And so it begins...

Let me set the scene…….

We were visiting Canada for my mother-in-law Judith’s 70th birthday dinner and the date was the 23rd June 2016. We were on Denman Island; the food and wine were excellent and the company most convivial. It also happened to be the date that the UK government, in its infinite wisdom had decided to hold a referendum on whether the UK should withdraw from the European Union. The dinner guests were a mixture of Canadians, plus British & American expatriates. The general consensus around the table was that, whilst we didn’t generally agree with referenda, we were sure the good old British electorate would save the day and vote to stay in the union….


It was with a heavy heart that I crept into bed on the evening of the 23rd June and a wakeful night ensued, full of political tossing (pun absolutely intended) & lied-to electorate turning. The next day, my mood had not improved and with my faith in the UK at rock bottom, I was slowly beginning to formulate a plan.

Now, we had always planned to come and live in Canada, but not for at least 5 years, or until George, our son had finished his A Levels. The best option I could see for our family, was to accelerate our plans and move to Canada as soon as was humanly possible. In order to facilitate this huge change in our lives, we needed to sell our family home and our coffee business (see it is a blog about coffee). We also owned, what real estate agents might refer to as, a rustic rural property in France, but which anyone else might refer to as, an imaginatively placed pile of bricks. The process, on paper seemed simplicity itself; our friends bought our house, my brother bought the coffee business and after an initial buyer fell through, our house in France was sold. In reality, it was massively stressful!   

Whilst sales were being negotiated and yours truly was ‘enjoying’ being embroiled in the French legal system (I mean, I’m just selling a rustic shack in a field for F’s sake!) I set about looking for a business to buy on Vancouver Island. The tour had taken me from Saanichton in the south, right up to Comox in the north and almost everywhere in-between. I had seen the French Press Café advertised in Qualicum Beach and visited it on the aforementioned tour of the island. The shop was small to say the least, but out of everything I had seen, it was something that I wouldn’t have to totally change and thus alienate their existing customer base. We made an offer ……. that was not accepted.

Trying to view the, buying a business process as dispassionately as possible, we forged onwards and looked at buying a property in Courtenay in the Comox Valley. The aim was to build a specialty coffee roasters and coffee shop out of shipping containers on one of the main arterial routes into the city. This ambitious plan transpired to be fraught with planning issues of various kinds and would largely account for all of our available funds. We decided to make an appointment with the drawing board, once again. Then, out of the blue, our realtor called and informed us that the people that had made a successful offer on the French Press Café had backed out of the deal and it was available again, should we want to buy it.