One of the things I’m enjoying most about being here is making new friends and having to be open to those around me – particularly given the language and, to some extent, the cultural differences – in order for that to happen so feel extremely lucky that we were welcomed unreservedly into this small community from the moment we arrived. Now, just two months later, our children are in and out of one anothers houses and we adults have shared food, our homes, exchanged ideas, recipes, parenting advice (naturally!). As incomers, we’ve been invited to parties, events, even a wedding! I can’t imagine having packed this much in to such a small time had we relocated within the UK but I think much of this comes down to the fact that we’re in a small hameau where everyone knows and helps everyone and their lives are already very intertwined. Plus, with so much of life taking place outdoors and so many children keen to play with an interact with other children, it naturally follows that out lives are more public and less isolated. It’s really lovely.
Even if we end up moving to another area or hameau, I have no doubt that we will remain in close contact with the people here and we will remain connected for a long time. Our children are happy together and that makes us happy together. As luck would have it we also have commonalities that go beyond our children. James is rediscovering his love of music and now goes to “guitar club” once a week as well as getting together with the other resident musicians for a jam night every now and again. For my part I’m supporting B in organising a regular sling meet style event, something she’s wanted to do for a while but hasn’t had the energy to do by herself and something I wanted to do but didn’t feel I could unless I had better French and knowledge of the people and the area. I’ve also taken DD to the local forest school (école de la forêt), which is organised by V, who lives in a hameau a bit further along the valley. DD loves it. I love all the cooperation and the sense of community and look forward to being able to give something back once we have more space and are more settled. Even with my limited French language skills I’m able to participate and getting involved in helps me to put down roots and create some stability for DD and DS – a foundation for our new life. I’m so pleased we came here, to this exact place, however temporary it turns out to be.