Tag Archives: patience

Calm Determination

This has been an odd week weather-wise and the heavy-soggy-blustery nature of it all finally took a bit of a break today. I feel rather relieved since I don’t sleep well when it feels as if the house is going to lift off the foundations. We’ve had cyclonic bursts of wind hammering the sides of the house along with constant, heavy rain — then it all swirls and hits the exact opposite side of the building. Rain alternates with hail. The temperatures plunge and snow falls then melts. Most unsettling…

The mood of the weather is rather a match to the mood of the world right now — but I choose not to focus on that.

The house has been on the market for two weeks — and now we wait. Oddly, since I am not always known for saintly levels of patience, I am feeling quite calm and purposeful.

Really looking forward to what will be coming in the post in the next few days. I’ve waited and waited until the time was right and the PRODUCT was right size-wise. I no longer enjoy huge honking camera bodies with humongous lenses dangling off the front. They make my wrists and shoulders ache and they’re a pain to worry about because they’re so expensive to replace if damaged or stolen. And with the ever-smaller equipment nowadays, it seems like the right time to downsize before we leave here.

On Sunday I bought a GoPro Hero 4 Session at a 20% off sale. Then I got accessories like hand grips, telescoping mono-pod, foam-cube protectors and the like, and a bike handlebar mount for Mark to try it out. And since this toy-sized video camera is so tiny, it will fit into a purse. It is seriously teeny-tiny — and we noticed that the Tour de France riders were all using them during the last few weeks.


I’m ready to start making videos in addition to doing still photography and my agencies in London and New York have asked if I plan to add that sort of additional artwork to my portfolio since it now sells so well. Even wee burst videos of 2-ish minutes at 8 megapixel clarity seem to do well!

Happy that I will get ANOTHER my-brain-will-never-get-old-and-fuddly learning curve with a new editing program (ask me again how I feel about that statement in a week!) to master.

And other than the %^&*£@! flu that we’ve both picked up from all of the %^&*£@! sick people in Ballarat — life is good!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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When In France, Patience Pays

Deciding to stop travelling, pick one country out of several options, and settle in the south of France has been an interesting proposition on a variety of levels — so I thought I would share a bit of that with you. The Midi-Pyrenees is a stunning part of this beautiful country and after much consideration, we believe that we have made a good choice. So we’re taking that leap of faith and staying!

St. Girons from the Avenue Francois Camel bridge

If you read the previous post, you will know that I have some additional freedom again now that I have my own little Peugeot to zip around in. However, it took TWO DAYS of hanging on the phone, leaving the car firmly parked because it was uninsured, and then wading through my kinda-sorta ok-ish French to get a new insurance policy. But as of Saturday afternoon, that’s all sorted and I’ve been out and about already doing essential errands and tracking down the correct government offices for each task.

A bit of freedom courtesy of a new-old Peugeot for Deborah

Yes, the updates on the site have been a bit thin for the last couple of weeks, but we’re fine and still doing the settling-in thing. That means lots and lots of paperwork from government departments that never seems to end. Mark’s life is a bit more straightforward than mine is right now — he gets up in the morning and goes off to work at various astonishingly scenic places as he renovates French houses. I am here in my home office, making endless copies, sourcing more government information, sending flurries of emails, and then waiting, waiting, waiting for things to get done by whatever French government department I am currently dealing with.

Getting registered in the health care system is still ongoing and that has, I must admit, been ridiculously time consuming. But I feel confident that my own paperwork will be completed this week. And I’ll be very happy once I see two copies of the laminated Carte Vitale, the essential item that gives us full access to all of the French healthcare system.

Things came to a grinding halt recently when I had to get an official French form to then obtain an official French translation of our birth certificates from English into French — and then the official French translation form had to be stamped and signed by an official French Civil Authority in a government office. That finally happened yesterday, but not easily!

After getting the translation completed last week, I took all of the correct paperwork to the Marie (the mayor’s office) in St. Girons yesterday and was directed to the office for Civil Registry. There I found a woman behind a desk with rather a lot of stamps and pens on her desk. Good — I must be at the correct place — right? Perhaps not since she looked rather alarmed when she realised that I wanted her to put her stamp on the official translation of (shock-gasp!) a British birth certificate and an American birth certificate. Seriously, she looked at me like the sky was falling!

Shaking her head and repeating, “Non, non, non!” several times, she pulled out an instruction sheet for what she could sign off on and waved one finger at it saying that her office was for people from France, not “etrangers” — strangers (which is what they actually do call anyone who isn’t French). I just stood there and waited with a calm expression. She went off in a huff to talk to the woman in the office next door, her supervisor, and came back with a very thin smile on her face. She had just been corrected by the supervisor (lovely woman!) who told her that since we were registered to live and work in France, she was required to copy and stamp all of our documents.

Kachink-kachink went the stamps, 2 on each form plus a date and signature, and finally I was handed 8 “official French” forms. I kept a pleasant look on my face, thanked her very sincerely, and suppressed the urge to dance down the hall outside her office and whoop out loud once I reached the parking lot!

I have no idea why, but for some reason I have rather a lot of patience with this unfolding process. Maybe it’s because this place feels so right. And for a change, Mark isn’t neutral, he really LOVES it (in all capital letters!) here in this part of France! That’s an important change because he’s always liked the places where we lived in the past two decades in Australia, England, and even those brief few years in the USA — but he hasn’t LOVED them. Nice, eh?

Getting new passwords for our online account required a trip to the bank to meet with our account manager — and as I was walking through St. Girons yesterday, I was smiling. It was interesting to see how many people turned and smiled back because I was walking around feeling like a lightbulb was on inside my face. St. Girons is just lovely in that picturesque faded-French-beauty way that makes my heart happy. The photo below is of Rue Gambetta and my bank is underneath those arches at the end of the curve, just before the parking lot in the square beyond. Now seriously, if you looked at your local business district each day and saw this kind of charming view, wouldn’t it make your own heart sing?
The curve of Rue Gambetta in St. Girons in the Midi-Pyrenees, France
In the larger view, we are both quite happy that we waited, that we had patience about making a decision about where to stop and where to settle down again. We enjoyed our time over the last 18 months immensely as we travelled and worked in England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, and France. And we met lovely people in each and every place that would have introduced us to the right people, helped us with our language issues in the non-English countries, and generally assisted us in negotiating through the ever-present paperwork in the EU.

The place that we have finally chosen, France, seems to be particularly attached to ‘les papiers’ and, in direct contrast to the way things are done in the UK or Australia, online processing of forms is practically non-existent. So everything moves at a snail’s pace. If you do choose France, you must know that ahead of time and accommodate yourself to their pace

Time to stop for today and get back to work. My next challenge is getting quotes to have our household goods delivered to us here in France. We had the very happy news from our shipping company in Australia that they had mistakenly quoted us for a larger amount than we actually had in storage. Once they picked it up last Friday from our storage unit, compacted it, and measured it on Monday, they sent us the actual figure which was approximately one third less than what the quote was based on. So we are saving a little bit of money off the sticker-shock prices that we were dealing with up until yesterday. Our boxes will arrive in the UK in a few months and then be trucked down here to France, a process that is (rather oddly!) cheaper than having them sent directly to France or even to Spain which is only one hour south of us.

Ah well — c’est la vie!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.