We moved into our house 15 years ago today. I have never lived anywhere as long as I have lived here. But it has gone in a flash. I’ll also tell you in this post about how my blog achieved 15 seconds of fame – a far cry from Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes, but then you have to start somewhere. The two stories are not unrelated.
We left England on 20th August 1997 on the Eurostar, each bearing a suitcase. The rest of our worldly goods were in a huge pantechnicon, which was due to arrive at La Lune a week later. Arriving at Montauban station, we emerged from the air-conditioned TGV into a heat wave, not unlike the one we experienced last week. Naïve as we were, this is how we thought the weather always was in the south of France.
The first few days passed in a frenzy of buying cookers, collecting our new car and doing all the administrative bits and pieces. We moved up to a Caylus hotel for a couple of nights until the previous owner had moved out of the house. The agreement was that the removal van would arrive mid-afternoon, so we enjoyed a leisurely lunch. Turning up around 3 pm we found the removal men hanging around smoking. They had been there for a couple of hours. The van could hardly get up the lane for the overhanging trees so they were not in the best of moods.
The two brawny Brummies hefted our stuff in the house in record time. They plainly couldn’t see the attraction of the place.
“Do you know anyone here?” they asked.
“No,” we said. They looked at each other, trousered their tip and couldn’t get away fast enough. La France profonde was clearly not their tasse de thé.
This was the start of a big adventure for us – not least getting our heads around the language. My ‘O’ level French was not up to the job. During the first year my vocabulary expanded but my ability to wield it didn’t. So we took four years’ worth of French lessons, which was one of the best investments we have ever made. We are never going to speak French like the natives – our accents give us away – but at least we can communicate without many difficulties. The exception is speaking to people on the phone, an instrument I have never liked using even when speaking my own language.
Apart from the inevitable brushes with French bureaucracy and the occasional culture clash, we have never looked back.
And so, onto my blog’s 15 seconds of fame. Idly Googling myself – don’t tell me you never do it – I came across a series of podcasts produced by Mark Johnson and Lloyd Arrow entitled “A House in France”. They wanted to give others the benefit of their experiences of buying and building property in France. Episode 13 is entitled, “Keeping a Record”, about recording your experiences of buying and restoring or building a property. Out of the legions of blogs about life in France, Lloyd kindly chose Life on La Lune as an example, complete with screenshot of the front page.
[This video series no longer seems to be available.]
The SF and I have a bottle of fizz on ice to celebrate our first 15 years at La Lune. Here’s to the next 15.
Copyright © 2012 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved
Your place looks beautiful and, despite the face that it isn’t always sunny, I’m sure you have no regrets. As for the 15 mins of fame – how lovely to ‘discover’ your blog has been featured. May you find many more years of happiness and minutes of fame.
Thanks very much, Sue. I think I can do without any fame but happiness is never to be refused!
Congratulations too! We have only cranked up a measly 3 years here but are here for the foreseeable future thanks to the kids and education. Very frustrated to be in rental and hoping for a sale of the UK house very soon and excited to think about buying and restoring our first french home….
Very well done to make your 15 minutes of fame. What a wonderful house in my favourite part of France. Where did you take your French lessons and was it somewhere more reasonably priced than Alliance Française?
Well, 15 seconds, anyway – and it might not even be that much!
Three years isn’t bad – I understand a certain proportion leave before that, often because of language difficulties. We took French lessons with a local teacher who no longer teaches, so it wasn’t with a national organisation.
Congratulations on both counts! You sound like you’ve been semi-nomadic like us up to now. Seven years is our record in one place and we’re here for six now. I’m kind of hoping this is us now – moving is such a hassle. Grumpy removals men get tedious after a while.
Thanks, Steph. Yes, I suppose I have moved around rather a lot, mostly for career reasons. But I hope we’ll be here for at least another 15.
Congratulations! Enjoy your well-earned fizz and your house does look really lovely.
Thanks, Liz. This is how it looks in early June, before the heat has dried everything up.
Oh, lovely house, Vanessa! And don’t tell me it isn’t always sunny in the south of France. I’m sure it is!
Thanks, Alyson. Alas, the sun does not always shine here – read my weather posts!!