French sunshine

I recognise the sofa on the screen, and realise Bev is back in her house in Cheltenham. She’d spent the previous six months with her husband Rich travelling through Europe in their motorhome, and I ask her how she feels to be back. ‘It’s nice being in the house but I’d rather be in France. It’s FREEZING,’ she laughs.

Bev was in Portugal when COVID19 started to close Europe down, heading to Lisbon for the city’s half marathon. She said: ‘Spain was talking about closing their borders and we thought, oh shit, what do we do? We didn’t want to get trapped in Portugal. After getting bitten by a dog, the last thing I wanted was to get trapped in a country where I didn’t feel comfortable running.’

They didn’t want to get trapped in Spain either, and so decided on a monster fourteen-hour drive to get to France, just making it with only a few hours to spare. Bev said: ‘Our friends who run a hotel in the Alps got in touch and invited us to go and stay with them, so we headed there and ended up spending three months with them.’

They parked the motorhome on the hotel driveway and lived in that, despite offers from their friends of accommodation in the then-shut hotel. Bev said: ‘We’d cook and eat with them, play games with the kids and had so much fun. Oh my word, we drank so much though. The wine and snacks would come out and after a couple of weeks we had to impose some designated dry days. My stomach was enormous,’ she laughed.

The lockdown in France was quite strict; people were only allowed out for an hour, only allowed to exercise within a kilometre of your home and cycling was banned. Bev said: ‘You really were locked down in your small area. We had to print off a form with the reason, date and time to carry when we went out, just in case we got stopped by the police.’

Luckily Bev had Battle Bootcamp in Cheltenham who’d moved their classes online, meaning she could join in. ‘The weather was amazing, and BB doing the online stuff was just perfect. I’d get up in the morning and do my online workout, then go back to bed with a cup of tea. Then I’d head to the shops, have lunch, lay out and sunbathe and read books in the afternoon, cook dinner and do another workout in the evening. It was great, and the time just flew by.’

It was so great that Bev and Rich are now thinking of buying a house in France. ‘It was an amazing opportunity for us to be able to live there for those three months, rather than just the odd week skiing or visiting in the summer. We could see the season change, and the snow on the mountains melt. I could’ve cried when we left. We’ve still got to work out the logistics of it, and see how complicated it might be, but it’s still on the cards.’

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