Gil­lian Har­vey

Living France - - Property Directory -

gym or ex­er­cise class (which of­ten run dur­ing term-time only) and plan for the year ahead.

Of course for ex­pats like my­self, there is also an ini­tial, dra­matic re­birth when we first move over­seas. Un­less we’re sum­moned to France by a lu­cra­tive job of­fer, or kept afloat by a gen­er­ous pen­sion, most of us have to adapt or har­ness new skills in or­der to keep the cen­times com­ing in once we set up camp.

For me – once an English teacher, but never far from my writ­ing desk – the change hasn’t been as dra­matic as some. Take the social worker-turned-sheep farmer I met re­cently; the teacher who now runs a B&B with her phar­ma­cist hus­band; the HR man­ager who now lives in the Alps and teaches peo­ple how to ski.

Mov­ing to France not only of­fers us the chance to change, it forces us to do so. Many of our skills or qual­i­fi­ca­tions only ‘count’ back in Blighty – but rather than this be­ing a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence it can be a much-needed op­por­tu­nity to re­think, re­group and rein­vent (with lower house prices of­ten mean­ing less mon­e­tary pres­sure when we start a new en­ter­prise).

I’ve al­ways been a list maker, plan­ner and wob­bly per­fec­tion­ist and, like many, I’m al­ways striv­ing to im­prove my lot. But in terms of res­o­lu­tions, in typ­i­cal Bri­tish fash­ion I tended to make these on 1 Jan­uary – of­ten giv­ing my­self a ridicu­lous list of 10, which ranged from keep­ing fit to achiev­ing a lu­cra­tive book deal.

The prob­lem with New Year, is that you’re usu­ally hun­gover, it’s win­ter, you’re broke, fat and ex­hausted – and it’s hard to stay on track. Chal­leng­ing your­self in Septem­ber – with cle­ment weather mean­ing that it’s still light and bright – gives you more en­ergy to tweak your life: you can set more re­al­is­tic goals, and have a gen­tler run­ning start in ev­ery sense be­fore the nights start draw­ing in.

For me, this ren­trée will be a sig­nif­i­cant one – the fourth of my five chil­dren will be start­ing school (at the ten­der age of two years 11 months), and it’ll just be me, lit­tle Rob­bie (1) and ‘im in­doors knock­ing about dur­ing the week. So while my list for this Septem­ber still con­tains my usual ex­er­cise and writ­ing goals, it will also be time for a long-over­due de­clut­ter and dec­o­rate; a chance to scrub off sticky fin­ger­prints and ap­proach a new stage in par­ent­hood.

And while wav­ing my tiny tots off to school will be emo­tional, I hope that the op­ti­mism which abounds dur­ing la ren­trée will make it the start of a pos­i­tive new phase. Gil­lian Har­vey is a free­lance writer who has lived in Li­mousin for seven years with hus­band Ray and their five young chil­dren

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