Many of you will have experienced that awful emptiness that overwhelms you when your children leave home. One minute your complaining about all the muddy rugby gear you’ve got to wash/ the middle of the night tipsy-teenager-taxi-service you provide for free/ the piles of dirty crockery found under their beds ( to name but a few, I know there are thousands more), and the next minute their gone: off to a new life in a dingy tiny room on a university campus a million miles away. You feel that heart wrenching pang of fear that they can’t possibly cope without you, they’re going to hate it, how will they manage!? Truth is they love every minute of it, it’s you that can’t cope without them ( it’s been 6 years since my second child left for Uni and I still feel the pain!)
So what to do?
Option 1: sit around staring at my phone hoping for a text message ?
Option 2: drive to said dingy halls-of-residence room and kidnap poor unable-to-cope-without-mummy child ( my actual preferred option)
Option 3: jack it all in and start a new life in France.
Now, it may not sound very motherly, leaving your two children behind to fend for themselves, but truth is hubby and I couldn’t bear being in the house without the kids, it just felt so empty.
So after watching one of those everything-turns-out-super-fabulous-for-everyone TV program’s about ex pats in France one rainy Tuesday afternoon, we were suddenly on a ferry on the Thursday, tent packed ( absolutely no other camping gear apart from a blow up bed), map in handbag and a round of ham sandwiches to keep us going through the night’s drive.
All we knew about France was that we had enjoyed several great skiing holidays in the alps, loved French wine and cheese and had never really discovered what all the fuss was about regarding French onion soup ( always found it a bit watery and lacking in any flavour)
We spoke hardly any French. Hubby could just about ask for a beer and I could ask any stranger, with great confidence, if they could direct me to the nearest station ( even though I have never had any intentions of travelling by train…)
We thought a nice little place close to a ski resort ( about 30 mins drive) that needed some work ( we had decided to take a year off, just like that!) would suit us fine.
Now we had seen those TV programs and we had read those articles, where you can buy a renovation project in La France for next to nothing and turn it into a gloriously beautiful pad in no time at all.
We weren’t that naive (quite), we had done some fairly large renovations already in the UK, but we did think we could pick something up for about £80K ( hahaha, I’m laughing my head off now writing that!)
So the search began: we contacted a few English speaking French estate agents en route and headed for the alps, armed with a French pocket dictionary, afore mentioned snack pack and two man tent, dizzy with excitement and hope of things to come.
After a few phone calls we had made appointments to see a selection of properties in the Three Vallees area.
Full of enthusiasm and hope, we pitched our tent, inflated the bed ( which was slightly too big for the tent, so we couldn’t do the zip up and hubby had to sleep with his feet sticking out the tent) and set off for a pizza and a few glasses of red in the town (due to the fact that we had no means of cooking, no utensils, not even a cup- actually no sleeping bags either, but we didn’t think about that until we rolled back later!)
Anyhow, we must have had more than a few, because we slept like lions all night, snuggled up under the old dog’s blanket from the boot, completely oblivious to the storm that raged all around us ( actual as well as metaphorically!) In the morning the campsite was awash with broken awnings, camp chairs and tables blown all over the place and disgruntled Frenchmen packing up there cars with their damaged camping goods. We hadn’t heard a thing.
Looking back, was it an omen? A sign of things to come, that the road to happiness a-la-France was not going to be all sunshine and light? That we would just ignore all the advice and just carry on with our eyes tightly closed?
In my next post I’ll tell you about the hopes and disappointments, trials and tribulations and lessons learnt along the way as we searched for “the one”
Thank you for visiting my page xx