When I quit work in 2003 at 49, we ran away to south west Scotland from Hampshire, where we had lived in the M27 corridor/car park.
Anne's mother, now sadly departed, was from Midlothian, and the countryside there was to us unexplored. Why we decided to cut our ties with England, we are not really sure. It wasn't a wrong move, as it seemed right at the time. To continue in the county where we had lived and worked just seemed wrong, and taking thirty minutes to drive five miles was just crass. Car density was such, certainly in our household of three, that a car for each occupants was the norm.
Strangely we sought what we have now in France, but in Scotland didn't find it, buying instead a new house on the outskirts of Dumfries, just along the road from Queen of the South Nil. Instead of the crush of traffic, it was five minutes from Tesco and twenty minutes from the countryside of the Galloway hills. We spent four lovely years there, and even had a caravan near the Ayrshire coast and made innumerable friends; until that is, we decided to move here in Creuse. Despite our surroundings in Dumfries, we were still reliant on jobs, and I had had to learn Scotish and plumbing, which to me was a bit like learning occitan. There was a slight feeling of politicization of the north, and with the increasing council taxes, France was becoming a draw. We were not held back by family, as our parents and children have always enjoyed the seperation, and subsequent holidays with us, so it mattered not to some extent where we lived. An extended stay in Australia tested us, but the distance involved was altogether too great for permanency there.
It was all about perception, lifestyle expectation and positive attitude. If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy? We didn't want to stay in the crab bucket with the other crabs, but it is amazing how many crabs try to prevent the one crab trying to escape by hanging on to its legs. The pervasive question of "why do you want to move there for?" rang in our ears.
We knew the risks, and having holidayed in France many times, we knew what to expect. I had French connections and French friends, and we had sampled a miniscule part of life there. What we needed to know was could we afford it?
Thanks to the boyant housing market on our move from England to Scotland in 2003 and then from Scotland to France in 2007, we knew our limits. Taking a little advice on location such as value for money, climate, and position was all we sought, and by chance we found it in our little corner of "la petite Ecosse". So it's not the Jura/Swiss border with lakes and trees, for which that part of France is famed, but it comes pretty close to the Galloway forest in part.
We have the reasonable climate, the solitude, and the countryside that we enjoy. We have no mortgage and the bills are paid, and we live a life as near perfect as our continuing good health can make it.
Having now moved from the land of deep-fried Mars Bars, to rural Creuse, where the people have not yet fallen into the habit of fast food, and the old traditional ways still abound. It is only when we visit the conglomerations of Limoges and Guéret, that people can be seen to have caught on to McDonalds and the like. Proportionally the countryfolk are less morbidly obese, but certainly live well. Keep the shop closed on Sundays and Mondays, enjoy the two-hour lunch, leave the twenty four/seven mentality for others, and the stress? What stress!
We do not look forward to our visits to the UK, as the traffic there is always at high density, patience is rare and tempers are fractious. We land on British soil reluctantly, to pay our respects, yearning for the return to come as quickly as possible, however much we love our family. We breath a sigh of relief when we return home.
We have now been in France for four years and regret not a bit our decision. pas de tout.