Saturday 4 July 2015

The N. Atlantic coast : unfit for human habitation?

Somewhere out there in the murk fifty boats are competing in the Tobermory regatta, battling  a wind driven downpour and white capped waves. Indoors I have just lit the Rayburn , Mimi has given up hunting for a sleep in my chair, its July 4th. The last prolonged spell of good weather was in November 2014. Ten years ago we looked at moving to S.W. France where a farm could be bought for the price of a house in the UK.

We took the train to Tarbes, hired a car and went house / smallholding hunting.

The estate agent explained that there were basically three types available. Houses built or renovated by the French were beside a main road with stylish  d├ęcor, lots of stainless steel and impressive vegetable plots. Houses renovated by Brits had terracotta tiled floors, oak beams, wood burners and a skip load of empty wine bottles. The third category was described as, " habitable" , this meant that the former farmer occupant had recently expired and the corpse had been removed,  lots of scope for "remont" !.

Despite there being many suitable nice places we decided against moving to southern France its benign climate and promise of a rural idyll. Much of it is as remote as Kilchoan and where ever you go you need social capital, friends and neighbours you can rely on. This is difficult to acquire unless you are moving to a job, have children in school and are willing to join the village cycling club.

Language isn't a problem, Dormouse has read Proust in French, mine largely acquired in Quebec, is passable and  mildly amusing to the natives. I do admire the place. France is the most civilised country in the world; its almost worth enlisting in the Foreign Legion to get French citizenship after five years service.

So here I am, in waterproofs most of the time on the edge of the N. Atlantic wondering sometimes, "is this fit for human habitation" after all, as a species,  we evolved in the tropics and sub-tropics, perhaps it was a mistake to move too quickly and too far from the sun.

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