18 March 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 little 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 for a while.  We are beginning to think that living full time in France is not for us, that this will be our summer house and we will spend the winters in the UK.  Consequently we’re not spending any more great amounts of money on our French house and will buy a slightly bigger house in the UK instead.

My carte vitale has still not arrived, five months after I applied for it.

Bon weekend !!

8 comments:

  1. Brexit is still such an unknown, plans are difficult to make. We have only one option and that is to stay in France, but we might well have to become French citizens, not that it would really be a problem.
    Many things have changed here since we bought 12 years ago, the saddest on is our favourite French neighbour who passed away while we were in America last year. We gather a young couple have bought the house, but there has been no signs of anyone there yet and we are hoping to be able to make new friends.
    Keep well and we hope that France will remain an option for you and that the health system soon gets sorted. Diane and Nigel.xx

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    1. Diane, the situation for ex-pats is very uncertain, making plans impossible. Some people assume everything will be ok, others are quite worried. Nobody has any real idea what will happen.

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    2. Diane and Jean, Walt and I didn't have much trouble getting a carte de résident, and that gives you everything except the right to vote. There was a waiting period, but you have probably satisfied that already because you have owned property here for many years. For the carte de résident, the French administration wants to know if you have enough income to live here without seeking employment, but that's all.

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    3. Actually, I'm not sure about the requirement that you justify your financial resources. In fact, the carte de résident gives you the right to have paid employment, if you want or need it.

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  2. And yet Preuilly has 2 florists.

    You should be able to use the French health system, so long as you have a reference number, even without the actual carte vitale. You just ask for a feuille de soin and post it to the health insurer to get the reimbursement. My carte vitale took 5 years, and that's how I managed all that time.

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  3. Hello. I am assuming you are of UK retirement age. The CPAM process is to take your S1 to the local office with supporting documents. If accepted you will then get a letter (ours recently took less than 2weeks) which gives your CPAM number and two forms one to elect your GP or medicin traitant ( your french GP has to fill this in) and the other to get access to the CPAM on line system. You have to complete them both and send them back once you do that you will get the green card. In the meantime once you have your CPAM number you can buy a top up policy via either an insurance company or a mutuelle and claim back the part that CPAM will pay for using the feuille de soins. Once you have AMELI access you can make all claims on line. If you have used your S1 to apply you have already left the UK health system and the U.K. Government is sending a sum to France for you. So if you don't intend to be in the health system in France then best to write to CPAM and tell them you are moving back to the UK and let Newcastle overseas pensions dept. know so they treat you as a UK resident.

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  4. It is good to hear from you. Sad to hear about the political changes, and uncertainty. Worried that visiting Europe will be more complicated for US.

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  5. I feel sad for you that after all of your efforts to find you French home, become a part of the local community and uproot yourself from the UK that you are now facing so many unexpected challenges and uncertainty. Not coming form an EU country, we bought our French cottage with the understanding that we would only be in residence for 3 to 6 months per year, which has made our life much easier to plan and manage, both in France and Australia. Best wishes.

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