Monday, 8 February 2010

In The Beginning - Part 1

I was born in the UK and at the age of 9 in 1953 my family decided to drive overland to Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia. See

Life in Rhodesia was the best but 25 years later I was offered a job in Johannesburg which I decided would suit me perfectly so I made the move to South Africa. It was here that I met my husband Nigel and apart from a few years when we lived in Mafikeng, which was then Bophuthatswana, we remained in Johannesburg. After another 25 years we returned to the UK in 2002, this was due to a combination of my in-laws health in the UK and the insecurity in South Africa at the time.

We bought a bungalow on moving to the UK but in 2005, we decided that we not only did not want to end up retiring in the UK but we could not afford it either. We then decided to sell the bungalow and seriously down size which would hopefully release enough money to be able to buy a home in France. The house was sold mid 2005 and we found a tiny 2 up 2 down terrace house. In July 2005 we had a two week holiday already booked in the Charente and as the sale was (we hoped) going through the whole holiday was spent house hunting. Three days before we were due to come home we found the house that we had been looking for. A lot of imagination was needed to see it as we wanted it but on the day before we left we met up with the sellers and all was signed up and deposit paid. We had 7 days ‘cooling down’ period in which we were able to change our minds but once we had decided to go ahead we were not likely to do that. On arrival back in the UK we had a small problem when we found the selling chain had a slight hiccup. The people who were to buy our house had lost their buyer but thankfully it was not long before they had another buyer and all went ahead. In September we flew over to the Charente, signed some more papers, paid some more money and we were then the proud owners of a house in France. Nigel had taken French at school and was able to get by so long as the conversation did not get too fast. Unfortunately I did not take French while in Rhodesia so everything verbal went over my head!! Lots of learning for me to do and with my lack of flair for languages I knew this was not going to be easy.

We found a French builder while we were there and made arrangements for him to do some of the heavy work, this included the conversion of the one barn to become our bedroom. It was also necessary to redo all the plumbing and drainage and a septic tank had to be put in. At the same time we also looked at kitchens and made plans for the kitchen to be built in when the builder had organised the drainage. He said he would get on with the work early in 2006 and we planned our next visit at Easter the same year so that we could get on and do the many jobs inside and all the decorating. The plan then was to take some furniture over with us including a bed so we could live in the house while working on the premises.

The Front and Back of the house 2005


  1. Having lived in so many places you must have had so many wonderful and different experiences in your life, Diane!
    This house is really cute.

  2. JM Thanks for the comment. The house is really nice and although we don't know exactly when it was built, we do know it is over 200 years ago. Diane

  3. Wow Diane. I now understand how you got to Charente. I do like the house also but I wouldn't have thought that living in France would be cheaper than in the UK, especially with all the renovations that need doing. (Some time ago now I read of your family's trek in Africa. That was most exciting for you and interesting for me to read about).

  4. Hi Joyful, Glad you enjoyed the trip across Africa, it was quite an experience!

    Re living in France, properties are much cheaper in France, (probably not in the cities) and much larger on average than the UK. Especially when we bought in 2005 as the £ was high and the € low so we had an excellent exchange rate. Of course at the moment the £ is not so strong!!
    Cost of living is lower, particularly over summer when the vegetable garden does so well. I basicaly become vegetarian over summer and only buy bread, milk, and necessities.
    Added to that we prefer the weather, the people and the country. Diane

  5. Thank you Diane for explaining about cost of living in UK vs. France. Very interesting to me.

  6. It is a pleasure Joyful. Diane

  7. Thanks for the further update on the Euro. I had forgotten that you are not using Euro in England (or is it the whole of the UK?). Your explanation of what your pension ends up being was shocking. I see why Nigel needs to continue working. I pray for his continued health and yours. It's good thing you can grow wonderful veggies and almost all your food needs in France.

  8. Joyful the whole of the United Kingdom uses the £. It is only the Republic of Southern Ireland that is on the €. Pain if you move back and forth from Northern to Southern Ireland!! Diane


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