Renting again

We’ve just returned from an exploratory trip (holiday, of sorts) from the Charente and Limousin areas where we discovered there were houses with the kinds of specs we were looking for for sale within our price range. Having stumbled upon a few potential properties a couple of weeks ago we decided it would be good to get out and also to make sure we weren’t missing out by restricting our search to the area local to our current home, so I booked some accommodation with AirBnb and arranged for a neighbour to cat sit, James informed DD’s school, and we were all ready for the off on Monday morning.

It was a very interesting trip. Apart from the horrendous weather we found the property search pretty interesting. Yes, we could, if we wanted buy a property there that does, on paper at least, match our requirements. We saw two great properties: both stone buildings, small so easy to heat, with good roofs and land of between 2 and 3,000 m2. What’s not to like? Well, it would seem that a house in a place that you don’t want to live is not a house to buy. It was quite confusing really, to be in a house that ticked all our boxes and not be enthused about it but the reality was that the whole area was just too darned flat for us both. The countryside rolled endlessly in every direction. Yes, it was raining, which probably didn’t help, but it was more than that. The roads just went on and on. I realised that at no point had I had the urge to get on my bike and explore. The opposite was true in fact. The thought of going out on a ride there made my heart sink! Too many long, not quite flat, never-ending, to the horizon and back roads. No hills! No hills anywhere nearby either. It was my idea of countryside hell.

After three of the five days there we decided we’d seen everything we wanted to and set off early so we could spread the return journey over two days to make it easier for the littlies. I found a nice apartment in Cahors on AirBnb and was able to book just 24 hours before we wanted to arrive – and now we had something to look forward to again. Good. We took a slow drive down, stopping on the way to visit the mum of a friend (who has a house for sale that we wanted to check out), having a leisurely lunch with her before continuing on to the town, opting to wiggle along on back roads rather than aiming straight for the autoroute. It was lovely. We drove through the Dordogne, passing Sarlat and Domme, almost going past the door of a gite we once stayed at, and on through the Lot. It was interesting to observe how the landscape changes made us feel. I was pretty happy as soon as there were hills and wiggly roads again, preferring the more dramatic Dordogne to the Lot, where the hills started flattening out again.

After a relaxing couple of nights in Cahors we continued south, this time pitstopping at IKEA in Toulouse. Living the dream. There we were able to compare and contrast the food offerings (in the IKEA Toulouse vs IKEA Manchester/Ashton stakes, France wins hands down!) and pick up a “euro-dryer”, as the one with the gite is broken, and a step for DD so that she can use the “big toilet” on her own. She’s growing up so fast!

Finally, at about 4pm, we made it back to our “home” – feeling quite upbeat about everything. While we didn’t find a house we both felt it had been a worthwhile trip in that it had focussed our minds on what we do want. We realised we badly need to get out of this claustrophobic little hamlet and this stupidly small house so our immediate focus will be on finding somewhere to rent long term so we can get settled and start to work on our businesses. We also agreed that, when it comes to finding a permanent home, we need to be in the hills and close to the mountains. In terms of buy vs. build we have seen so much rubbish we are going to push on and build, but take our time to get our plans together and to find the right piece of land with good access, good aspect, etc. We needed to get away to get the headspace to make those decisions, as something about being in this small place makes it really hard to think straight.

So now we have a plan. It’s a far cry from Plan A (move to France and buy a house, blah, blah, blah) but it is nonetheless a plan and one that is based on reality given the confines of our budget and the general state of properties we can afford around here.

First things first though, escape from this crazy-making little hameau.

To be continued…

Meet and Greet: 12/10/16

It’s my first time joining in a Meet and Greet weekend and my first every reblog! Thankfully WordPress has some great instructions so, if it’s your first time too, give it a whirl. It’s so simple! Bonne weekend!

Dream Big, Dream Often

dreambigwallpaper-pinkombre

It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post. It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times! It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want. It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media. Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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Moving day!

Well, not quite, but today the movers – Matthew James – are here, taking all our worldly goods away, to be returned to us some time in the near future. James did a lot of research before deciding to use them, checking reviews on Trust Pilot and doing thorough checks on the Internet to make sure there weren’t any skeleton’s lurking, and I think it paid off because they seem very professional and experienced. I particularly like that they keep telling James to sit down and relax, which he badly needs to hear! I know he was stressing about the physical effort involved in getting the boxes up to the lorry, which doesn’t actually fit down our lane, but they’ve been using our Passat as the shuttle vehicle and so far we haven’t had to lift a finger, which is lovely. The only downside is that we’re a little bit trapped in the house with nothing for lunch, so I’ve just made an executive decision and ordered pizza. Yum.

They arrived at 9am, as they said they would, and have been at it the whole time. We’re part of a larger collection and the previous homeowners understimated so they’re having to do some fancy footwork to fit it all in. It may yet turn out that they can’t fit all our stuff in, which would be a pain, but hey ho. They are certainly trying their best to get it in and it’s not their fault that the previous load was much larger than anticipated.
On an emotional level, I’m mostly feeling relief. Packing and clearing out has basically taken over our lives for the last few months and I’ll be glad to see the back of it all. Looking around the house it stills feels homely, even without all our clutter, but it’s interesting that I don’t feel attached to it as a place. As with everything that’s led us to this point in time I really feel it’s the right time to move on. Of course I will be sad to move away from all my wonderful friends, and since there have been a lot of teary goodbyes in this last couple of weeks it has and is emotional on that level, but I’m also excited to both have a bit of rest and then get on with our new life. We still have a lot of cleaning to do but after today one more sleep before we leave this house and move on. Awesome!

Back on the Bullet Journal trail

This week’s been a slow one and we haven’t made much progress with the decluttering or packing. My excuse? Baby #2 is having a Wonder Week! Yes, my usually chilled, easy-going boy has been Mr. Unhappy for a good number of days now but according the app there are only three days left to go (assuming he’s a text book WonderWeeker, of course.)

But it hasn’t been totally wasted. A discussion on the Natural Mamas forum I frequent prompted me to look at bit more closely at my Bullet Journal so I’ve made the most of my sitting about cuddling and jiggling time by doing some BuJo homework and getting inspired. There are some great resources out there, starting with bulletjournal.com, the source of all things Bullet Journal. If you’ve no idea what bullet journaling is, this is a great place to start. Watch the video, as I did, and see whether it grabs you. If you think you like the look of it, check these sites out for inspiration: Boho Berry, Hello Brio, and Tiny Ray of Sunshine. They’re all WordPress blog sites so you can Follow them, if you like what you see.

As far as my bullet journal goes I’ve been using a very simple layout and basic key for about a year now and it has proven it’s worth to me many times. I’m a list-maker by nature and also have bit of a stationery fetish, so it sits very well with my personal style. I find that writing things down makes things real and makes them more likely to be remembered or, in the case of making a plan, makes things more likely to happen. I only reluctantly gave up my Filofax two smart phone ago, resisting the technological push for as long as I could, but then found that digital organisation is confusing! I like to be able to flick through my diary or to-do list and see what’s what. Pages on a screen weren’t working for me and I was starting to feel disorganised. I would say my love affair with the bullet journal was instant. I recently rediscovered it’s power when I needed to find an e-mail address from someone we met on holiday over two years ago. Thanks to the BoJo indexing system I was able to find it in a matter of minutes! With digital notes, calendars, etc. spread all over I suspect I’d never have found it (adding it to my address book at the time would have been too obvious :-))

On this journey into Bullet Journaling I’ve been reminded that, not only do I love to write things down, I also love to doodle! I was a prolific doodler while studying; idly drawing patterns and pictures alongside notes during lectures helped me to remember things and also helped me to stay awake and present through some of the drier subject areas – and I studied philosophy, so there were many of those! On the back of the last few days’ research I now have a quarterly goals page, a blog ideas page, a tracker page (for recording how often in the month I achieve tasks related to my goals) – all blatantly copied from the websites I recommended above. Next up I plan to do a well-being wheel, which is an idea I got from the discusison on the Natural Mamas forum. All this planning is really good for me as, with so much going on, there are times it feels like we’re hurtling towards and unknowable end, focusing on the big picture, making it easy to lose sight of the closer to home and the day-today. Throw children into the mix and it’s no surprise to me that I haven’t really thought about much other than moving and sleeping for the best part of the last six months. That needs to change as we need to do better at things like budgeting and meal planning, and it’s important to me that I reach my fitness goals, get some head space, spend quality time with DD, and have the time to develop a new business, so we can continue to live our new life once the money runs out! I’ll share my wheel once I’ve finished it. For now I’m using the basic categories and, unpopulated, it looks like this:

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I clearly have a way to go if my BuJo efforts are every to be as beautiful as many others I’ve seen online, but it’s functional. Now to find my colouring pencils which, if DD hasn’t hidden, lost or broken them, have probably been packed. Hmm.

[I thought I’d add  a picture for a change. What do you think? More pictures?]

 

 

I love Mondays!

It used to be that I absolutely hated Monday mornings. Who of working (or school) age doesn’t? Traditionally it’s the day that you lose your freedom and spend the day occupied with activities probably not of your choosing. Sure, some of the things that Mondays you enjoy (I used to love researching new tools and working on process improvements) and others you don’t (meetings, basically) and if you’re self employed you probably don’t mind Mondays as much as the traditional employee (and if you don’t enjoy the self-employment path you’ve chosen, it might be time for a rethink). The early start and the commute were always the very worst part of Mondays for me, which is why working from home really took the edge off. Now though, I just love Mondays! They signal the first day of the week when I can actually get anything done, as DD is off to nursery as well as having a more predictable nap time and – if I’m lucky, like today – DS plays nicely and snoozes in the moses basket or in the sling, leaving me hands free.

So what am I feeling so pleased with myself about today? Well, this morning I’ve managed to sort out a load of stuff for sale (maternity clothes mostly, updating photographs and posting to local forums), do some washing, and start populating my Anki deck with the most popular 625 words. I’ve also made my to-do list and sorted out my diary for the rest of the week ahead, which is major, because I go a little bit mad if I don’t have myself organised in that way. All organised and ready for the week ahead. Whooop!

What’s this all about then?

Welcome to my new blog! Why have I set up it? Well, after 15 years working for a blue chip semiconductor company, first as a technical writer finally as a technical publications manager, the 18th March 2016 marked a turning point with my last day of work (due to redundancy) which also coincided nicely with the start of maternity leave. As I’ve always been writing one way or another – whether for pleasure (as an angst-ridden teenager, an idealistic student, an introspective and slightly troubled twenty-something) or professionally – I’ve set up this blog to share my musings on the big changes that we’re making this year and next, which we hope will include integrating baby #2 into our family of three with all the associated trials and tribulations that brings, moving to France, learning a new language, setting up a business, and venturing into freelance writing as a way to pay the bills. Quite a quiet year ahead then!

I plan to write about my experiences with a new baby and a toddler, which are likely to include discussions and musings on all things child-related (co-sleeping, baby wearing, tandem nursing – yes, I still nurse my 2-year-old) and anything else that I feel the need to share, as well as the challenges of moving to a new country (finding a home, physically moving with two kids, three cats and an absolute tonne of stuff we probably don’t need, navigating paperwork, finding childcare/school systems, making new friends, etc.) and finally (phew!) setting up a new business as a way of making some money!

I also write another blog (One Woman, Two Wheels) where I share my thoughts and adventures in cycling, yoga, fitness and general well-being. The chances of me getting out on my bike or grabbing more than 10-minutes of quiet time for yoga are pretty slim, so I don’t expect I’ll be contributing to it much this year – but where there’s overlap I’ll cross-post: two blog posts for the price of one, yay.

Thanks for joining me. I hope you enjoy the ride!

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