Take a look at the World through my glasses!
The true story of moving, alone, from my buzzing seaside home in Brighton to a village in a valley in the hills of rural France, where the tractors out-number the residents 2 to 1.
Speaking very little French, selling everything I owned to follow my dream, this is a light-hearted but honest account of the people I've met, the places I've been and the things I've seen so far.
Available now as a paperback book, an e-book in two formats; and even as an audio-book too!
To make your choice, please follow these links ...
Here are a few comments I've received from readers so far; thank you very much!
Wow ! You’re going to just love Sara's book, as she shares with us her journey of her integration into French daily life. I snuggled up on the sofa, and lost myself in the colourful descriptions of the great challenge she took on by moving from England. Sara’s style is such that you have the impression she is at your side talking to you, page after page slipping past oh too quickly! you can identify with her frustrations, her moments of sadness, but especially her joie de vivre, which oozes out page after page. « Read it – love it ….. for sure !
- Mary H, Wirral, UK
Brilliant! I think it reads and flows beautifully with a perfect light touch and humour.
- Teresa C, Brighton UK
I loved it! your style of writing is so direct, honest and compelling - of your plans, your thoughts, your meetings and your sheer enjoyment of being. Your initial decision was incredibly brave, but it couldn't have worked without your openness and willingness to enjoy taking part with all those new worlds.
You have a wonderful ability to listen to people and to show your enjoyment in doing so. May everything continue to go very well for you, your Swedish man and your cats...
- Chris T, Hove, UK
I have started reading your book and I’m enchanted!
- Ewa T, Magalas, Fr
Wonderful, inspiring account of a young woman's decision to start a new life in France, and all the unfolding adventures that followed. The descriptions of the landscape and traditions are so evocative and will make many of us wonder why we didn't have the courage to take a similar path!
- Vivienne T, Piddinghoe, UK
I spend a good time on my bed with your book. Wonderful and so funny/thoughtful to read!! You’ re so brave(now I mean not only to write a book but your decisions of new starts in life)...I very much like your humour and your Self-distance. I really enjoy it! Splendid!
- Ute B, Marseillan, Fr
I just re-read it … because the first time it was too interesting to remember to proof read it!
- Hayley K , London, UK
Loved it so far, really gives a good feel and is amusing and interesting to read. It feels like you - it has the sense of your personality. Looking forward to reading more ...
Jeb B, Brighton, UK
and My Mum said “Well done, dear.
Much better than I expected. It’s very well written and quite funny in parts"
If you would be happy to submit a review I can publish, please let me know using the Contact link. Thank You
Make the decision
Making the decision to move abroad, or to do anything, implies that the decision maker actually has the option to make that choice. And lots of people say “I would love to …. If only ….” And quite often the reasons not to do something are undeniably valid. But equally often, the reasons not to “do it” can be the same as the reasons to “do it”.
That said, it is – of course – a private and personal thing. Coming to the point of deciding is not always the enormous “lightning flash” moment we imagine, either. A big decision can come about as the result of many small things. For me, it was the culmination of a number of thoughts that had been gently percolating in my brain for decades. Yes, it was a love of the French language and a desire to live beside warm waters, for sure, but it was also more mundane considerations.
I have a slightly wonky skeleton. After witnessing my motorcycling idol, Barry Sheene, desert our cold, grey shores for the sunshine coasts of Australia to save his battered body from aching as he grew older, I decided to copy his brilliant idea … one day.
My partner in my twenties developed a fondness for France as we holidayed there each summer, and I took no persuading to investigate the options open to us in the eighties. Unfortunately, our exploring brought to light the cracks in our relationship so, despite taking a number of steps in a southerly direction, we never made the final move … and we subsequently went our separate ways.
Being busy with Life can take up many years. It is generally better to get on with living then spend our lives waiting. But if you have a dream that doesn’t go away, that pops up to nag you in the wee small hours of sleepless nights … eventually you might have to shine a bright light and take a good look at what it is trying to draw for you.
Changing direction; taking a leap of faith; adopting new habits … none of these have to indicate that life up until that moment was “bad”. Or “good”. It could simply be you decide to change because, after doing the same thing for the ninety-nine-millionth time, you just fancy doing something different. I remember hearing a celebrity interview of a popular young lady who was secretly a drug addict. She confided that her “enough’s enough” moment came whilst doing the hoovering! So, timing could be everything, or it could be totally irrelevant ~
Take the first step
Timing. Some people revel in flashes of inspiration, but I believe the vast majority of us prefer to weigh the pros and cons, make plans and – ideally – set a timetable of events, too. One of my dearest girlfriends tells me she likes to “plan her spontaneity” … and she does it very well.
My view, for myself, was that I could not wait forever before making the move to France. I was not getting any younger; it was only going to get harder the older I became. My Mum and two brothers were not getting any younger, either, but they were all seasoned travellers and I knew the route to the South of France from our home town of Brighton, by car, plane or train, was an easy one. They, and my most treasured friends, could come and visit as long as I had a home big enough to welcome them.
I did not have a partner to hold my hand, to share the ups and downs, or to help with any of the zillions of practical considerations. But the flip side of that was I could be totally selfish in my choices, and I would only have to deal with my own reactions as events unfolded. I could decorate the ceiling black and the walls pink if I wanted (I didn’t) and if anyone was disappointed I would only have myself to contend with. The fears and triumphs would be mine, and mine alone. Please don’t misunderstand me; I love the idea of sharing all the details of life’s journey, the big and the small, but if the right person is not on the same path at the same time, I’ll keep walking …
Finances are a major consideration, of course, and I was lucky enough to be able to juggle everything I owned so I could buy my foothold in France outright, even if that left me with no safety net funds for rainy days. But in some ways I think financial planning is a bit like having children; if everyone waited until they could afford to raise kids the human race would be extinct by now!
Lists are good. Preparation is not to be sneezed at. Dreams can be substantial, but they only exist in the ether of our thoughts until we make them real. It is very nice, and hugely desirable, to have as many solid plans and resources in place as possible, but the chances are that The Unexpected will happen – for better or for worse – so maybe, if you are not completely ready, that is ok too. You might want snorkel, goggles, arm bands and buoyancy aids before embarking … but if you dive in with faith and enthusiasm you could be amazed at the people and opportunities that drift by. Sink or Swim? Are you waving or drowning? Help is never so very far away … and you know you are most definitely living!
Please know my aim is to inspire, rather than annoy, hopefully. I am eternally grateful for the good luck and golden opportunities that have blessed me; the wind beneath my wings as I fly solo has come from amazing, loving and incredible people. But it needed me to show up, flap my arms and have a bit of drive in my engine, too. I might not be turbo powered , more likely “built for comfort not for speed”, but I’m doing it!
Friends who have known me a long time will be either incredulous or falling on the floor with laughter reading this. I am a Libran! I personify The Scales of Indecision which are the symbol of my star sign. I can see at least two sides to every situation, and debate them equally vigorously. My over-riding explanation for making this move, for which I have no regrets, is summed up most simply by my favourite question: “Why not?"
Please see "The Why Not? Book Shop" at the top of this site to order any book now
An English woman, with two black cats.
What on earth possessed me to abandon my friends, family
and comfortable English life to move alone
to a country where I don’t even speak the language?
My long-time yearning for living somewhere warmer
landed me and The Boys in the midst of a foreign culture
where plans don’t always go according to plan.
And falling in love with a Swede in France
was the last thing I expected.
As I learn a new language and a new way of life
in the hilly vineyards, life's daily ups ‘n’ downs
include some pretty sunny paths ...
... and it feels like I've found my home.
A few of my favourite reasons for moving to France!
Fêtes- from February to October; it's a long season of festivities!
Featuring the villages of Roquebrun and St Nazaire de Ladarez, and the sea port at Sète
Artisans markets; men jousting on boats; and squirrels bearing nutty tartes, it really is
“Any excuse for a Fête” in this warmly beating heart of the real South of France!
The Village a.k.a. "Home" for four incredible years!
January 2015 - December 2018
From my book:
"We parked beside the disproportionately huge church, and Charles drew my attention to the elegant marble supporting stones which had come from the village quarry, only closed in the 1960s. This deep-red coloured marble, I was to learn, has been used in Italian churches and even in the oval room of The White House in America. I was already sensing the history, and connections, of this little place. Walking up the road past the pizzeria bar on one corner of the square, we turned left after just a couple of dozen paces into such a narrow street; a “rue-elle” not wide enough to be called a “rue”. I could not believe that those little tractors working in the vineyards could actually use it as access to local homes at the end of the day. Sometimes a flower pot on a doorstep would get emphatically smashed; sometimes a vehicle might gain an extra dent or scratch on an unwieldy rocky corner … but to local folk, with local driving skills, this counted as a road."
In the beginning, when I had so few French words at my command, even the briefest conversation was a challenge. Some days I just drove into the surrounding countryside and let its green glory restore my energy.
From my book:
" ... St Nazaire de Ladarez ... is a very special village, in a glorious location. ... The beauty of the surrounding hills touches everyone who visits and can inspire even the coarsest of souls to poetry ... my heart leaps to my throat as we round the bend and see the expanse of vineyards and nurturing landscape before us. It is as if the gentle arms of the hills and mountains reach out to cradle us and whisper “I will take good care of you”. "
“hear the silence, touch the beauty, breathe the clean, clean air"
The Tractors of the vineyards
Dressed up especially for Roquebrun's Mimosa festival
The children are in costumes, the oom-pah band are playing, and sequinned ladies are
dancing in the street ... but it is the tractors who steal the show!
Time to come back to the sea, again
December 2018 onwards ... Marseillan is the place for me!
Whatever you love about the sea, the chances are you'll find it here in Marseillan!