During the long grey hours of an office existence there was this single recurring dream, that one day we’d achieve the ultimate goal of Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs ‘self-actualization’ as the Americans call it, ‘personal freedom and satisfaction’ to the European. Because no matter how successful we were in our careers, the ultimate reality is that we were just playing a game. Maybe we were better at this game than others but still – a game is a game, and life is too important just to play at it.
So, as my forty-ninth year became my fiftieth, it was time to seek something else, another way of living, a better quality of life.
How to do it? How to break the pointless cycle of main stream middle class ambition, who's only reward was more of the same? At the time, the answer seemed to be geo-economic – find a location that we liked where the money we had would go much further. Blend into a society free from the Anglo Saxon class-driven model and be ourselves – poorer maybe but happier and free to live according to our own rules.
Such places can be anywhere but they are different for different people and you have to find them for yourself. So we bought a boat in the hope that we’d eventually stumble on ‘our place’, it wouldn't necessarily be marked on a chart, but we’d know when we’d found it. Once found, we’d drop the anchor and start to build a new life.
First step was to sell the old sailing boat and purchase a motorboat which gave us more accommodation for extended cruising. She wasn't fast or flashy but she was designed for sea and weather conditions in the waters off Normandy and Brittany in Western France, with a shallow enough draft to enable us to cruise into and through the French canal system if necessary.
With the boat in Western France we were able to use summer months exploring and house hunting. Fold up bikes extended our potential for trips away from the waterside and during the early and later parts of the year we extended our exploration as touring motorists.
But learning isn't always a positive experience. In four years of house hunting, we developed our ideas of what we wanted through a process of agreeing what we didn't like. Houses on main roads, houses close to electricity pylons, houses near dairy farms, ‘blind houses’ without back doors or windows, modern white prefabs that the French seem to like so much. Houses in British enclaves or in ‘dead villages’ where every other property seems to be a 'maison secondaire'. Above all, we didn't like the atmosphere in central Brittany, where a hushed silence would descend the minute you opened the bar door.
As time passed and the list of properties inspected grew longer and longer, we began to despair of finding the right place for us and in fact, on the final eventful trip when we did find our house, we had agreed to take a holiday from house hunting and concentrate on boating, fishing and relaxing for a change.
So how did we eventually find our spot and what made it right for us? Well, during our cruising we used a small harbour on the Rance estuary as our vacation headquarters. The Port de Plaisance at Plouer Sur Rance, is a small harbour created from the ‘pool’ of an ancient tidal mill. The majority of boats are owned by locals but one or two berths are retained for visiting yachts. It is situated on the left bank of the Estuary about twenty miles inland from Dinard and St Malo and about ten miles (and one lock) downriver from the beautiful medieval town of Dinan.
Plouer had been the beginning and end of every cruise and it was always a pleasure to be there. It was a large enough village to have ‘life’, a couple of bars and restaurants, butcher's and baker's shops, a supermarket not too far away, and a friendly local population used to welcoming visiting yacht crews. So there you have it, Plouer kind of grew on us.
Nowhere else in Brittany could compare. It was our kind of town and our kind of people. Returning to Plouer felt like coming home. And, actually despite our extensive searching it was only thirty eight nautical miles from our first home in Jersey.
Well, the rest, as they say, is history. All this happened five years ago and now we are happily settled into our new life. For the past 15 months Plouer has been our full-time home.The Blog page documents that history and our lives today. Hopefully you'll find it inspirational, instructive, and entertaining.
Oh, one final thing - you may occasionally find references and recommendations along with links to resources. We have put them there to be helpful - you won't find anything here that we haven't tried and tested ourselves - nothing that we wouldn't recommend to a best friend.
David & Susan