Wednesday, February 23, 2005
How we ended up in Brittany
After being on the work, travel to work, pay the mortgage, too tired to go out treadmill for quite a few years, Mr FF and I decided a change was in order.
I'd had one big change about 4 years earlier, in that I had moved from Highgate in North London to Winchester, but the daily commute on the 07.02 to Waterloo was beginning to get me down.
We decided to get away to his mum's holiday home in Normandy. I wasn't looking forward to it very much and kept grumbling, because I am a bit of a moaner. I'd been to Paris a couple of times and had been driven through France en route to Italy and knew it was a beautiful country, but I'm ashamed to say that my view of the French was coloured by media stereotypes.
After a week in Normandy all that changed (never let it be said that I waste time dreaming and not doing), and we started to discuss our new favourite idea of a move to France. One thing holding us back though was the thought of leaving my elderly dad behind. He was living in a sheltered block in Winchester, having moved from London to be near us, and was finding life as an old man alone quite difficult. We put to him the idea of relocating with us to France and he was up for the change as well.
Mr FF found out that his firm* would allow him to telework from France as long as one week out of four he put in an appearance in the UK. We got in touch with estate agents who had properties in both Normandy and Brittany. This was late autumn of 2002 and we eventually ended up with a shortlist of properties to view in December 2002. We told ourselves that we would spend a week seeing the planned viewings and also finding further places ourselves which were on the market.
Our criteria was simple - we needed a place with a ground floor bedroom, bathroom and loo for my dad and a second bathroom upstairs for us. This proved quite hard to find at the price we wanted to pay but, even so, we had about nine houses to see, beginning in Brittany and then moving on to Normandy mid-week.
The first house we saw was not promising, as the garden was overlooked by many houses and it was just not right for us. We followed the agent to the next house and the minute we pulled up outside and saw the view I thought - this is it. We were nudging each other with excitement as we went in. Even though the rooms were quite small it ticked our boxes and we tried to hide our excitement as we walked around with the agent. When we said goodbye to him and went off for a spot of lunch we could not stop thinking about this house. We talked for a long time about it and then decided we had to buy it.
We returned to the estate agency, signed all the documents, cancelled the rest of the week's viewings and then returned to the house - without the agent - to plan our future. Luckily it was vacant possession so we were able to wander around alone. We spent the next few days exploring our future town without knowing a thing about it. Some might say we were reckless to move to an area we knew nothing about but we didn't care. The house felt right for us and I'm pleased to say that when we made the move the following April, after not having seen it for 3 months, the minute we entered it still felt like we'd come home.
*that lasted a year - after that he formed his own company and works out of an office in the basement. It's a much better idea all round and only means that he has a few very short trips to the UK now