I have been rather busy though!
A lot has happened, but I know you'll want the best news 1st, so might as well spill the beans... We got Engaged! :D Yeah! At last ;) It happened during our month-long holiday in France (April/May). Although I have to admit that a whole month of holiday is just FAR too long, a little bit of an overkill. It was pretty Awesome none the less. Aahhhhh, France is so beautiful! Really. REALLY! I never expected it to look the way it does... vast open spaces (we spent most of our time in the countryside), forests, HUGE forests. I suppose we also have National parks here in South Africa, but ours are all fenced off and you have to drive FAR and wide to get there and you have to pay entry fees etc. In France it seemed like every farm had its own mini forest, full of little buck and all sorts of wildlife. There are enormous backbones of forest that join many of the farm forests together and if you pull over from the highway and walk into the "wilderness" for only a few meters the birds are almost deafening! :) It was very magical. The countryside is definitely my favourite part about France and it's VERY green, well, a lot more than most of SA, they get a lot more rain than we do.
Hunny's favourite part was all the wine shops in Bordeaux, St Emillion to be precise. They have fabulous wines and we were forced to pour some of our excess Luberon wines down the drain so we could bring more Bordeaux blends home. We're only allowed so many bottles of alcohol in our luggage and we had gone totally overboard with buying wines. I can't drink that much and of course you can't really take your own wines into smart restaurants, so we hardly had a chance to drink the extra wine during our stay. So we had to can it :( very sad, but true. We did manage to dent a few half bottles in the afternoon before lunch or dinner, but between all the site-seeing, driving around etc there wasn't a lot of time for drinking, except during lunch and dinner, where you had to buy the restaurant's wine.
One of the highlights of France was a Stunning picnic under a bridge, next to the river Dordogne. We did a little bundu-bashing (exploring with the car on someone's half-neglected property) and drove into a very "hidden" dirt road next to trees. We were trying to see what the river looks like and then found a small alcove under a bridge that crosses the river and we just parked there, unpacked our tuna and olive salad, opened one of the better bottles of Luberon wine and enjoyed the fresh air and chatter from families who came past in their canoes :) It was fabulous! I do hope we'll be able to find it again one day. I have no idea where exactly we were? All I know is that it was peaceful and perfect.
Of course we did a fair amount of fantasising about perhaps living there one day, in the French countryside, raising our brood of kidlets... outside a small town where you know every shop-keeper by name (that's if you know how to pronounce it), buy your bread and pate from the same place every week, play boules with the old fogies under the trees, drink eXpresso every afternoon. Where you grow some veg to share and trade with neighbours, where you can keep a couple of lovely horses for the kids to play around in the forests, go fishing at the "lakes" every other weekend etc. Slaughter your own pork, freeze cuts of bacon for end of the year "family" visits. The Simple life :)
BUT reality checked in with the question of where we would ever find a job in a remote little place like that, where we'd never be able to speak the language fluently and besides that, where we have no competitive advantage over the established businesses or experience in the regional differences. Hunny has no foothold in those financial markets. So we will more than likely never go to live in another country, and definitely not in France :( It's sad, but it's what makes most sense.
By the time we'd returned, all the panic about farms back home (the Western Cape) had subsided and the chaos resorbed back into the townships. The same problems were still there, but the consequences had not been as dire as we feared. As usual, life just carried on back "Home"
I guess we have to accept that we do not truly have any viable option of making a suitable living anywhere else, not one that compares to what we can do here, so it would be quite a few steps back (financially) to move somewhere new, leave Hunny's business behind etc. and life back here is not that bad after all. There are no guarantees in life anyway, so no telling what will happen here. In the same way there are no guarantees about what life would be like if we lived in France? At this stage we don't wish to take the risk. Our resources over here are more secure and we are more familiar with the territory, so it looks like we'll be staying. Which is good. I am very relieved that we won't have to say farewell to all our family and friends and also that I won't have to go and wash my own dishes in a country where I can barefly ask for a glass of wine in a restauarant :P lol
It was a good exercise though, considering life beyond what we know, opening our mind to other possibilities, exploring the rest of the world. It would be very exciting and could be fabulous to go and live in a quaint little villiage in rural France, run a B&B, enjoy a crime-free, secure country property, but in reality it won't be all that easy. Hunny has already worked extremely hard at creating the opportunities that he has here in SA, it would be stupid to leave all of that behind
So, now that's all settled, we're happily engaged and intermittently busy Farm-shopping again! :) yeah!! The Situation in our country will probably get worse before it gets any better... but we're stuck here anyway. Might as well enjoy it, make the most of what you have! If I'm staying here I don't want to live cooped up in our security estate like a little bird in a cage, I want to enjoy what is available to us in this life and in this country. Perhaps not taking too many risks/living entirely on the edge, but I'd like to fulfill as many of our dreams as possible.
Wish us Luck! :)