• Debbie Howells


We left England behind exactly a week ago, on Monday night – with a loaded up car and a piano and a dog, just as we did when we drove to Ibiza. After watching the south coast of England fade into the darkness, we crossed a millpond English Channel to disembark just as the sun was rising, washing a cloudless sky shades of gold. All we’d seen were a few photos of where we were heading, but eight hours later, when we arrived at the farmhouse that’s to be our home for the foreseeable future, it surpassed any expectations we had of it.

After the chaos of packing and putting most of our stuff into storage, we were exhausted, but even so, the journey felt effortless in the way things do when there is a flow. These are times when it feels you’re on the right path. It was a strange sequence of events that brought us to a house we’d never seen before, but it’s perfect for us - quirky, spacious, quiet, a place not just for writing, but to appreciate the simple things in life – a glass of wine on the terrace, set into trees and with a sunset view, surrounded by peacefulness.

On our first morning, we ended up in the village of Segur-le-Chateau. It was quiet there too, the sun flickering through the young leaves of willow as we looked for somewhere serving petit dejeuner. In the end, we found a small shop which had a single long table at the back. Somewhere between ordering coffee and spreading apricot jam on freshly baked bread, the Frenchman who ran the place came up to us, looking bemused. Slow, he said, very deliberately, taking in our expressions of surprise. Then he said it again. He said it again today, too, when we bumped into him in Intermarche.

Oh, were we frazzled when we left the UK, but clearly it still showed! So we’re determined to

keep reminding ourselves. One reason for coming here was to find a slower paced life, with less stress. Those frenetic days in the run up to moving, we literally raced against the clock to get everything done in time that was fast running out. But no more. From here on, we have a new mantra that’s much needed. #slowyourselfdown.

From Friday Afternoon Distractions by Howells Henson

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