Bring on 2020!
Well, what can we say about the year that we've just left behind? 2019 was the year that we changed the direction of our lives and set out to follow our dreams. This time last year, Magali was already living in France and I was starting to wind down my life in London in readiness for the big move to France. In the days and months that followed our lives have changed exponentially: we said goodbye to our home in London, we lived in a Campervan for over seven months, we renovated a house and made it ours, I made a letterbox, we started growing our own food and learning every step of the way, I'm no longer scared of spiders (unless they jump out at me), I was unemployed for the longest I've ever been in my life, I've improved my French but still need to learn more, I became a beekeeper (and then I lost my bees to hornets), I started a new job, we fell in love with our surroundings even more (watching the deer, the squirrels and the birds, marvelling at the sunsets and sunrises, and gazing at the stars that we could never see in London), Magali learned so much about French paperwork (I'm surprised she hasn't gone more insane yet), she also learnt to do her job in French (which is quite a learning curve after 11 years of doing it in English), we learnt to adjust to the times that shops and services are open (or closed as it seems to be most of the time), we learnt how to tile a bathroom and how to make concrete, Magali learnt to make natural dishwasher tablets as we now unexpectedly have a dishwasher (recipe is here), and so much more has happened in what seems to have passed by us at an extremely rapid rate.
Looking back at all the photos from the past year, it's so amazing to see what we've achieved and how far we've come. But it wasn't always easy, that's for sure! There were a lot of times where I felt down and alone or worried I'd made the wrong decision, but as Paulo Coelho always says, "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it". A book that Jecinta got me as my leaving gift from NOW TV (another Paulo Coelho) really helped to relieve my stress and worry, and let me trust myself to just follow the path I was on. It kept reminding me that I was following my dream and that there will always be challenges on the way to that dream becoming a reality, but "a warrior simply has to accept the challenge". We also learnt very quickly to take all the small victories as success, not everything has to be finished at once, it happens one step at a time. We had to learn how to live slowly, something that definitely doesn't exist in London. I think this year, we have learnt to adapt to our conditions and make the most of them where we can. We've overcome our fears of failure and accepted what will be will be, something that has made me feel more at peace than ever before (but that may be also have something to do with being surrounded by nature as well).
2020 will be another challenging year and we need to learn a lot more for it. We'll be getting our Tiny House in early Summer so we'll be opening our business for the first time. There'll be more French paperwork, and we'll have even more to do when we know what I need to do in order to stay in France after Brexit happens for real this time (thanks Boris!). We need to learn how to make a chicken house (and how to keep chickens), how to conserve more of what we grow (as well as making cider from the apples), and how to make hay. Luckily, we have some people who are able to help teach us a few things but if anyone has any hint and tips, please let us know! We'll also need to learn how to manage our time more efficiently, especially now that I have a job. We were lucky to have been able to save enough money before leaving London to be able to live for the amount of time we did without an income, which also meant we were lucky enough to spend a lot of our time in the garden over the summer, learning a lot and being able to observe what was working and what wasn't. It also meant that I could go to my French lessons twice a week for three hours as a time. With a full-time job, I'll have to manage my hours working, while still going to my lessons, as well as finding the time to work in the garden, renovating furniture and finishing the house, not to mention the usual chores that need doing, it's going to be a bit of a challenge, especially with the lack of sun during the winter months!
Oh, I almost forgot, I didn't tell you what we got up to in December! I managed to renovate (sanding and waxing with beeswax) the dining room table that was Magali's grandmothers in time for Christmas. We'd never seen under the table cloth before and it's an absolutely stunning wooden table. I also sanded and painted some old coat-hangers and installed them in the hallway. Once I'd finished that, it was time to start working in my new job! It's going really well and I'm really happy. I'm quickly getting back into the routine of working, it's nice to be needed again and feel like I'm already making a big contribution to the company so I hope they feel the same!
My mum arrived on the 17th for her Christmas holiday. It was the first time she'd seen the newly renovated house and the surrounding area of where we lived. As she'd only visited in the winter, we'd really only showed her the house itself so it was really great to be able to show her the village of Bourg D'Iré and the town of Segré as well as taking her to the Auberge de la Diligence (along with Magali's parents) and to La Verrière (Magali's restaurant). We also went to the Christmas market in Châteaubriant with Magali's parents as well as the Angers Christmas market with a lot of Magali's family like we'd done the previous year. We spent our first Christmas in our home, Magali's parents came to stay for a few days as well as my mum so it was lovely being all together in the house, enjoying good food, good wine and good company. My translating was much better this year too since I've made quite a big improvement in the language since living here (thank god!). Mum helped us out a lot around the garden too, we measured some of our new beds and put cardboard down then covered in mulch and compost so it's ready for Spring. The cardboard was from the boxes that we'd used to pack our belongings from London, Magali had planned everything out so that as much as possible wouldn't go to waste! Mum also removed some vines from around the trees as well as cutting back some of the garden in front of the windows in readiness for the woodworkers when they install the shutters, then she spent about three days chipping wood that we'd been piling up from the trees we've been cutting, it really helped us out a lot and she really enjoyed being in the garden. For her last day, we went early to Nantes so we could visit the Les Machines de L'Ile, it's absolutely incredible and we highly recommend it to anyone coming to the region. We were super lucky with the weather as well, it was amazingly sunny and we sat out on the terrace of one of the bars having a drink before taking her to the airport so she could go and see my brother in Spain.
Thanks for all your support as always and we hope that you had a wonderful new year! We also hope that 2020 will be a great year for all of you and you achieve the goals that you set out.
See you soon!