Friday, 23 August 2013

Less is most definitely more

Evolution is healthy; sometimes even revolution is healthy. This blog has been quietly evolving for a while now, focusing less on the sport stuff and more on, well, all sorts really.  But I think it's time to move on a bit further, and begin to chart some of the big changes that have started to take place for me and Mrs M, and which will continue in the next few months. I've not really mentioned them on here before now, mainly because they were still plans rather than reality (and some still are), so I neither wanted to jinx them nor embarrass myself if they didn't materialise. The blog will continue, of course, to talk about running and cycling, both me doing it and some stuff on pro-cycling as and when. It will, however, happen within a wider context.

The main change is that our lives will begin to shift geographically - we already spend pretty much all of our holidays in France, and the plan is that we'll spend even more time there. Mrs M may even be able to spend the majority of her time there - her work have agreed to a three month trial of her working reduced hours from France. That should start in January all being well. The wider plan is that we'll sell our house in Brittany and buy somewhere slightly bigger further south - it's a terrible cliche, but the Dordogne looks favourite, followed by the Gironde. Why? Well, we love France of course, but we also like proper summers, mild winters, good food and drink, a relaxed lifestyle and good links back to the UK. Who doesn't? Fortunately, thanks to the flexibility of Mrs M's work, and the changed working pattern I find myself in after the first half of this year, it looks like we can make it happen.

We've decided to keep a base (house) in the UK, and much though we both love our current house, it takes quite a lot of maintenance to keep it looking ship-shape, and if we were to keep a fair bit of expenditure on its fabric would be needed in the next couple of years. So we've sold it. And bought a new, smaller, more modern one, which is all of 250 metres from where we are now. And in a further twist, the people buying ours live directly opposite the one we're buying. That, however, is a sign of that fact that, when I'm in the UK, there's nowhere that I - and others - would rather be; the hills, the countryside, the proximity to Manchester and the established networks are an unbeatable combination for me. It looks like we might move five weeks today, a rapidity that's caught me by surprise a bit and led to a few sleepless nights - "are we doing the right thing?", "where's everything going to go?", and so on.

The cash we'll free up from downsizing in the UK will go towards our new French house. That'll probably mean we can afford to buy it without selling the house in Brittany, which is only worth peanuts and in any case will probably be on our hands for a couple of years yet, given the state of the French property market. Ideally, we'll find somewhere with a small gite attached, both so that we can generate a bit of extra income, and have people to stay with us, but not 'with' us, if you see what I mean. I know these plans sound grandiose and expensive, but as I say, the state of the French property market means that ain't necessarily so.

So the future looks like this. Subject to the trial period working out, Mrs M will spend the majority of her time in France. The cat will have to emigrate with her. She'll come back for weddings, funerals, christenings and Hard Rock Hell. I will continue to work as a management consultant in the UK, but flexibly. I'm only working four days a week at the moment, and after the experiences of the first half of this year the boss is currently shaping his ideas on how the firm will work in the future - something that might affect me further. Either way, I'll aim to get out to the new French gaff as many weekends as possible, retiring to the easy-to-look-after new Macclesfield house when I can't. And I'll certainly try to engineer an extended period out there in the summer.

So, there'll be less (formal) work for her, fewer days (not necessarily less work if recent experiences are anything to go by) for me, smaller houses (though more of them), and definitely a smaller income. That's the 'less' bit. The 'more' bit is a more relaxed lifestyle, a greater sense of seasons and being in touch with our surroundings, definitely more crusty baguettes and wine, and the more civilised approach to living that you find in rural France.

It's not in the bag yet of course. We haven't exchanged contracts in the UK, Mrs M's trial might not work out, and I might be thrown out of work. But we're on the road to making it happen. We've been through a few iterations of 'the plan', and in the next couple of months I'll reflect on why we want to do this. We're very lucky to be able to even contemplate it, I know that.

Meanwhile, this weekend sees the annual Dad-and-Lad expedition to the Shropshire hills. This is the fourth running of said event. Whilst the route stays broadly the same (OK, exactly the same), we do try to throw in a variation of some sort each year. This time it's an early start tomorrow to do the longest walking day of the two in time to visit a museum in Craven Arms ("The Land of Lost Content"). It's basically a shrine to the foodstuffs, clothes, cars and furnishings of the 1940s to the 1960s. It's got some spectacular feedback on Trip Advisor, though I fear it may be more up my street than Seb's. We'll see. I'll console him with beer, which I may have to sample for quality control purposes too....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Tweets by @skinsalive