Sunday, 10 November 2013

Musings of an Ex-Pat !!!

Thank you Britain, the Tax Office informs me that “officially” I am an “Ex-Pat” 24 hours after leaving the country of my birth, just coz I haven’t a principal residence or something. Thanks for that, good job I “tried before I bought” or I’d be feeling pretty unloved by now. Shame you don’t have such a rigid stance on those you let IN !!!!  But I’m not getting involved in a debate, nah, you just keep taxing us on our pension and rental money…………

Anyway, how does it feel to be mortgage free, and living in Foreign climes ?? Less stressful……and that’s what it’s all about Britain, STRESS. I don’t think you can really appreciate how much modern living and the “Rat Race” gets to you, until you “step off the bus”. At first, over ten years ago, I put it down to holidaying here, I mean holidays are different to real life aren't they ?? But as time went on, and years went by, I realised it was less about the “break” and more about the surroundings. Having been brought up in the middle of the New Forest, in a house that faced seven miles of open heathland, I guess I was lucky enough, growing up, to consider myself a country girl, I was a tom boy, rode ponies, worked on a farm to pay for the privilege, drove tractors ,baled hay, all at aged 12+. As I grew older and went to work,(in a “proper job” as my parents called it,as a Bank Clerk ,when all I wanted to do was work with horses..) my travels then took me to Western Canada, Quarter horses, rodeos, dirt track roads,all very Dukes of Hazzard. It took a V.S.P, (very special person) to tear me away from this, but “settle down” I did, and I have NO regrets for doing so. I guess it’s ironic that in the end it was HIS wanderlust that finds me here, typing my blog this morning.

But during this time, if the truth be told, the writing was still on the wall, I was sneaking back to the Dark Side, I mean where did the agility come from ??? the NEED to be around like minded people,to remove myself from the humdrum lifestyle, mod cons, conformity (yes I said it) and to travel around the country like a nomad, caravan in tow, seven dogs, two children? Who let me do this ?, who paid for that ?, who stayed at home earning the money to keep a roof over our heads in the meantime ?…..the unsung hero that is Mr S. !! But then Mr “Slippers by the Fireside” caught the bug himself, not THE Bug,(Stitchy Bug),but the other bug, and he found himself,upon retirement, wanting to get out the Rat Race..
It started,for him, when I gave him a break in France for his 50th birthday, we committed to buying this cottage when it was renovated, and the rest, as they say, 12 years on, is history.

Being able, as I am now, to enjoy the country life, after 30 years of living on estates, I couldn't be happier. The serious deal breaker here will be my lovely, lovely, (and not just coz they will read this) children. A lot of focus, particularly from those that know me reasonably well, was about, how much I would miss them after being so close, and so happy throughout their rise to adulthood.Believe me when I say,if I could do it all again,I would, in a heartbeat. I unashamedly think I am the luckiest Mum in the World, they are fabulous people, two completely different individuals, but their ability to enrich my life, laugh both with me, and AT me,to smile,and enjoy a life as a Mum, that I could never,as a younger person, have ever imagined, is unquestionable.They have also allowed me to understand how my Mum felt about my brothers and I,for, losing her when I did,when the children were small,I never really "got" her tales of motherhood, although she told me countless times how she felt......but I get it now,I just wish we could share stories again with me being more enlightened,as I now feel I am.   


Despite any reservations they may, or do have, they proved what great children they are by backing me/us in this adventure. Will it all prove too much for me in the end as time goes by ?? I'm not to know that ! I don’t know what the future holds for any of us. No crystal ball, no forecasts, or predictions, but the freedom to find out for myself has been given to me by them, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Well that was that out of my system….I try to keep my blog on my French experiences solely, but I also wanted to explain why I feel able to throw myself into life here. Needed saying, I needed to type it, get it out there…now back to Le Tardis.

As an Ex-Pat you will be glad to know that I am signing up for French lessons. Not locally with the night classes for Brits, but in Angouleme at the “immigrants” school. I have been reliably informed I will probably be the only English person there, and it will be tough, but, I have to commit to regular proper lessons if I am to become reasonably fluent. I don’t want to surround myself with other ex-Pats” as a lot of those out here do, I've had, as I've said before, enough trouble staying away from them in my own country, I certainly don’t want to actively seek them out here.

I have some French, but not enough to cover what I consider to be the most important things in life, health, ie: trips to the Doctors, Vets etc. and incidents, accidents…you know the sort of stuff. Situations where a timespan to “look things up” in a dictionary, or online, are NOT included.  
But I'm getting a little nervous about the prospect,of going back to school, but it's got to be done. I am such a chatterbox (for those that weren't aware) staying quiet at Agility Club is KILLING me. There a 50,000 things I want to be firing at/asking them. WTF is one of them but I think I will keep that to myself !!!!

On the subject of agility, how is that going ? Non-enthusiasts can skip down a bit….this is going to take a while. 

Stitch is being Stitch, he has a slight glitch that has arisen this year, has had an MRI on his neck and head, and will have another on his back in February. Really all the problem is tremor. He just can’t stop shaking, this doesn't seem to effect his agility, but he does have the odd moment of pain, almost as if he has a trapped nerve. He has racked up a 3k bill so far(thank god for insurance) and the specialists are none the wiser. They describe him as an enigma……that’s not quite how I describe him sometimes, but hey they are the specialists ;-)

Master Boq……now where do I start?? He is “absolutely FABULOUS dwarlings”. Granted, a bit “odd-looking”, in a drop dead handsome sort of way. Probably could sneak him into ABC’s as a hound of some description. But 100% in every way the sharpest pencil in the box. Tried to outrun a TGV (High speed train) one time, but thankfully lost, and had “losing chase drive” added to his Winter Training Plan as a result. He is such a spirited,playful,loving and worky little fella, six months old on Tuesday 12th Nov, and is just beginning some foundation work,which means me doing lots of inward and outward circles at a walk/run. Good lord, I’m getting dizzy…on my drugs not the best,but he’s taken to it like a canard(duck) to water…… I wonder if the French SAY that!! Added to my,” must find out” list. 

He is liking his wobble work and directionals, but his mainstay and raison d'ĂȘtre is belting about like a mad thing,trying to take your legs out in the process. We have a back garden on a slope,in fact our whole garden is on a slope,and every time I go to the garden shed he joins me,and then when I go to make the descent back to the house he hurtles past me like a juggernaut.But oh what fun he has with his toys out there on the slopes......up down.....up down. 

I am now taking him to French agility club, as their training facilities are on the flat and therefore less hazardous for both of us. They have a fully enclosed (10ft high chain link) perimeter and a (4ft high chain link) divider. The agility field is one side of the divider and the obedience area is the other, but nobody does obedience, so this area is 99.9% free during the classes. Result !!. During the length of the sessions, normally two hours, (but as I have mentioned before, with very little actual agility being produced, 3-4 runs total in that time) Boq and I spend half the session, circling, recalling, wrapping(round a single weave pole),and doing anything/everything else he knows in the vacant obedience area, to the cacophony of raised French voices, barking dogs, and the associated FRANTIC-NESS of all things I have come to recognise as French Agility not 50 feet away the other side of the fence. He should be bombproof by the New Year !!! The other half of the lesson I let the Bug loose on the agility………. He is the biggest spokesperson for our new methods,the ones that I hope, they will see me working towards with Boq. He is just awesome. Take that….antiquated, non-positive agility world. Clicker ????? c'est quoi ??

Unable as I was,(due to the van size),to get my contacts out here yet, Richard has made a usable pro-tem contact trainer, out of an old solid dining room table and a piece of rubber matting. Not brilliant, but will do,for when I decide to take it to the next level with my 2o2o, having seen how Voodoo,(Lesleys’ boy) and Jennines’ Ruby converted their skills from simple correct positions on a wobble cushion,(or Wi-fit board in Ruby’s case),to the real thing, I'm not panicking about getting started anytime soon.  I do have a couple of jumps and a set of stick in weaves, so that should be enough when the need arises. Will try and get more stuff back here in March, after Crufts.

So reviewing this, not a particularly informative blog, will try and do better next time. Just wanted to set the scene and draw a line under Le Tardis (Holiday Home) Blog and begin life at Le Tardis, My HOME, Blog.  
Winter is nearly upon us, the woodburner has now been lit for the first time and I have painfully discovered that even the severely thinned down contents of a four bedroom detached house, less rubbish and clutter,STILL does not fit into a three bedroom cottage, with no loft. My two greniers (my 2nd and 3rd bedrooms) are now full of boxes, Yes folks, I need a bigger house, and a BARN but that’s another adventure to be enjoyed when my French is more fluent, and I have my feet more firmly under “la table”.

Like I said...more Frenchness,more photos NEXT blog,stay warm and dry..... Gail xx