11

When my sons started school here, they spoke only English. At school it was a case of sink or swim. They swam and in just a matter of months went from being undyingly grateful that mama spoke French, to cringing with embarrassment at my mispronunciations and grammatical errors. Oh for their fluency!

10

My mental image of Farrow &Ball, a glowing Aga, children and labs gambolling over gleaming tiled floors faded into the cold reality of being often covered in cement and lime plaster. Friends in London meanwhile wrote that they pictured me sipping wine on a sun drenched terrace by a pool, “living the dream”.

9

I’d bought books on every conceivable subject, from straw bale building and Living in France, to DIY plumbing and self-sufficiency, but I was nevertheless ill-prepared for the reality of life as single parent in a foreign land. It’s not just the language that can be hard to understand but the very different approach to things.