A year ago I started this blog because of our emigration to France.
Now a year ago, our entire household went into the moving van, and we drove, including the dog, 3 cats and 1 goldfish, a packed car and trailer, 800 kilometers away to France, to build our new future there.
An eventful few days followed, after all the stress of packing, tidying up, loading and other things that had to be done to leave for France.
At that time still ignorant of the mud that awaited us upon arrival, the chaos of unloading the moving van, all our stuff divided over different locations, the fatigue and our unloading tirelessness to lug everything around, to get it in place and to put it in order in what didn't seem possible.
Wondering what we had started, but at the same time the peace that emanated from this place, nature, which embraced us as a welcome.
A year later, in which we look back on everything that seemed so difficult to achieve.
Everything seemed impossible to us in the beginning: from concluding contracts for electricity, water, getting the television to work, the internet ...
Fighting to get yourself insured for a health insurance fund, because everything is of course in French.
(we who always said when we watched television programs about emigrating: 'why don't they learn the language first')
A victory if something worked out and we got the confirmation.
From obtaining our Carte Vital (health insurance fund) to our French license plates.
Finding out where a doctor is. Who also speaks english. And have found them close by.
Getting to know the neighborhood: apparently quite a few English people live here.
Which makes the integration a bit easier.
And of course also ensure that everything is furnished.
The countless days when we brought things and also furniture to our own home, with a wheelbarrow (which is still used to this day to bring the groceries to our house and will be the same for many years to come)
Working on the gite, until the late hours, because there was a hurry for the first booking that was already made.
And then the first lockdown: everything no longer has to be so fast, the guests could not come.
Whether we have already discovered the area.
No. Or yes. But not as far as we wanted.
If you count our area from here to the supermarket 15 km away, or the hardware store, garden center ...
But every day when we drive somewhere in that circle of maximum 20-25 km, we enjoy it.
Looking forward to hopefully next year, when we can finally look for those special places, the coast, the historic villages, the Vide Greniers (flea markets).
Looking back at the nicest guests we already had this summer.
The stories we shared.
See how people go home relaxed, say goodbye with melancholy.
The 'emigration survival package' we received from one of the guests with chocolate sprinkles, syrup waffles, liquorice. In case we miss it.
Whether we miss that?
No. Not me in any case.
Is there anything we miss at all?
According to Erik, sometimes the Hornbach or Praxis.
Of course we have a hardware store here, but a lot is different.
Another size, or something that we are so used to get in the Netherlands, is not available here.
There are other things, and also cheaper than in the Netherlands.
Is life more expensive here? We don't think so.
It depends on what you are used to and how you look for everything.
If we really need something from the Netherlands that you cannot find here (or do not know where to find it yet), we will have it send to us by post via one of our daughters.
But gradually we know where to find our way in France and where to look.
Does the first year disappoint us?
It was certainly not an easy year.
In addition to the many ups, we have also had downs.
Yet the feeling of France is coming more and more.
if something takes longer, we are no longer surprised.
Don't worry about that anymore. If it doesn't come tomorrow, it will come the day after tomorrow.
In the afternoon a glass of wine. Or a cappucino.
Always a treat. We really enjoy it more here.
To get up early? For whom? If it's a little later, who cares?
We are now used to it that everything is closed at noon.
And we adapt to that.
In France it is back in time with certain things.
But that also has its charm.
You can worry about it, but wasn't that one of the reasons why we wanted to leave the Netherlands? To worry less about things?
We are looking ahead.
Hoping for a new year with fewer setbacks such as a lockdown.
But we will get through that too.
Making plans for new things around the gite but also with our own home.
I am already looking forward to spring, when the birds here in the valley are calling out loud again.
But I now also enjoy the month of December.
It seems as if there is more to Christmas here ... in the feeling.
If you look out your window one afternoon and you see 4 deer walking past your window.
Christmas songs on the radio. The Dutch radio, there are apps for your ipad. Although the French radio is also becoming more of a favorite these days, because some music you already recognize and hum along in the car.
In the house Christmas decorations. The Christmas tree is up! It was stored for two years, because last Christmas we were just between the moving boxes and junk. How different it was then ...
What have we learned from the past year?
In any case, we can face a lot.
Don't turn our backs on jobs that are difficult.
Have discovered new hobbies: mowing the lawn, clearing the weeds, sawing trees, splitting wood for the fireplace, lighting a fire ...
Whether new hobbies will be added? Probably.
Our bones crack, muscles say they will strike, knees don't want to bend anymore, legs that sour when you have to walk up those hills again and again, hands that are bent from doing odd jobs, nails that break off, noses that drip, spiders that crawl and flies that fly.
But anyway: it is good that we left for France!
Now we are entering the last weeks of this year.
A year that we EITHER look back on with good warm feelings, OR we want to flush as quickly as possible.
From December 11 we officially live here for a year.
Many more years will follow, that's for sure!
For now: that December gives everyone warm feelings, even if it is at a distance.
We will be entering the next year in good spirits.
A year with undoubtedly ups again and hopefully this time with fewer downs ...