So this blog was working nicely in chronological order....but I have to interrupt the story of our house purchase and renovation with some exciting news. We've been here a year! In the blink of an eye (and the swish of a paintbrush) we've been in France for 365 days. You might call it "A Year in Provence"!
Some days I really do have to pinch myself that this crazy day dream of mine is actually a full time reality. I find myself smiling from ear to ear as I walk from the house to the car, just marvelling at the beautiful blue sky and t-shirt weather in October.
There have been some frustrating times, plenty of very long days and hard work and the odd moments of doubt. They are nicely balanced out by the evenings sitting on our terrace with a G&T or a glass of the local wine. We've had so many lovely day trips out to see villages, vineyards, lakes and gorges (and even flamingos!). Even more trips to markets and brocantes. Sometimes it simply feels like we are on an extended holiday!
What is most important for us is that we are doing our own thing. It's never going to make us rich, but if we can live this life comfortably and enjoy what we are doing then we've won. No more hours behind a desk and screen, no more endless motorways and budget hotels, no more living for the weekend. A year in and so far it's going to plan. Our first holiday apartment is doing a steady trade in bookings and the second apartment is almost finished.
A year to the day since we drove off the train at Calais, a text arrived from our préfecture at Avignon advising us that our "cartes de séjour" were ready to collect. Putting the circus that is Brexit aside for a second - the French authorities are letting us stay!! Well this really was cause for celebration, so I sent a few messages, bought a few bottles of fizz and whipped up a big batch of meringues.
There were eight of us for lunch - so a spare dining table had to be squeezed in to our living area. We spent a wonderful afternoon with our friends and raised a glass or two to our new life here in Provence. I'm well known for overbuying when it comes to cheese, so the following evening some friends who couldn't make lunch came over to enjoy the leftover cheese and a bit more fizz.
So here we are, starting our second year here. I've had a few reflective moments in the last week - mostly during the endless rounds of sanding, painting and varnishing furniture. Would I change anything? Not really. If I could go back a year to the quiet months before we bought the house I would tell myself to learn a bit more French grammar whilst I still had the time. I might caution myself a little on the calorific values of the things I love best about France - bread, cheese, wine, almond croissants.
The move here was a big adventure, a big risk, a big life change, and I absolutely love it!