This Idyllic French Life

 

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Several unrelated comments from around the globe have got me thinking recently about idyllic lifestyles. It has set me thinking that what is one person’s idyll is most likely not another’s. How does one clarify ‘idyllic’? Can life be idyllic in the cold and rain, or does there have to be sunshine? Or perhaps everything needs to be calm and perfectly peaceful to be idyllic?

If calmness and sunshine are prime ingredients for perfection then my life is far from perfect! My ‘zone’ consists of a lot of noise, a tangle of children, dogs, chickens and two cats,  and an endless stream of kids and teenagers coming and going. There’s work to consider, then there are the deadlines, school-runs, home-work, tennis lessons and tournaments, the latter involving plenty of practice on far-flung courts; I love the noise and the energy of my world, and someone once said children keep you young; I think they were right, they certainly keep me on my toes! But then, each and every one of you out there has the same complexity in your lives, too.

To me, my life is idyllic, but this state of contentment begs another question; can it be bought? Does one need bucket-loads of cash to be happy? Does contentment involve endless holidays to far-flung places or a cupboard of expensive trinkets and toys?  Is a new i-Phone a guarantee of peace in this increasingly materialistic world? I think not, I think ‘idyllic’ is more a state of mind, at least it is for me.

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Everything in my idyll looks amazing at the moment, come rain or shine. Rain just heightens the colours and the sun brings out the bright green of spring’s delicate new growth.

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Storks are nesting everywhere we look and cows are happy to be out grazing once more.

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Trees nod slowly in white and pink, burdened by their annual crop of blossom.

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I can’t tell you the number of times this month Gigi has told me how she loves spring, and I hesitate to tell you the number of times I reply with “April showers bring May flowers.”

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Between the sunshine, of course, it’s still an odd month; one day the skies are the bluest of blues and we are eating outside, and the next it’s bucketing with rain and we have lit the fire, again!

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France is often thought of as a place where the pace of life is a little slower, especially in the country. At the risk of repeating myself, we linger over lunch and dinner, and we spend plenty of time preparing our food and enjoying all that life has to offer. And on our  forays to town, I am also a great fan of the café culture. I love nothing more than to sit with friends or family, preferably outside, and watch the world go by with a coffee. It’s a time to chat, to take time to enjoy our surroundings, and to simply be an onlooker as life’s daily routines unfold around us. Izzi and I did just that on Friday, enjoying the spring sunshine in Rochefort. The town was certainly looking its very best, and the Place Colbert was particularly beautiful; every path and the two restaurants at either side of the square were lined with purple tulips and beautifully tended spring plantings.

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But there are times, even in France, when there simply is no time to sit and linger over a cup of coffee; no matter how much we want to, no matter how much we want to slow down, life doesn’t always work like that,  and even in rural Charente Maritime life can sometimes be fast-paced. This is especially true when we go back to the trials and tribulations of the tennis world! When there’s a tribe of children involved and those children happen to be on tennis teams and playing in tournaments then life can race past like a floodwater under the bridge of daily life.

Yesterday started bright and early; the house was up with the lark at dawn and whilst more sane humans were still sleeping or eating breakfast, Gigi and I were on the road as the sun rose, zooming over the long bridge to the Île d’Oléron for an early morning tennis lesson.

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There was no long leisurely Saturday lunch afterwards either;  a quick sandwich grabbed on the run and then back in the car once again with Millie for a team match against Saintes.  The host city is utterly charming but it was still a long afternoon, however Millie won, making it all worthwhile, and like any parent in the same situation I quickly forgot that I had stood for four hours in the cold!

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This morning, there was no Sunday lie-in either, as we had to leave the house at 8am for another tournament in another location; oh, and how I would have loved to have grabbed a Starbucks on the way! In fact, I’d like to have done that both this morning and yesterday. If I close my eyes I can just imagine standing court-side, sipping the smooth foam of a cappuccino. The club-house was open and to be honest I was offered a coffee, but it was a tiny little espresso, a thimbleful of rocket-fuel that was strong enough to propel me through the morning and probably the entire afternoon as well, but it didn’t do the job in another regard – it wasn’t a large tactile mug that I could have cradled in my hands to ward off the early chill in the air.

But there’s an upside to the epic tennis journeys; because whilst it is indeed often a manic rush on the outward journey, there is nearly always time to dawdle a little on the way home; to stop and take photos, and sometimes we’ll take a left-hand turn instead of the usual right and see where we end up, what new lanes we can find. The routes we travel are nearly always picturesque; there is no pounding down a motorway or a 6-lane highway. Instead our roads are a maze of gently criss-crossing tarmac, cutting a way through villages and farmland and  an ever-changing landscape that has the power to metamorphose into something totally different depending on the time of day and the time of year. The time spent looking out from behind the wheel of my car is like watching a nature film, permanently playing in a flickering series of screenshots, filled with colour and shadow; at times the view is gentle and satisfyingly predictable, and at others it is quite astoundingly panoramic and vividly soulful.

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So to go back to my previous thoughts, I think my life is utterly idyllic; it may not be conventional, but I get to enjoy everything French and for the most part I get to enjoy life at a pace that allows one to enjoy it; to be truthful there is nothing I would change.

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Well, perhaps there’s one tiny thing; I have to admit that I do miss Starbucks! I’m not a fan of take-aways, we have never used them and our children have never been to McDonalds, for example. Fast-food is simply not a part of our lives and never has been, and although I feel quite happy about that I do guiltily admit that I miss that quick cup of relatively decent coffee. It was just too easy to stop at the drive-thru and pick up a gentle cappuccino; so perfectly fast and so convenient. It’s a terrible admission, but better you know the truth!

So I wonder, is there one thing you miss if you have left your home country? Or one thing you think you would miss if you did?  Of course we all miss our family and friends, sometimes quite desperately, but I’m just talking about the small things that really are quite inconsequential but that we miss all the same! What’s the one thing you really need to create your perfect idyll ?

59 thoughts on “This Idyllic French Life

  • I loved the photos and I had to ask myself, why is it “this” country life seems so idyllic whereas I keep myself busy to avoid the monotony of a quiet life? I live on the coast of southern Maine, a beautiful part of the country. I’m only about 3 km away from the beach but in the winter the area is a ghost town and in the summer a madhouse. Still there are beautiful areas of the state but I don’t see the same idyllic life that you paint in your small town or village. I know I have to live near a city or large town where there is theater, museums, restaurants etc. I would go mad living on a farm etc. Yet when I look at your photos and read your posts, I have to ask myself, “what are you not seeing and taking advantage of in your “own back yare’?”

    • Hi Jacqueline, I really do think it is a state of mind, a sense of quiet contentment. Trust me, there are many times when life is not perfect, there are many very testing and trying times, but I always try and look on the bright side and realise that no matter what, I am very lucky, I love to be busy, but I also love the peace and quiet and beauty that surrounds me, that is what I look for, beauty in everything I see, always look for the good and try and be positive, we are so much more fortunate that so many people, I only have to watch the news to realise I never have a right to complain. Have a lovely week and seek out everything that makes you happy. Susan x

  • I hesitate to say, as I don’t want to spoil the uplifting gentleness of the picture that you paint, but for me, it is my health that I need to then be able to appreciate wherever I am. When this gets taken away from you even the most beautiful of surrounds work their magic no more.

    • Hi Catherine, of course you are so very right, I was looking at the lighter side of things as one cannot compare a Starbucks to health, family, friends or anything of any importance whatsoever. Hope you have had a lovely weekend, Susan x

  • As always lovely photos Susan, it’s amazing that you manage to find the time to appreciate all the little moment quite so often!
    As long as we have a supply of fresh fruits and a roaring fire in the winter we’re happy over here. It’s funny how people’s idea of an idyllic place changes with the time of year though, last summer we rented a very colorfully painted caravan, very Enid Blyton (my youngest daughter has a slight obsession), and spent two weeks staying near various beaches and it was the most idyllic thing imaginable!

    • Hi Lily, your caravan and Enid Blyton description sounds utterly delightful and quite the most idyllic summer holiday imaginable; your girls are certainly very lucky to have such an imaginative mother, mine would adore to do something like that, you have set me thinking! Susan x

  • Funny you should mention Starbucks, I was just thinking about it yesterday. My last Starbucks was almost a year ago when we left Los Angeles and although I did not buy them all that often, I do miss my grande, nonfat, decaf cappuccino.

    • Hi Nadia, no I didn’t buy them that often either, but when I wanted a coffee it was useful to know it was available, especially for early morning starts with the children! But I guess we can’t have it all and to be honest it wouldn’t be the same here if there was a Starbucks or take away around every corner, I would hate it, but I was just dreaming a little! Next time I shall get up five minutes earlier and make my own and take it with me in a heatproof mug! Susan x

  • Perhaps an idyllic life starts first one’s mind. Being content wherever you are-whatever you have. And as Catherine mentions, having one’s health is a major factor.

    I do find that when I travel, I am usually content to be wherever I am. I try to get into the rhythm of the place or I simply become an observer and enjoy. And for that one little thing–access to a really, really hot cup of tea whenever I want one:).

    • Hi Mary, yes I think it is a state of mind as I mentioned, I have great contentment and happiness with my family and my daily life which to very many people would really be very boring. As for missing tea, Roddy is a tea fan, he actually travels with English tea bags wherever he goes, that and a jar of Marmite! I am not a tea drinker, although I do love a cup of green tea in the afternoon and have taken his lead and now travel with green tea bags! It’s the little things in life that make such a difference! Susan x

  • I so enjoyed your post and pictures, Susan. I am looking forward to experiencing a French Spring next year. As to what I will miss when I am there, I am not too sure but I will find out in the next few months. However, I am very sure of what we will not miss and of what we will be gaining! Our summer breaks there over the last 10 years have shown us that.

    • Hi Gill, it sounds as if you are moving here permanently this year? If this is the case, very best of luck and how exciting, I am sure it will be a great move. Spring here is so gorgeous, everyone and everything comes out of hibernation, life is renewed, it’s a wonderful time of year. Having said that winter is fun, winter is a time for long evenings in front of the fire with friends and family, spring and summer and times to live outdoors again. Do tell me where you are moving to. Susan x

  • I am that odd American who doesn’t like the taste of coffee. I’ve never had a latte. Even stranger, I live in Seattle, the home of Starbucks. So lattes would not make my list of items most missed.

    For me, it’s books. I need a library near by as I plow through books at a rapid clip. Kindle helps on trips but it’s no substitute for the feel of real paper in your hands.

    I’d also miss the availability of different cuisines. While I appreciate French cooking, I also want Italian, Chinese, Thai, Greek … the list goes on.

    And English language theater.

    Grandchildren, family and friends .. but that part’s true for nearly all of us.

    • Hi Patricia, don’t worry I am the odd English person who doesn’t drink tea! I totally agree with you about kindle and e-books, they are just not the same, I love the feel of a real book and they will never replace these for me either. In the bigger towns and cities different cuisines are available, we have a fantastic Asian restaurant in Rochefort, but I would love a good Italian! Susan x

  • Sigh….how your words take me away to the arena of calm!! So nice to wake up here at our lake house, which is my idyllic place on earth, and read thought of another who sounds as happy as me!! And yet you and I are completely in different parts of the world….you in lovely France and me in the Deep South United States! I just love the comparisons of our lives. Family. Peaceful minds. Curiosity about other places in our world. And most importantly, making the time to enjoy every day of our lives , no matter what may come!!
    And thank you. You inspire me to write more…
    I wish we could be pen pals!!

    • Hi Janey, we are on opposite sides of the great big pond but in many ways obviously so alike, enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Do send me an email (on the website) and I would love to chat more together, it would be fun I am sure, I love hearing about other people’s lives, so many people have so many fascinating things to say. Hope you have had a lovely weekend, Susan x

  • I think you are getting at the difference between contentment and happiness. Studies show that people are less happy when they have kids but they are more content. Not that one needs kids to be content, but it shows the distinction. Happiness is immediate, in the moment, but you get used to whatever caused the happiness and cease to gain happiness from it after a while (the hedonistic effect–seriously, it’s a term). Contentment is less exciting, but it stays with you.
    For me, my happiness and contentment would be raised by a good Mexican resto in town. As it is, I have to get my fix by cooking it myself.

    • Hi, not at all, I am merely chatting lightheartedly about seemingly idyllic lifestyles. I am both extremely happy and content so I guess with five children I blew that theory! Seriously they make me happy every day, of course they can cause much heartache, but that only makes the happiness more real. What a coincidence, we introduced 8 French friends to Mexican food last night, our eldest daughter and my husband prepared a feast for us all complete with Margaritas, the French thoroughly enjoyed it! Susan x

    • I have read your comment, which I don’t often do, but it stood out to me as something that didn’t have any purpose being attached to this lovely journal of a family’s adventures, trials, tribulations, joys, thoughts, sights – and insights…….. who pause to see the beauty along the way – which the writer shares bravely and openly, baring her soul to us at times, sharing the highs and the lows, so that all of us get to come along on this journey as well, if we choose.
      I don’t believe Susan was getting at the difference between Happiness and Contentment at all. She’s obviously both, and she works very hard to lay the foundations to make and allow for that to happen. And again, I believe she was talking about what makes life Idyllic, and to say that studies prove you are not happy if you have children but are more content is just rubbish. Children can make us/allow us to be content, true, but they bring fresh happiness all the time (along with some heartache, fears, and worry), and those things can be what makes the happiness even more genuine.
      Furthermore……..she invites us to comment and join in on the narrative, to connect our journeys with their family’s…….. which again, is a brave thing to do in this day and age. I think all of us should put ourselves in the brave blogger’s very exposed shoes…………she’s far braver than I am, and I find my life enriched and I am most grateful for her sharing.

      SUSAN -please keep sharing by means of your honest and delightful delivery. Please stay light-hearted and whimsical whenever it suits you. Honesty – happy, sad, good, bad, silly,mad – all appreciated! We love it all. You can trust your openness with most of us who read this journal. Please don’t let any reckless comments or critiques that you may or may not receive in the form of a reply ever dampen your enthusiasm! Please.
      That’s a commenter’s journey, their motivation, not yours.
      Write it for you, write it for us! Stay authentic – just as you are. Thank you for the countless hours of writing and brilliant photos – it’s a travel/adventure book/film, with a splash of the mundane! SO real. Thank you!!! 🙂

      • Hi, thank you so much for your lovely lovely words, I write from the heart, this is a journal of our lives in France and I am so glad you are enjoying it, it’s a fabulous way to bring up the children. I so appreciate your loyal following, it truly means the world to me. Susan xxx

    • Dear francetaste – I’m not very well educated like some on here, but even I can see that Susan was talking about ‘idylls’ and wasn’t getting at any ‘difference between contentment and happiness’. Quite where your gobbledygook goes to after that is beyond me. I think it went down a rabbit-hole just like Alice. It also quite upset the mood of contentment and happiness I get from this blog.

      Sincerely, Phil (from the house up the back of the shingle beach that gets bloody cold in winter)

    • I don’t think Susan was talking about the differences between happiness and contentment at all, I read the blog for what, I believe, it was meant to be, a look at what people perceive to be an idyllic lifestyle. I hate to sound confrontational but I have three children, I think I have an idyllic life full of great happiness, I’ve never heard of your theory before and I’m afraid I certainly don’t believe in it

  • I like that comment about happiness and contentment. I Know that I’m contented in my world….the pleasures from my garden….books…friends.the happy comes from the stepping out into the larger world….lucky enough to be able to travel…especially to France….good health….all the new contacts and new friends to be made.

    My world is very calm and peaceful and totally idyllic…however one needs to go out of their comfort zone occasionally to be reminded of it….what would I miss….not much. I am so adaptable. I’m like a turtle or a snail and carry my world with me.

    Happiness and contentment are choices…..my life is not perfect…but I try….sometimes really hard to make the glass half full….half empty choice.

    Ali x

    • Hi Ali, I believe it is all a state of mind, I only need to look at the news to realise how lucky I am and to know I have no right to complain at all. Life can be very tough at times and it is far from perfect but it is still an idyllic lifestyle in which to be able to live and in which to be able to raise our children. Susan x

  • Loved your post today, Susan. Thank you for this further glimpse into your life. I am very adaptable so I can be happy almost anywhere as long as I am with those I love. The things that make life sublime and that I would miss if I were without– a big mug or pot of hot tea with milk and sugar in the am; gardens, trees and flowers in city parks or country lanes; water, be it an ocean, river, creek or lake nearby; books.

    • Hi Anne, thank you so much, I too can be happy pretty much anywhere so long as I have my family around me! Oh and perhaps that really nice cup of coffee, for an English person I am rather unusual in that I don’t drink tea, but I do understand the comments about tea, Roddy absolutely has to have his cup in the morning and in the afternoon. Susan x

  • Bonsoir Susan. De nouveau un bon sujet de réflexion ! Je pense, comme vous et ” Francetaste” , qu’ une vie heureuse est faite par l’ addition de petits bonheurs ( comme boire un verre à la terrasse d’ un café ) mais aussi, et surtout, par une vie simple et sereine ( bonne santé, vie familiale, sécurité, vie culturelle, bel environnement etc… ) où l’ argent n’ est que le moyen d’ accéder à une vie équilibrée ,voire idyllique./ Another great topic! I think, like you and ” Francetaste”, that happy life is made of a bit of happiness ( not sure for translation… help me!), as drinking a glass at a café terrace but also, and above all, with simple and serene life ( as good health, family life, cultural life, security, nice landscape etc…) whereas money is just the way of getting to a balanced life, even idyllic! Post Scriptum : à signaler que la place Colbert à Rochefort-sur-mer a été le lieu d’ une scène célèbre ( danse ) dans le film de Jacque Demy :” Les Demoiselles de Rochefort”. Le café actuel a été construit après le tournage du film pour témoigner et garder le souvenir!( Notice that place Colbert in Rochefort-sur-mer was the site of a famous film screen ( dancing ) in the movie of Jacque Demy: ” Les Demoiselles de Rochefort ” ( 1967 ). The present Café, in place Colbert, was built after the production of the film to testify and to save memories of this event. Très belles photos comme d’ habitude! Merci beaucoup.

    • Comme toujours merci Philippe and I will continue in English for the sake of my readers. I totally agree with both your comments, I do think it is all a state of mind, we lead a very simple, by many people’s standards a very boring life, but for me, for my family, my husband and our children it is a peacefully idyllic lifestyle that suits us well. Funny you should mention Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, I was talking to the children about this musical only yesterday and telling them we really should see if we can watch it all together! Susan x

  • Wonderful post, Susan! I think you have found a very idyllic life there. The scenery, the quieter pace of life, the joy and laughter the children bring to your daily existence, the gardens, the dogs and your growing menagerie — it all makes for an extremely happy, peaceful, and satisfying life. I don’t necessarily buy into the notion of being more content without children! I would have to say that your children make your life happy and exciting and greatly contribute to the idyll you call your French Oasis.

    As for my idyll, it would include a porch or patio where I could enjoy the weather and sounds of nature and say hello to neighbors; my dog; a book; and wine! And water somewhere nearby!

    Nancy
    Xoxo

    • Thank you Nancy, I too think we have found an idyllic lifestyle, it is not everyone’s idea of perfect but it suits our family, we are all very happy and you are so right, for me, a huge part of that happiness comes from my children. Your idyll sounds pretty perfect to me, the sounds of nature are so important, so much to hear if we just listen and I’ll join you in a glass of wine on the porch! Have a lovely week, Susan x

    • Hi Lorri, thank you so much, I would most likely hate it if Starbucks ever did come here, it would spoil the very essence of what we love about France, which is totally contradictory! It is only when I am running late early in the morning that I think it would be so nice and so convenient just to grab a coffee!!! Now I have come to the conclusion I am just going to have to get up earlier and make one to take with me! Hope you have had a lovely weekend, Susan x

  • Yes, when you talk about heading out in the early morning and wanting that warm cup of coffee with you I can certainly feel it – really would make the morning better. I do periodically take out from Starbucks and enjoy it on my ride to wherever I’m going. However, if I lived in your town or any town in France and there suddenly appeared a Starbucks I think I would be SO upset.

    Peanut butter. I would miss peanut butter. Although I would gladly give up everything to live in France.

    Lindy, NYC

    • Hi Lindy, You have hit the nail totally on the head, if Starbucks were to appear here I would also totally hate it, it would change everything we love about living here so it is just a dream and one that on one hand I would love and on the other I absolutely would hate! So I shall instead make my own!!! Our two eldest daughters love peanut butter, the rest of us loathe it, there is always much discussion about it. Hope maybe you will get to visit, Susan x

  • I have never moved to another country (more’s the pity), but I did once move halfway across the U.S. I anticipated missing family and friends…and my beloved ocean…but I never once gave a thought about my stomach! I missed fresh seafood and coffee syrup and frappes (not to be confused with frappés) and very thin-crusted pizzas! So I can completely understand your yearning for that cup of coffee!

    • Hi Cecelia, I totally understand what you mean, we feel we know all the things we will miss, obviously family and friends, maybe the countryside, certain towns, but never in my wildest dreams did I think the one thing I would miss would be a Starbucks! I didn’t even use them that often, so it’s just a silly thing and in truth, if we did get one here in rural France I would absolutely hate it! Hope you are now fully settled wherever you are and not missing too much! Have a lovely week, Susan x

  • Such interesting comments today…words that make the world go round!!
    Oh what I would give to be able to read those French words!!!! Even the typed words look romantic! My 2 yrs of high school French will not take me far, I’m afraid!😜

    • Hi Janey, yes this seems to have stirred up quite a few emotions. French, Italian too, it’s the Latin languages they are so full of emotion both spoken and written. Have a lovely week, Susan x

  • I am happy and content, what I would miss is opening the back door in the still dark mornings and not hear the birds. Hopefully in this sometimes upside-down world, that will never happen.

    • Oh I pray that will never happen. I love the sounds of the birds, we were walking down in the Marais yesterday evening as it was so warm and beautiful and we heard a reed warbler. It was Roddy who knew what it was, I had never heard one before and it was the most beautiful music to my ears. Susan x

  • I totally agree with ” Houghtonsulkycompany “. Merci, merci, et encore merci à Susan de passer autant de son temps à écrire, avec talent, de si belles histoires, de répondre à TOUS, sans compter les si belles photos de sa vie et de sa région. Et tout cela en s’ occupant de 5 enfants… Chapeau bas, Madame ! Je vous dis, nous vous disons, mille fois merci pour votre blog d’ une si grande qualité.( Thanks, thanks and thanks again to Susan who spend so many times to write, with talent, such nice stories, who address all the comments, not to say the beautiful pictures of her life and her county.All of that with a family of 5 children to take care… Hats off, Lady! I tell you, we ( the suscribers ) tell you thousand thanks for your wonderkul blog). Philippe

    • Thank you so much Philippe, to be honest I am totally surprised and quite overwhelmed at how supportive my readers are. Thank you, it does take time, the children always now say “is it for the blog Mama” as we take another detour or I stop with the camera yet again. But I feel very privileged to be a guest in your Country, we have been made to feel so welcome, and we love life here which is why I feel compelled to share it. It’s my way of saying the simple life really can be a very happy enjoyable life. Merci Mille fois, Susan x

  • HI Susan. I enjoyed reading this. It’s so true that what gives contentment to one person is an anathema to another. Back in the early 70’s, when I was first married, we moved to South Africa, to Johannesburg in the Transvaal. We lived there for 4 years. What I missed the most were the seasons. In the Transvaal, it is completely dry all winter, with frost in the mornings and evenings and clear blue skies all day, and hot and sunny all day in the summer, with a total downpour around 5pm!! No lovely oak or beech trees, only Eucalyptus. I missed seeing the leaves unfurl in the spring and the trees turning first their fuzzy green and then the vibrant green of the whole new leaves. I missed spring bulbs and the lovely herbaceous flowers in the gardens of pretty English cottages. I really missed Autumn with it’s wonderful colour and richness and I realised too that I missed walking through the crispy golden beech leaves in a forest. The shafts of sunlight through trees in woodland. It was all sensory and atmospheric things that I missed and it was brought home to me with a bang one day when we went to the cinema 9no TV in those days!) and they showed a ‘b’ film, first of London (oh I yearned for a red double decker bus!) and then of sunlight flowing through the branches of trees in a forest – I could FEEL it! Having experienced it, I could sit in that dark impersonal cinema and actually feel as if i was walking through that woodland or standing on the pavement in London with the bustle of people and buses going by. Needless to say we returned to England, having missed our family and friends as well of course, but also having learnt that although sunshine is wonderful, too much of it is, well, too much!! I think your life does sound idyllic, to me, so enjoy every moment with your wonderful children. Have a lovely day.

    • Hi Marian, thank you so much for your wonderful comment, it was such a pleasure to read, the way you describe England and the Autumn, oh how I know exactly what you mean, having spent four years in Florida, we missed the seasons so much. The warmth and the heat and the pool are wonderful, but when it is all year round it ceases to be magical because it just becomes normal. Now we are revelling in the first warmth of the year, the first meals taken outside, feeling the sun on our backs, new life, leaves, flowers, the garden awakening, insects, bees, I could go on and on, for I so totally understand what you mean. I don’t need a lot to be content and happy, my family and our peaceful calm surroundings, ours is a simple life but one that I enjoy immensely focusing as much as I can on all that is positive. I hope you too have a lovely day, although Izzi, who returned to the UK yesterday, says it is bucketing with rain! Still we need rain! So enjoy your day and your week, and thank you again for your lovely comment. Susan x

      • yes it is raining here and many trees are still dark with no leaves on them grrrr! It is actually damp and wet Susan.

      • Hi Juli, I know, I feel your pain! Our daughter went back to Uni in the UK yesterday afternoon and she messaged me today and said it’s raining and horrid! Beautiful weather here in the Charente Maritime, it is looking sublime at the moment, new growth everywhere, and 18C, we are enjoying every second of it whilst it lasts! Susan x

  • Hi Susan
    It was a long read, as for me it is not Imaging what you wrote. I could see it in my own eyes, I have cruised that France since I was young. This is the life I saw when I was growing up from my mother’s side of life, them being from a French side of a family though they did not live in France. But myself having touring the French aspect of life, I would never change France for another country. I lived in UK for many years. After I decided it was time to move to France, I realised my daughter was half way through university and I had to wait to fully finish giving her what I always wanted, her education. And finally this is on the brink of the end. She will graduate this summer and from then, I will keep up with my dream of living the French country life I had always wanted.

    After all it is France and its healthy country life style! Just cannot wait to be there.

    I can feel all the runs you are doing with the children, I have been there, I enjoyed it to the full. Enjoy them days, it will soon be over one day haha lol. mine is over, got my life back haha lol! mothers do get their lives back one day!

    Hugs to everyone in Poitou Charentes!

    • Hi Juli, oh I can feel your excitement! Not long now. Time flies, I love every minute of the school runs/tennis runs, we chatter in the car, I love being a part of their lives and wouldn’t change a thing. It’s spring break for two weeks now so lots of fun with the children, I love it when they are home! Have a great week and keep planning, Susan x

  • Susan, I love reading your posts! I am transported to another part of the world that is different and in some ways very much the same. My happy place now is sitting on my patio with my family and our 2 Jack Russells enjoying the lovely Spring time weather and watching things burst into bloom and turn green.. It’s a glorious time of the year.. I have a Starbucks within walking distance of my home but there is nothing like having my own mug of coffee early in the morning while sitting outside. Enjoy your week and keep posting the lovely pictures.

    • Hi Carla, very different and yet indeed much the same, for instance the two Jack Russell’s, where would we be without our dogs! I envy you your Starbucks, not that I even went there very often and if one did come here I would hate it, it would take away the very essence of what I love about France, but still one can daydream a little! Isn’t it just the best time of year, today has been so lovely here, warm and sunny all day, the garden is finally starting to look really good again, everything is so green, birds are singing their little hearts out, it feel wonderful to be outside and as our children are on two weeks spring break we are making the most of it! Have a lovely week too, Susan x

  • Just to add a quick footnote, the comment by FranceTaste was totally misunderstood as I know she meant well. However, thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and thank you all for being so incredibly supportive, in truth I am quite overwhelmed by the loyalty from my readers, for once words fail me, but thank you from the bottom of my heart. Xxx

  • I would guess that we’re pretty much in the same boat as your family Susan. I grew up in London and wouldn’t return to live in a large city for anything. Happiness for me is absorbing and being close to the nature that surrounds us and I find myself avoiding big towns more and more. We need a new car (the horses chewed the outside and the dogs chewed the inside) but neither of us can be bothered to do anything about it! Having said that, I appreciate that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (some of my friends are horrified that we have no shopping malls to hand ;-), but it suits us down to the ground. xx

    • Hi, I think we are very much the same, including the tall long lanky skinny sons!!! I totally agree about absorbing nature, yesterday I took the dogs for a walk and it was just one of those days when I just felt incredibly lucky, everything was just so beautiful. I can imagine our lifestyle would be a nightmare for many people, but I love it and it suits us too! Susan xx

  • The eternal problem, as soon as it gets a bit warmer we can cut all of Jack’s off and make them shorts for the summer, because after a winter of growth his are struggling to cover his ankles!

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