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THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Property in France

Once upon a time, former night club bouncer, seamstress and professional bed-tester George East and his wife Donella fled to Normandy to escape their creditors and try to live off their wits in a foreign land. Eventually, the couple arrived at The Mill of the Flea, a long-abandoned water mill on ten acres of fields, woods, ponds, streams and mud in the heart of the Cotentin (Cherbourg) peninsula.

Property in France

There, the Easts set about restoring the farmhouse and tiny mill - and trying to restore their financial fortunes. Over the coming months and years, they struggled to survive with a series of doomed schemes including bottling the polluted waters of their stream,  marketing the first-ever garlic-flavoured car deodorisers, and even setting up metal-detecting competitions to try and find the long-dead miller뭩 buried hoard. Having failed at every attempt to make a living at The Mill of the Flea, George East wrote a book as a dire warning to other would-be settlers who dreamed of living the good life in rural France. To the amazement of the author, his wife and (especially) their bank manager, Home & Dry in France (A Year in Purgatory) was an instant success.

Writing School

But financial disaster soon threatened again when yet another of George뭩 hare-brained money-making schemes went awry. The author뭩 not very well thought-out solution was to sell La Puce and borrow even more money to buy a rambling manor house where he and Donella would set up a writing school and holiday centre in the tranquillity of thousands of acres of brooding marshlands. Unfortunately, it was not until the couple moved in that they discovered they were the proud owners of a manor house right next door to a very busy and noisy dog kennels. After dreaming up and opening and failing miserably with what was meant to be the first of a chain of anglo-pubs, George had to face the facts as well as the music, and retreated to England to find a proper job and lick his wounds.

French Impressions

But it was not long before the lure of France and all those interesting people, places, bars and restaurants proved too strong to resist. The Easts were on the move again, and this time to half-way up what counts as a mountain in Brittany. From their rented Finistere farmhouse in a tiny hamlet surrounded by enchanting moorlands, the Easts sallied forth to all parts of the region for the material for a completely new type of book. The mixture of town reviews, Breton recipes, facts, myths and legends and, of course, strange adventures and encounters with locals and expatriate Brits combined to make  French Impressions: Brittany a very different travel book. Again and much to the East뭩 surprise, the formula and style proved popular, and the creaking bandwagon moved on to the Loire Valley for the next book in the series.  With the Loire book published, George's next French adventure will be following the Dordogne river from source to sea. At least, that's plan 'A'...

 

 

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