It has been a long journey, with more turbulence than a long-haul flight over the Urals, but, touch wood, we will soon own a house in France.
After years of thinking about it, months of writing, weeks of editing, and days of anguishing over every last detail, I have finally finished the book and am ready (maybe) to pitch it to publishers.
It’s not perfect, but it’s about as perfect as it’s going to get without the eye of a professional editor and I have to accept that if it is ever going to stand a chance of seeing the light of day beyond my computer, I have to let it go. Let it go.
Will it be any good? Does anyone want to read it? Since my pitch is premised on the idea that there’s interest, I certainly hope so!
After four months, the time has come for us to leave Quillan, and I am as miserable as the weather at the thought.
As I spend a long weekend writing, feverishly beavering to complete my first book draft while the boys adventure in the snow in Andorra, I am reminded that loneliness is a major challenge we face when uprooting ourselves from our regular lives, wider family, friends, colleagues and connections to move to the other side of the world.
As an extrovert and a fairly social person, who likes to spend time with people, it is unexpected and unsettling for me to discover it is possible to be lonely, while surrounded by people; living in a sizable town, even while having good ‘friends’ and neighbours and knowing others in the wider community.
Our walk today was one out of the Bear Grylls children’s book series, as we tracked the hooves and smells of sanglier (wild boar), who had passed ahead of us on the muddy and leaf-strewn tracks through the hills.
For the second time, we joined a Saturday afternoon walk under the auspice of the Haute Vallée Randonnée walking group, this time starting from the nearby village of St Ferriol, a short drive from Quillan.
It’s no secret that I hanker after a little piece of France to call home. I also love looking at houses and admiring interior designs, so what better distraction when in the south of France than to browse the windows of real estate agents and arrange the odd viewing.
One of the first things most people ask us when we tell them our plans is: Where are you going in France? When we tell them we are going to a small town called Quillan, about 40km due south of Carcassonne, the next question is Why?
So why Quillan? And why back to Quillan? On the one hand it’s a thoroughly researched choice. On the other hand, there’s something entirely random. And then, there’s the chance that fate has a hand…
As I come to the end of day one of our new life in Quillan, the enormity of what we are doing is dawning on me.
Two-and-a-bit years after our last Grand Adventure, our family is heading back to France. This time it’s largely a known quantity. Same town – Quillan in the French Pyrenees. Same school. Almost the same house – just a stone’s throw away.
But this time is different.
On Bastille Day, two years to the day since we left Quillan to return to New Zealand, and after at least a year of discussion and deliberation, we have made the decision to return to life on our favourite square, in our favourite little town in the Pyrenees. In October 2016 we will return to Quillan for (at least) four months.