How we came to This. (Again)

It’s been a long, long time since I posted anything on this site, and soooooo much has happened that it feels almost impossible to begin again. But here, by popular demand, is the resurrected blog, designed with the intent of keeping interested parties (and my Wise Friend in particular) up to date with our newest life endeavours, and of reminding people that Dreams can and do Come True, (more than once).

Maybe I will fill in some of the more interesting details of the back-story later, as and when it seems appropriate, because if I try to do that now, Life will keep marching on, and my blogging will never catch up with it. Suffice to say that, after having all my wishes come true a decade ago, I discovered that wishes are sneaky things – partly because humans are a bit crap at predicting what will actually make them happy, but mostly because Things Change. Unlike dogs, it turns out that wishes aren’t for life.

The making of the wish that brought us to where we are now began way back in The Days of France, when, after getting the house and life of my dreams, my daughter had her first baby, and introduced a whole new dynamic to the situation. Suddenly there was something else that I wanted, that couldn’t be achieved within the existing set-up. I still wanted to live a life of rural bliss, but I also wanted to be The Best Granny in the World. And the second part of that required much more contact with grandchildren than occasional trips to the Motherland would permit.

It was my second grandchild’s birthday a week ago. He is nine years old! The year he was born was the year I moved into the house in Derby, so as to be on hand to look after the grandchildren when my daughter went back to work. Nine years of babysitting and sleepovers. Nine years of school runs, and after-school shenanigans. Nine full-on, full-time years of being The Best Granny in the World.

But also nine years of putting up with the not-so-greatness of urban living so I could Do Grannying (and of course Mummying) properly. And nine years of Simon backwards-and-forwardsing between The House of Yes in Derby and the house of Rural Bliss in France, (except his frequent absences from the French house meant no animals, no vegetables and no proper settling down to anything).

Time passed. Hairs greyed. Bones broke (and mended). Parents died. Age grew and fitness shrank. Mortality got louder. Questions began to be asked about what we should do with the Rest of Our Lives.

Then Greta Thunberg happened, and suddenly my oldest grandchild became painfully aware that the planet was Really Not OK. And I became painfully aware that, despite all our climate-change-protesting, bee-friendly seed-sowing, and crisp-packet recycling, there was very little the Best Granny in the World could do to make things better, or save the children from the disaster that was unfolding, Except perhaps Build an Ark.

Well, not so much build one, as buy one. And not so much an ark, as a far-away-from-it-all house-with-some-land. But not as far away as France. Because this time it wouldn’t be for just me and Simon. It would be for my whole family.

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One True Sentence

I have wanted to write again for a while now. It is much harder than I remembered. Things get started. And sometimes things even get continued. But always they fizzle out, like used sparklers in a bucket of water. Probably the things were never properly alight in the first place. When a piece of writing begins to look like anyone else’s piece of writing, or to sound like an instruction booklet on how to live, it is time to stop wasting time and plunge it into bucket of water.

As Ernest Hemingway once said to himself when he could not get a story started:
“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
So, I will begin with this one true sentence: Continue reading

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House for Sale

Hello, and welcome to the website of Les Lamas de l’Aubaine. If you have come to this site via a link on our House for Sale website, this post will hopefully explain a little about how you might navigate this site and find posts that will be of interest to you as a potential heir to the Blanchetière dream.

Simon and I started the blog way back in 2008, after we had given up our jobs to pursue our dream of living the Good Life in France. The blog archives are listed in date order in a column on the right of this page, below the Calendar.

Below the ‘Archives’ section is another section headed ‘Writing’, the first part of which is called ‘Talk of Many Things’, which was an attempt to describe the mental subtext to the experiential journey charted in the blog. The entries in the part entitled ‘Prologue’ explain the philosophy that underpins our life journey, and indeed why we named our website

The archived blog entries from February 2008 to April 2009 chronicle our thoughts and experiences during our first year of living in France in Roquetaillade, in the Aude, along with the process by which we ended up moving to Saint Sornin, in the Allier.

The entries from April 2009 to November 2011 cover the period when we were both fully engaged in the Blanchetière experience, before The Call of the Grandchildren persuaded me that a return to Derby was on the cards – for me, at least. This was a busy time for us, and a busy time for the blog – so there are many posts (and pictures) in this period about our house, our land, our animals, and the ups and downs (but mostly ups) of our life at Blanchetière. If you are interested in any particular aspects of our time at Blanchetière, you can open the drop-down menu in the ‘Post Categories’ box, to find posts particularly related to such things as Chickens, Llamas, Plumbing, the Environment etc.

And this post which I wrote in April 2012 goes some way to explain why it has taken us until now to decide to actually, really, REALLY sell the house.

However, if you have come to this site as a returner, who enjoyed our stories in the past, and still occasionally check the site on the off-chance that something new might have been written, rest assured that this is not the end of our story. In the time-honoured fashion of llamadharma writing, I feel a quote coming on….

“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or of shutting a book, did not end a tale. Having admitted that, he would also avow that happy endings were never difficult to find: “It is simply a matter,” he explained to April, “of finding a sunny place in a garden, where the light is golden and the grass is soft; somewhere to rest, to stop reading, and to be content.”
― Neil Gaiman, Season of Mists

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(Not) Here Now

And the answer to the question posed at the end of the previous post is…. One Hundred and Ten Days (give or take a day). Continue reading

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How like the prodigal doth she return . . .

I am writing this oh-so-rare post with a cat snuggled down on my lap. Nothing odd about that, you might think (apart from the fact that I am writing a post at all, when I seem to have given up such things over a year ago). But hold on a minute, all the house cats left here months ago to live 1000 km away in Derby. So who is this familiar beast warming my thighs? Continue reading

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Happiness is like a cat

FFS! (As they say in textland). How is it possible that TWO MORE MONTHS (plus a bit) have passed since my previous post. Perhaps I have finally discovered the Art of Living In The Moment, rather than endlessly reflecting on it. But then again, maybe I’ve just been busy with the busyness of getting through each frenetic day, whilst clinging thoughtlessly to the misguided belief that I am actually getting somewhere.

There can be no doubt that looking after small children is a time-and-mind-consuming activity, which leaves precious little space for the Noble Art of Reflection. Continue reading

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