We actually have 2 homes. The one in Brittany in north-western France doesn’t really feel like a home, but it is a house that belongs to us, since an extraordinary series of events in 2005 led us to a family there who had some other British friends. Within a year or two of meeting them and borrowing their holiday home by the sea a couple of times, we found out they were selling up. It was one of those ‘no brainer’ moments: ‘we have to buy this place to keep it in the family’ – ‘the family’ being the French people we had come to know and love, ‘notre seconde famille en Bretagne‘.
We would never have planned something like this – we’d just started learning Italian, hoping to spend some holidays in that blessed land! But God had other plans for us – and it turns out He is not wrong; since completing on the sale in 2007 we have spent so many happy weeks in Ile Tudy and – equally as pleasing – have been able to let other friends use the house for their own much-needed breakaways. Owning a piece of mainland Europe is amazing: despite the running costs and taxes and the drop in the Euro we are so grateful and glad to have had this unplanned and enlarging experience – and southern Brittany really is such a beautiful, spacious and restful place 🙂
It wouldn’t work at all without ‘les Quimperois’ to look after it for us – and be able to use and enjoy it in our absence, with all their grandchildren and extended family. Now that we cannot take monetary risks with holidays – booking things that may have to be cancelled at the last minute if Sam suddenly got ill, with no insurance company willing to cover an existing condition, especially one with an terminal diagnosis attached – it is ideal to have a bolt hole that is completely flexible and a ferry company that will change our crossings at no extra cost. In fact we really need a place of escape – and one that is not too far away to get home quickly if we need to.
So tomorrow we head off across the channel again – on the Portsmouth ferry this time, with the 5 hour drive at the other end – mainly because there is a fabulous French restaurant on board before we hit our bunk beds. We’ll wake up on Good Friday in St Malo and slowly wend our way south via a Super U for supplies, letting the troubles, pressures and anxieties drop away as we drive. Plymouth to Roscoff is usually more convenient, with only an hour and a half at the other end, but it’s a long drive through Devon and only a self-service restaurant on board… So – once I have done some packing – let the adventure begin!
It’s another world, another life. I always find it really hard to leave home – to finish everything off, empty the fridge, pack the car and say goodbye to Sam son – but once we get there life slows down to a different pace. There is no internet, no TV, no phone except our mobiles – a different diet, rhythm, language and space. The beach is only 2 minutes walk away, under the expanse of stars, the wonderful stretch of La Grande Plage with the moon on the water, the disused lighthouse as we walk to the end of l’Isle to Jean-Marie’s restaurant for Pavé avec Roquefort et frites – or maybe, because I don’t want to put all that weight back on again, salade chevre chaud… At high tide we can hear the sound of the waves as we lie in bed with the windows open and in the morning, getting up for a fresh baguette and an early morning walk, the sun glimmers on the quartz particles in the white sand at low tide, with shells and little waves and rocks and birds and the sun comes up red and pink upon an empty beach – until the afternoon when French families begin to arrive. It’s like a piece of heaven – the peace of heaven – another country and another life.
It may rain – we care not. We’ll sit in our conservatory and watch the clouds scud overhead, or put on wellies and wade in the Atlantic ocean, get a coffee at the Café a la Plage and then a Heineken at Winch Bar. Kick back, let go, relax and be grateful. On Easter Sunday we can join our friends in Quimper at their church – Eglise Protestant Evangelique Quimper (EPEQ) – celebrating the resurrection of the Lord and 15 years as a church with a community lunch to follow the meeting. Our photos will be in the display because we have a history with these people… a second family indeed.
Thank You Lord for a place to escape this Easter-time – it is Your provision and we are blessed.