There were a lot of bizarre situations in 2020 and being filmed for UK TV was one of them. I had contacted Channel 4’ A New Life in The Sun’ back in 2018 when we decided we were going to relocate to France. And as our journey progressed, they stayed in touch. Once our dreams of owning property here and building our Glamping site came to fruition, they came to film our adventures!
Lights, Camera, Action
Having a camera follow you around is a very surreal experience. At first, we were all on our best behaviour in front of the camera, very conscious of what we were doing and how we came across. We had all worked so hard on the outside of our house I was a bit taken back that they wanted a tour of the inside. It was not our priority time wise so there was stuff all over the place. I’m sure if it’s shown on TV it will look great thanks to the editing team; but believe me there were unpacked boxes and piles of washing everywhere! Oh well, now you know…
Filming during Covid
After our first visit from producer, Taylor, we got the news that Covid restrictions meant the TV programme could no longer have UK camera people working in France. The show was following people in Spain, Portugal and Italy as well; so it must have been so stressful for the producers.
Luckily, they had found experience camera people over here to work with us. Iris was the French replacement – thankfully she spoke good English. She was very patient, good fun and she loved our dogs. The dogs grew so comfortable with her, they would bring her toys each visit, knowing that Iris would play with them.
We soon got used to the Covid temperature checks and health questionnaires she had to fill in on each visit; all the while keeping distanced and wearing masks etc.
Filming on Site
A lot of the filming took place on our property; although we did have visits to the local tourist centre where I tried to explain in very bad French who we were. One day Iris filmed the digger driver lifting out earth for the reed bed, and followed the progress of our veg garden – not very glamorous is it?
Putting up our marquee was a good day, because we had several friends come for the day to help, and then we all had lunch together. Iris showed us the GoPro footage and it made the marquee being erected all look so easy and quick. Actually, on reflection, it went up quite easily and it felt good to sit as a group with friends, old and new, enjoying lunch and feeling satisfied by our progress.
I got a bit choked up after putting up the marquee – looking at what was one of the first structures to go up on the retreat.
On one of the hottest days in June, Iris came back to visit. I think it was around 35 degrees but with no breeze or shade, so working on the field was tough going. John was shovelling 9 tons of gravel and sand into the reed bed, and he was so hot he couldn’t wear a microphone.
I was trying to figure out how to put our newly delivered flat pack beds together. My eldest daughter was asked by Iris if we were any good at putting furniture together and generally speaking, we are (actually I kind of like the challenge). Her answer on camera: ‘My mums the flat pack Queen!’ – words I wish she had never uttered.
It got so hot that day the sweat was flowing off my forehead and into my eyes, I could not see the instructions and my brain was on melt down. My daughter, who is very fair skinned, with blonde hair had started to turn bright red and looked like she had just walked under a shower! All I remember saying is ‘this is a health and safety issue I can’t carry on!’
And yes, out of all the hours of footage, that’s probably the bit they will use in the show isn’t it!
The tall and the short of it
John is a very strong, he actually held world records for power lifting when he was 16. In fact, I think one of them is still unbeaten. He is also a lot taller than me, so I think getting us both in camera shot was a little challenging at times.
We visited Les Lacs Bleus de Touvérac for one lot of filming. I would highly recommend a visit to this stunning location when you come to stay at Forest Meadow Glamping! We were working with a cameraman (who, incidentally, had also worked with a very famous British wildlife icon), and had a hilarious time trying to get both John and I into shot. He basically had to create a booster seat for me and prop me up with cases and boards – it was hysterical. My feet were dangling like a child as I was all propped up so I could be level with John on camera.
Why did we choose to go on the show?
We never took part in the programme to be famous. We did it for us and our family – to be able to look back and remember what we have achieved. Lots of people we know have said ‘you are brave for just going for it’. I don’t think we are, being brave is facing something you don’t want to do every day – we are doing what we always dreamed of.
But maybe now my children will be inspired to go and get what they want out of life because we took that leap and made it happen; and it is out there on TV to remind them!
I’m looking forward to watching our story unfold on TV, my daughter not so much! And John? Well, he’s already interviewing for a PA for his fan mail – HAHA!