My parents never owned a house while I was growing up, and so we moved from one rented house to another, rarely staying anywhere for longer than 12 months.
When people ask me where I am from, I have never quite known how to respond.
Do I say Manchester? The place where I was born, but haven't lived since I was 4 and remember only vaguely... Do I say where I live now? Even though it may have only been my address for a few months... That one simple question has always filled me with dread, because there was never one simple answer.
In a nutshell, I have always longed for a place called home.
What is home? There is an old saying, "A house is made of walls and beams, Home is made of love and dreams".
I have lived in many houses made of walls and beams, but until now, I have never had a home.
For years I dreamed of returning to Spain, it is a country I know well, having grown up and attended school there, I speak the language, also, I didn't want any old home, I wanted a vista, I wanted space, fresh air and country living.
I dreamed of skipping out of my back door, and straight over the fence on to the back of my very own Horse, that was grazing right there, in my very own field. I dreamed of growing fruit and vegetables and turning out endless rounds of sticky chocolate cake and biscuits from the oven of my very own country kitchen, to be devoured by my hungry children, drunk on fresh air and the smell of wild flowers.
This dream was well beyond our means in England, it was, and still is, beyond the means of most average folk, land is not cheap and nice houses even less so. Our pretty decent wage extended to an ugly flat roofed 70's built house in dreaded suburbia, with a small garden overlooked on two sides by our neighbours. To add insult to injury, this horrid little house cost and arm and a leg, 25 miles from central London brings with it a hefty premium, life was one endless round of work, cook, clean, sleep, to pay a huge mortgage on a house we hated.
People say that the British live to work, the French say that they work to live, this is the kind of life I aspired to. To be something more than a worker, cleaner and cook. To have the time to laugh with and enjoy my family, to have the time to indulge my creativity or just read a book, all of these simple things had eluded me for too long, I was sick with longing for them.
Simon, my boyfriend, didn't share my dreams of upping sticks and moving abroad. He liked town life, more so he liked being close to his friends and family. After much battling we eventually reached a compromise, we would buy a holiday home, in France, and we would have the best of both worlds.....
A house in England, where we could earn a decent living, and a retreat in France, where we could enjoy country living, even if only for a few short days at a time.
Property prices in Spain had spiraled out of our reach and France was closer to England, and thus seemed to be a happy compromise, we could afford a quaint country home with land, and Simon, a keen angler, wanted his own lake, so the search began.
Finding a house (that we both liked) with a lake (that met Simon's requirements) turned out to be no easy task. If you want to buy a nice house in France, you are spoiled for choice, but if you want a house with a lake, your choices are much more limited.
We scoured the internet for months, until eventually, we found two, within reasonable distance of one another, so we could kill two birds with one stone and view both in the same weekend.
The first house, my choice, was a vast farmhouse with cheery blue shutters, ancient oak beams and a small 1 acre lake with a gite beside it. French Estate Agent's are very good at presenting you photos of a property that cleverly conceal all of the less appealing features, in this case, masses of ugly industrial buildings surrounding the barren gardens, and a lake that resembled a cess pit, and showed no signs of fish life.
The second house was Simon's choice, and I had already dismissed it in my mind as being too small, it was a 2 bedroom lodge beside a lake with a few acres of land. I was dreaming of a vast country home with large rooms and enough space to accommodate visitors, this house did not tick many boxes, but we went along anyway.
I have heard many people talking about how they found their homes, and how when they first saw it they knew it was "the one", the same way people speak about eyes meeting across a crowded room, but until then, I had never known that I could fall so deeply in love with a house.
La Poiteviniere is located on a quiet lane a few kilometres from the nearest village, a pretty white house, set before a sparkling lake, surrounded by lush green fields, and it's very own fruit orchard and small woodland. We had to have it.
Sitting here now, it is impossible for me to imagine another place where nature stands with both her hands so full of gifts, it still never fails to make me catch my breath and bring a lump to my throat.
We loved coming here so much, but holiday's were not enough, we had to be here, and so in August 2007, we did it, we moved to France.
So this is my story, I have a home made of love and dreams.
I decided to set up this blog to record my my time here, tales of my French country life, and there is no better time to start...
Happy New Year :)