End of an era…and new beginnings

Well, we have gone and done it. The move to the UK has gone well and we are settling into our “new” flat in Carlisle. It is all a bit strange atm and things are not being helped by a lack of internet and phone connections (they are under way or so we are told) which is making closing of French accounts and getting stuff done here very difficult but we will get there in the end, I hope!

To backtrack a bit though. The actual move of all our stuff to Carlisle went very smoothly (I cannot recommend Dappers Direct and Huw Williams in particular highly enough) and I flew over to supervise its arrival at the flat as planned. Again all went well and with the help of Phil (our SIL) and his mate the van was soon unloaded and furniture started to be moved into place…and then moved again as it didnt fit into the spots I had imagined ☹ Hazel left me to it and I managed to get a lot of stuff unpacked in the end. The kitchen here is very big with lots of cupboards, so most of my kitchen things were soon put away. Mind you, I suspect a lot of rearranging will be going on in subsequent months. I was shattered by the end of the day, but very satisfied with my work, as the flat already looked quite homely. There was a big question over the sofa we had brought from France, as there was already one here, so we decided it would have to go. However, in the end we have kept it, as no-one seemed to want to either buy it, or even take it for free, as it doesnt have an English fire-resistant label. We have rearranged the living room since we arrived here and it does actually fit in so all is well. On the Tuesday of my flying visit, Hazel and I had a nice drive over to Newcastle as she had an appointment there, so we spent a lot of the time in the car catching up and chatting about future plans. This is something I have so missed…just having the time to talk to my daughter. I also got the chance in the afternoon to do a bit of Christmas shopping in Carlisle and although again I was shattered by the end of the day, I loved every minute of mooching round the shops and savouring the festive atmosphere. I flew back to France on the Wednesday and then began the final stages of packing up our house ready for stage 2 of the move.

The weekend after I got back, Geoff took Sylvie car down to St Aygulf to put her into the garage we are renting there. He had a good trip down and all went well apart from the fact that, due to all the strikes in France just now, he was informed a few days before hand that his train journey back had been completely cancelled…wonderful! However, Dame Fortune was again smiling on us and he managed to get a lift via Bla Bla Cars from Frejus all the way to Billom (about 30 mins from home) on the Sunday. I picked him up from there and he was a very happy boy having had an interesting chat with the driver all the way…plus it had cost about half the price of the train. So that was another thing on the “to do” list completed.

The rest of the month was taken up with saying goodbye to all our friends in the community and all of Geoffs students, which was very hard as you can imagine. We have lived there for 13 very happy years and have made many really good friends. Geoff has also been teaching some of his students for many years and several, such as Fabrice, Benoit and Bernadette have become very good friends. We went for lunch at Chameane, with Julie and Jean Luc, but I am sure that I will see them again as Julie (being a fellow Geordie) has family on Tyneside, who they visit quite a lot and so a meet up with them is highly likely in the future. The lunch with Bernadette was a much sadder affair. Bernadette is one of Geoffs long term students and is now a really good friend. She adored coming to our house for lessons, as she loved Chabanol, the view over to the mountains and our garden very much. In fact, an awful lot of the plants in Les Hirondelles garden owe their existence to Bernadette, who always arrived with a small present! She was devastated that we are leaving and although we had a lovely lunch, as usual, at Vivianes, she was in tears as she left our house (and us) for the last time. We too will miss her very much. We also had a very nice send off from the inhabitants of the commune who arranged a farewell appero at Fred and Irenes house in Berme Bas, where we were presented with a framed certificate making us honorary members of the commune, signed by Lionel our maire…very touching indeed! As we have said our goodbyes around the villages, so many people have offered us a bed for “when you come back to visit” as you pass through France! We gave up trying to explain that the likelihood of us driving from Carlisle to Frejus were virtually nil as they were not listening!

Our final swansong, as it were, was when Geoff was invited to be Pere Noel for the school children at their end of term concert and spectacle. What an honour! He decided he would be a mute Santa, as his accent would surely be a giveaway! He loved every minute of it and apart form one little lad who he knows well, having given his parents English lessons in the past and his lack of black wellies (already packed!) he wasn`t sussed! Again, it was a great opportunity to say goodbye to a lot of folk too.

And so, our final days at Chabanol drew to an end. Maisie cat was taken to her new home with Ron and Muriel in Sauxillanges, where we hear she has developed a taste for chicken and sardines – I suspect she will be fine there, dont you?? Milly and Molly hens went off to live with several others in our neighbours Cindy and Sebs coop. They have been a bit stand offish we hear, preferring to stay in the sleeping quarters, as they are not used to sharing! Geoff took Xena to the vets to get her final check over & worming before she could travel and came back with the news that we didn`t have a certificate of ownership, which goes with the microchip…it had gone in our document bag to Carlisle, so my anxiety levels went sky high! We went to the notaires and signed the procuration papers giving them the authority to do the final signing of the Acte de Vente after Christmas which was a great relief.

On the 20th the van arrived to load up the remaining stuff which will go into storage for a month and then be delivered to St Aygulf when we finally sign for the flat there. With that gone, the house looked very bare, even though we were leaving a lot of furniture behind as we had promised. Xena, who had been getting very anxious as all her friends and the furniture disappeared, took up residence in the car just in case she was to be next! We did a final clean, loaded up the car and set off Northwards with tears in our eyes as we said our final goodbyes to our lovely home.

The journey back to the UK went very smoothly as we took our time. We had been a bit worried about driving round Paris due to all the strikes but it all went well and we stopped over near Orleans on the first night. This gave us lots of time to drive up to Calais the next day so we went a different way to normal and ended up driving along the Cote dOpal which we have never done before. Xena was a total star all the way, considering that she has never been away from Chabanol before, has never spent a long time in the car and has certainly never slept in a bedroom ever, she never batted an eyelid! She got her first look at a beach and the sea when we stopped to let her have a run close to Boulogne! She loved the pools and the sand so much 😊 We stayed overnight close to the tunnel and were there in very good time to sort out all the pet travel stuff, in case there was a problem…which of course there wasnt. I was saying some very naughty words about our vet I can tell you! Soon we were in the UK and driving northwards and we arrived in Carlisle in the late afternoon. We had decided to stay in the flat so I made up the bed and we did a bit more sorting of stuff before going to Hazel and Phil’s to eat and spend for the evening there. I am so gong to enjoy having them so close :blush:

We met up with Matthew and the grandchildren the next day for lunch and to exchange Christmas presents, which was also lovely. Again, being able to see more of them is one of the reasons for making this move so I`m hoping this will become a regular occurrence.

Christmas day was spent doing all the things we usually do. We went to church, ate a fabulous meal and had a great day with Hazel, Phil and my brother Alan, before leaving them all to it at what is becoming our normal bedtime…9pm…and heading back to our cosy flat. The rest of this week has passed in a bit of a blur as we try to restock cupboards, learn to shop in UK supermarkets (they are soooo different!) again, buying lots of hardware stuff (washing up bowl, toaster etc) which we left behind and watching rubbish UK TV - OMG it is dire isn`t it?! We are really liking our flat and having the small garden is making me happy, as I can see daffs sprouting and watch the birds on the feeders. There are a lot of things still to sort out, but we feel we have made giant steps already. We will be flying to St Aygulf in the middle of January to try and get things sorted there…but that episode is for the next blog post. I have just now to see if I can post this one!

Quick update…we are now on line after several annoying days of waiting so I can post this at last.

I leave you then for now, by wishing you all a Very Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year.


So very glad that the move went well.

Every good wish for a super 2020… :hugs:

Thank you. its all a bit strange atm after 13 very happy years in France but i am enjoying seeing the family big time :slight_smile: