Don’t you just love Facebook memories? I’m firmly of the Facebook generation (unlike my grandchildren!) and one of the things I love is the way it reminds me of what I was doing on the same day in previous years.
This morning I was reminded that one year ago I arrived in France, ahead of lockdown, to ensure that one of us could establish residency before the end of the Brexit Withdrawal Period and thus secure a number of benefits that had existed for many years but would no longer be available after the end of 2020. We coined a word to describe my situation, a Brefugee. I’d driven all the way from Sussex to South-West France, via an overnight ferry, in my trusty tiny little Toyota, packed full of black bin liners containing key possessions. This photo was taken just after arrival.
I last blogged in April, after my RDV (rendezvous, aka interview) at the Bordeaux Prefecture. At the time I was told that my residency card would arrive within 6-8 weeks. Little did we know at that point that it would actually be many months. It finally arrived on 6th October to a great deal of joy all round and, finally, the ability to organise travel back to see the family.
Although theoretically I could have travelled outside France – and most crucially been allowed back in as a resident – with just the email acknowledgement of my application we had made the decision at an early stage that I wouldn’t risk anything going wrong and would stay in France until my actual card arrived. Too much was at stake for both of us to risk losing this protection of our rights.
Interestingly those people who have most understood this decision are friends who either have direct personal experience of waiting for immigration status to be settled or their immediate relatives in succeeding generations.Until the card arrived there was a real sense of being a stranger in a foreign land. That feeling has now shrivelled and it really was as though the world came back into colour from black and white.
Most importantly, I was able to make a long-awaited visit back to the UK to see my nearest and dearest who I hadn’t seen for a year. A year is a previously unimaginable length of time to be apart but somehow we managed. FaceTime and WhatsApp helped of course, but it was the deep-seated knowledge of the love that binds us which got us all through more than anything else.
This last year has been a very difficult one for us all in so many different ways, as many different challenges as we live in our different circumstances. Ultimately we can only speak about our own experience; its been tough. We’ve been so grateful to all those dear people who have looked out for us whether through invitations (when Covid restrictions allowed), calls, messages, and generally checking in. We will be eternally grateful to each one of you.
So now I am a fully legitimate resident of France, Covid travel restrictions are being eased for regular family visits, and recent developments will lead to my husband being able to join me full time. Blessed indeed!
There’s no report from the garden, or any other aspect of our lives, in this post; I just wanted to mark the first anniversary. But there is a lot to report and I look forward to the next time I write. In the meantime stay safe, happy, and positive in outlook.