March 18, 2017

SOME THINGS CHANGE, SOME STAY THE SAME

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I returned to France in mid February, unbelievably a month ago already.  Nick stayed behind to complete his rehabilitation programme at the hospital and followed two weeks later.  Now that we are back we are trying to rediscover normal. 

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During the last month the weather has been mixed.  Horrible grey days, drizzle, tremendous winds, and also some sunshine to lift our spirits.  One of the reasons for my early return was to check on the house.  There was some damage after storm Doris a few weeks ago and since then more in the last high winds.  All has now been sorted, thankfully.

On one of the recent bright and sunny days we took a familiar walk around the village and the route around the château that we used to do almost daily with Lulu.  I still find these walks painful.  I can visualise her trotting along ahead of us, enjoying being off the lead, stopping for a good sniff here and there.  It will be some time yet before the joy of remembering her will overcome the sadness of being cheated out of having her with us for more years. 

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It is incredibly coming up to ten years since we set foot in the village for the first time.  The little house below the château where we used to live looks pretty much the same as when we left it.  The house below has new owners and has had a lot of work done to improve it, turning it from a scruffy dump of a place into a smart town house.  I wonder if we would have got on with our new neighbours.  Rumour has it that it’s a holiday home and I wonder if there will be a lot of noise when they are in residence.  One of the great joys of our little house was its peace and quiet, despite being in the middle of the village.

Further up the hill the two cottages where the very old couple lived are now shuttered up and seemingly empty.  Someone said that both of them were now in an old people’s home.  I shall miss seeing them pottering around and seeing their bright geraniums on the window sills.

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This view of the château is one I never tire of.  It hasn’t changed much recently, except that the electricity pylon has now gone, all the cables having been buried underground. 

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The château itself hasn’t changed much, not since it was reinvented and reopened several years ago.  Displays and events come and go but it remains a beautiful, tranquil place, with lovely views over the village.

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Walking back down to the village from the track behind the château the view is exactly the same as it has been for the last ten years.  I love it from either direction.  Going up there is the promise of a lovely walk where we’re unlikely to see another soul.  Going back down there is the promise of a glass of something in the bar in the village, always something to look forward to.

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The village evolves gradually all the time.  The florist was closed for a while and we were so pleased when it reopened a couple of years ago.  Now we are sad to hear it is closing at the end of the month and the shop will be empty again.  I imagine it must be hard to make a living from selling flowers and plants in a small village.

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One of the two bars has been closed since mid December.  There are new owners who are apparently taking over in mid April.  It will be nice to see it open for business instead of shut up with whitewashed windows.  Especially in the summer it will be good to see happy people enjoying the sunshine at its tables outside.

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We have come to a decision, of sorts, about our house.  We had changes planned for this year, mainly upstairs.  A new ensuite bathroom in the main bedroom, decorating, lowering of ceilings and air conditioning.  But we’re putting all of that on hold until we find out exactly what the outcome of the French elections will be and, of course, that awful word, Brexit.  If we find that living in France more or less full time is no longer an option or what we want, there seems little point in spending money improving what would become a second home again, especially considering that we are unlikely to recoup that money if we decide to sell the house and move back to a smaller one for holidays only.  It’s money we could use to buy a better house in the UK if the tables are turned and we end up spending most of our time back there.  This is not something we would want but we think it’s best not to tempt fate.

My carte vitale has still not arrived, five months after I applied for it, so we’re still faced with the prospect of returning regularly to the UK for health care and so on.  Our dream of living permanently in France is not looking as realistic as it did this time last year, which is when we made the decision that that’s what we would like to do.  Which just goes to show, you never know what’s around the corner and planning something is one thing, actually achieving it is another thing entirely.

Bon weekend !!