6th August 2017
Now I'm back in England, my head's much clearer. Must be all that rain, washing away my confusion. 12 years ago I still viewed France in awe - full of sun, cobalt-blue skies and gourmet food. We all looked for the same thing: a natural-stone cottage in glorious countryside, surrounded by acres of your own land and perhaps metres from a shimmering lake. You're going to speak French and integrate. And all for a mere fraction of a UK house. But after say 10 years, reality sets in. You're not getting any younger and the essentials of life like supermarkets/banks/petrol stations/cash machines/doctors are miles away, so what to do if either your eyesight's failing or only one of you drives? Land maintenance is fine if you're fit, but will you still be in 10 years' time? And those living near a lake/river: wait for the flooding to start. French living costs, once cheap, are steadily rising. Ultimate question: do you want to die there? (I know, you don't want to die anywhere!). And me? TG back in reality land, no longer foreign (even though I speak good French), shops open 'til 11 pm, no lunchtime closing, everything easier, quicker and more friendly. I can tell you straight: the French do not like the English - they are 'ferme', closed to outsiders. TG I've at last come to my senses. The English living in France are still in a dream world, still in long-term HOLIDAY mode. England has its faults, but it's HOME.