As I worked out the last few days in the office, I would come home each evening and log into my virtual home – Survive France Network – and have some fun with others on live chat. I put up a comment saying I was looking for a 3 month rental somewhere near Carcassonne. A member replied to say she knew of a house in a village about 45 minutes from there. A couple of weeks and many emails later, my sister and I flew into Carcassonne, picked up a rental car. Armed with sat-nav and a list of the possible houses to view, we set off from our hotel. We bowled into Lagrasse, and there was Joanne, my SFN friend – waiting for us, as arranged. If first impressions count, we didn’t do too well – as Joanne approached the car, Helen and I were engaged in a typical sibling squabble about whether or not I had parked between the lines! I ended it by stepping out of the car and saying “ah bo**ocks!” . Thankfully, this seemed to amuse Joanne no end, and herself and Peter showed us the house, and walked around the village with us, pointing out the mediaeval market place, the river and the beautiful Abbey that sits on the opposite bank of the river. That was it! Decision made. I cancelled all the other appointments and flew back to Dublin the next day. Time to pack - we are going to France!
I finished work on 28th February, and started making plans. I am a list-maker. At one point I had so many lists, I needed a Master List, containing all my lists. I was driving myself nuts! I spent a feverish couple of hours scanning stuff – passports, driving licences, marriage certs, birth certs, and on and on. Just to completely drive myself over the edge, I then decided to email them to myself, as a back up. No sooner had I uttered the words “back-up”, then I was out of the chair, scrabbling around, looking for the cable for the external hard drive.
I had made so many lists of what paperwork to bring, what to pack, etc., that two days before we were due to leave, I hadn’t actually packed anything. I packed and weighed, unpacked, packed again. In between packing and re-packing, I copied loads of films from DVDs onto hard drive, thinking that we would be looking for something to do in the evenings. We haven’t watched a single one!
We are here a full year now (since 28th March 2012). We want to stay here, and have started looking at houses to buy. Our French is improving slowly, we are making friends, and life is good. Oh, except that we are still not earning any money – Henry has sold two paintings in the last 3 months, and I acquired one TEFL student via Skype.