Saturday, 23 June 2007

The Adventure

What is this adventure all about?  Why France? Why a blog?

Our motivation for setting out on this adventure is quite complex. This is the abbreviated version:

Reason 1:  Life is too short.  Our boys lost both their grandfathers in recent years. Ange's dad passed suddenly in the night and I lost mine after a one-sided battle with cancer.  Their passing prompted the realisation for both of us that life is far too short to be wasted away in an office building.  Now is the time to live. 

Reason 2:   We have always dreamed about taking a year off and going somewhere interesting.  The south of France has always been at the top of this list.  I fell in love with France during my OE adventure in 1988/89. We also toured Southern France on a holiday in 1998 when Ange was pregnant with Jack.  Returning to Europe some twenty years on after our first big adventure, where we meet and fell in love, sounded like a great plan.

Reason 3:  Our three wonderful boys are growing up fast, too fast. It seems like it was just yesterday when they were just a tiny ball wrapped up in my hands. We felt this would be a great opportunity to spent more time together as a family and share memories that will last forever.

Opportunity:  We had been saving for a number of years to undertake major renovations on our home back in Auckland.  When the time to act finally arrived and first cost estimates rolled in, it just wasn't worth it.  We had already moved on.. we now want more from life than some fresh paint and art deco furniture: Living is an outdoor pursuit.

So we took the leap: quit our jobs, rented our house and here we are. 

Blog: The initial intention was that this blog would serve as a record of this adventure, of our memories, for when the kids get older. It is also proving to be very useful for keeping in touch with friends and family. The "Biscuit Bunch" is continually evolving and I'm not sure where it will end up. It is great fun!

If you are visiting this blog for the first time, I recommend having a look at the next menu: "Story so far" which has a high-level, monthly summary of all posts.  You should also look at "Highlights" which will list all the most popular posts as selected by our kids and other readers.

 

The following blog entries address this topic:

 

View posts listed by their label (category):

 

 



Travel Links

Moving to, Living in France France Property Links

Rentals (Short and Long Term)

Other Rental and Property Sales:

Transportation Other/ Tourist Links

Highlights

Draft blog

The Story So Far

July 2008: Spain, beaches, bulls and visitors galore      

July Post Highlights

    ThornAmongst TiedUp ManKabab  

Two River Beach
Yellow Joy
Blog Holiday
Canoe trip on Dordogne
Le Gaulois
Another Day, Another Castle
Camping in Spain
Festival of San Fermín
Narbonne - Gruissan
Gâteau Banane

June 2008: France awakens - holidays pending      

June Post Highlights

    BBQLunch AngeThumbsUp DonAlex  

Tuesday Tune-Up
Bush Hunt
Friday Cycle
Dutch Delight
Gâteau Banane

May 2008: First Visitor, markets and lots of rain      

May Post Highlights

    LunchToday Rain_Again deer  

Rocamadour
Rain Again
Bonne Fête Maman!
Market Day - Libos (Fumel)
Gouffre de Proumeyssac
In Flanders Field
Les Moutons
Shopping in Bordeaux
Weekend Report

April 2008: Pets, London and more      

April Post Highlights

More running around to sort of our residence permits but enjoying the warmer weather.  Starting to get to know more people, especially through the kids football.

The highlight was spending 10 days in London, principally to celebrate Angela's 40th birthday.  We both met in London around 20 years ago so this trip involved lots of reminiscing for us.  While the kids had a exiting time exploring the city, cool museums and the Lady Di Memorial park in Kensington Gardens.

  Anzac James Henry  

Tuesday Tuneup
Henry Juggler Extraordinaire
ANZAC DAY: London 2008
Natural History Museum
Tower of London
The British Museum
London Eye
Château de BONAGUIL
Maison Forte De Reignac
Tournoi de football
Photo Journal

March 2008: Paris Trip, Bikes, Castles and fun      

March Post Highlights

We caught the TGV from Bordeaux to Paris, rented an apartment and tried to pass as Parisians for a week. Not that we thought we could succeed, we just wanted to give it a try.

It was a fantastic, full-on crammed-in week. We arranged a baby-sitter so that Ange and I could compete in the Paris half-marathon. We walked up the tower, tramped the streets, paid homage to the great and were generally exhausted at the end of each day.

On our return home we jumped back into our established routine:

For kids: Ecole du France on Lundi, Mardi, Jeudi, Vendredi and NZ catch-up school on Wednesday
For mum and dad: chores, french lessons, running, cycling and blogging
For all: New adventures and exploration at every other opportunity.

  egghuntall[2] IMG_1586[7] IMG_1735[3] SwingJames[2]  

Daily Run
Jardins de Marqueyssac
Easter Weekend
Get on yer Bike
School Wednesday
Château Biron
A Good Cheap Red
Origins of a Biscuit
Panthéon Visit
Père-Lachaise Cemetery
Lazy Sunday Afternoon
Semi-Marathon de Paris
Champ de Mars

February 2008: Arriving in France, Settling in      

February Post Highlights

After an interesting arrival in France we drove south to the Dordogne to meet the owners and see the house where we planned to spend the next year.  We were made to feel very welcome by Pavlos and Petra (the owners) and Corine (our agent).. everything was just perfect.

The kids were settling well into their new school and were awe-struck by some of the adventures they went on.

As we started exploring this area it really dawned on me: We were going to have the most amazing year possible.

  IMG_1315[7] IMG_0965[7] IMG_0824  

Disneyland Wrap
Paris Walk-a-thon
Castelnaud Castle
Daily Chores
Bikes, Computers, Coffee Machine
Beynac Castle
Ecole du Got Mazeyrolles
Settling In
Pech de la Mas

January 2008:  Leaving New Zealand      

January Post Highlights

January was a hard month. I have two distinct memories:

  • The mad never ending rush to get the house packed and ready for the new tenants, friends James and George.
  • The anxious wait for news on our French visas. We were packed and ready to go and yet still had no idea if our Visas would be approved. 

Its turns out that the Visas were approved in December however a computer fault resulted in a notification delay of 3 weeks.  After a postponement we were finally airborne at the end of January.

  IMG_0821[1]
IsthisItDad
house
 

Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Curry to Go
Passports Returned
VISAS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Goodbye Vodafone
Visa Search
Postponed
Moved Out

2007: Planning/ preparing to leave      

All Highlights 2007

Although it had been a long time goal the adventure become official in mid-April 2007, as I started telling people about it.

The planning spluttered on for a number of months without getting real traction as we were both busy with work and family.  This shifted up a gear in August around the time that I switched to a contracting role. By November I was working almost non-stop on this project. In hindsight we should have started much earlier but we learnt many lessons in the race to the finish.

Most of the planning involved Internet research: where to stay, costs, stories from people who had done this before.  By far the toughest task was the French "Long Stay" Visa, without an EU passport this really was a daunting challenge. 

  tots1  

Moving House
Visa Jitters
Goodbye Tots Corner
Life begins at 40!
Pech de la Mas
Last Day of Work
The Start