the world.) Today they are mourning the loss of all they believe in… Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

This is a Facebook post from today, posted by our dog groomer. Because the second lockdown was imposed so suddenly she worked from 7am until midnight on Thursday. Now she does not know when, or if, she will re-open. She shared photos of the protest that is currently taking place in Mayenne, on this revered day, on a Sunday, by all the small traders such as her, and by the shops that are classed as ‘non-essential.’ In fact as I write this social media is reporting that it is spreading to all towns across the region.

Choosing to do this on this day is a clear indication of the French mood. This time they have placed the wreath and chrysanthemums to mourn the loss of commerce and equality in France. To mourn the loss of freedom.

The French have had enough. It is safe to say that Macron will not get in again. The French people are resilient people, especially in the vast areas of countryside such as here. They do not believe that ‘lockdown’s’ work, and I agree with them.

I have not written a lot about this Pandemic, I did share Kev’s Post , which so many people were too afraid to read (I know frightening to believe we are being controlled. But we are.) I find it more frightening that people are allowing their fear to prevent them from seeing what is clearly in plain site. Some may want to listen to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIHoNT_PklY&feature=share

Others, of course may not.

But now I am showing solidarity with my host country, with people worldwide who are losing their livelihoods, their homes, unable to feed their children, let alone themselves.

Fight Against the Unfair Competition

If you look at the plaque on the bottom of the wreath it says that it is to mark the death of commerce. That is what the French are mourning today, and I mourn with them.

I am sharing the story of the protest in the small town of Mayenne about the handling of this pandemic, in the hope that others will start to protest, will start to question why you can go into a pub but can’t drink alcohol (Scotland). Why you can go into a shop and buy food but you can’t buy clothes (Wales). Why you all have to be home by 9pm. Why? Can’t you catch the virus before then? In fact the French are calling the virus The Vampire Virus, because it only comes out at night! Or let’s talk about masks, for all the ‘you should wear a mask vigilantes out there’ because they’ve really worked haven’t they?

I am questioning why we have to protect the NHS when people are dying of cancer, due to cancelled appointments, undiagnosed conditions, and so much more. Do you really believe that cancelling chemo for a cancer patient is to save their life and stop them from dying from Covid? So they can die of cancer instead then? Then they can be added to the stats for all those who have died. It’s a disgrace.

I am questioning why some people think it’s okay (in their naive little world) to say that feeding children is the responsibility of the parent. Is that the parent who works in a pub, or has just lost their job, who was a flight attendant or cabin crew. God forbid we should have any sympathy for children of drug addicts, or alcoholics, or disabled people whose benefits have been cut! You might be picking up I am not into the ‘I’m alright Jack!’ Mentality.

It is time to consider, no matter how frightening, how huge the impact of economics is. The people who have lost their jobs will not be able to buy the things they used to buy, thereby impacting on other peoples jobs when they see a reduction for the need of their services. Mental health problems will increase, meaning a surge of acute health problems, because it is recognised that mental health has the greatest impact on physical health. What will happen to the NHS then?

Just some things to think about. I have been tested many times, and to date have not caught the virus, but if I do, I do. I would of course isolate from others and use my common sense, unlike some of our leaders across the world! And yes I may die, but I still count freedom and liberty as more important than protecting me when I could get run over tomorrow.

If you read the history of Pandemics, the second wave was inevitable, and herd immunity is crucial. If you don’t want to read up on it, because you are afraid this may frighten you more.

I ask the question: What’s the plan for when we come out of this lockdown?

Vive La France

Rosie

Living In The Moment: sunny Autumn Days

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I have made myself a promise, in this insane world, to give myself a little silence every day.

Here in France it is a beautiful autumn day, the sun is bright and warm, with just the occasional cloud blowing by.

So I took the time, from my what can be stressful days at the moment, and I had my tea and toast outside with the Welshies.

As I sat listening to the birds singing, and the trees sighing with resignation as the breeze took more of their leaves from them, I thought back to my first autumn here. I can remember how I would stand by my washing line and look around me in amazement that I owned the land where the huge oak trees loomed over me, and the crab apple dropped her apples loudly onto the goat shed roof. I remember walking up the chemin that was covered with a carpet of acorns and cob nuts crunching underfoot, and thinking this is mine.

But it was never mine, I never owned it, I borrowed it when I needed to heal, and it did it’s job. Now it’s time to let it go, and let someone else sit as the leaves blow by. Let someone else look down in wonder at the carpet of walnuts hiding amongst the leaves. Most years there are well over three thousand, we have given up trying to pick them all up, and we giggled the other day when we took the dogs for a walk down the lane and realised we were following a trail of walnut shells left by the squirrels. .

I will ask my neighbours if they want to collect some. If not the squirrels will be fed for the winter.

I will never tire of this view.

But one of my lessons has been it’s a view, that’s all. There will be more views.

Rosie