We have now been on the road for one week and are gradually settling into our temporarily nomadic lifestyle. So far we have spent nights in Northern Ireland, Dublin, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Portsmouth and a few nights in two different towns in the Loire region of France. Our original plan had been to stay in a different place each night as we travelled down through France from Normandy to the Dordogne so that we could just do a couple of hours’ driving each day and explore the country we were passing through. However, Tuesday saw a change of plan……
We spent Monday night in the car park of Portsmouth ferry terminal so we could get the early crossing and we had a restless night and an early start. When we arrived in France on Tuesday at lunchtime it was hot and as we drove South the temperature and humidity kept rising. By the time we arrived at our campsite after nearly 4 hours’ drive, we were all a little frazzled. It was one of those days when I was sweating as I sat still never mind putting up the awning and getting ourselves unpacked. The dogs were hot and stressed too. By the time we got set up for the evening, Eoin and I were, quite frankly, f**ked! All the busy-ness of the last few weeks, getting used to motor-home living, travelling with the dogs and finding our way around new terrain had finally taken its toll. We sat down under the stars for dinner that night and decided that we all needed to take the next day off and just ‘land’ in France. So we stayed for two nights and moved on yesterday but again, this morning, we both really felt the need for stillness so we are staying another night in the lovely campsite where we are right now. It has been a great decision just to take things a little easier on ourselves and to have a couple of lazy days in one place without having to pack up and move on. This afternoon it is raining heavily so we are putting our feet up and making the most of the enforced rest.
Tomorrow we have a reasonably long drive but the reward at the end of it is that we are dropping Samson and Delilah off with our friends in the Dordogne who are dog-sitting for them for the rest of September. We love the fur babies but they are just too big to travel around with in Mirabelle and it is also very unsettling for them. So this will be best for all of us.
I guess that we are still in the process of unwinding from the sale of our home, possessions and car and all the work that we had been doing in the background to simplify our lives before we left Northern Ireland. Even at a combined age of 109 years old, we both have great energy levels which are helped by our healthy lifestyle and excellent nutrition but we definitely had underestimated how tired we actually were.
‘Simplify’ has been a buzz word for us for the last few months since we made the decision to relocate to France. The impending move was an impetus for us to simplify our lives both personally and professionally. We have streamlined our financial situation so that our new tax residency in France is as simple as possible because, let’s face it, the French do love bureaucracy and there will be a lot of it over the next few months for us. We wanted to make sure that we kept our side of things as easy as we could. We have simplified how we are running our three businesses in Ireland so that they are easily managed from France. Then we both went through every piece of paper that we had in our files and destroyed anything which was not absolutely essential which was most of it because nearly everything is available online these days. I managed to get all 3 of the businesses plus my own personal paperwork into one small box! Business-in-a-box sounds great to me!!
Next for me was my wardrobe. I love clothes and I had 2 double wardrobes plus about 5 large drawers full of them. I was quite anxious about how I could possible simplify all this plus other hobbies down into the half a small wardrobe and 3 small cupboards which are mine in Mirabelle. But I did it and, so far, I haven’t missed anything or felt the lack of it.
The last thing for me to tackle was the kitchen. In our home at Eden we had a very big kitchen with about 24 cupboards/drawers plus a pantry and pretty much all of them were in use. I love food, I love cooking and I love my kitchen so how could I possible manage with 3 ½ small cupboards in Mirabelle. It ended up being a challenge which I really enjoyed. So far our meals have been as yummy and healthy as at home.
Eoin was amazed last night when, on my birthday, I brought out the champagne glasses, some delicious olives in a beautiful olive bowl which he bought me for Christmas and my mum’s special olive fork (every girl must have one!). We sat and toasted my 49th birthday under our awning with my solar-powered fairy lights twinkling away and I was a very, very happy girl! We may be on the road and camping but I still believe in having a few little luxuries around us.
All this simplification took a lot of time, thought and planning over recent months but, as we settle into our second week on the road and are starting to wind down, there is an enormous sense of freedom and peace in my mind. I love knowing exactly what I have and where it is. I am thriving on the challenge of being creative with the limited amount of stuff that I have to work with in the kitchen and the tiny fridge which means we can only buy a couple of days’ fresh produce at one time. No more ‘big Tesco’s shops’ for me…hurray!
I have a strong sense that this whole process is going to have a huge impact on how we live long-term when we find our new home and really settle into life in France. The lessons we have learnt from this simple life on the road will stay with us and we are already both determined to only acquire what we absolutely need and completely love in the future.
Simplicity and quality are the focus from here on in with my life. Less is definitely more and travelling light through life is a wonderful feeling.
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