Just The Two of Us
Last year, we were busy running a Mulled Wine stall in Richmond, London, on a weekend, dreaming of getting married and moving to France to start a new life.
To say our then-current situation was insane is a bit of an understatement.
On 2 December, London and the South East, where we were living, entered Tier 2 restrictions following the second national lockdown.
Government regulations banned social mixing indoors between households. People were not allowed to socialise with anyone they did not live with, or who was not in their support bubble in an indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
However, people were still allowed to see friends and family outdoors in private gardens or public spaces. The limitation was that you could not socialise in a group of more than six outside, which was called the ‘rule of six’.
Pubs and bars also had to close, unless operating as restaurants, which meant on many of the weekends in the run-up to Christmas our little stall in the market was the only place people could get a drink.
Sadie has an alcohol licence, which the local council granted every weekend, and the market could operate selling takeaway food and drink. All the stallholders had a good Christmas, but we did exceptionally well, with queues of people stretching around the market as we struggled to keep up with demand. The money that we earned we put aside to renovate our new property in France.
We married at the third attempt in 2020. The first date was set for June 27, which we had to cancel because of the first lockdown. We set another date for November 18 — and the government announced another lockdown starting from 17 November — just our luck!
Miraculously we found a registry office in Lewes that was still performing wedding ceremonies so we arranged to be wed on 10 December.
The ceremony was restricted to two eight people, which meant we could have a couple of witnesses, our children, and my mum. We even managed a lunch reception at a country hotel where we could invite two tables of six to celebrate ‘as long as they were from the same household’.
We spent our wedding night in the Ashdown Park Hotel, a rather grand Gothic country hotel in the middle of the Ashdown Forest where one could imagine Sir Arthur Conan Doyle staying to write The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Under the circumstances, it was a magnificent day, shared with loved ones and family.
I had proposed to Sadie back in 2018 on Vancouver Island, just after she finished recording her latest album and obviously before we knew anything about plans to start a new life in France.
Because of Brexit, it became obvious that being married would make it easier for us to become French residents, so there was pressure to tie the knot before we moved. We also had to take ownership of the house, which had been dragging on for four months, as we needed proof that we had moved permanently before the 1 January 2021 Brexit deadline.
Several times we kept saying to ourselves, ‘it’s not going to happen,’ — meaning both the wedding and getting the keys to the house in France.
Through a collective force majeure we pulled off both challenges, and as readers of this blog will know, we moved to France and got the keys to the house on 30 December, two days before the Brexit deadline!
Sadie experienced a wild Bohemian upbringing and is not the marrying-kind, so I thought. But she kept on dropping hints about getting hitched in our 10 years as a couple and when we were together on Vancouver Island making the album, I realised that she was the woman of my dreams, a beautiful intelligent, interesting partner, a free spirit, and a talented artist.
Our backgrounds could not be more different, we come from totally different cultures and clash on so many things, but in the middle of many misunderstandings, and the place where we always come back together, is one of mutual, love, trust, and respect for one another.
The one thing I have realised about Sadie, and me, for that matter, is the inordinate pressure we place on ourselves, and therefore our relationship, which sometimes leads to anguish. But there is also a passion and intensity that is equally strong and when our energies are in tune it is a highly formidable and creative coupling on many deep levels.
To celebrate our first anniversary we booked dinner at a fantastic French restaurant in the old town of Montluçon, still not quite believing we are married and have become French residents.