Tuesday, 25 June 2013


When we told friends that we were coming back to France for an extended stay, usually their first question was 'What are you going to do with your beagles?' The answer started out simply that my mum was going to have them to stay with her. Three weeks before we left she rescinded the invitation. Panic stations. What to do. There was no question that at 18 and almost 16 they couldn't go back to the kennels where they had holidayed for the 8 months when we were last in France.....a stay which had been fraught with myriad 'prepare yourselves emotionally' phone calls, massive vet bills and a cost that almost equated to private school fees. We thought about not going, after all these were the beagles that our life as a couple were so intimately entwined with. We had beagles before we had babies. And we took the beagles to the hospital to meet each respective baby (except for the one born in France) and each time they rolled their eyes and with stoicism moved one step lower down the pack hierarchy. My husband made me a special bespoke lead perfect for pushing the pram and walking the beagles around the neighbourhood. Together, we became part of the local scenery....Wayne at the post office would ask after my beagles by name yet had no idea what my children were called.

Yes, they were old, yet the vet assured us that there was no evident reason that they wouldn't live through the three and a half months that we were going to be away. So, at the eleventh hour, we put an ad in the Saturday paper and received over fifty responses from people who would consider looking after them. The first couple that we met, immediately started kissing them and fondling their ears....alarm bells were ringing....and then they told us how much they would charge. The second couple never returned our call as we had made the fatal mistake of taking all of our children as well as the beagles on that visit. Then one rainy Saturday, my husband drove out to a farm, that had only just escaped the recent bush fires and met an incredibly kind hearted couple who really wanted to look after them.  So we left them there and they were happy, with each other, sniffing and exploring.

Last week, we had the five year old's class rabbit home to spend the weekend with us. I'd joked with the teacher that this would never happen in Hobart as we have 'deux chiens de chasse' or in english, 'two hunting dogs'....who wouldn't have been able to help themselves. On queue the emails and phone calls started. Followed by the hard decisions. As I write this, one of our beagles won't be coming home again and depending on the lab results, the other one may not be either.

Our time in Uzes is almost over. Soon we will be packing up and heading back to Hobart. It has been a very strange feeling, being momentarily suspended between two worlds. My husband and I love it here, however, let's not kid ourselves, we're outsiders, interlopers. We have been living a self indulgent dream. While my French may be competent enough to see me give birth in French, through the rigamarole of buying new shoes for my children (and this is no mean feat even in English) and able to understand the middle aged letch in the cheese van at the market who told me that I should eat that particular cheese, drink red wine and then go to bed with my boyfriend.....I am a long way away from being able to communicate and not sound like an illiterate vegetable. My children love nutella crepes and no school on Wednesdays, yet, deep down, I think they'd rather be back in their comfort zone in Hobart......



  1. So sorry to hear about the beagles... Must be very hard to have to take care of everything from such a great distance when they've been part of your life so long. I joke with my inlaws that I've had the cats longer than the husband - but they don't find this as amusing as I do. Enjoy your remaining time in France, bon courage!

  2. Oh gosh, I am so sorry to hear about the beagles...So so hard. Going back home without your steadfast dogs is going to make the transition a bit trying. There isn't much to do except for make the most of your time there and enjoy it. To be honest, I think your temporary but permanent like stay there is the best sort anyway. Much longer and the French bureaucracy and the quaintness disappears eventually. Australia is still very much the lucky country and you can always plan another one of these sojourns next year! As they say, Courage courage, allez hop!

  3. I'm very sorry you won't be heading home to both Beagles. The trip home will be very poignant. Bonita xx

  4. I feel so sad for you reading this post. We had our dog before children - they are so pampered before the arrival of kids, and then the poor things do move slowly down the pecking order, and have to put up with being tortured by toddlers, missing out on walks if time doesn't permit, and being booted unceremoniously outside when it all gets a bit much inside. After such a long time with yours, I'm sure that they will be very missed. Keeping my fingers crossed for you that you have at least one to welcome you home. I don't think your time in France is self indulgent at all. Sometimes the difficult things (for your children) give you the best life lessons and memories. xx

  5. Hi Romy - Aah... Beagles - I have just written a post about dogs!!... we had a Beagle many years ago - his name was Chomper ....They are unique aren't they?!.... I also relate to your three months in France as we did this a couple of years ago. We have a little house in the middle of nowhere and spent three months there re-doing the garden. How lovely for your children having an experience like this! I am sure (knowing Beagles) that you beloveds have had the most wonderful time on the farm!! Jenny

  6. How sad about your beagles, we lost a dog once when we were away for a month- it was very sad.

  7. oh romy i'm full of tears for your doggies...and you. this can't be easy. soon you will be home and it will be good.

    i just know it.


  8. This is so sad about your beagles. I know how hard it it to say goodbye to a four legged friend, we lost our 14 year old schnauzer last year. Dogs are part of the family. Gosh I hope you get to see them again when you get back to Aus. Strange as it seems I think sometimes they like to make their departure when they know you can deal with it the most.

  9. So sad to hear this :( best wishes to you and your family x

  10. I am really really sorry about the beagles Romy.

    I am sad for you and the kids.

    Thinking of you.

    And will see you in 4 months. I will start a count down and take you shopping and make you drink champagne at 9.30 am.

    Take care xxxxxxxxxxxxx

  11. Oh I am so sorry about your dogs. I feel for you - we have lost dogs and were devastated. They really do become part of the family.

    Your time in France sounds magical - maybe all the more magical for being a complete change from your usual life? Your children will remember it for years to come....

    Take care Romy.


  12. Romy, I am very sad about the illness of your beloved beagles. The timing is especially awful for you all, so far away. Enjoy your last moments of your amazing trip, the beagles I'm sure enjoyed every moment of life on their farm adventure too. Hugs. x KL

  13. I'm so very sorry to read this, Romy. I know how you anguished over leaving them. I'm looking forward to seeing you again and catching up on your jolly jaunt J x


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