When I bought my house in France in 2001, I never considered that I might ever actually have to live here. I was relatively well off at the time (no longer, sadly), my mum needed a place to live after she and my dad split up, and there was this huge ramshackle house going in this tiny stone-built hamlet nestling among the vines, for which the owner only wanted 290,000 old French francs (the equivalent of about 27,000 pounds).
'You paid two hundred and ninety thousand?', said my new French neighbour, aghast. 'Bloody hell - they saw you coming!'
I very rarely think about the future, so I never foresaw that my mum would be diagnosed with cancer, or that she would become so ill that she wouldn't even be able to make herself a cup of tea. So I went about my career in London in the usual way, eventually becoming the business partner of ex-blogger and international jetset businesswoman Tabby Rabbit, with a swanky office in Chiswick, a lovely team of writers and designers, and a tip-top portfolio of tech-industry clients stretching all the way from San Francisco to Dubai.
Which is all very well in London, but I'm now back in France caring full-time for my mum, while still trying to manage a team of lovely people in London, work across 34 timezones* and cultivate a tip-top portfolio of tech industry clients stretching all the way from San Francisco to Dubai.
And as if this wasn't sufficiently temporally and geographically 'challenging', just as I was on the point of leaving the country I also quite unexpectedly acquired a boyfriend** in deepest Cornwall.
All this would be OK, if it wasn't for the fact that when I bought the French house, I unwittingly chose one in a location that is infuriatingly just out of reach of the broadband signals radiating out from the two nearby villages.
They saw me coming, alright.
Trying to care for an invalid, manage an international business and have a long-distance relationship with the aid of one telephone line and a maximum internet connection speed of 45 kilobits a second is difficult. When one of the frequent Languedocien thunderstorms knocks out the telephone line for four or five days at a time, the situation becomes...well, I'm an optimist, so let's say 'laughable'.
Last night, though, I was listening to some music on my laptop in bed, when a message flashed up out of nowhere saying 'One or more wireless connections are in range. Click here to connect'. Barely pausing to wonder whether the first of those two sentences was grammatically correct, I followed the instructions, mesmerised by the possibility that someone out here in the vineyards of rural France might have a wireless broadband network.
Miraculously, it connected, I downloaded one (spam) email and scurried to MSN Messenger to see if there was anyone online I could talk to. Another message flashed up: 'No wireless networks are in range', and I was back alone in bed with my laptop.
I haven't seen the signal again since.
It's funny the technological luxuries you get used to. I bet Robinson Crusoe never had this trouble.
* I counted. Although some of them are the same, just with different names. Either that or there aren't 24 hours in a day after all - which may come as unwelcome news to Jack Bauer.
** Not that I'm complaining about this. At all. Quite the opposite.