Wooster as a puppy.
How did we get to this upping-sticks-and-going-away-in-a-campervan point anyway?
We need to take one jump further back first to explain what happened.
We moved to rural France for a two year adventure in 2007. We are still there 6 years later. At that time we were spinning so fast on the hamster wheel of work and life that we were dizzy, and feeling a bit sick and disorientated. Literally. Having 3 children under 6 and running a business was plain tough. It was especially tough and hectic at Christmas time because it was a bakery. The straw that broke the camels back might have been the night of our work Christmas party; two, maybe three, of us were throwing up into a communal bucket in the living room with a stomach bug, not a single Christmas present had been bought or card written, a mountain of paperwork was balanced beside the sick bucket and the Christmas spirit was about as far away as it could get.
So we reacted like sane, responsible parents. We sold up and bought a house we saw on the Internet. In another country. And dragged our kids out of their Scottish school and plonked them into a French one where they couldn’t understand a word the teacher said. And without jobs to go to. Our one and only goal in mind – to get hens.
It was one of the best things we have ever done. We did and still do miss family and friends and sometimes things are not all that easy, but the pluses stack way up to the sky. Whoever first said that you only ever regret the things you don’t do was right.
Two years very easily became five, primarily because here you can get a decent bottle of wine for £2.
And then three things happened:
1. Neil, who had walked into a job making goats’ cheese a stone’s throw from the house, almost the moment we arrived in this land where there are no more rural jobs than there are hens’ teeth, was made redundant. The farm owners were retiring.
2. Jen spent a month in bed after an op to have what turned out to be an ok tumour removed, with far far too much time on her hands to do research about pet passports on the Internet.
3. We looked at Adam one day, the height of Neil, and wondered how many years it would be before he left home to venture out into the world on his own. [The answer to that, Adam, is nearer 3 than 13 just in case you had any plans to retire to your bedroom as a permanent lodger.]
Actually, we don’t want any of them to leave home, ever, even if they do eat whole boxes of cereal in one sitting. But it became clear at that point, that not only was it an ideal time to do a bit of travelling together, it was the only time we’d have the chance to do it as a family.
So here we are. The big soppy eyes of the dog determined that it would be a campervan-with-dog trip, the weather determined that it would be in a southerly direction, and the obvious but easily forgotten fact that you only get one life, determined that it would happen at all.