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Round Four

? Could be????

Here we go again!

I think with a little poetic licence, this could be our 4th, possibly 5th attempt at French life proper, but in the last 48 hours I've been a bit like the weather, all change, any and every emotion possible has surfaced.

I'm elated to be back or am I?

I think so?

It's definitely a lot to process after such a long, drawn out and needlessly complex move. Yes, we have finally shut the door permanently on the UK and that feels a little odd in many ways, well overdue I know. I'm already feeling a little lost, a tad reflective, but I guess thats perfectly understandable, given that our date to move in to the house, formerly known as 'The Wreck' has slipped yet again. Of course I realise many folks will be struggling to get trades to do the work, we aren't the only ones, but it is really so frustrating. Post pandemic there seems to be too many gaps in the renovation trade market and if they are good, one just has to wait. T'is what it is as they say!

Renovation is a fools game I fear. I think next time it will be a cosmetic upgrade rather than full blown ruin and one room at a time, rather than everything all at once! We haven't even started the salon and dining room yet and it's a good job, because it needs more work than we at first thought. The re pointing has to be done first and that's happening this month.

I was annoyed being back at the house within just ten minutes. The locals fight over parking and as we live on the 'high street' near amenities such as the grocer, they feel they have more rights than us to parking, especially right outside our house! One lady protests by parking her car there and not moving it for weeks. I mean! Of course this causes us problems when unloading materials. We do have a double garage and drop kerb, so we park there. However, some elderly lady came to tell me I can't park there. Actually, yes we can and we confirmed it with the Gendarmes. This petty nonsense gets me, a country bumpkin down. There's no give and take. No realisation that our home is residential. We have to park and we have to unload. They also think because we are English they can have a pop and we will instantly back down. Er no!

The lady in question spoke way too fast for me, so I got Philip to speak with her. Her beef was that our car poked out a smidge and her mother couldn't see to edge out? Well, I'm not sure her ancient mother should be driving at all, but it's rare we would have a trailer on anyway. We do wish to play fair of course but this sort of stuff instantly rankles me. We are foreigners, but we aren't stupid.

The next door property to us is also being renovated and we have access rights to the side of our house where our post box is. Their contractor has blocked our access because he’s dumped an old window there and taped off the entrance. As a consequence, we've not been getting our mail reguarly and some has been returned to whence it came from. We need scaffolding up on that side soon which will be interesting.

This is why I perfer the country to the town living folks! I just CBA with idiots and parking problems.

Anyway, those move in deadlines keep shifting, a little too much for our liking right now. What to do? Well, we are tempted to get a contract company in to get it finished, because sadly this can't go on in-perpetuity but we love our team, if only they could be there more?

There are just a few finished rooms needed for us to be able to move in, we just aren't there yet. Luckily, we can't get too comfortable here either, because the apartment we are in, is only until late June and is now sold. Somehow, we now have to work out a solid plan, to ensure that our new deadline doesn't move one inch more!

Am I looking forward to it? Just like the house, I'm a complicated wreck and thats all I'm saying about that. Whilst it is morphing into a stunning home, I'm struggling still to see it as my home? Does that make sense?

Today, I'm fairly relaxed given the background noise, but its all caught up with me and I feel like I need a very long nana nap, to recharge those dead batteries. Instead, we are going out this evening and thats okay. The dogs are mirroring my lack of energy and helping themselves to comfort wherever they can get it, they seem happy enough and thats good enough for me. They did really well travelling here, especially Pup who did his best until the last hour, then he turned into Houdini, appearing in the middle of the car on top of a box suddenly! Being here with other dogs is also good for Watto, he needed to learn to socialise, bless him.

Here? This? Feels like a sweet interlude. the calm before the storm. It also feels like we could be on holiday? We are not and we really must remember that. We've been here before. Philip reminded me today thats its ALREADY 3 years since we came to live here in Aubeterre Sur Drone, post lockdown!!! Time sure flies.

We were here just 7 months, but we knew we loved the area. Returning has been good for us, in that it's all very familiar, nothing jars. It's also confirmed how much we still like the area and of course its confused the issue somewhat. No matter what the next year brings, I would really like a home here, even if its just a little place for high days and holidays.

This time it does feel real. I do feel like I've left the Uk, family and friends behind. I will never say 'there's no going back', because the truth is, we can't see into the future can we? I was excited to see how grand the hallway will be when finished, but I think there's so much finishing to do still, it's still a little overwhelming.

The renovation wreck was bought in 2017 and here we are in 2024 counting our mistakes and blessings in equal measure.

I suppose everyone will expect us home soon as has been the pattern thus far! Sadly, I feel the UK has become an angry, bitter and over crowed place and I no longer want to partake. It will always have a piece of my heart and I will never apologise for loving some of it's commercial offerings, but I think the truth is, I will miss M&S more than the country itself.

For the next few weeks here, I can wait patiently for the sun flowers to arrive in the Charente and contemplate my naval awhile. People forget rest is necessary after trauma and each and every move we make, even if just down the street, needs a good recovery period. Rest is not wasted time.

We've yet to make a solid plan for the back and forth but I'm itching to finish the kitchen cupboard painting. I'm changing the vibe a little from neutral to dark and moody, so me. I've lived with the colour I initially chose for a wee while and still don't buy it! I'm just more comfortbale with colour and struggle to find any inner beige in me. I've also got to choose the range cooker so the carpenter can finish off the back lintel. I do love choosing the pretties, it's the best bit!

I also want P to drill me some holes for name plaques and door knobs, oh and the new post box, and actually at the same time, teach me some DIY skills? I do feel indeed of tuition and some mentoring, so that next time I can take on some little projects myself. It's at time like these, I wish I'd not followed the feminine route of sewing, typing and cooking at school! Out of the three, I'm only good at cooking and I don't really think Home Economics taught me much back then!

So, we are here and this story, this French life saga will go on and on, thanks for listening! Come back soon!

D x

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Ah! I know exactly how you feel. When I left South Africa 5 years ago I cried often even though there was no return. I painfully felt that huge distance from my son. Yes, we are the etrangers, even my husband that has French citizenship is one! Soldier on, if this is where you want to be....soldier on! Learn French and that alone helps you to fit in! Bon courage! Happy faffing! Looking forward to seeing it all.

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