Sunday, August 7, 2016

Our first night in France

French Village Diaries moving to France Poitou-Charentes
Our house in France

Let me take you back twelve years to August 7th 2004 and the first night of our new life in France.

We were homeless. OK, we weren’t quite out on the streets but officially we had nowhere in the world to call home and our accommodation that first night left quite a bit to be desired. As I lay in bed and listened to the beetles scurrying across the floor, I wondered what on earth we had done. Our new life in France was not quite going to plan and little did I know it then, but things were set to continue off-plan all that week.

French Village Diaries moving to France Poitou-Charentes
Saying goodbye
Following the sale of the house that had been our home for five years, we had spent the last month officially living with Adrian’s parents in Reading, although Ed and I had also spent almost three of those weeks in Ireland visiting relatives with Mum and Dad. On a warm summer Friday evening we had dinner in Reading before saying our goodbyes to Adrian’s parents and taking lots of fun photos, photos that would be looked at over and over by Ed in our first few weeks in France.


The first night of our four-day journey, that would see us sleeping somewhere different every night, was spent at my Mum and Dad’s house in Woking. The following morning we said more goodbyes before putting our crazy plan into action and set off for Folkestone, in a two-car convoy, with our one-way Eurotunnel tickets, big smiles on our faces and if I’m honest a mix of fear and excitement in my heart. Less than ten minutes later we drove past some friends waving and cheering us on at the side of the road. I think that, more than anything else, brought a lump to my throat and the realisation that we were now en route to our new life.

French Village Diaries moving to France Poitou-Charentes
McDonalds in Dreux

Even back then we were no strangers to driving holidays in France and often made use of the budget motels, so our first night was planned for the Premier Class in Dreux. The weather was warm, we hadn’t had to drive too far and we were relaxed and happy. So relaxed in fact we let Ed have a nice long run around at the soft play area attached to McDonalds, as being stuck in a car all day is no fun when you are only three. This meant we found ourselves booking into the hotel after reception had closed, but the automated machine gave us our room number and access code, so no problems so far. For a family of three Premier Class are ideal; with a small shower/toilet cubicle in one corner and a double bed with a single bunk above, you don’t need much more for a one-night stay. However, we had been allocated a disabled room that gave much more space, but had no single bunk bed and three up in a small double bed wasn’t an option. Thankfully somewhere in one of the cars was a sleeping bag and with the extra floor space there was room to settle Ed in a corner.

After a bedtime story and lots of cuddles I could almost taste the glass of wine Adrian had poured for me in the plastic beaker from the bathroom, and I was ready to pull the door to and join him outside. Then the beetles arrived. From out of nowhere our ground floor room was suddenly crawling in black beetles. We evicted as many as we could and blocked the tiny gap under the door with a rolled up towel, but stress levels were rising, tiredness was catching up and it felt like France was testing us out already. Sleep didn’t come easy that night as every tickle on my skin had me flapping and scratching and in my imagination beetles were crawling all over us. I tried to keep optimistic; tomorrow was another day and tomorrow night another bed. We would be in Poitou-Charentes and only one sleep away from signing for our new house, two sleeps away from the arrival of our furniture and our new life that promised endless days of summer sunshine.


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