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Archive for September, 2014

It has only been four weeks since we left England and drove to France to stay at our new holiday home for a long visit, although it feels like months ago when we were packing up things to take to France.

Loading the Elevator

Loading the Elevator

After the movers came to pick up our stuff, Steve and I set out on our four-hour drive to the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle departure point in Folkestone, England. This is a train specially fitted to take cars and trucks under the English Channel to France. Passengers stay in their cars while the train takes all the cars, trucks and passengers on a 35-minute ride to Calais, France.

On the Train

On the Train

Arriving in Calais around 11 pm (after losing an hour going from British time to Central European time), we drove off the train towards our hotel to spend the night. Steve wanted to drive an hour beyond Calais to make our long drive the next day a little shorter. We booked at the Ace Hotel in Beaurains. It was reasonably priced and brand-new, which is comforting when one is arriving late, looking for a few hours sleep, and not particularly looking for ‘character’.

A good Night's Rest

A good Night’s Rest

We drove 600 miles, all on the autoroute (motorway), at 80 miles-per-hour (130 kilometres/hour is the speed limit on the autoroute), getting us to our friends in the south of France in time to go with them for a wine tasting dinner. We did the drive in ten hours with just two stops along the way. We saw beautiful scenery and changes in the landscape with sunshine and rain and then sunshine the rest of the way.

Varied Weather Along the Way

Varied Weather Along the Way

We spent the first three days with our friends. We then left for a village just ten minutes away to house- dog- and cat-sit, for a new friend Linda, while she went to America for a ten-day trip to take care of some business. Her doggie Maggie – a little shih-tzu – and Paddy – a big ragdoll Siamese cat. Yes, Maggie and Paddy are of Irish descent.

No Doubt, Maggie is In Charge

No Doubt, Maggie is In Charge

Before we got there, Linda emailed us the whole story about Maggie and Paddy, to give us their daily routine. We went to visit them a few times to introduce ourselves and get to know them and allow them to get to know us. They are both very beautiful and loving animals. We are used to dogs as we have always had one and even had a shih-tzu of our own. We have been around cats at family and friends’ houses, but not for an extended period of time, so it took a day or two for Paddy to train us.

Paddy - the Jokester

Paddy – the Comedian

Maggie was comfortable with us from the beginning. Paddy was like a kid when their mom is away – he wanted to see how far he could push us in getting more food than usual and waking us up early in the morning to get out of bed to brush and feed him so that he could then relax and go back to sleep while we started our day.

Walking Maggie Includes a Mandatory Stop at the Boulangerie

Walking Maggie Includes a Mandatory Stop at the Boulangerie

I emailed Linda during the ten days to let her know how they were doing and to put her mind at ease that they were adapting well. We really did have a good time with them and actually missed both of them (and Linda, too!) when we left.

The Village of Tourbes

The Village of Tourbes

During this time we met with the builder-developer of our new holiday home to discuss what we were to do, since our house was not quite ready for us to move in to, even though it was supposed to have been. He assured us that he would take care of us until the house was ready for us to move into by finding us a house to rent while waiting for the go-ahead to move in. We are in Tourbes, a nice village just ten minutes from our holiday house. We have been socializing with the locals and have made new friends.

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I have been very busy helping Steve pack for our move to our holiday home in South of France. Let me tell you this was not an easy task as we had to sift and sort through many boxes of stuff from California as well as go through our stuff in England to decide what we wanted to take to France and what we wanted to leave in England.

There is a process that you go through and it can take a few years. When we moved from California to England – it was originally a two year assignment in the UK – the company put our stuff in storage in California and they shipped some of our things that we needed to England. When Steve retired in December 2013, the company delivered our stuff that was in California storage to ourselves in the UK, but made a temporary stop in Orange County, California where we had an opportunity to go through it all and decide what we wanted to have shipped to England.

Receiving Our Stuff from Storage in California

Receiving Our Stuff from Storage in California

Ready to Ship to the UK

Ready to Ship to the UK

When we returned to England in March 2014 our stuff from California was delivered to our apartment in England. We had to unpack all 50+ boxes and decide what to keep in England, what to take to France, and the rest we gave away to friends and charity.

Harriet and Steve Sifting and Sorting

Harriet and Steve Sifting and Sorting

Even Harriet got dragged into the sifting and sorting while she was visiting us in Lincoln. This took from March through May, doing a little bit almost every day, repacking what was going to France and what was staying in England.

We Tried NOT to Accumulate Too Much Stuff - Honets!

We Tried NOT to Accumulate Too Much Stuff – Honest!

Over the years, we also accumulated stuff in England. We then did another round of packing – what was going to France or staying in England. If it sounds repetitive – it was! This round lasted into August. When I see cardboard boxes at the supermarket, I get woozy. When all the boxes were almost packed – yes, we were still taping shut the last few boxes – the movers arrived to collect them for delivery to our holiday home in France. The rest remains in England.

All in all, we have been going through boxes sifting and sorting since November 2013. We have one more time of unpacking and going through all of our stuff when we finally move into our holiday home in the South of France.

Photographs and Memories

Photographs and Memories

At times it was emotional, especially when I came across sentimental things – family heirlooms, pictures of the boys when they were little and life seemed so simple, and the itineraries, plane tickets, luggage tags and other stuff from all of our travels over the past 34+ years. I did not realize how much emotion was wrapped up in all of that, until I went through it all at a very fast pace, creating waves of emotion that brought me to tears a few times. It was good, though. It was a physical, emotional and spiritual cleansing that was freeing and empowering.

I am now ready for the next chapter in our lives – retirement. We will be living between France, England and Southern California.

Next Stop: Driving to France - Boarding Le Shuttle

Next Stop: Driving to France – Boarding Le Shuttle

 

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