I am taking part today in the “Expat Blog Hop”. Welcome to all the people taking part in this event. I was trying to decide what to blog about, perhaps some spectacular pictures of my restoration skills, perhaps some pictures and discussion of beating back a jungle to reveal a yard and a garden that is surrounded by stone walls or perhaps some pictures of some spectacular day trip we’ve done. However, what seems to continually come up about our presence here, the question that both French and Expats (pick a nationality, Jugon has them all) always ask is, “Why France?, Why Brittany?”
So, here it is – because!
When I first met Elizabeth (20 years ago) she told me one of the things she wanted to do during her life was live in Europe. Well, here we are.
The idea of actually doing it started to form when we were watching a BBC program called “Build a New Life in The Country”. We watched all kinds of people from different walks of life buy broken down historical homes and restore them to their former glory by quitting their jobs, selling their assets and then spending more than the proceeds while enduring all sorts of other controversies all in order to establish a new way of living.
I have no idea when my love for old buildings took such a firm hold on me, but the contrast of this type of work to my daily accounting life was invigorating. Elizabeth has all the design and historical knowledge and she is the best “colourist” I know. So, we started to search for a restoration project. The first pictures I saw were of a castle somewhere that I forget called Blackthorn Castle – a huge project, but the concept was contagious.
When we realized that France has an amazing inventory of “old homes” and most for a reasonable price we were sold on the idea of this country. We selected Northern France because of its proximity to England (E has plans of attending a University program there) and Northern France also offered a climate somewhat similar to what we were used to in Canada – four distinct seasons (although the winters here are not quite what we are used to in Canada – I did not pack the toboggan).
The other benefit of course was the concept of actually learning how to speak French (unlike my high school days).
A “re-con” mission in December of 2009 to actually see some properties “up close and personal”, a failed bid on our first choice (in hindsight, Thank God!) and a 1 hour stop here to see this place and we were sold.
The inspection reports came in with nothing that we were suprised about, nor worried about. I was also not worried about any potential hidden problems either as I feel I can conquer anything (Guillaume le Conquerant!)
When we are not restoring, home schooling or giving tours of the house, we are busy with fresh and exciting activities that we enjoy as a result of our “new” life here. We have made many new friends, Elizabeth has joined a knitting group in Dinan, I play badminton on Tuesdays and an occasional round of golf. We have both embarked on new ventures – Elizabeth has started an enterprise with another ex-pat, her Canadian/American/British friend, Agnes — www.HandworkAteliersFrance.com
While I decided to turn my attention to all the beautiful windows and doors I see in my daily travels.
Please browse through my previous posts for before and after pictures of work so far. Leave a comment and We will randomly select one person to receive a copy of “Foreigners in France: Triumphs & Disasters – Real-life stories from expatriates in France”. Here is the link to the other participants in this blog hop http://www.bloginfrance.com/ Thank you for visiting.