Fletcher wedding 2Although Andrew and I met on an On-line dating site (March 2002) it wasn’t long before we found out that we had close friends in common.  The mother of my godson was best friends with a very close friend of Andrew’s late wife, Paula.  In fact, there is a photograph of Andrew and Paula cuddling Mark (aged 6 weeks) nearly 7 months before we met.   Many of you will be thinking that it must have been a very short time between Andrew becoming a widower and us meeting.  Yes, it was.  However, Andrew knew that Paula was terminally ill the first day they met and he did much of his grieving whilst she was still alive.

When our mutual friends found out that we had met and were tentatively starting a romantic relationship they were thrilled.  Indeed, I was one of the single female friends who would have been invited to super when they felt that Andrew was ready to meet someone new and start rebuilding his life again.  They said it was destiny and it certainly felt like it.

We were married in 2005, sold our house in the UK and moved to my farmhouse in France.  The plan was to finish the renovations and then move over to the Bahamas where we had already bought some land to build our dream home.  All that was needed was a child or two to complete our family.  Easy we thought: a split condom in 2003 had proved that I could get pregnant very easily.  So to discover that I had Stage 4 Endometriosis which had badly damaged both ovaries and twisted one tube was a huge shock.  Even more so because I had no symptoms at all: no pain, no huge mood swings, regular periods absolutely nothing.  The only thing that suggested there might be a problem was the fact that I wasn’t getting pregnant.

I’m not going to dwell on our infertility journey here: that’s coming out in dribs and drabs through the blog posts.  So instead this is about the other bits.  The bits that define us as people rather than as a childless couple.  Nearly 11 years down the line and we’re still in France although I do split my time between France and the UK now: networking opportunities in very rural France are very few and far between for an English Speaking Infertility Advocate.  As for the house renovations and that 6 month turnaround, well we realised that was very unrealistic after about 5 years!  Everything takes so much longer here and we also wanted to actually enjoy the experience of living in France.  Until we moved here the house was used for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year and for some time in the summer if we were lucky.  The land is the Bahamas is still there growing “jungle” and the move will happen when the time is right.  In the meantime, the renovations are finished and the house is on the market.

Andrew is stepping into this role as a Concierge Publisher.  We decided that having done the hard work of self-publishing my own books that we could use our experience to help others through the process of publishing their books.  Whilst he’s doing this I write.  The monster has been woken and I can’t stop myself.  There are currently four books in progress at the moment plus another 35-ish on my writing bucket list.  I’m not sure of the precise number because it keeps on growing as I think of another book that I MUST write before …

The only other thing to add is that we do have a number of animals to keep us on our toes.  There is Bailey a 3 yr old BergerX who was so badly treated by his previous owners that it makes me want to kill them.  We’ve had him for just over a year and he still cowers beside the sofa when it’s food time, or in the corner when we want to put his lead on.  He knows that good things are about to happen and yet the fear is so ingrained in him that he can’t stop himself.  He adores me: which is as it should be.  Every morning I get greeted by the Baileydance: tail wagging so much the wiggle reaches his nose.  The apron strings can be extremely short and he sits by the garden gate for hours waiting for me to come home when Andrew takes me to the airport for my occasional trip back to the UK.  He’s not sure about the phone unless it’s on speaker: put close to his ear he thinks it’s going to become a weapon.  During my last trip away he discovered the joys of video Skype calls although he kept wondering to the back of the laptop looking for me.  He’s getting there: it’s simply going to take more time than with other rescue dogs we’ve had in the past.

Then we have little miss Cattier.  She’s a desert dog who was born on a building site in Dubai!  Some British ExPats realised that the mother and her pups were being targeted by the builders who were beginning to chuck stones at them.  Operation Dog Rescue followed.  Cattier’s mum and siblings were rehomed in Dubai whilst she ended up in France where we were introduced to her.  She’s been with us about 6 months now and is a huge contradiction in terms.  She’s a street dog and knows no fear, as you would expect from a pup who’d had to fight to survive every day.  She weeds the canal: can’t have “things” in your drinking water.  She’s also the only dog we’ve ever known who stuffs her nose right into the water, probably a legacy from having to drink from below the surface because of the rubbish.  Yet she’s also an “ickle girl” who doesn’t want to get the hem of her pink dress dirty.  This usually takes the form of following Bailey (Berger crossed with mountain goat) up a steep bank only to find that it’s so steep and high that she can’t get down on her own.  “elp, elp, I’m only an ickle girl!”  When she gets down and is safe her grasp on reality changes: “I was sooo sooo brave I got down all my myself!”

In addition, we also have Moet and Little black cat.  They’re not in evidence at the moment, except at night when madam is shut in the kitchen, because Cattier, despite the name, doesn’t “do” cats.