It is a year since we started our French adventure so I am going to share some special moments and memories.
1. My husband heading out on our first morning to acquire breakfast for us all and inadvertently offering to sell milk to the café owner.
2.The kindness of expat ladies in telling us where to go for things and also rescuing us when we had no Internet access and needed it for work.
3. My wish for a Cornish pasty coming true just when I needed it emotionally following the loss of my brother.
4. Meeting a beautiful South African lady with an equally lovely soul.
5. A warm welcome at the local bar sitting out on the terrace with so many flowers around us.
6. Meeting some kittens and making friends with them.
7. Our first steak and chips lunch where wine was included and took us by surprise.
8. The night my husband and children met someone who was at school in Yorkshire with him decades ago.
9. My oldest son seeing our new house and his amazement at just how huge and lovely it is.
10. Our first night out in our new village talking to a kind man who had good English.
11. Our new landlord setting out a table for me and then insisting I came inside when it got cold.
12. My daughter seeing a snake in her path and just dealing with it.
13. Just knowing that I am in the place that my late brother loved so much.
14. Meeting the phenomena that is Madame in the bar.
15. A man bringing us kindling and then showing us with body language a glass of red wine would do nicely.
16. A man insisting on kissing me despite my shyness and introversion.
17. A man sharing Halloween sweets with my children earning Brownie points very quickly.
18. My husband asking to buy wine from the bar to bring home. He was told it is against the law but the landlord would give him a present of a bottle of wine so long as my husband bought the landlord a similar pressie the next evening.
19. Hot chocolates with swirly cream on random mornings and afternoons at our central café.
20. Warmth from staff in the supermarket and bakers.
21. Finding affordable gardeners which was a huge relief as we have big grounds and are useless at gardening.
22. Welcoming out goats Dotty and Mabel and learning to milk them.
23. Finding our secret path through the forest.
24. Building nests with my son.
25. Posing in the forest for family photographs.
26. Being invited to go on the landlord’s boat.
27. Breathing in cannabis fumes.
28. Waking up in the morning to the most amazing greenery and views.
29. The sound of singing birds.
30. The lovely church bells.
31. Rescuing the neighbour’s dog and then realising it was the wrong dog so driving round France until we found its real home.
32. Realising one of our new friends is a noble.
33. My husband was told in no uncertain terms that he was homosexual as he does not like football.
34. Becoming totally comfy with handshakes and kisses.
35. The day my daughter felt confident to go off on a walk of her own.
36. Crepes by the big lake.
37. An early hours disco with my teen son.
38. Meeting the gorgeous woman who is a campaigner and who has asked us to learn a French card game so we can join her team.
39. Seeing a snail race on a pool table.
40. Seeing the community keeping of the fire in the bar and how a very old man is our log man.
41. Enjoying how everyone is welcome in our village whatever their mental or physical issues and whether old or young.
42. The night where the “naughty corner” consisting of me and 3 blokes gave it large about music with me referencing the fact I was a “fat-bottomed girl”
43. The night the whole bar launched into YMCA with actions to match.
44. The morning Madame asked my husband to go to a sex club.
45. The night the landlord presented me with a flower.
46. The night a man nearly climbed into the fireplace to get it going.
47. Making friends with the Crazy Bar landlord who was the first person to greet us in this village even before we moved here.
48. Said landlord keeling over and the French men who seemed more concerned to go behind the bar to serve than to look after him.
49. The dog that gets so excited when a pool game is on jumping up to massive heights.
50. Christmas Eve Mass in the local village church.
51. A certain man’s impressions of foxes and sheep.
52. Enjoying cheap and wonderful 3 course meals at the bistro at the supermarket.
53. Sun shining off the lovely viaduct.
54. Refusing a kiss and then going down the line kissing everyone and then returning to the one I refused and insisting on one.
55. My teen son saying “Je suis …” and then getting stuck with his French is a shop.
56. Buying funny T-shirts for nights out.
57. Madame pointing out all the kind men to me.
58. Madame telling diners to “Attention la marche” one day and it becoming a catchphrase guaranteed to have us all giggling whenever used now.
59. The landlord from the Crazy Bar wishing us friendship and health as he left. There were tears.
60. Me refusing to go home one evening with my husband and been offered several beds for the night.
61. Me giving a slime gun to a 12 year old and seeing him go on to slime lots of Madame’s customers with me worrying he might turn it on her or her dog.
62.When stressed one night, getting very flirty with 2 younger men and a certain number between 68 and 70 may have featured.
63. Buying a car giving us our freedom back.
64. Me dreaming of buying a motorbike and I have not quite ruled out this idea.
65. People calling me Kate Middleton.
66. Me wearing my Mum’s pearls when Harry got married.
67. A great doubles match at pool with another couple.
68. Me making the landlord nearly faint one night when I called my husband “Mon Cherie”
69. I think we have covered this one but it made someone laughed so much they very nearly fell off their stool.
70. Seeing my teenage daughter enjoy her own space so much.
71. Seeing her develop her own passions which are art, writing, music and myths.
72. Enjoying trying new recipes with my 12 year old son.
73. Being given crabs!
74. Sent home from bar with chips and mayonnaise for the children.
75. The night the landlord and waitress had to drive us home due to too much wine.
76. How when you mention Yorkshire here most people think of the dog breed.
76. Seeing my teenage son start cooking for himself independently.
77. Being invited back for a soiree where wine and cheese were served.
78. Jigsaws acting as community entertainment in the bars
79. My husband who by his own admission cannot sing being asked to sing “Sound of Silence” for the whole bar and me getting told off for making fun.
80. Easy relaxed days at home getting with things whether work, education or play.
81. Learning how very many ways language barriers can be navigated.
82. The genuine interest people have in us here and I for one am really enjoying knowing that I exist and matter here in my own right.
83. The night a gorgeous French man sat with me asking if it was OK and I laughed with friends later that I was thinking “Too bloody right”
84. The night I somehow got a doodling workshop going with a load of stoned young people.
85. The way if you claim to be a writer here you are seen as impressive.
86. Talking in a mix of English and French with a brother and sister and their elderly mother – really nice people and I enjoyed how the woman was celebrating how liberated she felt following her divorce and new love.
87. Referring to a bloke as my prince and him hooking me up and we paraded down the street on Royal Wedding Day.
88. Borrowing a book on French poetry from the landlord and reading it whilst my husband played pool with his mate.
89. May have got into deep water by telling folks I write erotic novels.
90. Hearing a woman say I will do anything for kisses especially from young men. She refers to me as Mrs Kate or Lady.
91. Madame offering to break up her gift of a bouquet so I could have flowers too.
92. Madame throwing open the windows to the street when there was a bike race on telling me to look out for the legs.
93. A lookalike of my brother regularly turning up in the bar and giving me a stare and a firm handshake.
94. An impromptu fashion show with blokes parading up and down the bar in hats and jackets.
95. Managing so many logs in pouring rain on my own so that we could have warm fires in the cold winter.
96. Family meals at the pseudo American burger bar in the big town.
97. So many vide grenier experiences picking up bargains and enjoying fine food whilst exploring different towns and villages.
98. Drinking milk straight from the cow.
99. My teenage son saying “I have worked it out Mum. You have found your college boys again but this time they are French!”
100. A fisherman telling me “You smile and laugh all the time”
When you are in such a beautiful place with such generous-spirited and fun people, there is good reason to smile and laugh.
These are just a few of the memories that sprang immediately to mind and I hope to share some others very soon.