Summer in Burgundy is hot. Very hot. Sitting at the base of a crag in the shade and it is still 30 degrees Celsius, no wonder I have run out of energy by lunch time! But this is to be our new reality, our new adventure.
It is well known that travel can expand our horizons and open our eyes to the exciting possibilities of the world beyond our doorstep. What I hadn’t realised was that one journey would change the direction of our lives.
The Big Trip that Jon and I went on at the start of this year was meant to be a decompression after 20 years of intensive, high stress jobs. A chance to relax, reset, and re-evaluate what was important to us. For almost 4 months, we explored, we climbed, we met new people, and we lived very much in the moment. We returned fit, healthy, and in awe of the historic and cultural complexity of the small part of Europe that we visited.
It was only on our return that the inward reflection started to happen. Trying to knuckle down to the process of looking for jobs, switching our mindset from curious explorers back to corporate thinkers. We both found it hard to fit ourselves back into a company box. We began to realise that our trip had changed our ambitions irrevocably and that our priorities were now completely different. We wanted to expand our world, to get to know a new culture but not in a transient, superficial way as we passed through, but to get immersed in a new place, learn its challenges and enjoy its delights.
Our trip around Europe also amplified our understanding of the damage we are doing to our environment, from the extensive plastic pollution visible in remote and wild areas, to the large swathes of Greece blackened by wildfires. We want to live a life which is not harmful to the earth, putting care of our environment much higher up our order of priorities. During our trip we intentionally avoided planes, this showed us that travelling by land and sea rather than flying can really enhance the journey undertaken. The process of moving from one area to another becomes an interesting and enjoyable part of the experience rather than a time-consuming annoyance of one queue after another. The thought of returning to jobs which involved frequent air travel was not appealing.
Six weeks after our return we decided to turn our backs on “proper jobs” and work for ourselves instead. We also decided to combine this with giving ourselves a different form of intellectual challenge by living in a new country and learning a new language and culture. We considered various countries and locations around Europe, but finally settled on moving to the Burgundy region of France. A beautiful area with some fantastic climbing as well as being close to many other superb climbing regions.
A brief trip to the area at the end of June confirmed our decision, and we even found the perfect property to support our new adventure. So now, only a few weeks after making the decision, we are back in Burgundy sitting in limbo. We are waiting for the sale of our house to complete before finalising the purchase of our new home in France. We have jumped with both feet into an uncertain future, but we are now more excited than we have been for the last 5 years, and are eagerly relishing the challenge that lies ahead of us.
“Your life expands or contracts according to your courage”
We are using this “limbo” time to get to know the region better, and spending time at the climbing areas that will be furthest from our new home. Fortunately, this includes a north facing crag! For someone used to Scottish summers, the heat of Burgundy in August is a challenge. Although I must confess to being amazed that we have been able to climb when the daytime temperature is 30 degrees or more! The climbing in Burgundy is very technical, and you need to work hard for the grades, even the easy routes feel tough when your fingers sweat quickly in the heat. But more on that in another blog, we have plenty of time ahead of us to get to know the crags better. In the meantime, I need to improve my French!