Celebrating Life

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It’s Spring Break and two weeks of holidays for the children, but we’re not packing our bags and heading off on vacation. We couldn’t even if we wanted to, as life in the spring revolves around tennis tournaments. However, we’re more than happy to stay right where we are because nature at this time of year is putting on a spectacular show, rivalling the glitz and glamour of any theme-park.

All we need is a good pair of shoes, a camera, the dogs, our children and as many of their friends as want to join us and we’re off out walking; sometimes through the local fields and tiny vineyards, sometimes down to the marais. It really doesn’t matter where we go; the weather has been fantastic, even if thunder clouds have threatened in the distance inland we’ve been spared their consequences. Everywhere is looking magical, the trees get more leaves and the landscape turns greener every day; it just feels so good to be outside and to feel the warmth from the sun again, to breathe in huge lungfuls of clean fresh air and listen to the children’s constant chatter. It’s just one of life’s pleasures to hear their squeals of laughter as they discover new finds and yucky insects! Sometimes we’ll take a picnic and walk for hours; we’ll run and skip, tripping over ruts in the ground as they set hard in the dryer weather; it’s healthy for both the mind and the body, it’s convivial, it’s wonderful family time and what’s more it’s free.

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My father died of Motor Neurone Disease just before his 90th birthday, and it’s a horrible, horrible disease. Even when he was unable to do much at all he took great comfort in the beauty all around him, and although he couldn’t talk or walk very far, his garden gave him great peace. Not a day goes past when I don’t think about him; he was both a farmer and a fantastic gardener and I so wish I could ask his advice on so much we’re doing here in France. Some of you may follow Ellie O’Connell’s brilliant blog Have Some Decorum. Ellie has ALS. I do not know her but I have been a huge fan of her blog for a long time. She is young, she writes brilliantly and from the heart, and she is an inspiration to us all; the courage she shows is quite incredible. This post is dedicated to her and her brave fight and to my dear, dear father.

Today I want to share the gorgeous countryside around here with you; I am increasingly grateful for these simple pleasures in life, so come along on a virtual walk with us and enjoy the Charente Maritime in April.

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Give the children a camera and a walk takes on a whole new meaning, lend them one of Daddy’s cameras and they’re in heaven!

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We don’t really notice the time or the distance we cover. Every now and then we slow the pace down and take in everything around us, and then we’ll race ahead again like the dogs.

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Occasionally we’ll stop, flop down on the grass and have a water break or practice gymnastics!

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And then there are times when we’ll take the car and find a deserted beach, easy to do at this time of year before the madding crowds of the summer descend upon us.

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Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope you are having a lovely time; celebrate life, let go of the unimportant things and cherish those you love. Susan x

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59 thoughts on “Celebrating Life

  • Sometimes the best vacations are the ones to have at home. I am sure your father is looking down and beaming proudly to all his friends in heaven :”that’s my daughter!”

    • Thanks Nadia, it’ lovely to go away but there is always something special about being at home too. My Father never used a computer so he’s probably still wondering what on earth a blog is and what I am doing! But I’m sure he’s definitely looking down on the garden and hopefully thinking we are making the right decisions! Have a lovely Sunday, Susan x

  • Been lurking for about 1 month on your site & just want to say I love your posts and your photos are just dreamy! I so look forward to seeing your pictures. Thank you for sharing your home and life. Truly inspirational

    • Hi Leeann, firstly welcome to the blog, fabulous to have you following along and thank you for taking the time to comment. I love hearing from people and the interaction, it’s what makes it all so special and why I love sharing our French life. Hope you have a lovely Sunday, Susan X

  • What a lovely post Susan, you have without a doubt inherited your father’s green thumb, I am sure he is very proud! It has finally reached appropriate walking temperature here too (well almost), we set off for a hunt to find some ice lollies this morning to celebrate the sky finally being blue!

    • Hi Lily, thank you so much, the sky turning blue sounds like the perfect excuse for ice lollies and a celebration and doesn’t it make a difference, suddenly we all walk that much taller and we have smiles on our faces! Enjoy the arrival of spring weather with your children. Susan x

  • All of the children seem to be having such a good time, so inquisitive with their cameras! There’s nothing better than a good family walk followed by a Sunday roast, such a British tradition, isn’t it? Your walking route does look a touch more interesting than ours though!

    • Hi Helen, it’s a tradition that I have always held on to, although sometimes we do have the Sunday roast in the evening as in the summer no one really wants a big hot meal at midday! But yes, it’s such a British thing to do, although we have successfully got our French neighbour’s loving a good English roast with all the trimmings! Have a lovely Sunday, Susan x

    • It is indeed, suddenly they are looking at every bug, every tiny wild flower, all the things they would probably never have given a second glance had they not had a camera in their hands! Enjoy the rest of the weekend, Susan x

  • Here, in Australia, we are supposed to be heading towards cooler weather, but we are all still in shorts and t-shirts, the birds are still singing like they are welcoming in the summer and the trees are still all very green. It is the time of the year when our daily temperatures, although going in different directions, meet yours. I quite like thinking of this coming together from across the globe.

    • Hi Catherine, I like that, the bonding across the globe as our weather coincides for a short while! I am sure after your hot summer you cannot wait to wear jeans again and to feel cool, whereas we cannot wait to put on a pair of shorts and start swimming! Not quite there yet but it’s not far away, today the doors and windows are wide open and I can hear the children all playing in the garden – the happy sounds of summer! Susan x

  • Good morning. I have been following your blog for quite some time and always enjoy reading about your life in France. I live outside of Houston, TX. I have recently taken up oil painting and wonder if you would allow me to use your photos as reference for a painting? I love several in this post and think they would make nice little works of art. If you would like to see my work, I have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DebraRileyOilPainting/. I especially liked the photo of your two girls walking down the path, and the child sitting in the field with the wheat in the background, in this post.

    I am not a professional, by any means, but do show in a gallery for our local art league. Of course ?I would credit you for the photo source. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

    Debra Riley

    >

    • Hi Debra, great to hear from you and how terribly nice of you to ask if you can use my photos to paint, of course you can, I am very flattered! Our daughter sitting in the field is called Hetty, you might like to know that for your painting, the two walking together are Hetty and Gigi. I hope you have lots of fun painting, it is something I would love to be able to do, our daughters are very artistic, inherited from their grandmother but the genes sadly skipped me altogether! Would love to see some of your finished paintings I will go and have a look at your Facebook page. Have a lovely week, Susan x

  • Beautiful, beautiful post. I love staying home for holidays……nothing like enjoying what is right before you. Sweet dedication post. I lost my Dad to cancer when he was 58……way to young…..he loved to take walks with us.

    • Hi, thank you so very much. I agree, there is something rather special about staying at home, going off and doing things that are indeed all right here and just relaxing. 58 is indeed way to young, so very sorry to hear that. I hope you have had a lovely weekend with your family, thank you for taking the time to comment and welcome to the blog, great to have you following along, Susan x

    • Hi Ali, if you are a walker, we do have some wonderful walks around here, so much to see, so much incredible wildlife down in the Marais, it is a nature lovers paradise, Susan x

  • As an oil painter (an aspiring one!) I find your landscapes and vignettes of God’s creation so beautifully photographed and the compositions are so ripe for the painting! Your daughter taking a photo of the calves is adorable. Animals bring such delight to our lives. And, how blessed your daughters are…. enjoying nature and life in complete peace and safety. The thrill of running with their pets,discovering little bits here and there of the wonder of nature, but most especially having a mother to love them and teach them the glories of nature….how sublime! I wish every child could be experiencing life this way! And in a world where people rush about and take little time to write the well written word, I find your blog a solace to my spirit, a delight to my eye, and so delicious to read! Thank you!

    • Hi Melanie, Lovely to receive your comment and thank you, I love receiving comments and interacting with everyone, it’s what makes the blog so special. I envy anyone who can paint, our children have inherited their grandparents artistic talents which have totally by-passed me I’m afraid! How I would love to give every child in this world the opportunity to live this lifestyle, impossible I know, but I do know there are so many children who would love just to go for a walk and run carefree through long grass, I wish I could show them how important the simple pleasures in life really are. I hope you have had a lovely weekend and lovely to have you following along, Susan x

  • I love that you all go exploring! Your little jaunts so so enjoyable, even from over here. Thanks so much for taking us along with you!
    Xoxo,
    Nancy

    • Hi Nancy, there is nothing so much fun as exploring, we just never know quite what we will find. The other day we saw a white albino coypu, of course it moved far too quickly for us to take a photo, but it was really exciting. Great to have you coming along with us! Can’t you just hear the children chatting away and Bentley of course telling Evie what to do! Susan xxx

  • Just found you site, and I’m glad I did. Your property is gorgeous. My father-in-law was from France, the Basque country, and he would say our place in Oregon, USA reminded him so much of his home. I’ve been there once, but must go back. Beautiful photos!
    http://www.haveadanehill.com

    • Hi, welcome to the blog, so glad you did find me and great to have you following along. I know the Basque Country well, we used to live down there many years ago, beautiful country. You really must come back, it’s a lovely country with very special people, but then you also live in a fabulous part of the USA. Hopefully spring is with you now and you have had a good weekend. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Susan x

  • THANKS for mentioning ELLIE and HER BLOG!
    SHE IS A GORGEOUS GAL with A GIFT of writing!!!
    YOU KNOW EXACTLY what SHE is going through………………
    I just came in from the GARDEN……..it does give SO much comfort!

    PS. I am NOT getting YOUR POSTS STILL………….does anyone know WHY?I sign up for BLOGS and they are NOT delivered to my email!!YOU and a HANDFUL of others……..SO MADDENING!

    • Hi, she certainly does have a gift for writing, such talent. I know just what she is going through, I watched it with my Father, he lost all his facial muscles and speech, it was horrible. I have no idea why you are not getting my posts, the only thing I can suggest is try unsubscribing and then subscribe again, maybe that will do the trick, or maybe subscribe and you will find that actually you weren’t subscribed at all and that WordPress had unsubscribed you without you knowing, I think that is the most likely – who knows what the Internet does!!! Hope you have had a wonderful weekend, Susan x

  • J’ avais l’ impression de prendre l’ air en lisant le récit de votre sortie dominicale en famille pendant qu’ il pleuvait des hallebardes ici à Lyon ! Très touchant l’ évocation du souvenir de votre papa. Quelle belle journée en Charente-Maritime vous avez eu ! Un vrai dimanche de printemps./ I felt like I’ m getting some air when I read the story of your family sunday outing while it was raining cats and dogs here in Lyon! Very touching to hear the memory of your dad. What a beautiful day you have had in Charente-Maritime! A true spring sunday. Philippe

    • Bonsoir Philippe, we have had the most beautiful day here! Yesterday we had the rain, today the sunshine and long may it last! I so wish my Father could visit us here, he would have absolutely loved it. Hopefully you will get some better weather this week! Susan x

  • How lovely! your Springtime seems to be galloping on apace! and so good that the children can enjoy long walks and watching nature. Although we haven’t been walking in the countryside, this weekend we went to our grandson’s 5th birthday party. 31 5 year olds in a community hall with a huge bouncy castle slide!! The energy!! They loved it. I made his cake and he seemed to like it thank goodness! But it wasn’t watching him at the party that gave us the most joy, it was afterwards, when we went back to my daughter’s house. My husband and I looked around – our grown up children/stepchildren, grandchildren, including my little 2 year old step grandson, all together in the living room, watching Charlie open his presents, laughing and helping him make lego toys, eating pieces of birthday cake, having a cup of tea and a welcome rest, ‘buying’ pretend ice creams from a 3 year old with an ice cream bubbles maker!! We looked around and saw how lucky we are to have this wonderful family that all get along so well. This is our joy. And for the future, taking our grandsons out for walks in our countryside, looking at bugs and flowers and learning about what nature has to offer, this will also be our joy! Thank you for a lovely post.

    • Hi Marian, your weekend sounds quite idyllic, there is nothing better than family all together and everyone getting on so well, it must be very special and your grandsons are so lucky to have you there, already planning on taking them out and doing things with them, no one could ask more than that, family time really is so special. Have a lovely week, I think the weather is meant to be quite nice for you this week, fingers crossed. Susan x

    • Hi Suzana, thank you for commenting and welcome to the blog, I so enjoy hearing from people and interacting with my readers, this is what makes the sharing so special. Hope you have a lovely week. Susan x

  • Hi there. Another great read and wonderful photos! It’s the school holidays here in NZ too, but not spring – autumn, of course. We’re still all in summer clothes at this stage, but there’s a crispness in the air and I think by the end of the month I’ll be back in my boots. Sigh…. (Actually, wearing boots is my favourite thing about winter!) Best wishes.

    • Hi Alison, thank you so much, I totally agree, wearing boots is about the best part of winter! I am quite happy to leave mine behind for a few months now, even though it was a very mild winter, it’s still fabulous to finally feel some real warmth from the sun and to get outside and leave the doors and windows open. Hope your decent weather lasts for as long as possible. Susan x

  • Ah, what great countryside that is. I bet you get the smell of salt in the air when the wind is in the right direction, too. What sort of cowes are those, by the way ?

    • Hi Phil, it is fabulous countryside and yes there is certainly salt in the air as we are only a few kilometres from the sea as the crow flies. The cows are Limousins, from the local farm, always curious and they always come over and say hello! Susan x

  • Loved reading today’s blog. Seeing your children walking and playing, so freely in nature
    reminds me of my childhood, running barefoot, wading through the brook, making mud pies. How I wish children everywhere had such an advantage.

    Those memories of your dad are strong and filled with love. We are never ready to give up a loved one. My husband, a sweet, handsome man died one year ago today, also from a horrible disease, LEWY BODY DEMENTIA, which carries symptoms similar to your dad’s and your friend, Ellie’s. Most neurological disease mimic one another.

    I find a lot of comfort in being outdoors and gardening, and here in North Carolina,
    the ground is warming up, the perennials are reaching for the sunlight, momma rabbit
    Is out with her babies. Spring is throwing a party and it’s going to be a good one.

    Getting to France is on my to do list, Paris and the countryside, hopefully in Spring.

    My Best,
    Judi

    • Hi Judi, loved reading your comment, thank you, how I wish all children could experience these simple down to earth pleasures and what I would give to be able to share it with them. Your husband sounds like a lovely man, how very sad, it’s a horrible illness. But do take comfort in being outside. I find, even if I am just sad or annoyed being outside calms my feelings and refreshes me. Your garden in North Carolina sounds as if it is at much the same stage as ours, yes spring is going to be a great party! I really hope you get to France, of course Paris is a must, but come and visit us in the country, the people are lovely and there is so much to see and do. Have a lovely week, Susan x

  • What a beautiful post Susan. The countryside is absolutely gorgeous and I’d love to go on a walk and adventure down those roads. Your blog is so refreshing and always an inspiration. Your family is beautiful. Makes me realize that although our scenic paths are different, the time we spend with family just hanging around and enjoying quality time all shares the same beauty. Thanks for sharing your surroundings and family.

    • Hi Mary, thank you so much, would welcome you with open arms to come and walk and explore with us! I totally agree, time spent with family is so very special, the surroundings don’t really matter, but listening and sharing, those are the important parts. I hope you have a wonderful week, Susan x

  • What a lovely post! I have just discovered you after reading your comment on ‘Happy Laughs’ blog. I am looking forward to catching up with earlier posts. I see this comment is coming through my Africadayz account although Happy Laughs and I originally connected through my Home in the Making blog as we went through the trials of house building together. France is my favourite European country and I look forward to learning more about it through your writing.

    • Hi, so glad you found the blog, so happy to have you following along and so grateful that you took the time to comment! I love the comments and interaction with my readers, it is the best part about blogging. I love the house on the Happy Laughs blog, never been brave enough to build our own, so bravo to you, renovating is about as far as we have got! Hope you will enjoy our adventures in France. Susan x

    • Hi Sue, thank you so much, it is so much fun being able to share something as simple as a walk with you all, to show you just a little glimpse of what we see and what we so adore about living here and thank you for commenting, it makes it all so worthwhile. Susan x

  • Your world is very lovely this springtime! Love to see the dogs trailing along. I recently posted a pic of my green world in the city on Instagram. It has been sort of a cool spring, but expecting sunny and 80F mid-week.
    Hope a good home is found soon for Ellie’s dog Teddy. Her story is almost too sad to contemplate. Those in good health are very fortunate and have much to be thankful for.

    • Hi Judy, I am going to see if I can find you on IG so I can look at your green world, if I don’t, do pop over and like my latest photo so I can follow you back! I so hope someone is able to take Teddy, it’s all so tragic and I just feel if we can all do our little bit it must help in some small way. We do indeed have so much to be thankful for which is why I love sharing our life here, not to show what we have but to bring a smile to some people’s lives and to connect and chat with my readers. Hope you have a lovely week, Susan x

  • Thank you for the lovely pictures of your countryside, beautiful daughters and those darling dogs. I do enjoy reading your blog.

    • Hi Vicki, thank you so much, I have to tell you I absolutely love sharing everything with you all and then receiving your comments and chatting, that’s the very best part. Hope you have a lovely end to the week, Susan x

  • Just discovered your blog and Facebook page today and thoroughly enjoyed both and have signed up to follow you. Your family, home and the surrounding countryside is so beautiful – just LOVE Bentley. We retired to Mexico 5 years ago with our daughter to look after us in our dotage – 2 other children – 1 in Canada and 1 in the UK that we miss though. Unfortunately I cannot walk now so have to enjoy our countryside through the windows of our van but I so enjoy the weather after 40 years of Canadian winters. I will continue now to enjoy your life through your photos – thank you so much for sharing.

    • Hi Joan, so glad you found the blog, welcome and great to have you following along, and thank you also for taking the time to comment, that’s what I love the most, interaction with my readers, it makes it all so worthwhile. I am sure you miss your children in Canada and the U.K., even if you do not miss the cold Canadian winters, but how lovely that you are able to live your retirement with one daughter. I am so glad you are able to get out and about by car and enjoy the countryside around you, it always lifts the spirits in my opinion. Very much looking forward to sharing more with you this spring and summer. Susan x

  • Thank you so much for this insightful and meaningful post………your thoughts will stay with me forever. Thanks for sharing about your father and Ellie O’Connell. I know that I will remember even more than before to stop, look, smell, really experience the beauty al around us.
    And, brilliant bit about the adventures around you being so very much more enjoyable than a glitzy theme park – so true!
    Thanks for bringing us along on your walks and wonderings of this family spring vacation.
    Absolutely inspiring. Thanks for starting my day in this peaceful cadence!

  • So glad I found your blog:) I don’t have near the problems mentioned in your post but cancer surgery years back left me with mobility issues. So thank you for taking me on your glorious walks! I’ll be back.

    • Hi Susan, welcome to the blog, I am so glad you found it too and thank you for taking the time to comment, it is so very much appreciated. Interacting and chatting with my readers is for me the best part of blogging, so I hope we will chat often, especially as we share the same name! So sorry to hear of your mobility issues but so happy to take you along for virtual walks with us, the more the merrier and there is always much to see and in depth discussions! Enjoy the rest of the week and look forward to you following along. Susan x

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