The roads local to us are well-maintained and very quiet. Initially, I was worried about the fact that they seem quite narrow, but nowadays, I know that two cars can fit alongside each other; perhaps not comfortably, but they can fit!
Once in France, we bought a second-hand American Chrysler. It was large and all the seats folded down into the base of the car so it was perfect for transporting items from the builder’s merchants and dropping off sacks of rubble at the local dump. It was soon dubbed “the beast” and G bought a little white Peugeot to zoot to and from the airport. “Beauty” and “the beast” were soon a part of our everyday comings and goings.
When we first arrived in idyllic, rural France I thought to myself: “Well, if I must be domestic, I’ll make the best jams, the best chutneys, the best preserves, the best…” – you get the picture. So, I’ve tried and it takes time, a whole lot of precious time!
I know many people would love to decorate a manor house, but I have found it complicated… The first problem is that I don’t like to spend money and have you ever had a quote from an upholsterer or curtain maker or any dealer in fabrics, that didn’t cost the earth? Thus, although we have done a lot of painting, most of the upholstery and curtains have not been done… Perhaps when I win the lottery!
I grew up in South Africa where we had domestic workers to clean our home and wash and iron the clothing and all the bedding a household goes through. When we first moved to France, we employed a lady to do just this and she was super if a little unreliable at times due to having three children of her own.
Having lived in London for almost a decade before coming to France, I had become used to public transport. Learning to drive again and this time with precious cargo in tow made me nervous. After having children, the weight of responsibility seemed impossibly heavy. I took lessons in London despite having my driver’s licence. The driving instructor wasn’t understanding and when I swerved for a cat (I was going very slowly at the time) the instructor nearly exploded and I got the message! (Thank goodness!)
Our eldest son was three and a half when we first arrived in France so we signed him up to attend the local “maternelle” or kindergarten school. He was such an articulate three-and-a-half-year-old that I felt terrible putting him into a context where he was unable to express himself. He had been attending a Montessori school in London and I found it difficult to adapt. Fortunately, many of the class-time activities were done in a similar way and he became fluent within a year.
Before moving to the French countryside, I had a worldview in which men and women were pretty much physically equal. To me, a woman could do anything a man can do if she really wanted to. (Yes, I went to an all-girls school and grew up in a family of women. I know nothing about boys and men.) I did perhaps know on some level that men are physically stronger, but it took moving to the French countryside to see this for real.
The absolute best thing about moving to France is the people we’ve met and the friends we’ve got to know better through having them to stay.
I love supporting local people so have decided to start a little contact list and some information about local artisans worth visiting. Indulge in some delicacies and meet some pretty awesome people! The very first on my list is That Soap.
Julie and Mark live just around the corner from us and have recently started a handmade soap, bath and body products business. Julie is passionate about natural ingredients and uses only plants, vegetables and botanicals to colour soaps. She uses essential oils for the purest aromas. The soaps are lovely and the body oils, divine! Julie may even be available to organise a pamper party at your place if you and your party need a little something special. Alternatively, you can visit her soap kitchen for a soap making workshop. Give her a call for more information.
Stockists include Tea in the Teapot: http://www.teaintheteapot.com
65230 Castelnau Magnoac
And you can find her at local markets – especially the Simorre organic market on a Friday evening from 4pm.
Julie is also on Facebook and their website is: www.thatsoap.fr