I’m sitting under a huge tree in the morning sun, bees buzzing in the lavender bushes around me, the cicadas still somewhat muted, although I can hear a faint noise that will soon swell to deafening proportions. The cottage and its inhabitants are still asleep except for the chatter of two excited little girls, who haven’t seen each other for a whole year and have so much to talk about.
Yes, we’ve made it to Provence.  

When we first booked this place at the end of last summer, we had no idea how different our lives would be when it actually came to taking that holiday. And for those last few insanely crazy months of my life, what kept me going was the thought of me sitting under a tree, lavender smell in the air, and just peace and quiet. And now I’m here. S will get arrive next week, and it will be a bit hard until then, as there is no wifi, and barely a phone signal up here at Mas de Laval, which we’re not accustomed to, but also absolute bliss. I might actually really relax, which seems inconceivable after what my family has been through over the last few weeks. But I have a feeling we might succeed.
Moving back to the UK was pretty momentous. After shipping off our stuff and then depositing dog and cat in Germany, I flew into a rage of activity in Austin, packing, organising things there, in England, and in general, handling moods and worries, talking to schools, trying not to lose my mind, and getting on that plane. Unlike with our move from the UK to California all those years ago, this time our shipment arrived a week early, which meant that I hadn’t even been in the country 24 hours when I opened the doors to my house to let the movers in.
Unlocking the front door was a very strange feeling. It had been seven years after all, and I had never expected to move back into that house. But it felt instantly familiar, and welcoming, and so different to any of the other houses we’ve lived in over the years. I got on with things, and by the afternoon, we’d moved everything back in. I even hung up a picture in the same spot it was before, as the holes in the wall were still the same. 
England also made it easy for us with a highly unusual heat wave, and we even found ourselves missing air conditioning, as we carried stuff up and down the stairs of our three-story house. The weather lasted for a couple of weeks, weeks we mainly spent indoors assembling furniture, booking appointments and buying supplies for a whole household from scratch.
The next few weeks were hectic. Trying to slot our girls back into the UK school system proved harder than we thought. With both of them being bright, happy learners with a lot of experience and good attitude to offer, we didn’t expect a solid wall of inflexibility. But that was what we got, and I think it is mainly due to exactly that experience and good attitude that the girls didn’t despair. We finally got them into a school I hope will be the open-minded, creative environment they both need, but it took a while to get to that point, and I was glad to have it all wrapped up in time for our holiday. 

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And now we’re here, in deepest Provence and excited for the next couple of weeks. I’ve even started working on my book – maybe the surroundings, so much like California, are inspiring and I can finish a few more chapters!

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