It’s been a week since we started the move from our rental property to our new house, and what a week! Being the second time we have moved country we are used to the hard work and logistics that have to be put into place. The when you move country is you often have to move twice, once into a rental and then again into the home you buy.
RD and I were talking the other day about how we have basically been packing and unpacking in some form for seven months this time: Montaigu France – Gite in France- Rental Cottage in Ireland- New home.
But I’m not complaining because we have learned a lot from this part of the adventure, not least for me, because I have learned that whilst I think we need to do X life will show me we need to do Y, and this time I listen.
I was convinced we needed to decorate our bedroom before our bed came yesterday (that’s another story!) and bless RD he duly starting stripping the wall, but we had deliveries every day, on top of actually loading our van with stuff from the rental and driving it across the mountains to our new home, often through snowy wonderlands.
The oven in our new home looked as if it had something growing in it! Needless to say once the huge delivery of white goods arrived on Saturday that was a priority job for RD, along with fitting the washing machine and so much more: moving the fridge 4 times (women of the world will understand), putting the Hoover together, and the bed when it finally arrived, and the coffee table….
As well as decanting the boxes and boxes of stuff we have acquired and brought with us I have been busy ordering essentials, like crockery! Nearly all of our worldly goods are in France with no sign of when we can have them sent over, or collect them. But as most of them are going in the garage they’re not a priority for now, but it does mean we have to buy many essentials all over again.
I have also been busy arranging rubbish collection (not automatic in Ireland, it’s collected by private companies) and arranging internet, and deliveries. To say we’re tired is an understatement.
The front gates and gate into the paddock had to be covered in wire to stop the Welshies getting out, that was our first job, carried out by RD on the first day we started the move in the snow and sleet. When we finally spent our first night here on Saturday, sleeping in the floor, we had been driving a total of 15 hours in round trips back to the rental. Add the final trip on Sunday when we went back to pick up our final bits and clean the cottage RD had wracked up 18 hours of driving and we still had another full van to unload. Followed by another night of sleeping on the floor!
I have limited internet, it’s hit and miss with the 4G on my phone, so pictures will be few for now, but I will do my best to keep you all in the mix. RD and I really feel that this little house is home, I think we all feel that.
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I’ve had this post in my mind ever since we moved because it’s about how we look at life and ultimately how we came to go on another adventure. It’s not a post for those who want to ‘stay safe’ and thereby close their minds and talk themselves out of opportunity; it’s a post for those who are feeling restless, feel a strong urge to make change, or to just change the way they view things.
There are so many things that happened that got us to where we are today I will break them down into a series of posts. I hope they get some of you thinking. So here goes..
The biggest change to RD and I since embarking on our adventures has been the way we think. I have said for many years that ‘life will show us the way’, but our adventure in France made us see that it really did, if we listened.
When we arrived in France, in the first year we were there our Jeep broke down numerous times. No matter how many times we had it repaired something else went wrong with it. But still we persisted because we had paid over the odds for it, we liked it and we didn’t want to acknowledge that we had been ‘had’ and it was a heap of shit. Life was telling us to let it go, and each time something went wrong it was a problem that was worse than the one before. It took us two years and the wheel falling off it as RD was driving (luckily slowly at that moment in time) for us to realise that life was telling us to let it go! But that was not the end of the lessons.
Before we moved RD bought a flatbed truck, it was only six years old, but within the first eighteen months the engine blew up!
When we first moved into our house we turned the water on and it poured through the ceiling from the shower, we also discovered as winter drew in that the heating didn’t work. In the first year I wrote often of the cold, but we persevered because we had made our decision and we HAD to make it work. I did write a Post about our adventures a year in, reading it now made me smile because we had so much more to learn.
In the March of 2016, after only seven months of living in our house, the roof blew off our kitchen. It was at that point, as RD stood at our old knackered door, where the water seeped through when the rain lashed down, that he looked out and his subconscious said out loud ‘Here we are, living the dream!’
By 2016 I had also started to read the book ‘Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life’ the book of Tao, and it helped me to keep going because I understood that where there is bad there is good, and it enabled us to keep going, because there was good, in the shape of our beautiful old house, and our surroundings; add to that our love for each other and son and our animals.
I remember now talking RD round, out of this mindset, but when looking back I can see that it was ‘life’ trying to get us to question what we had done. I even painted and tried to renovate our old door, it looked fab, but it still leaked and we still weren’t getting it!
In my old post I wrote with hope that we were just waiting for the insurance company to pay for the replacement, which of course they never did. It was one of our lessons about France don’t trust the insurance companies . Over the years we would come to add the un-regulated, at times corrupt banking system to a long list of what wasn’t right for us. No wonder French people protest!
We had tarpaulins on our roof for nearly three years. When it rained, and trust me when it rained it blew across the open countryside and hammered our lovely house on the hill, we had bowls all over the kitchen catching the water. But still we carried on.
We learned from it all, we learned patience, and that sometimes things we think are catastrophic are not, you survive.
Work was difficult, we were starting to realise that the English people that we had to interact with were pretty awful (I’m being polite) in fact that was a continuous lesson right up to the day we left France.
In the September of 2016 a tornado ripped through our garden demolishing everything in its path. But we persevered, we held on to what I thought was ‘hope’ when in fact it was the fear of letting go of what was not a dream, in fact ‘life’ was telling us it wasn’t the right path for us.
But we didn’t listen to the messages life was sending us, and so they got worse and in 2017 our well ran dry. We had no water, nada, none, and again RD’s subconscious tried to get him to listen and he went down. Our wonderful French friends came to the rescue again and we had water connected via Marc’s supply until we could find the funds to have water connected. At nearly three thousand euros that was no mean feat, and we lived like that for eighteen months. But again we survived, the adventure in France taught us a lesson about ourselves, and how resilient we are, as we showered each other using a watering can.
It was in 2018 that we started to read ‘The Book of Awakening’ by Mark Nepo, we would read it together and consider each lesson. We are still reading it today, and it taught us one of the biggest lessons: Let Go.
We had a fabulous summer of 2018, I remember laying on a lilo on our pool in the baking sun and thinking ‘I am in my garden’. I understand now that summer happened to enable us to love what we had, before things started to change and we became enlightened in that it was time to consider change. We thought at that time that things were getting better, but in fact all our plans fell through and by the December I was starting to understand that life really was trying to tell us something.
By January of 2019 we found ourselves with no work and no funds, chopping up falling logs in the garden to try and heat the house after RD wasn’t paid for a job he had done (a common thing in that area of France sadly where English clients were concerned). Our new roof had leaked, and one night just as we went to bed I asked RD if he thought staying in France was the right thing to do and he answered honestly ‘I don’t know.’ Then he promptly started to snore as I lay awake in the darkness contemplating our life and our future. I was afraid, but I also realised that what I was actually afraid of was letting go, and so we finally started to listen….
More to come
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I have been a while sharing some posts because we have been back to having no internet again! But now, finally, we now have a hub, and all hopefully all should be okay.
So due to that I have not been able to post all that I wanted to, there is lots to share and I will endeavor to catch up some of it now.
As I write this post I am sitting in the very warm French sunshine, thankfully being cooled by a gusty breeze, it would be too hot otherwise. I have now been home just over two weeks, and I have found the need to have a nap in the afternoon up until last week. I was tired. We have spent a lot of these two weeks just sitting in our garden in the very warm weather and enjoying what we have (and too much wine!) Daisy out smooth coated cat has finally realised I am mummy, and allowed me to cuddle her again. She was miffed I was I was away so long
It has been a busy two weeks for many reasons not least RD has had raging toothache and has had to visit the dentist (emergencies only at present in France.) He is due to go back tomorrow to have the tooth removed.
We have also rearranged the furniture in the living room, taking some out and putting it in the barn. As per my previous post whilst I was away RD made himself busy and painted everything in the kitchen white. So we took the decision to take out the huge vintage French buffet that we had in there and put back the bottom of our larder unit that I painted many, many moons ago. It is to make the room airy and bright, and it is safe to say we have achieved our objective. All with a view to selling our house.
Despite my love of my home we are still going to leave France. I have been blessed to live here but the urge to move on is still with me. When I came home the peacefulness of our surroundings were not lost on me, but they are not enough, and I do believe that life is about change. In fact whether we like it or not life is all about change, it’s one of the bigger lessons I have learnt.
But me being me, I have realised that I am trying to cram everything in and make the change happen quickly. I have heard myself say ‘We need to be in Ireland by this time next year.’ Why do we?
Yes, Rich will need to find work and I think that by this time next year he will be ready to move somewhere where he can speak the language, especially if I am still in my current job, and away for two weeks at a time. And I like my job, I am learning so much, but that is for another post.
I had forgotten one of my other biggest lessons and our belief: That ‘life’ shows you the way. Or to quote M Scott Peck from ‘The Road Less Travelled’ “Someone else is doing the driving.” So whilstour plans remain the same, and we will move to Ireland, we will get the house valued and then decide if it goes on the market now or in a few months.
For the first time since living here we have the opportunity to live the life we wanted to, so we are going to enjoy it for now. The weather is hot, the pool is up, but we also know we have a lot to do in the time I am here.
More to come…
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It is a place I sit often to write, manage our life, and just look at life; and this table holds many things I use: my journal, my diary, my iPad, my book, books I am reading, currently Mark Nepo ‘The Book of Awakenings’, and ‘The Road Less Travelled and Beyond’. It has become a little sanctuary to me, as I look out on my garden, often with a Welshie sitting opposite me.
I took the picture of my table last night because today is my birthday, and as I placed the flowers that RD had bought me on my table (where else would they go?!) with my cards, ready to open this morning, I realised how much this table encapsulates my life, and just how blessed I am.
I have no religion, or ‘God’. Perhaps my ‘God’ is life. I truly believe that life does show you the way, if you have faith. But as with all faiths sometimes it is hard to hold on to them. I will do another blog to show how life has shown us over this month to believe in it, and ourselves, but today I want to share a gift I was given by our client.
I have often written about the awful people we have worked for, but yesterday our client paid their bill and then gave us a tip on top! A tip that will enable us to buy wood for the rest of the winter. But it was not the actual tip that was the biggest gift, it was the fact that it reminded me that there are good and kind people out there. It bought tears to my eyes because of that, because of their kindness, and because it gave me a lesson, and it gave me faith.
I think I will chalk that up as one of the best gifts ever, along with my son turning up at Christmas: spiritual gifts not material ones.
You can read our other story by clicking on the link at the top of the page.
Making This Better the book is now available including the journal entries for the first 5 years of our recovery & the whole 21 days of ‘The War’. Available internationally in paperback and ebook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also available at Xlibris and Apple Books for iPad and Waterstones Bookstores for click & collect
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It’s been a whirlwind few days after our son Tom surprised us on Saturday. We have tried to cram so much into three days, because he had already committed to going to my sisters house for Christmas day, and it was only right that he fulfilled that commitment.
We decided to have two Christmas’s one with them and one on the day.
On the Saturday we went out to visit someone who has been nothing but kind to us. She is alone and for me Christmas is about understanding and giving something other than gifts: time. We had already arranged to visit her, and Tom and Chris (the boys) volunteered to come with us. Trundling into the back of RD’s van (totally illegal!) and moaning about their arses hurting them.
When we arrived these two young men were so polite and kind, even sorting out some technical stuff for her on her computer. I was so proud of them both: another gift.
We then took a detour to the medieval city of Domfront, with its beautiful lights, and had a few drinks in a quintessential French tabac. The weather was awful, but it couldn’t damp our spirits.
It’s strange how we can all revert back to being ‘mum and dad’ with our kids. Tom has a good job, lives in Newcastle, contacts me when he wants and needs to, and I pretty much leave him to his own devices. He is an adult I am not an ‘over motherer’. I had him to live his life. But on Saturday they went out late and drove to a town near us to see if any bars were open. We didn’t go, we would have ‘cramped their style’, and also we were knackered! But they said they were coming back for chicken burgers and we waited up for them, knowing the bars in France do not stay open late. But when they hadn’t come back by 1am we started to worry, wtf! I looked at RD and we both started to laugh, because he felt the same. Our son looks after himself in Newcastle all the time, and we never worry, yet as soon as he comes over to us we become worried parents. I gave in and rang him. A very pissed Tom rang me back from a house in Lassay, they had been invited by some French girls they had met in a bar (nothing changes!) Tom thought it was hilarious that his mum was ringing him. I cooked the chicken burgers and left them out for them. When we got up the next morning they had obviously cooked chips, because they were everywhere. Nothing changes!
We visited Mayenne on the Sunday, where Christmas activities were taking place, and had mulled wine and hot chocolate.
When we got home we had an alternative Christmas dinner, of roast lamb and all the trimmings.
Followed by an evening in front of the fire and TV. Bless Chris he had driven for over ten hours to get Tom to us, so that was him!
On Monday we went shopping, I cannot begin to tell you the amount of wine and cheese they bought! We played Monopoly, and ate spaghetti Bolognaise very very late.
It was a joy to see RD with them. I realised just how much he misses the banter of being around men. They always used to love tormenting RD, but they never won, he always got them in the end, and nothing changes. I love this video, it sums these few days up.
As always life shows you the way. I do have a strong belief in that. Some people struggle with it, because sometimes life shows us a way that we don’t want to go. But my belief is strong now: ‘someone else is doing the driving’, to quote the late great M Scott Peck.
Serendipity is my favourite word, and I have written about it in some of my previous posts , really it is associated with fortuitous events but I am not going to take its literal meaning today, I am going to look at it in a different way:
Our French friends are very ‘handy’, it is clear that they can turn their hands to most anything and that includes cars. In fact one of them was a mechanic before he retired. RD suggested that he ask them about replacing the tyres (pneau in French) on our van, and about the rattle we have had for the best part of this year. RD had already asked someone else (an English person) who had said it was the brake discs because the pads needed replacing. Asking our French friends was a learning curve as they looked at RD as if he were mad because he was asking about a cameon (van) and they were not aware we had a van. So a conversation ensued about RD having a van and where was it! It transpires that small vans such as ours are classed as cars over here, no wonder people have been looking at us like weirdoes when we tell them we have a van!
As most of you know money is tight and at this time of year especially; so RD just thought they may suggest something for January. But no! Immediately they were there to help, there is no waiting over here, and Saturday morning RD was at Cheeky’s (our nickname we use for him) with the van being inspected. Now this is where serendipity stepped in:
The rattling noise from the van, that we have been driving all over north west France in, was in fact a loose screw on the drive shaft! At any moment it could have come away as we merried along the winding roads of France, and killed us! Now some would see that as bad luck not good. It depends on how you look at things I suppose, I believe serendipity stepped in: The French took over, made us take the van to Cheeky’s house and found the real culprit.
But it didn’t end there our tyres were in fact dangerous and this morning RD is in Mayenne, with the assistance of cheeky, sorting out the tyres. No we cannot afford them, but we cannot afford to wait either; our French friends have said they need to be done NOW and at one point on Saturday they weren’t going to let RD take the van home. When RD came home he was worried about our budget, but we both looked at each other and said ‘That’s life showing us the way!’
Now RD has called to say that the tyres and break pads have been done, and Cheeky will not take any payment for the work. He has told RD No: because we are their friends. Now that is life showing us the way.
You just have to listen, even when you don’t want to hear. What we need will come to us. I believe.
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As you may know by now we only have one chicken and Claude the cockerel left (by the skin of his teeth I may add, and Wiglet still looks at him longingly through the fence!) Read here The chicken may be laying but something is clearly coming into the hen enclosure at night and stealing her eggs methinks. So despite no eggs we cannot put the chickens in the pot (it is just not our way) and they are living out there retirement in the enclosure the Rich made for them last year. You can read about that here
The new home that we had lined up for them, where we thought they would mingle with other chickens, did not go ahead: as it turns out the odious person who was going to have them was in fact going to eat them! Animal lover? I don’t think so! So the chicken & Claude stayed with us. As always life showed us the way.
So every morning they are fed the scraps of food (no cooked meat as we don’t want to encourage les Ratz!) and some grain. Rich is the main feeder of the chickens and over the past couple of months he noticed that a pretty little blue, grey and yellow bird follows him everywhere, singing to him and sometimes shouting at him if he is late feeding the chickens. The little bird is a blue tit.
At first Rich thought he was imagining it until it started to stand on our steps outside our French windows (or are they just windows in France?!) and shout at him through the glass.
It didn’t care that our house is in fact a house full of predators: with four cats and two Welsh Terriers
At the weekend it hopped around furiously on the patio until Rich succumbed and went out to feed the chickens. As Rich starts to walk across the garden it flies ahead of him calling all of it’s friends: the sparrows and they would all swoop down to eat the rice, pasta and soaked bread.
One Saturday as we were gettting ready to go out it landed on the windowsill outside our bedroom window and proceeded to shout at Rich because he was late!
But now the little thing is like part of our family; worryingly it has become so tame that it sat under one of the sun chairs on the patio the other day singing to us, despite there being a cat sunning itself on the chair above!
I know that i have shared recently that we did not know if we would stay here, or whether it was time for change; and I am open to all possibilities. But right now life is showing us the way: Rich’s work has picked up and he has regular clients now. I have registered to provide a service over here mainly, because my blog is going to hit 50,000 views this month and I am going to self publish: I have too many people contacting me asking me where they can buy my book. (Sorry that is why I have been away from this blog so much.) and things are looking up.
So going with the flow of life showing me the way I stand in my garden, full of trees, including the fallen cherry, and I soak it up: I no longer take it for granted.
This garden is truly a haven for the birds, from the owl in the cherry by the barn, to the woodpecker knock knocking on one if the giant oaks; to the blue tit who seems to have become our friend; and I know that I am blessed to live here and have this experience.
I stood this morning in the warm spring sunshine watching the little blue tit and all his compadre’s eating last nights chips, despite me standing there, and I thought: this is a memory to keep Moisy.
Have a good week folks.
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My faithful followers of this blog may have noticed a distinct lack of blogging recently. There have been a number of reasons:
That I have been disenchanted with life (mainly people in it); that I have come to realise that I will have to lower my integrity towards people to survive, because I know that some people will take joy (sadly yes) if they read what I am going to write; and I have had to consider whether I was going to give them that joy; and mainly because I know that people love my positivity and I have felt very negative due to experiences since living here, that have now come to a head in the last couple of months.
I have come to realise that I have always tried to look at the positives to such a degree that I have not considered the negatives; and perhaps now I need to.
For the first time in a long time I wrote in my journal, and I reflected on our life here and realised that whilst I always try to look at the positive was I ignoring what life was showing me, by not acknowledging the negative as well? Our well ran dry, our water heater was not working properly, resulting in a huuuuuge bill, our roof blew off, our truck engine seized (despite being only 6 years old), work had been difficult and my! Have we had some humdinger employers! And many other things, not least Tinky Tiny Tilly never coming home. (But if you look at the balance Wiglet the PIglet came to live with us instead.)
On the Monday before my birthday I asked Rich if he wanted to stay here in France and he answered honestly that he didn’t know. So I set to writing my journal, and asked myself some honest questions. I know that people read this blog for its positivity but I always said I would say it warts and all.
As I lay there in bed with Rich snoring and asked myself if at that precise moment in time if I had won the lottery would I stay: The answer was no; but I have to emphasise it was at that precise moment in time.
So I started to consider other options in my head: moving to Spain, where it would be warmer and (my understanding is) the cost of living is cheaper. I considered moving back to England! The main problem with that was that we would want to live somewhere remote, and would never be able to afford to buy unless it was a shit hole! But I considered it, expressly Wales, where there is more countryside and less people. Then I considered Ireland; my dad was Irish, I have relatives there, the countryside is similar to France, and the properties are cheap. But most of all the benefit of Ireland was that they speak English.
I knew that to be realistic we really needed to sit down with a pen and a piece of paper because all of the things to consider would get lost in our heads.
But as always, even though I had lost my belief a little bit because it has been so hard, I believed that life would show me the way.
So on my birthday when I mentioned to a dear friend, who is there in the background, that I was considering our options they messaged me and immediately asked what’s up! They then pointed out to me how lucky we were and that they would move here in a heartbeat. They don’t know how much that simple comment meant.
As part of the numerous birthday wishes on FB a number of people said how I was living the dream; another friend excitedly posted that she was on the move, and when I responded she said that she was following my lead. My dear friend Mary has already ventured on a big adventure and all of these people have been inspired by us; I felt a responsibility to them. And being a girl who always believes that life shows you the way I then started to wonder if this was life trying to make me think. Add to that our impromptu invite to the lovely neighbours, Rich’s FB site that I have set up for work resulting in him getting some work from it, I started to think that perhaps it was.
On Sunday we went for a windy walk down our lane and visited a farm where Marc’s uncle lived and loved until he died last year. It was sad, with the doors blowing in the wind no longer loved; but when I looked at how that man had lived it reminded me that I had come out here for the simple life, and this was it. What did I want?
On the walk Rich and I stopped and looked over the rolling hills and Rich looked at me and said ‘I can’t go back to England Mois, I cannot be surrounded by people.’ And I agreed, we had at least made a decision on something.
As the week has worn on we have come up with some other ideas to make some money that I am now busy working on (let alone my blogs, and my book) and I am looking forward to what they may bring.
As I have always said life will show us the way.
We have both decided that we are not beaten yet; I mean, bloody hell, if you look at all of the obstacles that we have overcome to get to here we can do anything if we put our mind to it!
I have been honest in describing what happened to me re my mental health in England and in all honesty I think that I was still ill when I came over here. So I then became overwhelmed with the volumnious amount of paperwork that need to be completed; got sucked in by people who I thought were going to help me when in fact it was the opposite and I lost my mojo – which is that I take no crap from anyone.. But now I am back, I have lowered my level with regards to integrity and compassion, you get to piss me off three times and then your out! I can look after myself and others who are kind to me and I will not be beaten.
But part of this consideration is also that I have acknowledged that we are on an adventure – it was never set in stone – and if part of the adventure is to move to pastures new then life will show me that, and I need to not be afraid of it and stop beating myself up that I have to make it work here: to stop thinking that there are no other options. There are always options and right now I choose this one. Who wouldn’t?!
Then on Monday a darling friend (I have written of him before and the wonderful music he sends me) sent me this for my birthday; with a beautifully written card with it.
He also said to me on Messenger:
‘Remember Moi, we are the good ones, we too are the sensitive ones! We are on the bus, if the wheels fall off we just have to put them back on again!’
He is right, I am on the bus, my wheels on firmly back in place and let’s see where this baby takes us.
Watch this space folks let’s see what happens, and whatever it is I will Face Everything and Rise.
I have just used this quote in my other blog, but I love it so much and it sums up this post!
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
Both sides now – Joni Mitchell
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