“You must be mad!”  That was the first reaction we got from friends and family when we first told them we were planning to move to France in the middle of a pandemic.  However, living abroad has been a long-held dream of ours, and with our kids all grown up, we decided to go for it.

We chose Lille because it would be easy to travel to and from London. We’d be able to pop back and forth when ever we wanted – at least, that’s what we thought. The reality has been somewhat different, including several periods of lockdown when we were only allowed to venture 1 km from our flat, let alone across the Channel. It was time to brush up on my decidedly rusty French and start to put down a few tentative roots in our new home.

Since leaving school, I’ve occasionally used my French to order a meal or buy a coffee.  But would I remember enough to be able to deal with the plumber or chat to our neighbours? Slowly but surely, I’ve found words and phrases coming back in mid conversation and with them, my confidence has grown.  Every so often, I found myself remembering long-forgotten afternoons sitting in Mrs Thompson’s French class trying to master nouns, prepositions and reflexive verbs. I confess it didn’t always feel very fun at the time, but I’ve had many a cause over the past year to feel grateful for the excellent teaching I received. Our new life here would have been so much harder without it, so thank-you Mrs Thompson!