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En Gard book cover

En Gard
Reflections of rural France

Written by Alistair Scott
and Sandy Thompson

ISBN: 978-1-901253-47-4
(Old ISBN: 1 901253 47 3)

200 pages, paperback, 146mm x 208mm.
2 Plans
Published by Leonie Press, March 2005.
Reprinted June 2005

Price: £ 9.99 Postage and Packing:

e-Book versions
Kindle format ISBN: 978-1-909727-09-0
Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN): B00JD1JHQ0
Click here to buy from Amazon

About the Book

Sandy Thompson writes: Moving from an English city to a French village is like moving to Pluto. Another world. Not exactly the chance to re-invent yourself, more an opportunity to be the person you always knew you were - given half a chance. 'En Gard' describes the adjustments and the changes we have undergone, in attitude, in manners, in the colour of our socks. There are daily adventures, excitement and traumas, and some straightforward hard slog. The book is a patchwork; a reflection of our lives here. It also includes what Steinbeck called 'hoopdedoodle'; descriptive asides in the form of letters to friends.

We found our house on the Internet. It was both beautiful and cheap. We convinced ourselves that it was next to a pig-farm or a nuclear power station - why else was it still for sale? It turned out to be in a lovely village, in a lovely part of the Gard department in the far South - but old and neglected. In the original idea we had imagined something more ready-to-go. We bought a camper-van and Alistair did 8000 kilometres looking for something better. He didn't find it. So we decided to buy the house we loved, and to get our hands dirty. It was not straightforward.

For instance, when Alistair and his brother tackled the sewerage system they cut through the bedrock using a diamond cutter. At a Y-junction in the centre of the courtyard they found soil, not stone. And in the soil they found a human skeleton...

The main characters in the book are ourselves, and our neighbours, a gypsy family of seven. They have dragged us kicking and screaming, singing and dancing, into French rural life. Our understanding of all things French has been accelerated by our relationship with them; what is important and what isn't, the nuances, the food and wine and especially the pastis. The family constantly 'borrow' eggs, cigarettes, brake fluid and ladders. They live life passionately and not always happily or smoothly. Their ability to bounce back from setbacks is miraculous. Life alongside them is a dangerous cocktail of guns and alcohol, pig rustling, horse racing, 'Ann Summers' parties, a capella singing and much more.

About the Authors

Alistair Scott and Sandy Thompson

Sandy Thompson

Like many art school graduates Sandy had to earn her living doing something completely different for most of her life - working in a casino with a lot of other delightful misfits. She kept the creative flame flickering by writing short stories, making silver jewellery and painting in watercolour.

Moving to France has given her the time and space to write more, and she will be teaching watercolour there, when the dust settles.

Alistair Scott

Moving to France is the latest adventure for Alistair. One amongst many. Expert at nothing and living in a world of specialists, he's at a slight angle to the rest of the universe, and has turned his hand to many things. Sailor, lecturer, roofer, writer - all part of a rich tapestry. In this small French corner of the universe, he at last feels perfectly at peace.


Living France, September 2005

En Gard is the story of two English city dwellers who fall in love with an old and neglected house in rural France and how they eventually buy it. The couple leave behind their jobs, friends and family in Brighton and set off for their new life in a small village near Uzès in the department of Gard.

This is a charming account of the couple's integration into a vibrant rural community and the anecdotes of day-to-day life where something always happens. Well written and very readable, this book would be of interest to anyone thinking of making the same life-changing move.

Stephanie Jenkins, Book Reviews, Living France, September 2005, Page 76.

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