New Challenges, A ‘Temporary Home’ & New Adventures in Rural France
So it’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper (or type to a computer!)
Sometimes blocks come in your mind and you can’t seem to release any of those tucked away emotions or thoughts.
I moved out of my rental place just before Easter. I’m getting quite used to detaching myself from ‘places’, if you dwell too much it can ‘eat’ you up.
Most of my belongings are stored at a friend’s house until my ‘return’ from France, which is where I’m currently at. He kindly helped to move me out and has been a source of support when days are low.
Ferry To St Malo
Ollie and I caught the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo. I’d got Ollie his Passport about a month before (with the Brexit still ongoing he just had to have the Rabies jab and be up to date with his flea/worm/inoculations).
I have to admit I was a little anxious about the journey, as Ollie had to stay in the car throughout the overnight crossing while I booked a cabin. I made sure he had been walked and fed before embarking, so we arrived several hours beforehand.
The staff take you down to see your dog before going to bed just to check on them which is good. After quite a rough weather crossing I was glad to see Ollie was perfectly fine in the morning! (I highly recommend ‘Pet Remedy‘ which is a natural stress reliever).
Thankfully the roads were quiet leaving the ferry terminal. I’ve only driven abroad once before, and that was last summer in France. Most of it is motorway until you get into the more rural areas of Brittany. My brother and sister-in-law live about 2 hours drive in the Cotes-d’Armor region of Brittany in a quiet commune in northwestern France. Thank goodness for Sat Navs!
I have now been here for three weeks. I’m still getting used to the ‘quiet’, to the point where some days I think I’m going to ‘flip-out’. Having been a ‘townie’ most of my life this is to the extreme.
The villages/small towns seem deserted. It is not a wealthy region of France and most tourists don’t come out til peak summer season. Having said that it is to my advantage in that driving everywhere is still very quiet. There are very few coffee shops (not like in England where our culture thrives on them). A lot of them are purely bars/tabacs where you only see men frequenting them – again a completely different culture and I think still quite a ‘chauvinistic’ one.
However, come midday when the ‘Plat du Jour’ is being served the little restaurants suddenly open and they are filled with french diners who have appeared from nowhere. Usually 3 courses with coffee at between 10 – 13 euros – it is extremely good value for money.
Mains, filled with cheese, mushrooms & egg, quite rich
There are several large Supermarkets about 15/20 mins drive away to stock up for a weekly shop – one aisle usually offering English products at extortionate prices. Much like our large English Supermarkets but everything in French. More fresh fruit and veg, lots of fresh bread/croissants and tempting gateaux. There are also the local delicacies like tins of foie gras, pates, and cheeses with the odd frog’s legs or snails in the deli!
Food prices are quite high, so a different mindset to eating habits is good. In England we tend to fill our fridges to the brim, then waste half of it when goes out of date. It is only when you are on a tight budget you realise how simple you can eat. I think I’ve lived on jacket potatoes/tuna and salad for the last 8 months!!
I’ve started to do a little sightseeing. My favourite place so far has been Josselin based in the Morbihan area of Brittany. Renowned for its Castle and medieval half-timbered houses with the Nantes-Brest canal running through, it is a very picturesque setting. I didn’t get a chance to tour the Castle but hopefully, save that for next time.
Pontivy is another pretty commune in Morbihan with lovely buildings and little restaurants, with Market day on Mondays. I went there a few times last year and enjoyed the atmosphere, so popped there last week. It is about 45 mins away.
I keep in touch pretty much every other day with my daughter (facetime is great) and I skype my mum a couple of times a week. Hopefully, my parents are coming out in June to my niece’s wedding here. It will be nice to take mum out for a bit of sightseeing, although harder now she is not so mobile with the Parkinsons Disease.
I’ve also found a Yoga Group (English teacher) to go to, currently looking for French Lessons and see what else I can get involved in. I’m trying to decide on my direction in life whilst out here……hard when starting from scratch again!
However, I’ve decided to embrace the peaceful change of scenery for a while until such time as I ‘return’. It’s quite liberating to only have myself to answer to, no ties, no urgency, no baggage – despite the underlying fear of no real security……..so here’s to a few new adventures in Rural France!