Swansea in Wales has been our home for the last 3 years and is the birthplace of our daughter.
Leaving was sad and the travel was brutal but it all shaped as a reminder that while saying goodbye to all of these friends and this wonderful Welsh life was très difficile, as we move to our 3rd country in 5 years (NZ-Ireland-Wales-France) I am sure I can build a new village here too.
Starting with the expats we have met in our new city based at the foot of the French Alps. They have been welcoming and generous with their time and local knowledge. Have invited us into their homes and demonstrated admiral patience while we ask endless mundane questions about schools, shopping, and basic French life, they have also smiled sweetly as we’ve murdered the French language in our attempts to assimilate!
Unfortunately for us, some of these people we have met and instantly bonded with are heading off to start their own new life in a different place. As the professional rugby season ends in Europe, families move on to new contracts in new countries and usually it happens in May / June of each year.
In some ways it would’ve been easier not to have met these wonderful people than to have to say goodbye to friends all over again. But on the other hand, I am thankful to have had a chance to meet them and absorb as much info as possible from their own experiences!
As the French say; ‘c’est la vie’ and so I’ll find new friends (I hope) to share the ups and downs.
In this respect, living the professional rugby life is not a glamorous one for a wife and Mum – it can be lonely with endless away games and it is always daunting having to start life all over again. Of course there are some perks and travel is one of them – we are on a massive adventure making memories that cannot be created by staying in the same backyard.
As I write this overlooking the Alps and the city, it is over 30 degrees and yet only the start of June! The kids are in the pool, which is the lifestyle that attracted us to this part of the world.
Grenoble is a stunning city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France. It sits at the foot of mountains between the Drac and Isère rivers and is renowned for being hot in summer and a skiing hotspot in winter. The city’s history goes back a staggering 2000 years and is very much reflected in some of the beautiful architecture.
It has been a week since we arrived in this spectacular city. The kids are already using the little French they have learned and as kids do, have made friends with every child they’ve met – French or English speaking. I have used Google Translate to have conversations about rubbish pick up days, recycling and grocery pickups (not glamorous at all) and Johnny has managed to navigate getting all our services connected. I realise this all sounds like boring stuff (of course it is!) but they are pretty major things to achieve in a foreign country when you don’t speak the language!
It is true what they say however, if you try and speak some French, then the locals will immediately accommodate you with their English. As long as Johnny refrains from using the phrase ‘Je suis trés excite’ again – which translates as ‘I am very aroused’, then we should muddle our way through. Although that is quite a tame mistake compared to some of the translation faux pas other foreigners have made (which are too rude to repeat!).
So after a week, I can see I am going to love it here and once I remember to always stay on the right hand side when I’m driving then I should avoid any unnecessary games of ‘Chicken’ in the future! (Yes, I turned a corner on the wrong side but luckily realised once I saw the car coming at me….with flashing lights…..eek!)
Hey, you live and learn and making bold mistakes is the fastest way to ensure correction!
Moving forward I’m borrowing the motto of Thomas, that little Tank Engine that could – “I think I can, I think I can..” as I chug my way forward.
Beginning with tomorrow when the movers arrive with all of our boxes and furniture. It is forecasted to be well over 30 degrees again and it is also Johnny’s first day at work! So it will be me and the 3 kids unpacking #notsuchaglamourouslife after all.
After that I can only look forward to 10 long and hot weeks of summer holidays with the 3 kids until school starts in September…. so I will use the time wisely to sample as much of the local wine as is responsible (it would be rude not to!) and to receive visits from my Welsh & Kiwi friends!!!!
Wish me luck!
Jaimee Sarah oxo