You’ve got to have a plan. An idea. A goal. Something you want to achieve in life.
Charlotte and I have had a five year plan.
We all know that the best laid plans of mice and men don’t always come to fruition and there are often setbacks along the way. Many people questioned our sanity and even more didn’t believe we would pull it off as Brexit and Covid-19 became huge worldwide problems that, when boiled down to our individual case, had potential to scupper those plans, turning a long held dream into little more than an occasional holiday home.
Even though we purchased in France in 2018, the following years only saw us visit a few times resulting in widespread unruly growth of the vegetation. At one point, the ‘lawn’ stood waist height with weeds. Not just thin grassy weeds either. Thick stemmed woody weeds. Fortunately we had help in managing the grounds in our absence by Stephen who, with his mini-digger was able to scrape and tame and bash the grassy wilderness into some form of submission.
The centre courtyard was another issue. For at least 25 years this had been left to grow wild. Sumach and Elderflower trees, self propagated, had taken a firm grasp here and although there was the formation outline of a henge of stones that at one time formed a circulatory driveway, there now existed little more than dense undergrowth and little footpaths created by wild beasts from the surrounding fields. Even following a ruthless chainsaw culling one sunny holiday, the next time of visitation saw a single springtime regrowth of a blanket of Sumach trees, each standing seven feet tall! The demoralising sight was again beaten into submission. I am now in the process of removing stumps. By hand. The hard way.
Each little step we make brings us closer to the goal of success. Every wheelbarrow load of stones that have the windblown earth sifted from them is an improvement to the whole.
Are we lucky? The blood, sweat and tears that have got us this far would beg to differ. We’ve just reached the 5 month milestone of being away from each other and although Charlotte is in the UK wading through the mountain of official French paperwork, including a Residency Permit and Social Security issues for me, there is also her full time job, the part time job, selling our UK home, getting Alfie into the Royal Navy and all the other issues of winding up life in the UK to eventually be able to join me out here. Luck is for those born with a silver spoon in their mouths. Being lucky is said of those who have never had to work hard. Luck is receiving, winning, getting something for free. Without effort. We are not lucky, we have both worked hard for this plan to get this far.
The plan continues here in France with a daily advancement in all the aspects of Estate Management and planning. The Gatehouse has just been approved for development by the Mayor’s office and one of the Devis (pricing quotes) has been accepted with a starting date for the work to commence sometime in October. Vague? Yes, definitely a vague date for work to commence. This is French France. We work here with Artisans.
So our plans continue. We assess, usually with a coffee while strolling around the grounds.
A day here will go something like this…get up, shower, shave, shake. Pills, coffee, walkabout. By then it’s almost time to get the kettle back on for elevenses. That strange time of the day for a pause to contemplate how far you’ve come, what’s been achieved and possibly what is going to be the next job tackled. Or not. The to do list can be quite fluid around this time of the day which invariably takes until lunchtime to decide on which foot forward comes first. Having decided that it is to be the left foot first, the best idea is to have a spot of lunch by which time it is too hot to work, so you’d better just have a little siesta in the sun. By five in the afternoon it’s time to think about opening a bottle of wine and cooking dinner. Happy days. Another productive day in France. I wonder what tomorrow will bring…
If there is anything I can learn from this process of building a new life here together in France, it is that things happen when they happen and not to stress over things you have no control over. October? At least there’s a plan! Let’s wait and see…
Carry on regardless!
Feel free to share your dreams and plans in the comments below…