As I write this, I am sitting in Mirabelle (our motor-home) in a beautiful campsite and I can hear the roar of the wild Atlantic which is less than 5 minutes’ stroll from our ‘front door’. We arrived here almost a week ago after an overcast and quite damp 10 days house-sitting in the Gironde. When we left there last Monday we decided that we wanted to chase the sun and, thanks to Eoin’s brilliant weather app, we found it. We have had a blissful week here with lots of sunshine, swimming in the waves, cycling, yoga and general outdoors living in temperatures in the mid to high 20s. My skin is feeling sun-kissed and my body is feeling very healthy (if a little tired after a long time in the ocean yesterday).
Our two dogs are still staying with friends in the Dordogne and we decided to make the most of these two weeks of total freedom with no commitments to anyone apart from ourselves. When we arrived here on Monday we told the receptionist that we would be staying a couple of nights but after two nights we realised that we were both really happy, relaxed and loving the place. It was only our minds that were telling us that we “should” explore more of the coastline and see or do more. We both dropped the word “should” from our vocabulary a few years ago so we decided to stay put until we both feel the urge for a change of scene.
Continue reading “A Pair of Old Beach Hippies!”
It is now two weeks since we drove away from our old home in Nothern Ireland and about 10 days since we arrived in France. My life has been turned on its head as I left behind so much which is familiar. My physical environment is currently changing every few days as we explore this beautiful country. And yet I am fascinated by the fact that many aspects of my day-to-day life are very similar to how they were before. I have the same morning routine and the same bedtime routine. I have the same little habits that I have had for many years and my perimenopausal hormones are still as crazy in France as they were in Northern Ireland!
It is so easy to think that you will be fundamentally changed as a human being just because you make a big life change like moving to another country, ending a relationship or changing a job. However, of course, just because the external circumstances of your life are different does not mean that you are different.
Yesterday I found myself waking early, going straight onto my laptop to check emails and then rushing to get to the morning market at a decent time. I then observed myself wandering through that lovely French market and experiencing some more stress all of which was created by my thought patterns about what to buy and cook for dinner! Rather than being fully present and enjoying the sights and sounds of the market and marvelling at the fact that this is now my new ‘normal’ way of buying food, my mind was caught up in old, outdated programming.
Luckily I have been meditating and practicing mindfulness for so many years now that I was able to observe the antics of my mind, catch them and bring myself fully back into the here and now. I could then really experience the beauty of my surroundings and the pleasure of chatting in French with the fish-stall holder while I selected some monkfish for dinner. I was able to appreciate the intricate wonders of the window display in the chocolaterie. I could savour the smell the basil that I bought from the man who grew it.
So many people chase the dream and think that their lives will be totally different when they move to France (or any other country) but the reality is often that their lives are not really that different. The common denominator of any stress and anxiety that we experience in our lives is not really the circumstances of our life. It is YOU! We all know that there are people living in what we perceive as horrifically deprived situations in countries like India who are filled with an inner joy and deep appreciation for their lives. We also know people who ‘have it all’ and who are horribly unhappy. Continue reading “New life, same old me!”
We have now been on the road for one week and are gradually settling into our temporarily nomadic lifestyle. So far we have spent nights in Northern Ireland, Dublin, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Portsmouth and a few nights in two different towns in the Loire region of France. Our original plan had been to stay in a different place each night as we travelled down through France from Normandy to the Dordogne so that we could just do a couple of hours’ driving each day and explore the country we were passing through. However, Tuesday saw a change of plan……
We spent Monday night in the car park of Portsmouth ferry terminal so we could get the early crossing and we had a restless night and an early start. When we arrived in France on Tuesday at lunchtime it was hot and as we drove South the temperature and humidity kept rising. By the time we arrived at our campsite after nearly 4 hours’ drive, we were all a little frazzled. It was one of those days when I was sweating as I sat still never mind putting up the awning and getting ourselves unpacked. The dogs were hot and stressed too. By the time we got set up for the evening, Eoin and I were, quite frankly, f**ked! All the busy-ness of the last few weeks, getting used to motor-home living, travelling with the dogs and finding our way around new terrain had finally taken its toll. We sat down under the stars for dinner that night and decided that we all needed to take the next day off and just ‘land’ in France. So we stayed for two nights and moved on yesterday but again, this morning, we both really felt the need for stillness so we are staying another night in the lovely campsite where we are right now. It has been a great decision just to take things a little easier on ourselves and to have a couple of lazy days in one place without having to pack up and move on. This afternoon it is raining heavily so we are putting our feet up and making the most of the enforced rest.
Tomorrow we have a reasonably long drive but the reward at the end of it is that we are dropping Samson and Delilah off with our friends in the Dordogne who are dog-sitting for them for the rest of September. We love the fur babies but they are just too big to travel around with in Mirabelle and it is also very unsettling for them. So this will be best for all of us.
I guess that we are still in the process of unwinding from the sale of our home, possessions and car and all the work that we had been doing in the background to simplify our lives before we left Northern Ireland. Even at a combined age of 109 years old, we both have great energy levels which are helped by our healthy lifestyle and excellent nutrition but we definitely had underestimated how tired we actually were.
Continue reading “The Freedom of Simplicity”
We left all that is familiar to us 48 hours ago and drove out of our home in Northern Ireland for the last time in Mirabelle, our new motor-home. I am writing this on the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead having spent our first couple of nights in Mirabelle – one in a layby near our friend’s house in Newry and the second in a campsite on the beach just outside Dublin.
We are slowly getting used to life in Mirabelle and our new living space which is smaller than any of the bedrooms in the house which Eoin, me and our 2 dogs, Samson and Delilah, have shared for the last 4 ½ years. It is compact and pretty cosy when shared with 2 large dogs and I am glad that they are only travelling with us in it for a week before they go to stay with friends in the Dordogne for the rest of September.
The dogs seem to be feeling a little like we are……discombobulated is the best word for it! Everything is new, everything is unfamiliar and every time we stop and open the door of Mirabelle the dogs step out into a new world. They have led very sheltered lives since we rescued them both. They have lived in the same home, with the same garden, the same walks and the same smells for the last 4+ years. They haven’t travelled, they haven’t visited other peoples’ houses, they haven’t been in a motor-home, they haven’t stayed in a campsite and they certainly haven’t been on a ferry. They are off their food and Delilah is seeking constant reassurance.
I am feeling much the same as I ‘unplug’ from the life which we have just left. All our normal daily routines have disappeared and I still haven’t adjusted to the daily move from one place to another. I am still getting used to our compact living space and trying to find ways to make it easier to live comfortably in it. My body is getting used to our new bed. I am a light sleeper so I am easily woken by Samson’s vocal doggy dreams, car doors banging outside, people chatting around us and Delilah barking every time she hears a noise outside. At this moment in time I feel hung-over even though no alcohol was consumed last night. Sleep deprivation has that effect on me. I am jealous of Eoin who has just sat down beside me on the ferry and gone straight back to sleep. He has the gift of being able to sleep anywhere regardless of what is going on around him.
I wonder how long the discombobulation will last for and how soon life on the road will be become the new normal for us? Continue reading “Chaos and Reorganisation”
On 25 August 2017 my partner Eoin and I leave our home in Northern Ireland for a new life in France. We have sold our home, sold one of our businesses, are selling or giving away most of our furniture and buying a motor-home to live in until we find our new home. We think this will be somewhere in the Dordogne but we aren’t 100% sure yet!
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
This blog is dedicated to the start of a whole new life for me at the age of 49 and will be inspired by our adventures, my passion for food, nature, France and all things beautiful.
I hope it inspires you to follow your dreams and step out of your own comfort zones to create a life you love.
If you enjoy it, please share and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave comments and tell me what you are liking (or not!).
You can also follow our adventures on our YouTube Channel by clicking here.
It started when I was 5 years old…….
As I write this I am travelling down the south-west of France from Bordeaux to Bayonne on a train with my beloved, Eoin. We left the Dordogne this morning where we were house-sitting in a beautiful restored 18th century farmhouse surrounded by sunflower fields and vineyards. We are now off to visit my sister who live in the foothills of the Pyrenees and we will be staying there for a few days before flying back to Northern Ireland. Once home we have 4 weeks to pack up our lives, say our goodbyes and leave in our new motor-home in search of our new life in the Dordogne. As I type those words I am filled with a mixture of huge excitement and a tinge of overwhelm because there is a LOT to do in the next few weeks.
However, we have spent much of the last fortnight house-hunting, getting to know the Dordogne better and making some lovely new friends so any doubt or fear which I had about making this massive move has disappeared altogether. What I am left with now is a deep certainty in my soul that the next phase of my life is to be spent in France. I feel so at home here. Continue reading “My love affair with France”