• mariababbington

Renovating, Raising Babies and Remaining Sane! Part One

From the not so sunny Staffordshire in the UK, we were a family of 5, little did we know baby number 4 was on the way! What a surprise!

Mid September 2019 and we had rented a rural bungalow whilst saving to buy. The other half and I had a haulage company together and we were doing fairly well. We hadn’t ever spoken really of living abroad, not seriously anyway. My parents were looking at moving to the Dordogne in the near future and that had peaked my interest in France, just to stay close to mum. Our relationship over the years had its ups and downs and we even went through a period where we didn’t speak at all, but that’s another story for another time.

Out of the blue, our landlord called to say, they had finally been granted permission to change the bungalow into a 3 story family home! He was giving us 2 months notice. It was a complete shock! The rental market for a decent sized family home, where I could continue working from home and near to the office was so expensive... £1500 a month or more, plus general bills and council tax meant less would go in the savings pot. I trawled every estate agent and website trying to find a bargain and it just wasn’t looking promising. Suddenly it seemed impossible, an uphill battle.

On one particularly exhausting afternoon of packing and only 5 weeks till the moving deadline, the OH passed me his phone and said “what do you think?” I looked at the screen to see a beautiful winter let in the south of France, available November until May, 1200€ including bills... roughly converted to £1045 by my reckoning?

My smile said it all!

So we made an enquiry and the lovely lady who I’d unfortunately woken up (she worked in India with her husband so it was ridiculously late) answered the phone. We spoke for the next few days and agreed to take it! A move was indeed on and we broke the news to our loved ones! Suddenly we were moving abroad in just 4 weeks...!! Insert... “are you mad? Are you sure? What about? Are you doing a moonlight flit? Whats wrong?” Kinda comments here!

The kids were already homeschooled, so we didn’t have that to contend with. We had also recently employed an operations manager who could more than handle working with us at a distance, so what the hell?... We were ACTUALLY moving to France! It eventually sunk in a few days later and the 'what if’s and but’s' were whizzing around my head. By my own admission I’m a multi tasking wizard but this was next level... I was now pregnant again... almost 4 months pregnant, I’d obviously been too distracted to see it!

Could we still go? What do we do now? My reassuring, ultra laid back, loving hubby to be was on hand to keep me on solid ground. I’m the worrier, yet methodical, planner of the relationship, the calculated risk taker. He’s the happy go lucky, charm the pants off you, hands on, F**ck it... you only live once, kinda guy... it works!

We decided to push ahead going back and forth for appointments.... there wouldn’t be that many right?.....wrong!!!

It was D-Day on 31st October, the cars were loaded with kids, whatever possessions we couldn’t live without and we started our journey to France, with a quick pit stop at the folks to say bye and off we went into the unknown.

After a cabin stay on the overnight ferry 🤢🤢🤢(pregnancy sickness and sea legs are not compatible), we drove the last 5 hours to our new 'stop gap home'. Wow! 5 bed all en-suite, pool, garden, isolated, gardener included #spoilt

We met the key holder, and got the kids settled... it was the weekend, there were no shops open for milk as it was too late. One thing you get used to very quickly is the lack of convenience in comparison to the UK. 

Breathe... what do I do now? I’d gone from full on work/mum/ninja to quiet, calm days and no schedule. School planners went up with the inclusion of French lessons, despite the protest from the 9 year old of having extra work. Amy is our drama queen... loyal, loveable but belongs on stage! The teenage years are certainly going to be a challenge, I can see it coming. Sweet 10 year old Heidi is just perfection, my shadow and helping hand. They were absolutely on board with the french adventure which made things a little easier.

As the weeks passed and we settled in to the house, got to know a few locals and where everything was located it felt like home. I found myself frequently standing on the porch, looking out over the vineyards, closing my eyes and breathing it all in. It was mid December and still warm, I was due to go back in the uk the next day for a scan but suddenly I didn’t want to leave!

We packed light with the intention to return to immediately after the appointments, in order to welcome visitors for Christmas. The next morning we loaded the car and as we rolled down the drive, I looked back at the house and cried! It was probably a little down to the hormones, but it was a feeling I’d never felt before and over something so inanimate? I’d fallen in love with France and I was was truly smitten. 🥰🇫🇷

Next time... deciding to stay forever, babies and more x

Maria x

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