It was during our third date (I had just returned from a trip to Bali and I was still buzzing with travelling high) when my husband and I talked about moving somewhere completely new together. You know, the kind of things two people who don’t know each other but really quite like each other should talk about: plans and visions for the future. He was the first to mention that he dreamt of moving away to another country, but I too entertained ideas of my own of moving somewhere far (like Australia) or exotic (like Vietnam). I suppose such conversation is not meant to make or break the future of a couple, as most people don’t follow-through with bold moves like that, but we were certainly serious about each other and, as it happens, we were also serious about it. So serious about each other that we got engaged six months after meeting and married two years later. And so serious about ‘it’ (the move) that straight after the wedding last summer, we began our house hunt in France and now, exactly a year later, we live in a half-packed flat in Streatham, imminently waiting to hear about our moving date.
Many people have asked me over the many months of planning our adventure in the land of cheese and wine how come both of us were so totally on board (‘board’, as in cheese board 🙂 ) with it. I didn’t have to think much about it. Because despite our monumental fights and legendary differences, what my husband and I both possess – something that became evident very quickly during our first holiday together in Cuba, when we both thought it a good idea to rent a car and drive up and down the country of non-existent road signs or Internet connection, despite neither of us being an experienced or at least not totally incompetent driver – is a thirst for adventure and a somewhat attraction to calculated danger.
Therefore friends, long before Brexit instigated Europeans to reconsider their longevity in Blighty, my other half and I were making plans for departing the land of dreary commuting and 9 to 5 (6,7,8,9… fill in the blanks) jobs for a more nature-based lifestyle and a most welcome early(ish) retirement. I imagined myself mortgage-free with money in the bank, making jams and extracting my own lavender oil, taking long walks in the countryside and write award-winning literature, running yoga retreats, and self-development retreats and creativity retreats, cycling, surfing, skiing, white-water-rafting and God knows what other fun activities all day long. I would be so incredibly, out of this world, pinch-me-to-make-sure-I’m not-dreaming happy. Because, due to our aforementioned nature, we would make things happen quickly and smoothly.
But reality had other things in mind. From the moment we hatched the plan until today, we have been going through hell and back watching the Pound taking deep dives into the abyss against the Euro, being rejected a French mortgage (only to cover for the ever falling Pound), been working without a holiday for over a year and waiting for what seems like eons to get a moving date from our buyers’ solicitors, pretty much forgetting that we are actually still on our way towards that vision of a happy future in rural France. So much has gone (kind of) wrong that I now imagine us going to France with holes in our pockets, ready to be ripped apart by cunning artisans and ignored by everyone in the customers services departments.
And that may well still be true. A lot has gone wrong during our first trip together in Cuba. My husband stalled the car about a dozen time on the Boulevard Prado in Havana before he figured out how not to, we got lost about a hundred times and picked-up a rogue hitchhiker who took us to a ‘cigar factory’ to be sold fake cigars from his fake uncle. But ask me: would I have changed a thing about that trip? And the answer would always be no.
Would I now walk the same safe route I walked a thousand times before or would I launch myself blindfolded into an adventure? I’ll let you guess the answer to that question.
A photo of Alistair and I on the rooftop of Hotel Saratoga, Havana, 2014