Follow by Email

Saturday, 5 October 2019



I am honoured to be asked by Beth to write a guest blog. Why? Because I am Beth's biggest fan. In fact, since we met online, I often wonder if we are related because we have so much in common. Perhaps we were stolen by gypsies and separated at birth, destined to live parallel lives.

Years ago, both Beth and I left England's grey shores in search of a peaceful retirement in another part of Europe. While Beth and her husband, Jack, dreamed of a property in France, Joe and I hoped to find somewhere to live in southern Spain. 

After a hilarious house-hunting expedition, Beth and Jack ended up buying a gorgeous but dilapidated estate in France, surrounded by forests teeming with wild boar and deer. Meanwhile, Joe and I moved into a crumbling cottage in a tiny, remote Spanish mountain village. Crumbling is the correct term because we discovered our ancient house was constructed from mud and rocks, held together with a lick of lime whitewash. We knew the house needed work, but we didn't realize that it was in danger of falling to pieces. So, while Beth and Jack set to work fixing their estate and grappled with communication in French, we attempted to stop our cottage collapsing while murdering the Spanish language.

During the early days, our laundry was outside
A word about our husbands, and I'll whisper this. They are both unbelievably grumpy. Yes, they are so irritable, short-fused and impatient that, privately, we call them our bears. Happily, their exteriors hide soft, kind and generous natures allowing us to overlook their grouchiness. 

We also ignore their strict orders not to fill our lives with animals. Beth soon began raising pheasants, partridges and chickens. Meanwhile, Joe and I somehow became chicken farmers and owned probably the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. 

Cocky, the most dangerous cockerel in Spain, in mid-crow
Wildlife and feathered creatures, as charming as they are, weren't enough. Another similarity. Beth and I rescued orphaned kittens. Both bears were sucked into kitten-parenting duties and livestock care and despite initial loud protests, almost confessed to enjoying it.

Two of the kittens asleep on Joe's keyboard
Beth and I both maintain that much of the joy of moving abroad is living amongst the locals. Beth paints wonderful word pictures of their new French friends. Likewise, our village, though small, was bursting at the seams with colourful characters. Take Paco, next door, for instance, who kept us supplied with homemade wine and advice. 

"Pah! My wine is the best in Andalucia," he always shouted, slamming his fist on the table and splashing more wine into our glasses.

It probably was, but we lost the ability to think after a few refills. Meanwhile, his wife, Carmen, ensured our waistlines expanded with cakes and other Spanish deliciousness.

When the Ufarte family moved into the cottage next door, we were treated to nightly flamenco in the street, and Lola Ufarte's antics provided the village with more conversation starters than a soap opera.

"You're such a gossip!" Joe accused me when he caught me deep in conversation with old Marcia at the village shop when I was supposed to be collecting our mail. 

But I noticed he was just as fascinated as I was by whose husband or boyfriend Lola would lure away next. And he asked Marcia if the rumour was true about a millionaire moving into the village.

I could easily continue rambling on about our crazy life in Spain, but I don't want to outstay my welcome. However,  I can't leave before mentioning the two most obvious traits Beth and I share.

Dogs and writing.

I don't think I'd be happy without either, and neither would Beth. They are addictions we have no wish to cure. 

When my beautiful dog, Lola, (named after Lola Ufarte, of course) came into my life at a difficult time, she lifted my spirits and helped me cope. And the writing? Joe threatens to tie my hands behind my back to make me stop, but I'd just type with my nose. 

My Lola, named after Lola Ufarte
I can't believe I've just published the sixth book in the Old Fools series, and I know Beth isn't far behind. She's too modest to tell you herself, but Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 5, is definitely on the way!

Thanks, Beth, and thank you, readers!

New York Times bestselling author





14 comments:

  1. Love being reminded of your first book and I guess I forgot who you named you dog after and she was a character.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reading my book. My thought was that Lola is golden, beautiful and naughty - exactly like Lola Ufarte, haha! Though naughty in a different way. 😁

      Delete
  2. A thread of lunacy exists in the pair of you - heading off on crazy adventures abroad in spite of imminent disasters (and grumpy husbands). I feel a strong affinity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're probably right about the tendencies for lunacy, Carolyn, it sounds as though we're not alone!

      Delete
  3. Loved all of the books in the series and the same with Beth's. Makes me want to visit both places ASAP!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Georgia, thank you so much for reading our books. Ha ha ha, great news that we've stirred that venturesome spirit in you! :D

      Delete
  4. Love both of you and so thankful to you for sharing your stories with us! Yay for more books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, what lovely comments. Thanks so much, and rest assured, we'll keep on writing - actually, we can't stop! :D

      Delete
  5. I love the ‘I’d type with my nose’, Victoria! I think I’m like that too. What a lovely post. I never appreciated how much you and Beth had in common but I see it now. Your love of animals is what I love about you both. Special, wonderful people! Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha, that's writers for you, Val! Thank you so much, yep, we're nutty about our animals. :) xx

      Delete
  6. Lovely post. So glad to hear of another charming expat author living in France. Sharing with my Stella Lucente French page.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's awfully kind of you, thanks so much for reading the blog and sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love both of you and thankful to you for sharing your stories with us!
    As an integrated group of a passionate team of pet relocation specialists, we are dedicated to provide quality services to our clients for safe and successful pet relocation. Visit now on Pet Relocation Services| Pet Moving Services | Pet Transport Services

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks very much for your kind comments, Sunil, it's a pleasure to share our tales.

    ReplyDelete