Arriving in France when you plan to live here is so different from just coming over on holiday.
My husband wakes me after possibly the worst night’s sleep of my life. There’s not much choice when a ferry is coming in to port – you need to get organised. I skip breakfast accompanied by my older two children who indulge in a healthy bit of sibling rivalry about various breakfasts available. My carnivore husband and our youngest lad head off to the self-service restaurant.
An announcement is made for all animal owners who have a pet on board to head to the Information Desk so we all meet up again there. My younger children both want to go and see the kennel area so they head off with my husband. My teenage son does that thing they all do about trying subtly to pretend he is not with me doubtless in case there is a French Mademoiselle about.
It is lovely to be reunited with our Beagle as I have worried about him all night long. It is such a shame they cannot understand when you try to explain what is going on and that it will all be worth it in the end. There is a slight delay but soon we are disembarking in St Malo. The whole family seem quiet as we do so perhaps struggling with so many different thoughts and feelings as we start our new adventure in France.
We arrive at the house we are staying in just before lunchtime. We are greeted by the lady who is opening the house up for us who first ensures out dog is OK supplying him with a huge bowl of water. I feel quite rude as I am so tired I cannot really take in all the information she is giving us. I head for the garden with the children and leave my husband to listen. I do manage to grasp that we need to get to the village shop very quickly as it will be closing for the day. My husband and boys are dispatched whilst the women of the household settle down on the squishy sofas happy to be in our new home. Lunch arrives and is, of course, superb with crusty bread, fine cheese and so on.
After that there is a blur as I was so fatigued I went straight to bed for the afternoon. At some point the lady returned with more information only to find everyone except my husband snoozing which remained the state of play until the early evening. Knowing that food would be difficult to find, my husband and teenage son drove to the big local town where they managed to secure a takeaway of steak and chips. None of us seemed particularly hungry with the heat affecting our appetite but at least we had eaten something.
We then had a lovely evening watching DVDs such as the Fantastic Four and Tootsie. As will happen from time to time, I suddenly realised this was a vital moment for us as a family. Unusually these days, all of us were in the same room as a family enjoying the same activity and away from video games, Facebook, Twitter and work. In that moment I knew that despite the fatigue and the aching bones from the move and the hurdles with language and other issues we would doubtless face going forwards, arriving in France was absolutely the right decision for our family.