The Practical vs Folly—and some surprises

My dear Paul is BIG on practicality and I can’t agree more that this way of looking at life has its merits.  On the other hand, to balance it out, I adamantly believe one must incorporate a good sense of folly in one’s life on a regular basis.  This is the stuff dreams are made of!

A dear friend of mine once told me a couple of years ago that I am probably the only person he knows that really does make their dreams come true–and I have to agree.  For without my dreams, I would not be where I currently am doing the things I am doing.

Practicality does fit into this live-your-dreams stuff, because it brings the balance to things, and everything in life is about finding and achieving balance.  There are NO exceptions here!

We are both living our dreams and being practical.  Paul is great about setting up our budget and helping us stick to it.  If we didn’t have this practical approach as part of our plans we would soon find ourselves out of money and scrambling to make ends meet.

We aren’t afraid to do without, though in the past we kind of threw caution to the wind and probably spent too much money on things we really didn’t need.  Living in the motorhome certainly sets boundaries as far as how much we can take with us, so that is good.  Amazon would have gone out of business over the past few months if they were relying on us to keep them in business!

We don’t eat out often because this really does cut into our budget.  But every so often we come upon a place and just can’t resist.  So the impractical show up and we just go for it.

Without allowing oneself to enjoy these precious opportunities when they present themselves our life would be somewhat dull.  It is those surprises that lurk around the corner that bring the zest and joy into our life.

And speaking of surprises, the past couple of days held a few…

The last morning we were at Fanjeaux (a lovely French hilltop town),  I noticed a van from the Netherlands had shown up during the night.  I felt they would be like the other Dutch we know–happy and friendly.  I was eager to say hi and to ask where they were from.  I never got the chance.  Paul had set up the generator earlier to recharge the battery bank and had gone out to refill the water tank.  On the way back he had a bit of a confrontation with the Dutch man over our generator being on.  Oh well, you can’t please everyone all the time.  I am sorry they didn’t turn out to be like our other Dutch friends.

Surprise number two came just a few hours later on the way back to town to try to get the windshield wiper fixed.  We didn’t want to back track because it would take more time and cost us more in fuel.  Just a short way out of town we came upon a Peugeot dealer/shop and I suggested we stop in and see if they could help us.  I told the receptionist the problem and she immediately called a mechanic who came straight over to us.  He lifted the little cap at the base of the wiper, tightened the nut with a twist of the wrench and voila, everything was good!  And it didn’t cost us a cent!  Sometimes things are easy and cheap!

Surprise number three–we are currently situated on the bank of a beautiful creek surrounded by trees in their autumnal regalia.  I feel like I am back in Vermont!  It is one of the prettiest aires we have been in.  We had heard while doing our laundry yesterday that there was a very good open market in Esperaza so we made the decision to stay the extra night and part take.

We were a little jaded because of the disappointing market last week, but we gathered our shopping bag and away we went.  Wow, what a pleasant surprise!  Organic food and so much more.  And the culture was rich with vibrant people dressed in interesting garb with colourful demeanours.  We loved the vibe here, and people were all so friendly.  We both agreed that it is equal, and in some ways even superior, to our experience two weeks ago at St. Antonin Noble Val.

This area, as it turns out, is a real melting pot of cultures.  I was speaking to a man from the UK who told me there was even an English library in the next town south!  In some ways I felt I was back in California with all those people who are hopelessly lost in the ’60’s.  It was a fun experience that I know we will both remember fondly.

Taking risks is what makes you feel alive.  For all of you reading our blog out there, you can do what we are doing or your own version.  Just don’t be afraid to go for the gusto and sprinkle in a nice balanced mix of practicality and dreams of folly and happiness.  And remember that surprises lurk around every corner!

Now I’m off to get our fresh made Bio pizza for lunch!

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Cynthia Smith

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 9 comments
Alan B. Cranford - November 20, 2016

Great article! I sure enjoy the photos you both manage to include…. I am making this suggestion to you rather than Paul as I know “mechanical things” seem to stress him out greatly…. consider having a marine type battery switch installed under the hood – that way when you get to where you camp, he can turn it off so there is ZERO chance of the battery going dead due to Fiat wireing issues…. might sound better to Paul coming from you! [IF your reading this Paul – sorry…don’t mean to add additional issues to your frustration over Fiat electronics!]

Tim Taylor - November 20, 2016

A great in-sight to your life and what seems a fantastic way to be living it. Keep on living the dream.

\Sally B - November 20, 2016

Love hearing how it is all going. We need some food pictures please!

    Paul Smith - November 24, 2016

    Cynthia took plenty of those but, believe it or not, we just haven’t had time to add them to the blog yet!

ian - November 21, 2016

Hi guys, greetings from overheated Bali on Sea. Heres an idea for the faulty fuel gauge, treat it the same as the canal boat, log hours not miles of engine running, work out your average or worse case consumption by measuring fuel uptake then just fill up every 6 hours or so of engine operation. Keep a spare jerry can in case your calcs go wrong. Eventually you,ll get a good feel for it. Have fun mon amis ! Cheers ian of alchemy.

    Paul Smith - November 22, 2016

    Hi Ian,

    The fuel gauge isn’t really a worry, but even though I know from my own calculations that we have at least half a tank, seeing the needle dip into the red is a bit of a worry, especially on a steep mountain road with nowhere to park.

Audrey - November 22, 2016

Totally agree with your mindset Cynthia…..a balance of practicality and folly can make for fun times and unexpected memories, I’m all for that approach. I was so glad to hear you both had a better market experience in Esperaza as its such a great part of life in France. I love having a mooch around a good market to see what looks good to cook into something delicious. Shame about the miserable Dutchman with the sensitive ears! I’ve only ever experienced the friendly ones but I suppose even the quietest generators can be a pain to some people & best used when the neighbours have gone off for the day if that’s possible. Alternatively give them some ear defenders ? Happy travelling southward, look forward to hearing some good news next time regarding getting the technical problems sorted.

Mick H - November 24, 2016

I know it not going to change anything drastically for you but why not use the data screen on your sat nav for extremely accurate distances recording? You can either reset it for each journey, or just let it clock up a cumulative total. Keeping your log will also give you a pretty accurate fuel usage figure, so you will have pretty good idea of how much fuel is in the tank and accurately calculate your costs.

Whenever I travel in France, I always avoid the 2 hour lunch breaks ands Sundays of course!

    Paul Smith - November 25, 2016

    Thanks for the advice Mick, but I can’s see any such facility on my TomTom. I understand that there used to be a third party app for the TomTom which offered distance tracking but it doesn’t appear to integrate with the TomTom any more. Any ideas?


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