The "Diary" section of this site now covers the time since 2002, the year before we moved to France. If you also include the "Mulching Matilda" story of our years in Australia starting in 1991, a very large portion of our lives together is documented, including the disasters as well as the triumphs (and as a notorious chronological nincompoop I find it a useful reference source for those "when did we…" questions!).
So did we do the right thing?
Once the excitement and novelty of living in another country has faded, there are inevitable second thoughts about some aspects:
✘ France may be only an hour or so from Blighty via PaddyAir, but it's obvious that the contact with UK friends and family, particularly children and grandchildren, will be diminished or, alas, may be lost for ever.
✘ I wish I hadn't spent the first five years or so immersed in DIY, so I could have developed more local social contacts and achieved a more fluent standard of the French language.
✘ The weather, although generally better than the UK, is less temperate and more extreme and it can be colder, wetter, windier, sunnier and hotter than England - and when you're sheltering indoors with all the shutters closed because it's steaming hot in the mid-40°C region, it might just as well be pouring with rain.
The positive side includes:
✔ The tranquillity of a country property at an affordable price.
✔ Empty roads that bring back the pleasure of driving to every kind of gorgeous scenery, from glacier to desert.
✔ No crowds - France is nearly 5 times the size of England and 25% of France's population live within just 25km of Paris.
✔ A superb Health System that is professional, caring and unstretched.
✔ For me, the graciousness, politeness and genuine friendliness of the South-Western French people is by far the most important factor. I've come away from a shop or workshop having bought a "distress purchase" such as a set of tyres with a feeling of elation at having been treated with the easy-going grace that could never be taught in a business school and is a natural by-product of the relaxed, rural French lifestyle.
So yes, dear reader, IMHO we did do the right thing…
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