January 19, 2014

SO FAR, SO GOOD.

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The château looking at its best in the late December sunshine.

With only just over a week to go before the end of January, I am delighted and relieved to report that so far this winter we have had no snow here in Derbyshire.
By this time last year we had been literally knee deep in the stuff several times. It was the snow last winter, or rather having to drag myself to work in it, that added to my conviction that it was time for me to retire.

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Lulu enjoys a run in the field behind the château in late December.

A sprinkling or two of snow is forecast for this week, but nothing much. A few centimetres will not cause too much havoc, it takes at least six inches to do that. This time it will not bother me as I don't have to contemplate clearing the drive with the snow shovel and fighting my way to work in it, driving the car in a state of total panic.  Nick now works from home most of the time anyway so snow will not be a problem for him either.

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The wooden walkway around the back of the château is now completed.

We do however have to go to a funeral. My aunt died on 5th January and her funeral is on Thursday. She was my mother's sister and they were very close. I was very fond of her. She spent the last few years of her life in the kind of physical condition that most of us would prefer not to endure, completely bedridden, totally unable to do anything for herself, her mind still active and hoping that one day a miracle would happen and she would be able to walk or at least feed herself.  My uncle was her principal carer until she needed twenty four hour care and had to go into a nursing home, which they had to pay for by selling their own home.

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The château was open for visitors as usual during our stay.

It takes a funeral to polarise thoughts sometimes and now more than ever we both feel it's time to make a move, to get on with the next chapter of our lives while we still have the energy. We have reached the it's now or never stage and finally we have arrived at the crossroads we have been heading towards for a few years. We have decided to pack up and move to France.

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The village square in very early January.  Christmas lights still adorn the recently re-opened hotel.

We had really come to this conclusion before we arrived in France on Boxing Day but as each day passed and we talked about it more and more we felt certain it was what we want to do.

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Sunset over the rooftops seen from our little garden.

Realistically we are not packing up entirely but downsizing in the UK and upsizing in France. Selling our house in Derbyshire will be a huge wrench as it's a nice house in a nice area and we love it. But we'll be swapping it for something small and easy to maintain, keeping a foothold in the UK, so that we can come back and visit our families and, most importantly, be there for my dad when he needs us.

Finding a larger house in France will be quite an adventure and we're looking forward to it. We'll be aiming for somewhere where we can spread out and relax for a few years. Or maybe longer, who knows. We know that if we don't do it we'll always wonder how different life could have been if we had and be full of regrets.

So far so good.

23 comments:

  1. Bravo!

    Good luck with your sale and purchase. We're looking forward to hearing more about your adventures.

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    1. The photographs are wonderful and illustrate wonderfully why you want to spend more time in your chosen corner of France.

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  2. So sorry about your aunt, Jean. You're right, something like this can make us reassess our priorities and you've come to a decision which doesn't surprise me at all. Best of luck with the down-and-upsizing. :-)

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  3. Congratulations on your courageous decision! Very best wishes - we know you'll cope with the ups and downs of such an upheaval. May you be free of timewasters, twisters and troublemakers. You've always got a bolt-hole here if it all gets to be too much! P.

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    1. Pauline, we will sell our little French house last of all so that, in theory we should always have somewhere to live.........but you never know and I really appreciate the offer!

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  4. What you are proposing sounds a perfect solution. And we can always offer you a second bolt-hole here if needed!!

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    1. Colin and Elizabeth, we will come and stay at yours when Tim and Pauline are sick of us !!
      The chance of it all going smoothly is probably slim to negligible, but we might get lucky !!

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  5. So sorry about your aunt and thinking of your uncle.

    Very excited for you on your move to France. Clearly where your heart is. Can't wait to follow your progress and the changes.

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  6. We did exactly that...sell our family home once MIL became unmanageable and had to go into F/T care. The sale of her house some years earlier funded the care. We then bought a cottage and rented it out to provide an income and a foothold in case we need to return to the UK. Although we are back in the UK until end April, we absolutely loved being in France from April to October 2013. We are so looking forward to being in France again towards the end of April but are still agonising over residency or 50/50 until we officially retire...we are compiling a folder with all the pros and cons. You will not regret moving to France. Enjoy making it happen.

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    1. Ken, it will be 50/50 for us too, until we feel comfortable about that final commitment, or until my father and Nick's mother no longer need us.

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  7. Congratulations! You've gone through the same thought process as we did on New Year's Eve 1997. Except that we didn't wait until we'd retired, and we financed the move by selling our house in the UK -- burnt bridges and all that! We've never regretted it.

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  8. Gaynor has said exactly what I was going to say. Bonne chance. Diane

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  9. Jean, so sorry to hear of your aunt's death. Bon courage.

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  10. Sometimes the death of a close friend or relative makes you reassess life and you realise it isn't endless. We had always said we would travel when we retired but the death of our close friend's daughter at the age of 16 made us realise retirement may not come, so we took 4 years off and sailed the Caribbean. No regrets. But now I will watch your move with interest -we're 2 years behind you! Good luck.

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    1. Sharon, my aunt and uncle enjoyed the early part of their retirement but the last ten years have been miserable for them because of her poor health. We feel compelled to get on and follow our dreams while we still have our own health.
      We might remain fit and healthy until we're eighty, but you just never know.
      Good for you in sailing the Caribbean, an experience that you will no doubt never forget.

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  11. Sorry to hear about your aunt's death. It's really hard to lose a family member, and when that person is older than you, it feels like a level of protection has gone away.

    Now to look ahead! Please be sure to post photos of every place you look at with an eye to buying. There may be places you won't want that one of your blog readers will!

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    1. Carolyn, we will hopefully be a bit more savvy this time and not waste so much time being dragged round totally unsuitable properties by seemingly clueless or possibly desperate agents!
      It was fun but hard work. We are looking forward to it.

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  12. I take it you're only considering the area where your vacation house is now? If not, I have an area to recommend farther north.

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    1. Carolyn, as we have so many friends in the area around our current little holiday home we are starting our search there. Ideally a house in the same village or on its outskirts would be fabulous but we are not hopeful of this. We will widen our net bit by bit and see what turns up but we are being completely open minded about it.

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  13. Strange, but we went through the same relocation situation. I didn't like living in an apartment. Now we have this lovely house, very close to our grandchildren. I feel much better here. And I hope your plans go well, too!

    Thinking of your aunt and uncle.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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  14. I've been away for a week: I too am sorry about your aunt. I hope 2014 with the relocation is a good year despite all the transitions.

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  15. I'm not an expert but with The Full Time French Experience well under my belt for the last 9/10 years, if you need an eye to look at property from an emotionally detached point of view then just ask! I saw so many before this house chose me! What a tragic end to life... and your uncle but must be in a state! It is light at 18h15... days are getting longer,

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  16. Rather late - been failing at keeping up with blog reading - but my condolences on the loss of your aunt.

    Good luck with the sell - buy - sell and finding the right French house. If we can help let us know :-)

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