If you wanted to summarise what has been a busy and hectic week you could say it has been one of consolidating our position in France.
On Sunday, Chris preached twice (same sermon, different services) at Holy Trinity Cannes and it seems to have gone very well. We felt very much that that was a benchmark in our involvement with the church: a formal marking of the fact we have gone from being merely attenders to being active participants.
On Monday Chris flew from Nice to Cambridge (via London) for a meeting. We feel we are beginning to get a measure of our local airport; including an ever-changing road system designed – out of malice or incompetence – to ensure that you get lost, and it all seemed rather routine. Incidentally, it’s quicker to get from to Cambridge from Nice than from Swansea.
Then on Friday morning we bought a car. A splendid Skoda Yeti in an ‘end of year’ sale and the first new car we have ever owned. Very nice, although it’s a little unnerving the way that the cars software networks with Chris’s phone, uploads the contacts and lets you make phone calls simply using voice commands. So if you do get a mysterious and unanticipated call from the south of France then apologies: it was the phone that did it. The Yeti seems to handle both the motorway (cruise control!) and cratered track (high clearance!) up to Courmettes without any problems. It’s very nice to have a car with the steering wheel on the correct side. It’s not so much the risk of driving on the wrong side that’s the problem with British cars on the continent, it’s the fact that when you enter a motorway or a roundabout you have a very large and potentially catastrophic blindspot. Mind you it’s not total benefit. With English plates, we always had the feeling that any driving mistakes were dismissed with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders as being Les Anglais. Now we will be taken for locals.
And Friday afternoon? Well we bought the house at Taradeau, although we will not be taking up residency until 30th December to allow the Dutch owners – strictly, former owners – to spend their last Christmas there with their family. So we all assembled at the office of the Notaire in Vidauban, who turned out to be a charming lady wearing jeans, and sat through the reading of the main points of the extensive contract. Significantly – and you should spot the common theme here – it was all in French and we didn’t get thrown too badly. It did help that we’d had a copy earlier and were able to check what it all meant! (Chris has a theory that French legal language is actually easier than English legal language, because whereas the British system goes back at least to Elizabethan England the entire French legal system was rewritten 200 years ago under Napoleon. In other words, it’s only slightly archaic.) In fact Alison was able to explain to the Notaire in French that in Britain you don’t have to have your marriage authorised by the mayor and that a church marriage is a legal ceremony. (Incidentally, if you are looking for a house in the area we can thoroughly recommend Patrick De Haan, our Agent Immobilier.)
So despite ups and downs, some of which we have recounted in this blog, we find ourselves at the end of the year having made a great deal of progress towards being rooted in France. So, in a spirit of our new and deeper involvement let us wish you ‘Meilleurs voeux pour un Noël plein de joie et de bonheur.’ (Best wishes for a Christmas full of joy and happiness.)