Six years of blogging today – gracious! really?! I honestly didn’t know I’d have so much to talk about! I have said it before, but blogging has really allowed me to redirect my life in a way I would never have imagined. I am so grateful to my readers for being here, and giving me a reason to write and to share.
A coupe of weeks ago I told you that this blog has been my way of reinventing myself after my children no longer needed a full time mom. I wanted to celebrate the blog birthday by highlighting another person’s reinvention, and oh my goodness, the tales that I have heard!
A huge thank you to everyone who sent me their story. I am in awe of your energy and courage and so proud to have such dynamic and strong women among my readers. The way you have overcome obstacles, health issues, family upsets and even just major career changes is truly inspiring.
But I could only choose one story to share with you, and I chose Danielle’s because like me she has settled in Normandy, and by sharing her story I am also giving my readers a great place to stay when visiting the landing beaches.
Danielle and her husband both left high powered jobs in Australia, to move to France where they knew no one and didn’t speak the language , their career turn around is really inspiring and living proof that anything is possible …. I’ll let Danielle tell you the rest.
For twenty busy, fulfilling, crazy years I was working in media and government relations (for Americans, I’m a lobbyist) including working for the Prime Minister of Australia. Glued to my mobile, the news, and my huge network, and married to my mirror image. Waking up at 5am to a list of urgent emails, if I hadn’t been woken in the middle of the night by a journalist with a late deadline, was normal. All day, every day, the news (and we) never stopped.
Our one bit of down time was our annual holiday to Europe – always including France. Every trip ended with planning the next trip. Which village to discover, which wine route to follow, which off the beaten track Michelin starred restaurant to seek out. And each trip we thought more and more about retiring to France to renovate an old house and live “la belle vie”.
And then the 20 year itch started. We watched too many episodes of “Escape to the Continent”. We watched every movie ever set in France. My Inbox became full of emails from MFCH, Vicki Archer, and Paris Breakfasts and they all got read first every morning. Fatally, we started searching online for houses in France for sale. Every night between the living room and the home office we emailed each other houses for sale we’d found online. We did the conversions, the calculations and the pro’s and con’s list. We decided we’d find a house in which to spend a month in each year for our annual holiday with the aim of retiring there permanently in ten years time when my husband turned 65 (retirement age in Australia).
We were in the process of buying a house in Normandy when suddenly and unexpectedly my dad died, aged 64. Like father, like daughter, we were both career junkies. Without him, my career suddenly became far less important and the idea of moving to our house in France moved up my priority list. I thought about it night and day for months. It’s right on the D-Day beaches in Arromanches, its big enough to run a small B&B, and we could dump the suits and mobile phones forever. Did we know anything about hospitality? No, other than we like it! We did it.
So in March 2014 we sold our house in Melbourne, did crash courses in every thing from French to plastering to coffee making, and moved here to Arromanches. A year of renovations followed (don’t get me started on that!) and in April last year we opened La Pommetier to the world and started our new lives as innkeepers.
I garden, I keep house, I fuss over flowers and folding fluffy towels, I bake granola every morning and mix up the batter for madeleines every evening. There’s no crisis. No phone calls at 2am. No constant nausea from wondering what fresh hell will unfold tomorrow. I couldn’t be happier.
Our friends, family and guests often tell us, “Oooh – you’re so brave”. Maybe we are. But the truth is I was more scared about not doing this than actually doing this.
A huge thank you to Danielle for sharing her story and the beautiful pictures of her home. I love the last line of her text, and the reminder that the prospect of not taking the plunge can sometimes be scarier than staying put! You can see her B&B and read more about her life in Normandy here .