Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who Do You Think You Are

The title is the same as a popular TV program in the UK which traces peoples roots.

This thread is not about genealogy at all.

It is dedicated to all the people who have left the UK to come and live in this lovely country, France. There are many British ex-patriots living here and all come here for a different reason. Many are here to escape their former lives and are trying to build something better, but does the former life have any bearing on who we are in this country?

Jude and I left our civil service jobs, working for the MOD, to retire early. We found a life where we can do as we want without the constraints of having to go to work every day. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time as an aircraft engineer, with a good salary in the UK, but in my case the UK government always wanted more of my take home pay. I didn’t really want to work, I just wanted to play, to go out on the bikes when the sun was shining.

I have met many Brits who live here and have helped some in moving here. The following is a description of some of the characters, the names have been changed, but the individuals will know who they are.

One chap who we know quite well, is in his late 60s. He was a bandsman in the RAF and lives life to the full. I’ll call him Andy. Andy lives for life. He can be found on the ski slopes in the winter, just an hours drive away, and loves playing in a band. He was also a motorcyclist till just recently. Andy enjoys getting out and visiting places. I recently took him for a flight in the microlight and, as expected, he loved it. Andy’s favourite saying is “It doesn’t get much better than this”. He takes French lessons every week and speaks the language much better than I do. He lives in a small village and likes to cycle the 10 miles or so into the next biggest town. I just hope that I am as fit and enthusiastic as he is when I am that age.

Then there is Burt. Burt is married to a German lady, and lives half his time here and the other half in London. Burt is also a skier and a motorcyclist. Burt likes to organise day trips out on his bike and is keen to get others to come along and find new things. Burt is a very social animal, and is always looking for a reason to go out for a ride and meet new people.

Next is Fred. Fred is very overweight and has trouble moving around. He is not very intelligent, but likes to tell people that he is. Fred tells many tall stories about what he was or what he has done, and they will all amaze an audience – trouble is that none of it is true! Fred likes to offer advice, most of it is wrong, but you cannot tell him as he thinks that he knows best. He has lost loads of friends since he has been here, but I suspect that that is the story of his life.

Many people come here to start a business only to find that there is a lot of commitment needed. Running Gites or B&B means that one has to be at home all the time. There is no chance of going traveling or even taking a week off. The rude awakening can then happen in September or October, when the tourists dry up. Not for me thank you very much, too much commitment.

People will also come here wanting employment with a French business, no good unless they speak very good French. If some one is a plumber in the UK with all the correct qualifications, then there is still little chance of coming here and carrying on in that same line without a huge headache. The French plumbing qualifications will be required as well as the language.

In my opinion, the way to do it is to sell the house in the UK, buy something that can be lived in here that is not too big and expensive, and live off the excess from the sale of the UK house till a pension kicks in.

You might be asking what the point of this post is, well it is just me rambling on.

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