The Dutch version of this text can be found on Caroline’s Notes page.
This text was originally written by Caroline, in Dutch. I felt that it sums up how we both feel, so I have translated it for our non-cloggy readers. It also lets me off the hook until next month’s update!
"Today, the 6th of March, is precisely a year since we left Holland. Early in the dark, snowy morning we drove away; waved off by Caroline’s parents and the neighbours. We headed south, the trailer filled to the brim and Jake and Elwood left behind temporarily in Amsterdam.
A year later, Jake and Elwood lay next to each other in French soil. And looking back, saying goodbye to our cats has been the only sad thing that has happened to us during our first year in the Gers.
Looking back at a year in one’s life is interesting. Although a year is just as long for everyone, I have the idea that you are more conscious of the passing of time when
a basic part of your life changes. Whether that is the birth of a child, moving house, or the loss of someone you love.
Emigrating will always be exciting, especially when you don’t know how it will evolve, or where you will end up. Naturally, we had an idea of what and how we would like things to happen, but along the way ideas change because the lay of the land is not what was expected. Or that our perception of something changed. It then becomes very important that you’re able to adjust and make the most of the new situation.
Up to now, I don’t think that Perry and I can complain.
Our patience was certainly tested when our house-hunt went on much longer than we first had expected. Our relationship was tested as we lived in a small, one-room garden house. Tested by our difference of opinion about what criteria our house needed to fulfill. Tested by the stress of rounding off the business in Holland and beginning a new enterprise in France. How were we going to earn money? What are the steps we need to take to make headway through the obscure and bureaucratic process of becoming a legal citizen here?
Our relationship has been enriched from the less-than-fun experiences, as from those that we enjoyed. It comes down to the things that you hope for when emigrating. The surprising hospitality of people around us that live such a different life to us. The fantastic contact we have made with people from the ‘campagne’, in the way that one often reads about in ‘expat’books. Living life outdoors and enjoying a real sensation of summer.
And who would have thought it? Us standing at the local market, selling our drawings and postcards. Or that we would live in a hunting lodge in the middle of a sunflower field? Who would have imagined that our website would give so much reading pleasure, or that it would become a source of information and inspiration for other would-be emigrators? And finally, how is it that we ended up in the Hautes-Pyrénées and not the Gers?
And that you can see the Pyrénées wherever you go. Now that’s pleasure for free. Simple, but it gives a very effective ‘feel good’ factor.
Through it all, we are often conscious of the choice we made and put into action a year ago. And we have no regrets. We are certainly very curious how we’ll write this article in a year’s time.
Until such time... see ya,"