I guess our story starts in England when we found out that the house we were renting in Cornwall, England was going to be sold. We were living in a huge old Georgian house on a dairy farm with a lovely big allotment where we kept chickens and hung out with the kids in a playhouse Jude built entirely out of old pallets. He also built me a greenhouse out of salvaged window frames and I had plans to grow flowers in every part of that piece of land that wasn’t filled with vegetable plots. We love being outside and it was blissful to have only a herd of Friesians as neighbours.
So when our landlord informed us that we had to leave, we knew we couldn’t just do the sensible thing and find a nice little council house to move into, which is what everyone in England on a low income is expected to do, so we came up with a plan to emigrate and follow our dream of living in sunshine. My mother in law has kept a holiday house in Normandy for several years which Jude had been renovating before we met and almost immediately started a family, so it seemed logical for us to start by moving there. We moved out here in 2014, three months after the birth of our fourth daughter. His mother didn’t want us to live in the house so instead offered us a piece of her land for us to build on. We spent the first year buying and renovating three old trailers which we converted into a single storey house of sorts with a separate kitchen, with water from a well Jude divined for and built himself.
We lived in those old trailers for two years in the end and whilst it was hard work living without proper amenities, using a compost toilet and fetching drinking water from the village, and with all of our belongings piled up in an increasingly decrepit secondhand marquee (which I found on Freecycle whilst still in Cornwall) we knew that we are doing the right thing and that one day life would get easier.
As of 2016 we moved out of the trailers and into the house. Jude’s mother has put it on the market, so there is always a nagging worry that someone will come along and buy it, rendering us homeless, but it is such a wonderful, happy place and it feels good to finally have a real home at last. We are so very happy here and the girls are settled at their school and thriving in this beautiful, free environment.
Adapting to life in France has been at times confusing and frustrating but the girls have settled into their new lives well and the older two have only vague recollections of England. Jude and I are fortunate in that we are both creative and hard-working. We have successfully registered separate businesses here which are thriving: he has his hard landscaping and groundworks business which is in high demand and until summer 2017 I have had my little Etsy shop where I sell beautiful and quirky French brocante. At the time of writing, La Corbeille is closing on Etsy, but with plans to re-open elsewhere in the future. Do contact me if you wish to be notified of it’s new online location!
And with our pretty little plot of land up for sale, there is hope that we can one day get to work on our plans to build those gîtes after all…
The story continues…..