Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Finally, I have time to explain, to my newest supporters how I ended up 'here' and by the 'here' I mean, my new, but kinda old blog re hashed! I did promise an explanation and I always aim to deliver but not always quickly as we'd all like. Sorry!
How did I get to this point in time? Here goes, I will try and keep it brief:
We should start with the slow demise of Humble Tart Kitchen, my first love/blog, due to my husbands need to keep moving with his job in Rail. After a lot of success and just as much fun his posting in late 2016 to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was pretty much the end of my cooking and baking life and I slowly ran HTK down, finding it tough to fully let go for a while.
Things had started to get very complicated for us in mid 2015, when we left our then Lincolnshire home to move lock stock and two smoking barrels to move to Atlanta! The whole job thing fell through at the very last minute and we really had dig ever so deep to adjust our sails and find a way to recover, I'm not sure that we ever did recover actually!
Our shipping was already on its way to the USA and thereafter, it took another year for us to feel even remotely balanced again. We survived and eventually he took a job in Saudi Arabia which would make his career, but almost break us a couple. I had no desire to live in yet another Middle Eastern country, especially one not exactly striving for equality and fairness between the sexes, not to mention the human rights abuses!
When my youngest daughter suddenly decided she wanted to board at school, I realised I didn't really have an excuse to stay in the uk and had to at least give SAUDI a try, it was a totally hideous experience and I soon became quite ill. By the end of 2016, just months into my stay in Saudi we had already managed a quick trip to Normandy and had put an offer in on what would become THE FRENCH WRECK, NOT a love story!
The moral of this story, if there is one, is that we obviously had wine goggles on and therefore bought in haste and are still repenting at leisure. We cat even blame the Dick and Angel effect for this as their iconic program hadn't aired yet!
In early 2017, I had persuaded my husband to let me live in France in a cute artists cottage and we duly arrived on the 1st of April 2017, relieved. It was like being let out of Alcatraz!
We were due to sign for the wreck in early June 2017, so actually beginning my life in France prior to buying made sense, to me anyway.
It was a fabulously warm spring day when we arrived in Normandy and I felt rather freed from from the compound high walls, but before I left Saudi, realising that yet another move would mean a period of abject loneliness, I finally closed the door on HTK and started afresh with 'A Very UnFrench Wife' (personal blog) to blog about building a life in France, warts n all! It was time to make those all important connections and friendships and build a life I could love. Blogging also kept our families updated, although never forget that putting oneself out there can get your accused of being a narcissist! Oh boy, thats a story for another time.
I was supposed to tackle getting the renovation of our wreck in Pays De La Loire started, but I got very sick and instead I pretty much lost the year to my post Paris op recovery. However, blogging kept me going and the new blog had already gathered friends along the way which was nice. It would seem that there were many like minded folks out there, beginning a strange and often confusing life in France. Together, we started to build a community and I came across some of the most talented, kind and supportive women but also some real cow's and that's me being kind!
There have been lots of ups and downs over the last four years or so and a few good souls have played care taker to the blog. Thank you from the bottom of my cold Yorkshire heart, you know who you are. Anyway, we kept adapting to the times and of course social media moves pretty fast and change is inevitable isn't it? In the last year or so I realised that UN FRENCH for many wasn't seen as being politically correct and so it was time to morph and yet again, re brand and become SIMPLY and later a magazine I didn't want (another story for another time). Inch by inch it all became less about me and my life and more about yours.
I didn't stay in France much after spring 2018. Our year rental came to an end, we hadn't gotten anywhere with the wreck as he was always abroad and securing a decent rental was really hard to achieve. In fact we didn't achieve the impossible and In 2018 I hopped back to the UK for a while. In October 2018 we headed to Canada for a bit of 'look see'! He had been offered a job there for one year only and we thought 'why not'! Canada had always been on my todo list and so in January 2019 we were on our way!
Toronto, here we come!
We don't regret the experience, well, maybe the expense of it all! At the end of Jan 2020 we headed back to France to beat the Brexit deadline. Of course we didn't know then how tough it would all be and within months we would be in the first COVID lockdown with more to come. Our temporary tiny rental became more long term than we ever imagined and of course not a lot happened with the wreck again! Every time we started, we had to stop and to be honest it started to become a noose round our necks, even if we just perceived it that way.
We really wanted to buy something else and stop renting but post Brexit, things had changed for us and many expats living in France.
Oddly, COVID did help change our lives for the better. My Husband had been due to go to work in California after easter 2020 but with travel Covid restrictions this never happened. He of course had overstayed in France by then and he had to sort his working life out so he could pay tax in France, not Canada and or America. So he registered his business in France and kept his current employers as clients and never looked back. Just like that, the travelling stopped!
We really outgrew the tiny rental cottage during the pandemic and yet struggled to find anything else suitable. It didn't help that post Brexit we needed 3 years tax returns to rent properly. By early 2021 we were climbing the walls of said cottage and decided to change it up a little, after all there was a lot more of France to discover than we had experienced to date. By chance we ended up living on a compound in the South West and our time there was a nice anecdote to the grey of the north. Then we tried to buy a house in October 2021 and to our sorrow realised that it didn't matter how much we earned, because he had just started a company, we would have to wait a few years before any French bank would lend!
I guess that changed things for us yet again. Renting was tough. It just wasn't working out for us and personally I wasn't willing to do it anymore. Our wreck had sold when the market went into recovery mode after the final lockdown, but then the buyer got cold feet and pulled out. It was all a bit of a mess and we suddenly realised it was time to get that project finished, come hell or high water and until we did, it would hold us back!
Change again came when one of his clients wanted him in the UK occasionally and so we were faced with a dilemma! We couldn't back and forth easily from the south west and we had no desire to enter into yet another unsuitable rental contract. What to do?
This whole France thing never really quite got going for us and that's the truth. In the end we decided to enter 'the half life' and trip back and forth for a while, get the wreck done and then sold and hopefully by late 2022 we could finally move on?
Let's see shall we?
Why the new blog? Well, it was high time I separated me from them. The stress of dancing to the tune of an admin team simply became too much. I shut the newish magazine. It was time after many issues to move the fudge on and be me again!
Thats my story so far!
There's more I could say, but I will save that for the book eh!