At the risk of sparking a mass emmigration from England of women in their early 30s, let me tell you about the men of rural France. They are practical. They build things and fix things and they love it. A couple of days after I moved in, the boyfriend popped outside to help the wood man who was delivering our logs. He came back about 40 minutes later and, peaking out of the duvet where I was having a lie-in, I commented that it had taken a while. “I just thought I’d build a roof for the log area and a BBQ shelf while I was there,” he said off-hand. He had no idea all this hammering, drilling, sawing and digging is actually incredibly sexy. Maybe it’s because I worked in the media, but most of the men I know in England are completely inept at any sort of DIY. My friends stare open-mouthed and wistful when I tell them about the boyfriend’s house-building exploits. One visiting friend came over to where I was sunbathing every few minutes to tell me in amazement that the boyfriend was now chainsawing logs/digging up rocks/building fires, to which I would reply “I know, he does that”, and let her wander back to continue watching this spectacle. I sat in the hammock with another friend as we watched the boyfriend build a gate. She gasped and put her hand to her mouth in disbelief as he wheeled out a cement mixer. “He’s got his own cement mixer?! Oh, Katie!”
Rural France attracts or breeds men of trades. Here there’s not much call for TV producers or IT managers, but everyone needs a house building or fixing. However, there are hardly any single women here – presumably they’ve gone to the city in search of work that doesn’t involve heavy lifting – so most of these fit men with sexy French accents are going begging. Transplant them to Manchester and they’d have women falling over themselves. Take the chap down the road – he’s mid-30s, good looking, very physically fit, he makes houses, lives in a beautiful few acres of land and has built an amazing business, he’s lovely and has just split up with his long-term girlfriend. He would have so many offers in England, but he’s sad because his chances of finding a woman here are slim. And now I sit back and wait to be inundated with single friends’ requests to visit.