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All Quiet on the Western Front

I don’t get the French sense of humour; I’m sure they won’t get mime. Sorry, I mean “mine”. Or maybe I was right the first time.

Well, here I am, back in Ye Little Olde Electrificatory Shoppe in Hoylake, doing a 5 day stint so the manager – my old Friend Chris – can have a deserved week off with the wife and kids. Not sure how relaxing it’s gonna be going camping with 5 young kids with a weather forecast of rain interrupted by brief showers, but that’s summer holidays in the UK for you.

Me, I’ve just come back from 7 nights in the ancient town of Agde and 2 nights in the charming university town of Montpellier in the South of France, followed by 2 nights camping in the less exotic but prettier looking Llangollen in North Wales.

Earlier in this blog, I asked the question Sud de France – Oui ou Non? I now know that I wouldn’t want to live just anywhere in the South of France, as I might have previously thought/suggested. Montpellier is one of the nicest cities I’ve visited (and I’ve been to many) and I certainly wouldn’t mind going back there sometime for a long weekend. Agde, on the other hand, was just OK; if it hadn’t been for its close proximity to the Mediterranean, it might not have been a great place to go holidaying. But the sun was warm, the wine was cheap, and I was there alone with my beautiful wife, so a good time was had.

If I give the matter proper consideration, spending a week or two out there is one thing, but selling up and moving lock, stock and barrel would be another – I can admit that to myself now. The main issues, as most people have always mentioned when I tell them I want to live in the South of France, are the language and cultural “barriers”. I can understand (if they speak slowly) and can make myself understood (if I speak slowly), and no doubt given time I would become fairly fluent (I lived in France for a few months back in my late twenties, and could communicate fairly easily towards the end of my time there). But I guess I’ll always be English and they’ll always be French, and they won’t get any of my jokes. Few enough people understand me here in the UK without exacerbating the problem…

In my last post, I summarized by saying that the only things I’d miss about the UK are real beer and real sausages and Cheddar cheese, and the only outstanding things about the South of France were the weather, the space, and fresh baguettes. Not a convincing argument to up sticks and relocate, I guess. In response to my post, you gave a very convincing argument for the charms of British Columbia. As I may have said, my only experience of Canada has been a fortnight in Nova Scotia. It was jolly nice, and we think we could happily live there for a long spell. But BC sounds a bit more civilized and a bit less cold. I wonder if you have a guest room and a welcoming manner, on the off-chance that we’re in the area for a week…?

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Sir Isaac would be proud of the old place.

British Columbia: half a world apart from West Kirby.

Move to Canada? Pourquoi (see, I’ve picked up un petit peu of one of the official lingos)? Well…it all started…(fade to shimmery flashback)…actually the way it was happened was very simple. My first wife and I were living in Neston at the time and (I think I have this in the right chronological order) I had just taken a job which entailed me travelling ALL the way to Warrington each day.

Looking back, the idea of that being a long commute is comical now, when I live in a country where the distances are of another magnitude entirely.

Anyhoo, we put our house up for sale and, having only very recently purchased our first internet capable computer (this was only 1999 for goodness’ sake), we decided to see what the asking price would buy us elsewhere. Having decided against all manner of lovely and not-so-lovely places around the world, we found some startling properties here in BC, and pretty soon we were hooked…it became a “well we’ll never know if we don’t try” kind of idea, and one that we felt we’d kick ourselves for if we didn’t give it a go. It all happened in a few hours really – the decision part at least. It took us another three years to actually make the move.

So, my old pal, I’m happy to say it was not my grief at being spurned by you (careful if you read that out loud) which prompted my leap across the pond (and a continent)…and I’ve never lived so far from the ocean (approx 45 miles at the moment).