When Brent and Debbie Tyler’s small business collapsed at the end of 2009, they had to act fast as they’d run out of cash and were about to be evicted from their rented bungalow in Cookham, Berkshire. Deciding that taking a leap into the unknown was better than making no decision at all, they borrowed a little money from some good friends, packed up their belongings and headed to a mobile home site just outside Cannes. that they would help to get ready for the summer, in exchange for free accommodation. Whilst there, they would look for work with the hope of settling in the region.
Once in Cannes, the advice was to go and work as a housekeeper and gardener at a villa for someone rich and possibly famous. What no one bothered to tell France’s newest arrivals was that the people they were about to be interviewed by and eventually work for were all blisteringly, yet deliciously mad.
Whilst minding his own business in the garden belonging to one of these certifiable lunatics, Brent gets adopted by a dog with his own obsession, maintaining this author’s theory that sanity is an extremely rare commodity in the south of France.
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“Let me tell you a few things about myself. Since moving to France, I have compared my life to that of a ball spinning on a roulette wheel. I have absolutely no idea where I am going to land up next and it still comes as a complete surprise when I find myself there. Debbie and I have been living in France now for nine years and in each of those nine years we have spent Christmas in a different place.”
“My father was a man who found it very difficult to settle in a job, so much so that when he got up in the morning, his mother used to say ‘What are you going to be today, son?’ Perhaps, it is no wonder that my CV is, how shall I say, so chequered.”
“I live in the south of France with my lovely wife, Debbie, where we seem to hop from working for one stupidly rich lunatic to the next.”
“During our time here we have been adopted by a wonderful dog, Guss, who is not only an amazing footballer but is also both adorable and affectionate. I have never seen a dog who understands people so well and can melt hearts within moments of meeting him.”
“My short-term memory is a shocker and although I have no problem recalling people’s faces, mannerisms and moods, extremely vividly, I couldn’t tell you the colour of the walls in this room, as I type. I have never kept a diary but as someone once put it, I don’t bear a grudge, I just remember the facts.”
“In my spare time I like to walk the hound, write, play games and eat nice food. I am useless with technology. I have no idea what an app is and haven’t a clue how to use social media. I don’t own a Smartphone – I have a brick.”
“I began to write my first book, Cookham to Cannes as I was sitting in our living room in La Garde Freinet. It, perhaps, sounds a cliché but I have always thought that I didn’t write the book – it wrote me. Sometimes, I think that things that happen to you in life can be so astonishing and unbelievable that there is no other way but to commit those thoughts to paper. It’s taken me three years to complete but I think it was worth it. Besides, writing the book was so much cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist.”