One of the things that I have had said to me repeatedly since we bought the cottage in France, (although interestingly enough NOT by my children)and more so since we have decided to try moving here permanently is, : You have to be careful with your judgement….,"it’s not like living there is it ?? it’s a holiday !!!” Well take it from me the last two visits have proved to me beyond doubt that the honeymoon is over, and “living here” is exactly what we are doing. How do I know this ? because shit happens, and it’s no less soul destroying despite the climate,the wildlife,the relaxation and the hopes and dreams of a happy retirement.
Does leading a dream life stop your pain, or allow you to reduce your medication for it?,…no, do new challenges and experiences fall at your feet and cause you no stress…,no, do the endless walks in spectacular countryside spare you from the tears you cry, knowing the dogs you swore you would share it with, never made that final trip, or does discovering you love gardening, and want to tell that to the “green fingered” parent you lost long before this experience in France started, who YOU called bonkers for spending hours and hours on her hands and knees weeding, make you happy, …No…..because life isn’t a holiday, and no matter where you lay your hat, trouble and strife will eventually follow. But that’s life isn’t it,imperfect and unpredictable, but you have to make the most of it. And making “the most of it” will be my focus from now on whatever is thrown my way.
Take my beautiful woodburner, installed at fair expense and complimented by a faux chimney that my other half and I had a gas laugh riot “creating” behind it. What happens this visit ??? Well I will give you the before and after photo so you can see for yourself. Thick tar gunk running down our walls after the first full week of usage. Was it the chimney ??? Replaced/rejigged…No…..rainwater? no, condensation ??maybe….would an airbrick fix it….no… would adding Vermiculite do the trick ??…. Finally Yes after a month of staining my masterpiece beyond belief !!! It’s bleached now and doesn't look that bad. But for me it’s ruined…. And always will be.
A near miss: Finding out that due to a cock up with a direct debit I have been driving an uninsured car since December and was blissfully(although you can’t use that expression in this case) unaware of doing so, on the slippery single track roads I have been sharing with the lorries modifying the TGV(railway)locally,and the slightly loopy impatient French motorists who aren't used to sharing their space with other motorists, when two cars on the same road at the same time represents total gridlock !!!
Wildlife: Watching during the course of a day(My birthday,) a goldfinch who had become so tame and who fed daily on our kitchen window sill, puff out his or her feathers and spend a last day not leaving our garden,only to finally perch on our window sill for once last moment at dusk before flying off, to never reappear. Illness,old age,victim of a close encounter with cat or bird of prey ?. I will never know but it broke my heart.
Agility: A lovely bunch of people, welcoming and jovial. Do they use modern methods? No. Are their relationships with their dogs a partnership or a dictatorship ?? Well I think you know the answer. They aren't mean to their dogs but they don’t lure,shape and reward exactly like we do.There is an element of positive reinforcement in that they will let them work to a toy, or throw a toy,but on the whole although not overtly harsh,they think the dogs should do X,Y or Z because they say so, and they are pretty immovable on that subject. In the long term will I be able to turn up week after week and watch them struggle(which they think they aren't), persuading a dog to jump a jump by insisting that it does so, rather than dropping the pole to the floor and praise and rewarding it’s efforts, before progressing gradually ?? well that remains to be seen, save to say I am already looking at properties with larger terrain to offer people the opportunity to train on a 1-2-1 basis should they wish to so. There is no better incentive to achieve better fluency than to have a goal such as taking the exam to train French agility (You have to have a French certificate to have permission to train at ALL) to improve their relationships with their dogs.
So to summarize am I under any illusion that this is all “very real” ?? Yet strangely does it dampen my enthuasism.? My other half is always going on about this challenge to him being, “Lifes last big adventure” and in itself are adventures always smooth,trouble free, and without risk? Of course not. Being outside your comfort zone after the best part of thirty years of happy family life is scary, especially when in your opinion you would do it all over again in a heartbeat. A very wise woman(My Mum) once told me “life is about change” and I never really understood that one as a child !! Does a change mean you were unhappy or discontent with your life as it was.? In my case certainly not, I love my life just as it is. I am proud of my children ?, immeasurably. I totally applaud the changes they have made to their lives in way of career and love their choices of personal relationships. But I guess I now am facing the fact that their adventures are now “theirs” and only shared with me secondhand whether or not I was 10 minutes down the road.
So here I am…..having an adventure of my own. Will it all be endless, sunshine, lollipops and rainbows ? Will there be days when I want to be “beamed up Scotty” and for it to be back as it all was ? Hell yes. But then I have those days in UK. We all do.
Like I said “That’s life” and I am not sticking my head in the sand folks. Merde happens
P.S. Normal service to be resumed on the next post, I promise xx I just felt it had to be said.