Sounds and noise surround us. Some so constant that we block them out and no longer hear them.
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So this is it, our leaving day has arrived. Up until now, it has felt like a dream, but waking up this morning, our last living in the UK, it has become reality. The last few days have been filled with packing and re-packing as we try to stuff everything into our woefully small car. What we can’t take we’re leaving with friends.
In between packing we’ve been saying goodbye to our friends in Sussex. The last three days has been the hardest for me and I’ve ended each day drained. But it’s not a permanent goodbye. We’re only moving to France, and we’ll only be as far away as if we were moving to the north of Scotland. Skype, FaceTime, Facebook and this website will keep us connected as we start this new chapter of our lives. We already feel incredibly supported by our new network of friends in France from the Les Bons Voisins group, with whom we’ll be working.
11 April 2016
A good meal, some good wine, a couple of Stugerons and the gentle motion of the ferry meant a good night’s sleep and waking in France. We’re taking a gentle journey south; stopping off to visit friends along the way. First stop southern Brittany, where the sun is warm and we’ve seen our first swallows. Time to relax and unwind after the hectic pace of our last few days in the UK.
Our move to France has been a very long time coming. As we’ve had to wait for so long for it to happen, it has felt like an abstract concept; something we hoped would happen, but had no idea of when. Now abstract has turned to reality and in just over a week’s time we will sail from Portsmouth on a one-way ticket.
Since selling our house last month we’ve led a peripatetic existence, moving from one kind friend’s home to another. Living out of suitcases and boxes and on waking trying to remember where we are. We’ve spent many of our days on the phone or at the computer, filling in paperwork and copying documents. But it hasn’t all been form filling. We’ve been able to spend time with family and friends, sharing meals, wine and laughter.
All this has led me to reflect on the meaning of home. Where is my home? If asked, my UK home was and will remain, Sussex. Although not born here, it is where I’ve spent most of my adult life, where I was married and where I’ve formed my strongest friendships. I’ve come to love its landscape, from the green rolling hills of the South Downs to the beaches and coast along the English Channel. I always get a buzz from being in Brighton; I love its vibrancy, diversity and inclusiveness. I’ve found creative inspiration all along the coast, spending hours wandering along beaches, promenades and piers with my camera. The colours of the landscape and seascape have influenced my crochet and knitting projects. Every time I travel to London on the train I always make sure to look at the view from the Ouse Valley viaduct, seeing the scene change through the seasons. When travelling south, crossing it marks my ‘coming home’. While living in Sussex I’ve learnt to appreciate wine, develop my photography and learn new horticultural skills.
While I will always have memories, I wanted something tangible to remind me of Sussex. In Shoreham this morning, I found this small clay pot and dish, both made by a local artist. The clay is from Sussex and the fused glass is recycled. The colours and textures remind me of the land and the sea. When I see them, in what will eventually be our new French home, they will always remind me of here, a little piece of Sussex.
My website has been a quiet place over the last few months; in hibernation. As today is the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, it’s time to wake it from its slumber.
Spring is all about new beginnings and a fresh start. My fresh start is quite a radical one; at the beginning of April I will be leaving the UK and moving to France. This is something my husband and I have wanted for a long time, but never thought would be possible. A series of unexpected and unwanted events in our lives over the last three years made us reassess what is important to us and we’ve taken the plunge.
Although not yet officially ours, this should be our new front door very soon. What lies behind it will be months of upheaval, dust and no doubt setbacks, but it’s an adventure we both can’t wait to start.