This blog started out with the dream of living in France — set off by a visit to a beautiful old farmhouse on one of Languedoc’s most celebrated vineyards, Daumas Gassac. I was there as a magazine writer travelling with a television crew filming a programme about this gorgeous region of France.
Our formidable hostess had whipped up a delicious meal of couscous, chicken and vegetables, and there were around twenty people at the outdoor table – her husband, sons, girlfriends, friends, other visitors, the winemaker and the television crew.
It happened to be my birthday and the view from the patio in the soft, early evening light was classic southern France: the purple of the lavender, the red of the laurel flowers, the green of the grapevines, the blues and purples of the hills and mountains beyond.
The twilight was long, a raucous flock of birds burst into flight overhead and, weirdly, the music playing was a mixture of drum and base and didgeridoo – selected by the long-haired Scottish cameraman who had kept everyone laughing the entire trip.
The last light of the sun, the music, the warmth, the aroma of spices and lavender and wine and fruit and cigarettes, the cicadas and birds, laughter and banter in French and English. Bam. All over rover. That’s how you fall in love with a country.
Before the year was out, I had returned on holiday. Lucky for me, the love of my life felt just the same about the place. So we went back again. And again.
You’d think a person would remember making the momentous decision to pack up the family and move to France for a year as a kind of belated OE (the classic New Zealand “Overseas Experience”). Yet I can’t remember a particular moment where we decided. The dream to live in France just became part of who we were.
One day, we started telling people. Another day we started taking French classes. Another day we started researching places to live, schools for the children, visa requirements, travel arrangements.
Going to France for a year had been something we had been going to do “one day” for so long that we were sick of talking about – and I am sure people were sick of hearing about it.
Then, on March 9, 2014, one day became this day.
The early blogs are about the twenty months that followed. The latter ones are about other adventures that inspired a story in the years since.