Welcome to the latest blog on March 4th 2021.
We took another step up the ladder of integrating ourselves into French life this week in that we received our vehicle registration document with our new French number.
No longer will we stand out so obviously as ‘Brits abroad’, although of course the driver’s seat, being on the right hand side of the car, is still a bit of a give away. Getting these number plates fixed to the van feels like a symbolic moment. It is the first major tangible sign of a move towards France and away from the UK. Up until now all we’ve done is produce reams of paperwork and fill in loads of online forms and questionnaires. I deliberately avoid the phrase ‘becoming French’ because it would take many, many years to become that well integrated and also because I don’t foresee a time when I will ever stop being British. All I hope for is that France will feel like a home to me, and things are going in the right direction so far. We are certainly very happy at the moment, despite the frustrations of the paperwork and despite the worry and tedium of the pandemic.
There is always irony to be found in life and I am aware that we bought this little cabin and are going through this process of integrating into France because of Brexit. Without Brexit, we would still be splitting our time between the UK and Europe, and that would have been absolutely fine, but living this off-grid life and connecting so deeply with the natural world around us has enriched my life in ways I never expected. I never supported Brexit and know it has caused huge problems for so many people, but I have cause to be grateful to it. So, thank you Brexit. Those are not three words I ever thought I would say, and probably won’t say again as they tend to stick in my throat.
Moving swiftly on, March is upon us and we should be making plans to go back to Olivia Rose. But of course we are not, despite the fact that we are both getting itchy feet and would love to be on the move again. She is moored in one of the hot-spot COVID regions of France(as opposed to where we are now which has one of the lowest case numbers), the waterways are still closed to pleasure boaters such as ourselves, and France is at a pivotal moment on whether we have managed to avoid a third lockdown or are just days away from entering one. We seem to have been at ‘a pivotal moment’ every week for months on end now. It’s another one of those pandemic terms that I am growing to dislike intensely. The 6pm to 6am nationwide curfew will continue to be imposed for at least another four to six weeks, which will be harder as the nights draw out. In fact, it makes life much more difficult than under that first complete lockdown in March last year, particularly for those people who are still going out to work. All the supermarkets have been forced to shut at 6pm, so they can’t pop in for a quick shop on their way back home. Those areas that are experiencing a flare-up are having to endure a week-end curfew as well.
If all that is pretty bleak, then nature is doing her best to keep our spirits up. The daffodils I planted last autumn are putting on a lovely show, a small cherry tree behind the cabin that looked half-dead when we arrived is now full of blossom.
The weather has been good so we have enjoyed a number of lunches sitting outside on our bench. Food has to be guarded zealously from the cats but we have a system now. We feed them first round the corner, and then have at least five minutes of relaxed eating before it becomes a battle for who gets what. Spot is adept at pretending to leave and then coming in for a stealth attack in a bid to grab a lump of cheese from the plate or stick her head in a mug of tea, but after she’s been physically thrown off the table a few times, she gets very annoyed and goes off in a huff. Blackie, who for months has kept her distance, has suddenly decided that we are ok after all and now creeps onto my lap for a cuddle at every opportunity.
And before you ask how can we possibly bear to leave them for the summer, well….. we just can! We know they can hunt for themselves and also that our neighbours down at the organic veggie farm will feed them – and they will also steal whatever else they need from the other surrounding farms. Plus I am looking forward to being able to eat outside unmolested.
So that’s this week’s round-up of news from the homestead, folks. Wishing you all the best and see you next week.