Pastures new

The winter solstice sunset seems a fitting photo to head this post, which will almost certainly be the last one I write from Asturias. If all goes according to plan, next week we will be moving to our new home in northern France and taking the first steps in our next Grand Adventure; yes folks, Wallace and Gromit have nothing on us!

Let me explain. We aren’t leaving Asturias because we are unhappy here ~ far from it, in fact. I have written many, many times about how much we love it here and what a privilege it is to live in this natural paradise, surrounded by utterly stunning scenery and wilderness, revelling in a benign climate and welcomed and accepted by such warm, friendly people. In truth, I never expected Asturias to get under my skin quite as much as it has and for us both, it will always be one of the most amazing places we have ever experienced.

That said, we only ever planned to stay for five years. Much as we love it, this is not the right place for us to grow old and we always knew there would be another project to follow, provided we didn’t leave it too long ~ better to do it while we’re still fit enough and mad enough. We had hoped to stay until next summer but as we want to remain living in the EU, Brexit has sadly forced our hand. To retain the right to residency in France, we have to be there by the 31st of December; it’s been a bit of a nail-biting scramble but thankfully we will just squeak in. Moving house is a stressful business at the best of times, but to be moving country as well with all the chaos of Brexit, Covid-19 and Christmas in the mix feels like complete madness! Still, we have a habit of doing things the hard way and I think it helps to keep us feeling sharp and alive (if slightly frazzled).

I don’t want to say much about our new home as there will be plenty of that to come in my future wafflings and musings; suffice to say for now that we are very, very excited about returning to Mayenne and as we have lived in the area before, there is a lovely sense of ‘going home.’ There is a pretty stone cottage, a blank canvas of a (flat! ­čś▓) garden and a parcel of broadleaf woodland all waiting for our attention; no big renovation jobs this time but plenty to keep us busy in the coming years. The less challenging topography means I will be back on my bike again and I’m really looking forward to cycling into the nearest small town for bits and pieces of shopping. In fact, we have the chance to really increase our green credentials all round which pleases me very much. The poor old car will be practically put out to grass.

We’ve been fairly nomadic through our years together but we have never believed in looking back; it would be all too easy to feel a crushing sadness at the thought of leaving such a beautiful place, but that’s not our way. We will be taking so many happy memories away with us, so many incredible experiences; our lives have been hugely enriched by our time here and we have learnt much about many things, including ourselves. I have no doubt that the sound of a cowbell or whiff of eucalyptus will bring me back to Asturias, in spirit at least, for the rest of my life.

The next couple of months are going to be fairly crazy as we move ourselves northwards in stages. The priority ~ as always ~ will be to get a vegetable garden started and we are already making lots of plans on that score; at least the Mayennais climate holds no surprises for us so it shouldn’t be quite such a steep learning curve as the one we had here. I’m going to miss frost-free winters and that abundance of peaches, though!

My blog is going to have to take a back seat for a while but, like a certain Austrian actor once famously said, I’ll be back! In the meantime, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken precious moments out of their lives this year to read, like or comment on my posts ~ I am genuinely touched and grateful, it means the world to me. I hope that everyone can enjoy a happy and peaceful festive season despite the difficult circumstances, and that 2021 will bring us all a year with less disruption and uncertainty and many wonderful things to celebrate.

The last word, however, must go to the place we have been proud to call home since May 2016.

¡Muchas gracias, Asturias, y hasta luego!