Decisions Decisions

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Life is all about choices. Imagine you’re in France on holiday.  You’re strolling around a local town and it’s just past midday; everyone is feeling a little peckish, and the restaurants all around you are filling up with diners –  where do you go? The choice is endless……but then in your mind you recall a few wise words, whispered by a french friend many years ago, “Always go where the locals eat.”

You lead your husband by the hand, your children following behind, and together you glance at menus and chalk boards displayed outside various cafés; everywhere looks so good.

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After a brief discussion you all decide on a pretty place overlooking the square. The outdoor tables are filling up fast and the 16 euro menu satisfies each of you.

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Whilst choosing where to eat you happened to pass an estate agents, and briefly you stopped to take a peek at the photos of properties proudly on show in the windows. As you did so, your mind started working overtime, and without even knowing why you picked up one of the free property listing magazines from the rack by the door and tucked it under your arm.

Seated with the family and sipping a deliciously chilled crisp white wine, you start to idly flick through the magazine, casting half an eye over the photos whilst listening to your children and husband planning the afternoon ahead in a smatter of friendly banter about where to go and what to do.

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A plan is starting to take shape somewhere in the depths of your consciousness. What if…. without even thinking you blurt it out, “What if we bought a house here?”

The family conversation stops abruptly and in the stunned silence three pairs of eyes study you carefully. Your husband is the first to speak, he smiles that secret smile, the one you first fell in love with 20 years ago, and the skin around the edges of his eyes crinkles; “You know what, I was thinking exactly the same thing”, he says.

Lunch passes in a blur of optimistic chatter and day-dreams; the children are equally enamoured with the idea, although in their minds they are choosing chateaux and maisons de maître rather than the tiny holiday cottage you are envisioning.

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The simple day-dream grows at an alarming rate, fuelled by another glass of local wine, and as the fantasy takes shape you realise it is simply that, a fantasy, for it can never really happen, surely? But for now, you are on holiday where the skies are a relentless blue and the sun is a burning force that never tires; just for a short while it’s fun to enter a world of make-believe and everyone is happy to play along, and while you do so there are so many decisions to be made!

Pausing for breath you gaze around at your surroundings, opposite you there are two imposing houses side by side, one is for sale

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the other is for seasonal rent

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Would this be the way to go?  A town house, within walking distance of everything,  or do you buy something out in the country, with complete privacy, peace and quiet?

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Everyone around the table has their own ideas, their own image of perfection. Gently you remind them that you are not in the market for a 10 bedroom manoir. It has to be something within the vague realms of possibility, something that could feasibly be faintly achievable. You tell them you really think a village house would be best, something small and romantic with roses and wild flowers covering the walls.

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However, you’re not sure if you should buy something ‘move-in ready’. Should you purchase somewhere that somebody has already taken the time and effort to sympathetically restore to perfection?

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You are casting your mind back to every “À Vendre” (for sale) sign you have seen

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and thinking of all the tiny cottages you have fallen in love with over the past week, none of which were for sale!

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Or would it be more gratifying to renovate and buy a total wreck that is a complete rebuild?img_8835

or something with at least four walls and a roof

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The plan is really taking shape. The children like the idea of being in a village so they can walk to the bakery and buy croissants for breakfast each morning. Your husband likes the idea of walking to buy a baguette to have with cheese each day. You really want to be within sight of a church, for you find their very presence so soothing and calming, and the fact that many have stood for perhaps a 1000 years or more has imprinted their character upon the villages they stand in; you want to feel a sense of history, and you want to feel a part of a community that has joined forces for centuries. Within minutes  you’re all agreed, a village house would be best.

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Now that is decided the conversation quickly moves along, you want old iron gates and large stone pillars

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but what colour should you paint your shutters and doors and surrounding fence?

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In the midst of the discussion, your husband reminds everyone you will need a car, perhaps that longed-for French iconic vehicle, the Citroën 2CV; would it fit the bill?

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Or should it be something sleek and modern to take advantage of the fabulous weather? Neither are particularly sensible, really, but that’s the beauty of fantasies, nothing has to be sensible. The children vote for one of each, a ‘his’ and ‘hers’ and you cannot disagree.

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The ideas twist and turn, bobbing this way and that, like corks on a choppy sea. You consider schools, ponies and dogs. You want enough garden to at least have a potager.

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You think perhaps you might want chickens too, but which breed? This leads to questions about the colour  of eggs which provokes another round of furious debate.

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You start visualizing the meals you are going to cook and mentally contemplate the pros and cons of Lacanche versus La Cornue. You are still picturing the huge old oak kitchen table in the small cottage that sits right next to the church when the waiter arrives with your bill; it brings everyone smartly back to reality. Casting your eye around the restaurant you notice that you are the last to leave, the tables are all empty, you have all been so engrossed in ‘buying’ a home you haven’t even noticed that it’s 2.30 in the afternoon, and it’s time to decamp and head back to the car.

Alas it’s not a convertible but something eminently more practical. You all jump in. Your husband is driving, heading vaguely westwards towards the beach, and no one really knows where you are going so no one speaks, all afraid that if they do they will break the spell and the dream will be lost forever. Your husband takes a left turn and you find yourselves heading down a quiet winding country lane. No one knows what is around the next corner or what the future holds.

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Perhaps one day you will buy your dream home or perhaps it will forever remain a figment of your imagination. Only time will tell.

 

 

129 thoughts on “Decisions Decisions

    • I also would buy the house in town, it would be great to fix up and use on weekends or holidays. I would get the 2CV and never look back, you could also rent it out on the weekends you are not there. Have fun with the family…… Marian

      • Hi Marian, we stayed in the town house of my sister-in-law in the UK for a month a couple of years ago, our children thought it was the best fun they have had in ages, they loved being able to walk to everything, we didn’t drive anywhere for days on end. I would also get the 2CV, they are such fun, that is my next dream! xx

    • Hi Lisa, I think I would buy the wreck too if I had the time and money to make it just as I wished, to have a total free hand to design every room and every size. The imagination could run wild! Susan xx

    • It’s great fun to day dream Kim, no we didn’t buy another house! But I do love flicking through the free property magazines, we all do, last time we were on the Ile de Ré, a couple of weeks ago, I dreamt of the house I would buy there, if I won the lottery! xx

  • What a lovely lunch together as a family all joining in the fantasy dream. Do I sense a hint of reality creeping into your fantasy ? We are looking forward to coming to your area, hunting out a small cottage. Maybe you have seen some for sale on your excursions?

    • Hi Barbara, alas no, not really much reality, we are certainly not in the market for another house, but we do all love to pick up the free property magazines and day dream, especially when we are on the Ile de Ré! I have seen one or two dotted here and there, I will keep my eyes open and make a mental note of them for you. It’s so much cooler here this w/e, we actually had a few hours of rain last week, the plants were eternally grateful and lost a little of the wilted withered look! xx

    • Nancy, it is so much fun, of course we don’t need another house and won’t buy another house, unless we won the lottery, which we don’t do, so no chance of that!! But it is great to fantasise, we all love to do it! Hope you are having a lovely weekend, xxx

  • How did you manage all the boring stuff, language, jobs, schools, money to live on whilst sorting yourselves out?French bureaucracy even !!! Sorry it all sounded so easy, I am a realist nothing is easy! Right now we could be tempted…. Or no …. ?

    • It’s fun isn’t it, just day dreaming and planning the perfect property, if money was no object and if reality didn’t get in the way! I think it does us all good to live in fantasy land once in a while. Susan xx

  • A charming, nay enchantingly told tale of the pursuit and realisation of a dream. We have but one life and the inspired follow and capture their dreams and live them as you do clearly have xx

    • Thanks! We have indeed just one life, I often say that and think it, it passes by so very fast, best just to make the very best of it we can, if you don’t have dreams then there is no chance of chasing them and even less chance of living them! We often fantasise about living in a little cottage by the sea during the summer months on the Ile de Ré, doubtful it will ever happen, but we dream of it none the less! xxx

      • Never stop dreaming 🌅 …. On a serious note, we have been searching for our dream house in France for nearly four years although in fairness we have our little frippery in Marcolès which was intended as a Maison secondaire and will serve the purpose well. Did you find your Heaven through an Immo or a Notaire or neither if I can be so nosey? xx

        • I really think you need to bring your search a little closer to the coast, come and explore this area, from one who has lived in the north and the south I can really vouch for this bit in the middle, plus I do love the coast I cannot deny that is a big factor for us. We found it through an Immo, a local one, very French and certainly not for the ex-pat market. It was pure chance, Roddy was ready to give up and fly home, he had spent two weeks trolling through agencies,, driving for hours and hundreds of miles and looking at dozens of houses. He walked into he agent not thinking he would find anything, the house had only just come come on the market the week before, the same day we made an offer they had a second offer in the afternoon. It was not at all as we had experienced previously in France, we were lucky, he was just in the right place at the right time, he bought it without me seeing it, I was across the Pond, thank goodness for Skype! xxx

          • I’ll work on the old man but I doubt he will give in. We are pretty wed to Cantal (or at a pinch the wider Auvergne) for a number of reasons and he is a bit hard to move. I’m sure we will find the right place when the time is right and actually it is unlikely to be right for another year or two but I am heartened by your story and I’m sure we will find the perfect place or the place we can make perfect when that right time comes along. In the meantime, we still have much to do in Marcolès …so it’s probably as well we have drawn a blank on the main house so far!

          • You are so right, the perfect proeprty will just happen, when you least expect it and you will know. I can understand your husband’s views, I could never move mine from the coast! Xxx

    • Hi Kathy, no sadly I can assure you it is very much a fantasy! It’s true we did buy our dream house a couple of years ago, and I feel as if we are living the dream here in France, but it was not quite as simple as this little tale and we certainly didn’t make the decision over a long and leisurely lunch in the sun! xx

    • Exactly what I felt writing it David, sometimes I read property magazines or see a house for sale and I want to start the dream all over again! In reality I don’t, a year of renovations was a nightmare, but it’s also so much fun, all the decisions and choices! Susan xx

  • What a fantasy and so very well told. I would buy a small cottage in a village with just enough garden that I could eat outside and listen to the church bells whilst enjoying my local wine, cheese and a baguette! Sigh if only dreams came true!

    • Hi Shari, I think that is the conclusion we all came too, with just enough land to grow a few tomatoes, a couple of vines and a fig tree would be nice too, seeing as we are in fantasy land we can have anything we want right? Now, as you say, if only dreams came true! xx

  • We too have looked at the free real estate mags and drooled over houses, we’ve been to France so many times and so nearly been tempted to live the dream. We’re still uncertain as to where to base ourselves, once we firm up on that we will be there and hopefully our fantasy will become reality.

    • Hi Amanda, what fun, you are at that wonderful stage, whereby you can dream and look and plan and everything is still easy! France is such a big country with so many fabulous areas each quite different that the decision can be quite difficult. Hope you make your choice soon and find the perfect property so that it can become a reality! xx

  • We do this where ever we go. It really is a fun way to spend time. We have even got estate agents to show us the insides. If we can’t dream and fantasize…that would be horrible. Dreams sometimes become realities….if your lucky.
    Ali Xx

    • I know we do it far too often as well! it is great fun, I have never gone as far as looking at the interior, I am far too transparent I know they would see right through me, I would have guilt written all over my face! Dreams do become reality, sometimes, it’s good to dream! xx

  • Ah, fantasies are made for warm summer days, dozing in a deckchair with a lottery ticket to hand. Been there many times, Susan, imagining just what one could do with a little windfall. Or a big windfall.

    But to answer your question – if one DID have the money, then rebuilding a ruin would be my way to go. Someone else’s imagination wouldn’t by my cup of tea…

    • We would buy the wreck if we won the lottery, which seeing as we don’t do it, is not going to happen, but still one can dream! It’s easy to do as you say when the sun is shining and it’s warm, reality is a long way away and all is right with the world. Now if only it were all that simple! xx

    • Thank you so much Diana and welcome to the blog! It’s not quite cosy fire weather yet, but it is grey and not so great here today as well! it is good to sit and dream a little! Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is always much appreciated. Susan xx

  • Excellent post comme d’ habitude Susan ! Avec votre grande qualité d’ écriture, vous rendez heureux tous vos followers. Quel plaisir de vous lire en ce dernier et paisible dimanche d’ été ! Juste une précision pour dire qu’ il faut écrire : ” une CitrOEn 2 cv ( = Deux Chevaux pour 2 cv fiscaux. Ce n’ est pas la puissance réelle du moteur ( environ 25 cv ) mais un classement de la voiture pour payer ” La vignette ” ( Impôt supprimé en l’ an 2 000 ) ). La Citroën 2 cv est appelée aussi ” la Deuche” ou ” la Deudeuche” ( diminutif de Deux Chevaux en argot ).// Excellent post as always Susan! Along with your very good story-telling, you bring all your followers in Heaven. What a pleasure to read you during that last and peaceful summer sunday! One word to say we must write : ” “a CitrOEn 2 cv ” ( = Two Horses mean 2 fiscal cv ; It is not the real engine power (about 25 cv DIN ) but a car ranking for tax to be paid aka ” La Vignette” ( cancelled in 2 000 ). La Citroën 2 cv is also named ” la Deuche” or “la Deudeuche” ( a slang diminutif for Deux chevaux ). Thanks again for sharing your gorgeous photos from charentes-Maritime.

    • Thanks Philippe, I know this, it was a silly typo that I didn’t notice despite the fact I read it several times. I used to own one back in the 90’s, when I toured France with a friend, when I left to go and work in London I gave it away, how crazy is that! Now I often dream of buying another, we all call them la deuche, the children squeal with delight whenever they see one which down here on the coast in the summer is quite often! Anyway I have amended my stupid mistake and thank you again. The last sunday of summer indeed and it is very autumnal here, not particularly warm, just 20C and grey, but no rain. I believe the week ahead is meant to be lovely though and it has been an excellent summer, so despite the fact that the English always complain about the weather, I for one cannot!! xx

      • Don’t apologize Susan! I was a small detail which allowed me to speak about this strange and unique car that you, your followers…and all frenchpeople love so much! Here ( in Lyon ) it is raining all day long and…16° C. Splendid summer in 2016 indeed.

        • I wonder why we love it so much. I can remember buying mine, it was 1991, she was that ugly beige colour and we called her Nellie! she never broke down, we drove from Paris to Montpelier and back several times, but we always had to take the slow country roads and not the motorway as she would overheat if we went too fast for too long! Tell me, do the French love them too or is it just us foreigners and we are secretly laughed at? I promise I won’t be offended but it will make me smile to know the truth!!! We had no rain at all today, just grey skies, but finally by 4pm the sun returned, just in time for us to wave our eldest off on her plane back to the University, very sad day.

      • I can tell you that this car is very much loved and profoundly anchored in the french collective memory. It is an Icon as Eiffel Tower, Boulangeries, Champagnes or cheeses. The story of Citroën 2cv is incredible ( it all started before World War II !!! ). Have a look on Wikipedia, it worth it.

        • Good morning Philippe, I have just spent a fabulous 15 minutes reading through Wiki and the 2CV, despite having owned one I never knew so much of the history, in fact I owned one because it was a cheap car, not because it was a “cool” car back in the 90’s! Fascinating reading, thank you so much!

      • Pour compléter notre discussion, je peux vous dire que depuis la fin de la production de la ” Deudeuche” ( ou la” deuche ” ) en 1990, celle-ci est devenue une voiture de collection vénèrée dans le monde entier ou presque.Si vous roulez en 2 cv en France , personne ne se moquera de vous. Bien au contraire, on vous saluera ( souvent ) avec un sourire et on vous regardera avec envie et nostalgie dans l’ oeil.// To add to our discussion, I can tell you that since the end of the productionof la ” deudeuche ” ( as well “deuche” ) in 1990, this one became a classic car worshipped almost everywhere in the world.Numerous fan’s club exist : here is the website of the most important in France :www.asso2cvclubsfrance.org/. Whenever you run by car, nobody will laugh at you.Quite the opposite we shall greet you with a smile and we shall look you with envy and a lot of nostalgia in the eyes.Philippe.

    • Ah Philippe, n’oubliez-pas le petit Renault 4, aussi! I learnt to drive in one, and then drove them for many more years as my mother was devoted to them; she then moved up to the 6. I remember whereever i went in the world as a teenager there were Renault 4’s – everywhere. I think my Mother had a soft spot for French cars though; I remember (I think in 1964) how our extended family drove across Europe to go and live in Greece in a pair of Citroen DS. My elder sister re-decorated the rear seat many times on that journey…… sigh. I have only ever driven a 2CV once, so we’d have to have a 4 to go with Susan’s 2CV if we ever downsize 🙂

      • Salut Roddy ! Enchanté de discuter avec vous pour la 1ère fois !Susan parle souvent de vous dans ses passionnants posts( en bien naturellement ! ) mais on ne vous voit que rarement sur les ( belles ) photos de votre famille. Je vous comprends, moi-même je n’ aime pas trop me voir en image…Pour revenir à notre sujet, vous avez raison Roddy pour la célébrité de la Renault 4 ( la ” 4 L ” comme on le dit familièrement ) ainsi que la Citroën DS qui était une voiture plus bourgeoise ( elle a été longtemps la voiture des Présidents de la République ). Ces 2 voitures sont devenus légendaires et représentatives de la France. Mais à mon avis moins que la Citroën 2 cv. La 4 L était la voiture parfaite pour les vacances d’ été en famille. Je confirme que la Citroën DS 19 ( puis 20 et 21 ) pouvait provoquer des vomissements tant ses amortisseurs hydropneumatiques( à hauteurs variables/ 1ère mondiale) étaient souples. Je constate que vous,et votre famille, êtes des vrais francophiles qui aiment même nos voitures ( si souvent moquées à l’ étranger ). Comme je l’ ai souvent dit à Susan, le profond attachement de votre famille à notre pays est très touchant. Surtout en ces temps difficiles…// Hello Roddy! Nice to chat with you for the first time! Susan often speaks about you within her fascinating posts ( well regarded of course!) but we see you only rarely on nice photos of your family. I very understand you as I don’t like seeing myself on pictures…Getting back to our subject, you are right Roddy about the celebrity of the Renault 4 (aka la ” 4 L ” as we usually say) as well for the Citroën DS which was a more bourgeois car ( even a luxuary car which was the car of the Republic President for a long time ). These 2 cars became legendary and representative of France. Although less famous in the world than Citroën 2 cv which is the symbol of the rural France. La ” 4 L ” was the perfect car for summer holidays in family. I confirm that Citroën DS 19 ( then 20 and 21 ) could cause vomitings so much its hydropneumatic suspension system ( at variable heights / a world first ) were flexible even waving… I notice that you and all your family are truths France’s lovers that like even our cars (so often laugh in the others countries).As I often say to Susan , the profound commitment of your family in our country is very moving. Especially in these difficult times… A bientôt. Philippe

  • I hope I don’t repeat what everybody already wrote…. I can fully relate to your dreamy lunch story and I have one or three own similar stories to tell.
    Only, DREAMING and plotting is alright, as long as you wake up before you signed on the dotted line! We had tremendous luck twice and fell fully on our faces the third time (the actual one we live in – now fully renovated at tremendous cost and with money we didn’t really have), here in France. We just could NOT imagine that people could possibly be so cheating and lying, and we bought our beautiful pile with me having all the symptoms of ‘knowing without voicing my doubts’ just BECAUSE it was the most beautiful, romantic, enchanted house I ever saw. It fitted all my collected photographs of the past 20 years of my life, big quietly rusting veranda, heavy thick stone walls – cathedral high (not really but high!) rooms, parquet floors, wall paintings, the works…. and then, the problems started (they were all there but ‘camouflaged’).
    This is however YOUR post and I was feverishly reading your wonderful story, smiling with you and dreaming with you – and IF the question would really become of actuality – I would RENT a place for a full year before even thinking of buying some new place. And this from someone whose husband CANNOT pass by a property dealer ANYWHERE in this world without taking a few flyers, brochures, photos and a wife who went to see some 30 houses, 10 appartments and some stables/garages/whathaveyous before going for our present home!
    I LOVE YOUR WRITING – it’s so dreamy and doesn’t make me fat 🙂

    • Uh oh, sounds like you opened a can of worms, where in France are you? We have been there so I really understand what you went through. Fortunately this time, where we live now, we got lucky, but it was still lucky at a high price, there was an enormous amount of work to be done. I often say renting is the way to go and then we get swept away with the dream and the idea of renting goes straight out of the window! We would have saved so much money had we stuck to what our head said instead of getting carried away listening to our hearts! xx

  • You could make a wish or you can make it happen because the distance between dream and reality is action.
    I love that story about the dreamy lunch time together with your family…we do often the same because it wings your fantasy….and a French old house, barn, castle ist always worth to think about …but awakened I am happy what I already have got…that’s my solace

    • One of my favourite quotes – “We may place blame, give reasons, and even have excuses; but in the end, it is an act of cowardice to not follow your dreams”. Alas, we have already bought and live in our dream, it’s not always easy, but easy doesn’t make things perfect, it’s good to be challenged from time to time, it makes us appreciate the dream so much more xx

  • Hi Susan! If I won the lottery I would buy houses! A cabin in the mountains, a cottage in Provence, a big old farmhouse in the country, a shack by the ocean, etc. etc. A bit of an addiction that can’t be helped. But, of course, first I have to win the lottery and since I don’t play it, it’s not likely. Still, a lovely dream. Keep on dreamin’ my friend!

    • Oh me too, but like you, I don’t do the lottery so that won’t happen. Maybe tomorrow I should buy a lottery ticket just for the fun of it, except I wouldn’t know how to even go about it here in France! We all need to dream, I would certainly buy a chalet in the mountains for skiing, a small whitewashed old fisherman’s house on the Ile de Ré, for weekends and summer days and an olive grove in Provence but I would still choose to stay here in our home as our main residence, oh to dream!!! You keep dreaming too xxx

  • Loved your story Susan, a timely reminder that dreams can come true. Although on a much smaller scale, mine did and I shall be off across the channel soon for my first visit. It was interesting to read Philippe’s comments, I owned two ‘deuche’s’ in the 80’s and 90’s. I had no idea about anything that went on under the bonnet, a bloke in Wivelsfield dealt with that, but they never broke down and to this day remain a favourite of all the cars I’ve owned..

    • Weren’t they fun to drive, I owned mine at the beginning of the 90’s. I drove thousands of miles in it, occasionally it over heated and we would have to stop for a while, but others than that we never had a problem, it was so realisable and such a great car even in the snow! I cannot believe I gave it away! How exciting for you, the adventure is about to begin, hope you will write about it with lots of photos! Have fun xx

  • Ah, another dream on top of the wonderful dream you are already living. Wonderful! I can’t do that, but will at least have 6 weeks in France next year!

        • Of course Alison, I knew that, so sorry! I take pride in the fact that I remember what each and every reader is doing, who they are and what they have told me, but just sometimes I don’t remember every detail, there are so many comments and so many people! The minute I read this I knew because you are coming to see us. Sorry! Very much looking forward to meeting you. Susan xx

          • No worries. Your memory is amazing! And I’m always impressed that you reply to every commenter. A l’année prochaine!

          • Thanks Alison, it takes ages to reply and many nights I am tapping away at the screen at 1am when I really should be in bed, but I really, genuinely, love the interaction, for me it is just as important as the post itself, chatting to everyone and building this community, sounds rather cliché, but that is really what it is like. Susan xx

  • I sooo love reading your little manuscripts…..this one was simply precious! You had me at the get-go! But then I firmly believe a little fantasy is good for the soul, everyone should!

    • I’m with you there Syliva! Although as the memories of renovation fade I start to get tempted again, but at the moment all I have to do is remind myself of the nightmare of living in chaos and I am quickly brought down to earth, it was a year of endless work! However it is fun to dream xx

    • Thank you so much, I think a little fantasy and a little day dreaming is good for the soul, it certainly does no harm and it’s a game we all love to play. The road photo was genuinely quite a surprise, a road we travelled in the spring for the very first time, not having a clue where it led to and to this day we still have no idea why there is such a long wall surrounding the field, there is nothing inside it. Susan xx

  • Oh golly gosh, that sounded like a suspense detective story: what fun! But, seriously, have ‘done’ the lunch with wine and amused but interested husband and kids eager to plan an alternate life ‘thing’. Our family felt more comfortable in SE Asia than anywhere else: Australia was an annoying 7-8 hours away and we too could work from home. So Singapore real estate agents saw a fair amount of us, and yes we did look inside and wonder and find out about schools and things . . . well, in the end that too turned into just a dream . . . but it sure was fun dreaming! Beautiful photos and loved the menus: picked my fish!!!

    • It’s great fun dreaming a little and it certainly does not harm. We spent a few days in Singapore on our way to NZ and we thoroughly enjoyed it, just wish we could have spent more time there, it really looked like a fascinating country, the little bit that we saw, and everyone was very helpful. So glad to hear someone else dreams in foreign countries too! Everything is possible is my motto! Have a great week. Susan xx

  • During les Journées du Patrimoine, I popped into our local château. It had been years since my child played in its park. Back then, being a regular at the park, a couple of the other mothers and I had been privileged with private tours a few times. This time, there was no guide; it was just open. And I went to the unrenovated third floor that I hadn’t visited before (the guardian used to live up there). It was a real wreck. I overheard another couple discussing how it could be fixed up into a nice hotel. I piped up: “It’s for sale.” Currently a government building used for departmental meetings, it’s been on the market for several years. I’m sure they thought this foreign-accented woman was nuts. Then I added some details, including that there was a professional kitchen in the basement, etc. I bumped into them in a few other corners of the attic, and they asked more questions. I wonder whether they want to buy it!

    • I wonder if they really were interested of if it was just a day dream, you never know maybe you will find out it has been sold in the coming months! Last year we visited a local lighthouse but this year we didn’t manage to go anywhere, our eldest daughter was leaving To go back to University in the UK yesterday, so it was all a bit of a rush, she’s been here all summer so you can imagine the packing involved and then a tearful goodbye at the airport. The other children went to visit our local Chateau Fort, thinking it would be a fun morning but they were not participating, spoil sports! Xx

  • We have bought a renovation project in Charente, the farmhouse has four walls but no roof and the other buildings are a bit better. I would also love the iconic 2CV to drive around in. At the moment my husband is in France working on our property and I am in the UK bringing in the pennies. Our youngest daughter has just gone to university so once she has settled I will be moving out to France with my husband early next year. This has been a long time coming as we have owned our renovation for 6 years and have been planning the time when I can leave work and move over to help him. I loved reading your post about having a glass of wine and before you know you have plans running through your mind about buying a chateau or a ruin as this really does happen when you are under the spell of the beautiful south west of france with it’s endless summer days and sunflowers etc. I am sitting in my office in work as I type this, its dull and raining outside and I loved seeing your beautiful photos and for a minute can dream I am back in France!

    • What fun, if you get a free moment at work, please send me some photos and let me know where you are, my email is on the side of the blog, I am always interested to hear how people renovate, it’s quite a job! But I do envy you having the time to do it from scratch, it means you can decide exactly where you want each room to be etc., we have only ever done the simpler version, restored a French house that was habitable but only just! Where is your daughter at Uni? We just waved our eldest off on the plane yesterday back to the UK for her last year, so sad to say goodbye after a wonderful long summer. She is dreading the rain and endless grey skies! Today in the Charente Maritime it is a beautiful sunny morning, the weather looks set for at least two weeks now, lots of sun and mid 20’s, can’t complain! Time will fly by and you will be here full time before you know it. Hope to hear from you. Susan xx

  • Ah, but your dream did come true! You are living it! Not a manoir or a chateau, but a lovely family home that suits your family way of life. As the song says, “you gotta have a dream – if you don’t have a dream how you gonna make a dream come true?” (any guesses for the song/film?!!). Have a lovely week.

    • Ok so the words struck a chord, but I have to admit I googled the answer!!! Happy Talks/South Pacific! But very true words, if you don’t have one it will never come true. Yes we bought our dream a couple of years ago and are living it and loving every minute of it, it really is a dream come true. But it’s still such a fun game to play, we do it all the time!!! Hope you have a lovely week too xx

  • Oh, my dear — I began reading and thought, “What is Susan doing in my fantasies?”
    Perfect, right down to the cars. I so miss my old Saab.

    • Oh Emm, I am sorry to hijack your fantasties! It seems lots of us dream about the same thing, we play this game quite often and we live here!!! It’s funny how we miss the old cars; I would be quite lost if you took away the GPS and Bluetooth in my car and yet I long for my old 2CV, but I think it would probably be a fair weather, trips to the beach, sort of car only! Xx

  • You too, huh? In my mind, I have lived all over the eastern US. I pick up real estate handbooks wherever I go. Even my adult children bring them to me from wherever they travel. I think they are dreaming of that little mountain or beach home. It’s good to dream. Love your stories!

    • Hi Judi, yes it is good to dream, now if I were in the US on the eastern coast, I would be imagining a little winter retreat for some warmth in Florida and also somewhere in Boston and Maine and possibly Vermont because I always think Vermont is so romantic, and then there are the Hamptons etc etc., dreaming is fun! So where is your favourite place in the Eastern US to live? Would love to know. Susan xx

  • I would buy in the village with rambling roses clawing it’s way up the walls. With an overgrown garden that can be transformed into a wonderful vege garden. Where I can sit with my glass of wine and say” I’m home”

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