24 December 2018


birthday cake

It was with a heavy heart that we left our house in France at the end of October but there was a good reason for it – two birthdays – Dad’s and Nick’s in mid November and on consecutive days.  Dad turned 90 and we had a small family celebration with a cake – a fruit cake at his request.

He’s doing remarkably well, still totally independent and still driving.  Regularly visiting his lady friend Sybil who lives 80 miles away, doing his own shopping, cooking and washing.  He is amazing for his age.

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A week after the birthday celebrations we were on our way back to France for just a few days and for the last time this year.  We had spent just three weeks in the UK but there was unfinished work to do in the garden and the house before we could leave it over the winter.

What a change there was in our surroundings.  The leaves now lay in glorious golden carpets around the trees and there was no denying that autumn was in full swing.

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For our first day in France we enjoyed beautiful sunshine, perfect for getting the garden work done. 

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It was a completely different story when we awoke the next morning.  Almost as if someone had decided that it was time for winter and flipped a switch.  There was a deep frost and a beautiful sunrise.  Our garden was bathed in still, grey and tranquil colours.

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It would take more than a little chilly weather to stop us from sitting out and enjoying our last few days, making the most of any warmth in the sun.  In true north of England fashion we donned our hats, scarves and warm jumpers and had our apéros outside.  (Much to the amusement of passing neighbours who are now convinced that we are totally mad!  Several cars slowed down for a second look just to be sure – yes, it’s the English, sitting out in the freezing cold again!)

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It was worth getting chilly for the view.  This view was to have to last us for several months, over the winter, imprinted in our memories, until we return next spring.

After all the months we have spent in France this year, it was in these few days that we made our decision and formulated a plan for our future in France.

I can’t deny that the idea of Brexit (that awful word) fills us with dread.  Already we are financially much worse off since June 2016 when the value of the pound against the euro took a nosedive.  All our French shopping and household running expenses cost 20% more than they did then and that takes some finding.  We have had to make savings elsewhere to be able to keep the house and this will only get worse.  Once the UK leaves the EU it’s likely that there will be more paperwork and expense in order to spend possibly less time in France than we do now and we have had to think carefully if we really want to carry on like this. In fact if we can afford to carry on, keeping a house in France at all.

Undistracted by pets, visitors, shopping trips or anything else we hunkered down and just immersed ourselves in our little corner of France for three days and four nights.  We had spent only three weeks back in the UK but we were already worn down by the noise and mayhem of UK life.  To have our little haven of peace and tranquillity in France means so much to us and the few days we spent there in November convinced us that for now – we are not leaving.  It will take more than some extra paperwork and expense to make us give it up.  We will have to make sacrifices elsewhere but it will be worth it.


And so we are back in the UK for the winter.  For the first time in years we have had the time to make a proper job of getting ready for Christmas.  The cake is made and iced in good time, the decorations are up, the presents are wrapped and we’re looking forward to a day or two with the family.  Then we’ll be looking forward to our return to France in the Spring.



  1. Thanks for sharing your thought processes. Everybody's situation re Brexit is different but it is useful/reassuring/moral boosting to know how others are approaching the changes. Bon courage!

    1. Susan, we have calculated that so far since the 2016 referendum it has cost us an extra £2,000 per year to keep our French house. We have had to weigh this up against what we might lose if we decided to put it up for sale in these uncertain times, which is much more. It's not a situation that we enjoy.

    2. That would hardly pay our taxe foncière and taxe d'habitation. And the heat, internet, and other utilities en plus.... well, it's more expensive to live here than down there in the Sud-Touraine, I guess.

    3. And are you including the cost of traveling back and forth? Fuel for the vehicles or airfare, channel-crossings, hotels, veterinary fees?

    4. Ken, £2,000 is not our total expenses - it's the extra amount those expenses are costing us compared to before the referendum, due to the difference in the exchange rate.
      If we add the cost of travel between the UK and France then it's probably more like an extra £3,000 that we're having to find each year, for no added benefit, just because of the fall in the £ when the result of the referendum was announced.
      Flying is much cheaper than driving but only one of us can do that at a time because of the pets.

    5. Okay, I misunderstood. Happy New Year to you all. Let's all hunker down and wait for spring.

  2. May 2019 be well for you and yours !

  3. Happy Christmas to you all!