Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
I know it sounds crazy but I just haven’t been able to find the ‘time’ to sit down and write another post over the past week! Since our arrival in Salies-de-Bearn last Saturday, it’s been a whirlwind of errands and logistical tasks and we’ve fallen into a heap at the end of each day.
The romantic view of living in the south of France is yet to come into sight. However, we have been given glimpses of it, and if we remember to slow down and breath, it’s there. The stunning architecture of the old, sometimes crumbling homes surround us and I’m awe-struck by the flowers at every turn. We’ve arrived in the peak of summer so the window boxes are spilling out onto the streets and the wild flowers are in full bloom. The road sides have miles of sunflowers that I’d love to walk among, but a photo from the side for now, will have to do.
I wrote my last post as we travelled from Paris to Salies-de-Bearn, where we’d rented a house for 1 month, which if we liked it, we would rent from September to June and then again the following year, if we stayed. Well the beautiful home was not to be and we were disappointed to find a house not as promised, TV on the ground with cords everywhere, no bed for Charlie, no towels or toilet paper, no oven! Our sheer exhaustion from the drive, left us feeling rather numb and overwhelmed. We put a mattress on the floor for Charlie, found a local pizza for dinner and crashed for the night.
I woke with little desire to house hunt again, but didn’t have much choice. I set about finding the wifi code and started searching online for something else. I emailed various accommodations I’d been in touch with last year, and luckily found something available for 3 weeks. We grabbed it, packed up our stuff that afternoon, and collapsed again into new accommodations with clean sheets & towels! Despite all 3 boys sharing 1 room, we’re getting a decent bit of sleep each night and starting to feel that we’re over our jet lag.
Each of our first days involved working through a list of important items including:
– open a bank account (which we found out we couldn’t do until we had a permanent address)
– get a mobile phone (which we found out we couldn’t do until we had a permanent address and bank account)
– find a car to buy (which we managed to do within 2 days and are picking up this Wednesday)
– get insurance for the car (which you need a bank account to do)
– find a school (which we’d found but could change if the house we found wasn’t nearby)
So it was obvious we needed to find a home quicksmart! Not the easiest task to do here but I jumped to it. Many emails later to various home owners via Airbnb, Homestay and holiday home websites, and we got a few responses. There were a few options, not right in the town we wanted but not far away either. We were welcomed to the first one with open arms and found the loveliest couple, leaving their family home for new job a couple of hours away and it was perfect for us. It’s more than we imagined we could afford or needed actually, with room for guests. Within the day we said yes, signed a contract 2 days later and visited the local Mayor to get the kids registered in the local school in September. TICK!
Our rental car was due back at Biarritz airport so late one afternoon last week, we drove into Biarritz to swap it over for something smaller. Upon entering the airport rental return area, we realised that we’d forgotten to fill up the tank with petrol, so worked out how to get out again, asked for the closest gas station and made our way there. Now whenever we take directions or even follow our bossy GPS lady, we ALWAYS end up missing the turn, doing U-turns, having heated discussions about helping and not helping, listening and not listening, being quiet and not swearing!
We find the gas station and our credit cards don’t work and there is no cashier. We ask for more directions to another gas station. Left and left again sound simple but we mess it up and ended up in a commercial area, now 45 minutes into our petrol-filling task. The 2nd petrol station also ends up having no cashier so we ask again and a Jaguar-driving man (after 1st thinking I was going possibly going to mug him), hesitantly tells us the only place will be a service station ON THE FREEWAY. Another left and then right take up back onto the freeway, tolls included, that eat their way through our final €10. Within 10 minutes, a service station appears, we hold our breath as Rob fills the tank and pays inside. It works! Phew, not sure what we would have done with €6 left but luckily, I didn’t have to put my best French negotiation skills to the test. We returned back on the toll road to the airport, parked and got the kids out of the car. Sniff sniff…someone smells. Charlie!
Peeling him out of the car seat reveals an explosive poo and in our rush to get out the door, we are nappyless. Yes, we have a 2 year old and we left the house without nappies or wipes. He’s our third. We had water! I carried him inside, thank god the Biarritz airport isn’t huge, found the car rental desk and Rob gets the new car. I chased Charlie into the bathroom, where I was going to try to ’empty’ the nappy. Foolish thought as that nappy was not going to be emptied. Ever. Spencer and I made an executive decision to have him free-ball the way home and wash his pants off as much as possible. We scurried out the handicap bathroom to an awaiting mother, nappy bag over the shoulder. Bingo! Fresh nappy on bum, back in new car which the kids think is the best and we decide to take our smelly little car into Biarritz for a drive.
Smells aside, we are awestruck by the gorgeous views, smashing waves and hydrangea that line the streets. Wow! What an amazingly pretty town that we will definitely be back to visit and given it’s 45 minutes away, I hope often.
So we continue to tick things off our list, with the bank account hopefully to be opened tomorrow (closed on Monday of course!). The weather which was dreadful for 4 days, has lifted and the sun is shining and the cicadas are lulling us back to sleep at night. After said bank visit tomorrow, we are off to the beach so the kids can let loose and have a surf at Hossegor (a well-known surf beach). With more mandatory tasks being tackled, we can start to tour the area and have a little holiday, which feels much-needed!
Amidst all of the complexities of settling in, the kids are enjoying the new surroundings and are excited to visit their school on Thursday. Being children #65 & 66 at a village school will be a huge change but one I think will be wonderful. We will continue to immerse ourselves in the French culture, sample the beautiful wines and try not to spend so much time & money at the supermarket, very easy to do with so much choice and beautiful food!