Relocation story from a teenage point of view
My father announced his plans to move from the tiny island of Jersey (between France and England) to the South of France during my summer holidays.
I would be finishing my education in an International College. His relocation dream come true, my worst nightmare. I hated France! All those boring summer holidays spent in a tent or caravan in some desolate back of beyond village.
Just 15, I am now living in Mougins, just outside of Cannes on the Cote d'Azur. And yes, I learn to love it, mixing with teenagers from all over the world. Suddenly this move isn't so bad after all.
Sadly short lived, with exams over, I'm in a caravan in the middle of a vineyard in the valley of Bargemon in the Var mountains. Only my parents and my annoying brother for company. Nothing but two years in a French secretarial college in the nearby town to look forward to. The nightmare had returned. Or had it?
This is an amusing travel memoir recounting the ups and downs of family life as we adapt in this new world, buidling a home out of an old sheep shed and some sticky back tape.
Dad had researched the location he required and it had to be in the Lower Region of the Alps. This particular property fitted the bill for Dad, and was just below the 500 metre snowline. The village was called Bargemon.
We finally arrived at the bottom of a valley where two old buildings sat surrounded by vines. The retirement pad was a square-shaped, ancient sheep shed. The rickety wooden door remained attached by a single hinge. The inside gloom was broken by two small circular windows on the first floor. Age and relentless sunshine had bleached the once rich terracotta roof tiles a shade of pale pink. Those that had remained that is.
The 'pad' was a quarter of the way down a vineyard on the floor of a valley between two mountains with a small village perched on each side, both sparsley populated. A stream ran down one side of the property, from a source high up in the Alps, which then meandered away from us towards the coast.
In those early days the valley was deserted, just our little shed and a neighbouring uninhabited property belonging to a local farmer. There was no way we could live in the house, the place had been used by sheep for years. The sheep had gone but the stench remained. There was no electricity, no water and those missing tiles provided the air conditioning.
My parents instantly loved it, and asked to meet the vendor. The Estate Agent eagerly took us straight away to meet Monsieur Pellasey, the owner of the two star B&B for sheep.