To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence. Mark Twain
Our new life and start up took confidence and yes we were very ignorant and naive upon arrival. But there is always hope at a successful business, and even after a few setbacks we steadily make our way forward. Like my girlfriend Hannah says, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Where did the summer go?
Capestang and the surrounding areas enjoyed a solid month of 35-40 degree heat, including 30 through the night on many occasions.
A few thunderstorms woke us up when they blew through our shutters; we experienced high-speed winds without storms, drying our laundry in under an hour and our home often covered in renovation dust.
Our beautiful above ground pool saved us from the heat, and our family dunked in throughout the day. Most days too hot to do laps, I saved the exercise portion of the pool for after nightfall. Alfonz installed an outdoor shower, making indoor warm showers obsolete during the hot days.
We adjusted to the different weather in France from our native wet Vancouver Canada where it rains 50% of the time although it feels like more. It was a pleasure to experience, when the weatherman said rain in the forecast, they were usually wrong, and the sun shone brightly down burning the clouds away. In Canada, it is the opposite, where they say sun and it ends up raining. You can get used to anything, once I lived next to a train!
High points include many trips to the surrounding lakes, rivers and the turquoise sea. The smell of tanning cream creeps into my memory, legs gritty with sand stuck to them, we spent time shaking out blankets, sunbathing in the scorching heat while listening to the waves lapping the shore. Daniel and Angelina played and splashed in the warm waters, finding fish and shells in buckets to show us. There were moments of blissful calm between our busy bed changes and breakfasts served.
Feeling the cool breeze off the water as we napped, the children ate ice cream as it dripped down their chins not licking fast enough in the warm Mediterranean climate. Summer was succulently scrumptious and ever playful in our new relished life.
Alfonz turned the meat on the outside BBQ grill while the sun descended over our fence. Outside meals gave us relief from the heat as the cooler evenings came, which helped us sleep. The further south you travel, the later people eat, and it’s one custom finally understood. Salads full of cheese, Belgian endive with walnuts and ripened pear, meet garden tomatoes warm off the vine. We gorged ourselves on the bounty of France during our first summer.
It was non-stop renovations since we bought our home on January 25, and the majority of the work is now complete. With the help of our friends, new and old, the connections we have made are a blessing. We are grateful and could rest, but that does not sound like our family. Instead we trek forward, inching towards success.
The children had many play-dates with school friends over the holidays, and both speak French fluently. Impressive, yet again the research says they are at the ideal age to absorb a new language, although this is our third official language, and sometimes we speak a Hunglarian, Frehunglais and sometimes Henglich developed and decoded by our family or people that speak all three languages.
The tourists and cyclists make their way through our village and our home, making our first summer exciting and memorable. Through our rentals, we met people from: Belgium, Italy, Canada, USA, Spain, Hungary, England, Lithuania, Germany, Czech, Andorra and France. Everyone was so nice, and my children helped get the apartment and the chambre D’hôte ready for new guests.
There were a few setbacks of course: people booking through unsecured sites based on the honour system that just never showed up. It did shake my faith in people, as my word is my bound and if I say I will be there, sure enough I will be there come hell or high water. Learning the lesson that not everyone is trustworthy did make me sad for people in general and of course we were out the money as we turned other guests away.
Daniel went up to the square each morning to gather our daily bread, as he readily acquainted himself and his sister to the guests and promptly offered delivery service. Daniel made quite a bit of extra money over the summer, but spent it just as quickly at the endless car boot sales around the region.
Sunday garage sales are the best, and Alfonz bought me a cool looking pair of Doc Martins in a French floral pattern. Love them! A great new pair of shoes for fall and winter when the weather will change and a bargain at 25€.
I got myself a legitimate job in the town of Capestang where we live, cleaning canal boats and getting them winterized for ‘France Afloat’. It will make for a busy 2 months. As a rule, we never turn away work of any kind. Pared with a French lady, I hope to learn a few words during our work together. We need to become a part of the system, proven a giant feat, and this fabulous job with a great staff will help us get to where we need to be. And anyone that knows me, knows how much I clean. May as well get paid for it!
As the bookings start to slow for September and the French school children go back to school, our family takes the opportunity to get some paperwork down, (endless amounts) trying to be properly established.
Alfonz is currently working on his Hungarian driver’s license transfer and we are applying for CAF yet again, France’s version of family allowance. Apparently, we have been entitled for almost a year. Sure, they got annoyed trying to talk to us. C’est la vie!
Time for heavy organizing and cleaning, our chambre d’hôte needs a fresh coat of paint, and some cosmetic stuff done, making the last of the necessary renovations. Now’s the perfect time for it as Alfonz completed the landscaping around the pool just this week.
Looking forward to Daniel’s CM1 and Angelina CE1 years. They received their first pages of homework yesterday and happily blasted through them. This is going to be a fabulous year!