Call it fantasy. A dream. A wish upon a star. When I ditched my high-pressure career for greener pastures — namely 8 acres in SW France with a beautiful old Gascony farmhouse, I never thought my husband and I would find ourselves back in the UK – yet again – moving into a new flat 2 1/2 years later.
Has anyone watched the 1960-70′s American TV sitcom, Green Acres? The show is about Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), a wealthy successful NYC attorney, acting on his dream to be a farmer. Much of the humour is derived from the antics of his glamorous, very posh Hungarian society wife (Eva Gabor), who is dragged from her privileged penthouse city life to a ramshackle farm. Sound familar?
It’s been a few weeks since the move and we are settled into our new UK flat and life. Ironically, the new bolt-hole is in a swanky complex called Green Acres. What a joke on us, right?
As for the move, Hubby complained long and loudly of being a pack mule. It’s true, Steve trod up and down two flights of stairs loaded with a surprising accumulation of belongings for a “bolt-hold” over 3 days. To his horror, Steve also felt his first twinges of a dodgy knee. Age creeps up on all of us, even the youngest at heart.
Trust me. It’s all about that and more. My husband and I had been living in Horsham, a delightful and charming West Sussex market town for several years. But, at some point life there wasn’t enough. We felt closed-in and trapped. Both working non-stop hours a day practically 7 days a week, and for what? Certainly not for high-rise buildings and a superficial London social life.
No, we left because the life we wanted wasn’t possible in England. Which is why we up-sticks and moved kit-and-kaboodle to live the dream in SW France. Sure, when leaving Horsham it was with some regrets. Back then, we thought it would be many years before we returned, if ever.
So you can imagine our surprise when last April my husband’s day-job required him to be up-front and center back in Horsham. Logistically, this means Steve has been doing the weekly commute on EasyJet to Toulouse, whilst I stayed in France as chief DIYer and building supervisor. But now my own work circumstances require that I also return to the UK for a few months.
This is not what we planned by any stretch of the imagination. In our original plans, our French Verte Acres would have been fully renovated, the outbuildings converted into gites, the pool installed and we’d have a little gite resort business up and running. France had other plans…
For anyone just reading this blog for the first time, are you confused? You’re probably thinking, “I thought this was supposed to be about the trials and tribulations of living in rural France”.
For those considering a “Place in the Sun”, and are not yet retired or rolling in mucha moo-lah, think and re-think how you are going to make money. Check out “Plan B: The Expat Poverty Management Programme” for the low-down on earning a living in France.
It’s been over 6 weeks back in Blighty. The longest time spent here since 2009. It feels strange. Don’t get me wrong. Life in the UK, especially in Horsham, has been very good to us. Life is easy here. Almost too easy compared to France. Which is why moving into Horsham’s version of Green Acres is the strangest quirk of fate.
Steve and I have watched a few episodes of the TV show on YouTube, giggling and pointing fingers at one another throughout, hooting out, “That’s so you!” or “That is so like France!”. It’s got a catchy theme song, too. A superb example is in the clip below. The shower and electrical problems are soooo Year #1 in France at The Folly.
Go figure! Two parallel Green Acres – the old farm in deepest rural France and in the sophisticated Home Counties. It’s not just fate laughing at us, it’s unbelievably surreal! Which is why I find myself writing about two Expats bridging life in two worlds. One world is our “Green Acres” fantasy turned to real-life in Belle France. The other world is our former urban fast-living, high-flying career life.
So it seems Green Acres is the place to be, my dahlings. But which one? The real issue is that the “old life” isn’t really “the former life”. The latter continues to drag us back over and over like a monster wave. With our French life pulling us back and holding us fast to that dream of our French Green Acres.
Now I can’t get that blasted theme song out of my head…
Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
New York is where I’d rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue.
You are my wife.
Good bye, city life.
Green Acres we are there.
Or catch it being song: