Tout en marchant

Il n’y a pas de chemin ; le chemin se fait en marchant – Life is what you make it.

Steve CracknellThis is a blog about the Pyrenees, walking, living in the south of France, and becoming français.

I was brought up on the outskirts of industrial Middlesbrough, in the gritty English North, the son of a metallurgist who worked for Imperial Chemical Industries all his life. I studied  engineering at university for two years. My destiny was to replicate my father: a hair-cut, a suit, a wife, and 2.4 children.

So how did I arrive here? Something to do with the spirit of 1968 ; I didn’t have to be like my father. Change was not only possible, it was essential.

Also, I had discovered the world of archaeology. Diggers were indeed dropouts. But they were also dedicated, hard-working, tough individualists: dropouts with a mission. It didn’t matter that they were badly paid, I wanted to be one.

A degree in archaeology followed and for several years I moved from one dig to another: Wales, Scotland, Germany. And then to Warwickshire to dig up Romans.

By 1982, however, archaeology had started to grow-up, cut its hair, and buy a suit. My girlfriend cut my hair, but the suit was my choice. Slowly I was sucked into the  routine of a 9-5 job. Slowly I was becoming a replica. The mould that I thought I had broken was being reconstructed from the pile of sherds. It was gripping me ever more tightly, crushing the life out of me.

So I started designing websites and moved, in 1997, with my wife (the same woman who had cut my hair) to a small French village. We now live a few minutes from the Mediterranean, a trowel’s throw from Roman town of Narbonne, near to the medieval castle of Carcassonne – for archaeology still has an influence.

Let’s be clear about it: I am not an expatriate, I’m an immigrant.


2 Responses to “Tout en marchant”

  1. Scott Koban says:


    Please can you suggest a non-tourist book or guide, of the Pyrenees (French and Spanish sides) that might help someone who’s looking to live there permanently decide which are the best spots to search for land?

    Thanks very much,

    Kind regards,
    Scott Koban

  2. steve says:

    Hello Scott,

    I’ll try to help but guidebooks, by definition are for tourists. As the question is a bit off-topic, I’ll reply by email.

    Best wishes, Steve

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