You have got to have a Dream,
If you haven’t got a Dream,
How you gonna make a dream come true?
Many of our more curious visitors and interested guests comment on how beautiful the Moulin is but ask us, how or why, we came to the decision to buy a derelict water mill in France that needed years of hard work and quite a lot of money in our retirement. Was it a big dream of ours? Something we had always wanted to do? A sudden, off the cuff decision perhaps? Well, none of those things really! Here is how we would describe how it all happened.
People often tell you that there is nothing wrong with dreaming but dreams don’t always come easy! Many dream of winning lots of cash on the pools or the lottery and why not? But the chances of having such a lucky break as that are a chance in millions. Nice if you can get it but a pretty rare event. For less fortunate mortals, like ourselves, having a dream, or wanting something different, and making it come true errs less on the luck side but more on the muck and bullets of hard work.
In retrospect we did not start out with any long held romantic dream. It was nothing quite as simple or wonderful as that. Reaching a certain age and looking towards the end of our busy working lives we did what many other sensible people do. We started thinking about life in the future. What would happen to us? What did we want to do? All pretty boring and pragmatic stuff really.
We had been lucky enough to have travelled a lot on holidays and on business trips and, as the old adage say’s, travel broadens the mind; Travelling around really does give you a different perspective on life and helps to open your mind to different options. And that was how it with us. Not so much a dream but trying to look at a different way of life, quite simply, a thought process. It is not quite so romantic when you think of things in that way. We did like the UK and there were many lovely places there that we liked but the appeal of an al fresco lifestyle with more sunshine was a great draw for us. It is a path many have trod before us.
Our trips away started to take on board this possibility more and more and we found ourselves looking more at properties and their surroundings in other, warmer, countries than reclining around a pool or seeing the sights. We had almost drifted into looking and weighing up places and locations as potential places to live in our retirement. The die really was cast. We were not sun lovers in that it was the end all and be all but we did enjoy warmer climes and had a love of the great outdoors. So, abroad was it was going to be for us.
Over a number of years we had looked in Europe and some more exotic places further a field, usually outside of our financial abilities. We did not want to be far from family in the UK. Frankly we really did not know what we wanted or where we wanted it. In the early days we were not particularly worried or disturbed about that. We were not in a rush or under pressure to do something and, all in all; we were pretty laid back about the whole situation although it was always there in the back of our minds. But, as time went on and retirement got closer we increased the pace of our search. Age had not dampened our desire for a new adventure. Deep down a feeling grew that we felt that we did want to do something out of the ordinary. Not dangerous of course, just different. Something that excited and motivated us, a complete change of lifestyle. We were obviously prime candidates for something but just didn’t know what is.
Susie always said ‘We will know when we see it.’ That is how it had always been when we had moved house before. She was right as usual. Time went by, and the years with it, we started to take things a little more seriously. Instead of viewing properties wherever we went, we started to look at properties and, if we liked the look of them, after researching all we could, we went to wherever it was. Our travels and house hunting took on a new dimension. First positive obvious decision was that we pinned the choices down to Europe. France, Spain, Italy. Italy-absolutely beautiful but too far from the family, and expensive! Spain, too hot for us and too arid, but we loved the mountains. But we hated the busyness of the coast. France then. France was always an attraction for us. Beautiful green countryside- just like the UK! We loved the fantastic stone character houses. Warmer climate, property much cheaper with bags of character, beneficial exchange rate, easy travelling. The more we considered France the more we liked it. It should not have been a tough decision as we had been to France many times and always enjoyed it but, a big question mark loomed over the idea. The French!
Susie had had her own business for many years and many of her products originated from France. Every year we made trips to Paris in spring and autumn for her to buy stock. We grew to love the City but everything was so chaotic, so fast. In those younger years we found the Parisians so aggressive and often quite rude. Driving in Paris was tantamount to banger car racing. As soon as we approached the periphery Susie used to shut her eyes. I used to drive through it into the centre of Paris hands gripped tight to the steering wheel looking straight ahead, not daring to look either side of me at the traffic, seemingly aiming at me from all directions. Doing business in Paris was tough and it coloured our view of all French people and the way of life in France. But, not the outstanding beauty or culture of the City. Those memories stayed with us over the years.
The thought of moving to France stayed with us though and we started looking at websites for properties for sale. Around this time, people we had got to know mentioned that they had a property in the Charente, and invited us to visit them; they suggested they could show us around. We accepted straight away and went as soon as we could, both of us with different idea’s of what we would like to view. Much to our surprise we found all of the French people in the Charente charming, helpful and welcoming.
It turned out to be the end of our search and the beginning of a new life. We had found our nirvana. A grand old French water mill on the river. Despite its derelict and dilapidated condition and overgrown gardens we knew straight away that we had found what we were looking for. We may not have ever believed much in Dreams before but it was the turning point for us. It was the beginning of our dreams albeit, with the odd nightmares thrown in.