It’s hard to believe that it’s exactly one year since we boarded the train for the Channel Tunnel and started our drive to the south of France. Given that this is, therefore, an anniversary edition, we had to hijack the title of the Peter Mayle book. Although we haven’t read the book we did this year manage to watch the DVD of the television series. It was pleasant stuff although slightly skewed towards ‘the look how bizarre the French are’ viewpoint and now terribly dated. Clearly since the 1980s Provence has caught up with the rest of the world. What did exasperate us was the fact that the series seemed to concentrate on bizarre incidents and cheerfully miss out all the really important challenges of life. So for instance, there was no mention of the paperwork which comes with living in France – as is well known France is the gold medallist among nations when it comes to producing paperwork. To live in another country, France in particular, you need to negotiate bank accounts, vehicle registration and insurance, state tax and local tax, medical insurance, electricity, water, telephone and today Internet. Sorting out those things are where the real achievements lie.
So, here are some of the things we have done:
- We packed up everything in Swansea and were six months later eventually reunited with our belongings
- We lived at Les Courmettes for six months and played a significant part in getting the whole process of regeneration going
- Chris has been involved and is increasingly involved in lots of environmental initiatives: so for instance only this week he’s been asked to be on a European working group on wetlands.
- We have managed so far to jump through all the hoops of the paperwork – we feel sure that there is more to come…
- We have become very heavily involved in Holy Trinity Cannes: both of us are on the church council and Chris has been asked to train as an Anglican Reader
- We have managed to buy a house and carry out those hundred little tasks that you need to make even the most well-maintained house your own. We’ve even managed to successfully keep the swimming pool clean and blue for weeks on end.
- We’ve started to explore some of the many fascinating areas around us.
What we haven’t done:
- mastered French to anything like the extent we would like
- got into trouble so far with the innumerable authorities
- missed Swansea as a place except briefly: we have missed our friends
- got bored
- found we had spare time on our hands
For which much thanks