Going Forward but Looking Back

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I might be slightly unusual, but I miss the noise of the children. I miss the mess, I miss the chaos and the endless trail of wet footprints throughout the house. But now it’s the weekend and the weather is as good as any day in July or August; everyone’s at home and I’m back to picking up soggy swimming towels and hanging them out to dry; the mat outside the front door is once again littered with flip-flops waiting for someone to trip over them – everything is right in my world again!

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It seems I am not the only one not giving up on summer as our wisteria has flowered non-stop since the end of April; after the initial first flush of flowers, the second show arrived just weeks later and we’ve had a mass of delicate purple petals covering the walls ever since – just this morning we noticed new blooms right above the door!

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We are heading unfortunately, towards autumn though, and a new school year fully decked out with all the regalia of la rentrée, came to pass on friday as four of our children went back to school. Thankfully, and typically à la mode, my pangs of bereavement lasted just one day and then it was the weekend; tomorrow they have their annual Journée de Cohesion; a day on the beach, kayaking, paddle boarding and playing  games on the sand and in the water. A chance for new pupils to integrate with old ones, a day to get back together after the holidays; it’s such a civilised start to the school year! But summer is not over, I am not giving up on summer yet, we have a couple more weeks to go and I am hanging on to the shirt-tails of my favourite season before it gets hung up in winter’s wardrobe.

 

To prolong the atmosphere I thought it might be a little bit of fun to look back over the holidays.

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We didn’t go away as such, preferring to stay at home and let friends visit us; we didn’t need to leave as we had one long perfect ‘staycation’ right where we were.

IMG_6903Summer took forever to arrive, back in June we would be treated to a few days of heat and then it would be cool and chilly again, but once it settled in for the duration, wow – what a summer. It’s been an endless succession of hot dry days (we have had one day of rain since the end of June) which has not been good for the farmers and growers but fantastic for the tourists. The average daytime temperatures have ranged from 30C to 39C with no humidity, and we’ve eaten every meal outside – breakfast, lunch and dinner – for over two months.

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It’s been a summer of non-stop tennis tournaments for Gigi and great new friendships.

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We seem to have visited the Île de Ré several times and found new places and favourite spaces.

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We’ve had lots of heatwaves, une canicule, ou vague de chaleur; officially a time when immense daytime temperatures don’t cool down at night. We’ve picnicked endlessly on our local Atlantic beaches, staying until well after sunset and returning home close to midnight. IMG_0506

We’ve been ocean kayaking, stopping on deserted shores

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and paddle boarding on the River Charente.

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We did slip away for a tinsy winsy mini break, more of a “change is as good as a rest” type affair, to the Pyrenees Atlantique and enjoy the fun of the Pays Basque although the main reason was, no surprise, for a tennis tournament!

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We’ve indulged our guests in local patisserie, at least that’s been the excuse!

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Our two youngest daughters have learnt to cook more than just cakes. Hetty scrambled eggs and fried bacon yesterday morning, she pretended she was on Masterchef and then called Gigi in to sit down for breakfast!

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We have taken the time to stop in nearby towns and villages rather than just quickly passing through.

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and for the first time we’ve wandered the ancient streets of St Porchaire, just twenty minutes away,

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finding empty houses, slightly neglected, shuttered up and for sale. In my mind I am quietly calculating how I can afford to buy this and what it must be like inside, I think I shall go back for a look this week, it has intrigued me, maybe I am a hopeless romantic but I would love to fling open the shutters and sit under the grapevine!

 

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It has been a summer of virtually ceaseless blue skies

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and red geraniums.

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We’ve taken friends all around the Charente Maritime and visited Mornac-sur-Seudre on several occasions, each time we find another little alleyway previously unknown to us.

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We’ve sort shade in various places and cooked outdoors in the summer kitchen or on the terrace all summer long, it’s been too hot to cook inside the house.

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The garden has suffered from the lack of rain, I can’t even remember what green grass looks like, but thanks to our well, we have watered our vegetables and anything in tubs.  We are totally overrun with tomatoes, courgettes, peppers and aubergines which have loved the searing temperatures, by contrast the cucumbers and lettuces have not fared so well.

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The figs are late this year, we think because of the cool weather in June, but finally they are ready to eat, two days ago there were none, now we already have more than we can use! Typically the first arrive at the top of the enormous tree and this necessitates a ladder and walking along the garage roof.

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The grapes are spectacular, all five of our children pick together and if at any time Gigi is nowhere to be found, we know where to look – she’ll be sitting on the ground underneath the vines feasting on the deep purple, juicy fruits.

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I truly hope you have had a peaceful and happy summer. If you get a moment, tell me what was your favourite part; you know I love nothing more than to chat with you all; this blog is no longer just about me and my family, it’s about all of us, or at least that’s the way I have come to view it!  Bon dimanche à tous  xx

129 thoughts on “Going Forward but Looking Back

    • I am not sure if it’s a good thing to look back on these things during the winter, does it just depress us? Or make us look forward and enjoy the change of seasons, I’m not sure! At least the weather looks set to last and we’l be enjoying summer for a while longer! When are you planning on being here most of the time? Xx

      • I am one of those people that doesn’t mind winter to much…..although come the spring I am always very very ready. I am hoping to be in France for most of the time within the next couple of years…it all pinges on my 95 year old Mother who is in a nursing home just ten mins from where I live in Hampton, London. So until she departs for the next zone….I will be commuting back and forth:) Enjoy the Indian summer at least. Janet:)

      • Hi Janet, I just had fun scrolling through your blog, I love the hummingbirds and I also love your simple biro sketches on notepads. They remind me so much of my late mother in laws work. She was an artist and also trained in the USA, in CT. She then exhibited in London and Provence and the Channel Islands. So where in France are you hoping to call home? If you are ever down this way, the light is beautiful, an artist’s paradise I am told, although sadly the artistic genes on my side of the family have totally bypassed me! Instead I have artistic children!!! Susan x

      • Thank you so much for taking the time to look….I do work on very large canvases as well, but for the blog usually show watercolours and sketches. What was your mother-in-law’s name? OK…at the moment there are a couple of places that are possibilities, but nothing is set in stone. A tiny village in SW France – Caramany – because I have other artist friends there and it’s a great place to escape…..La Montagne Noir – is another area where I have a studio gratis some American patrons….but I have been asked to consider Brittany, which I love and so maybe what I will do, is keep my flat here in Hampton, and spend periods of time in different places – with the hope that the right one will be revealed. I love the area where you are…and so who knows…Enjoy your day Janet:)x

      • There are so many great places to choose from, I think your idea of keeping a base in London and then making a slow decision is probably very sensible, you will know once you find the “perfect” place. My Mother in Law painted under the name of Margot Rampton, her brother Tony Rampton was also an artist and lived in Richmond where he painted a lot. If you find yourself in this area at all, do let me know, would love to meet. Xx

  • Oh to have summers like this, without humidity so you can actually enjoy sitting outside rather than living indoors in artificial air conditioning, do you even have air conditioning?

    • Hi Jane, No we don’t have air conditioning, there really is no need, no one does except in apartments in town maybe. With windows open and shutters shielding the sun, the old stone walls, up to 3′ thick in parts really do keep the interior cool. On very hot nights we do have fans but we don’t use them all the time. Interestingly it is the same thick stone walls that also keep the house warm in the winter, there is a lot to be said for old building methods! Xx

  • Wow, when have you found the time to sleep? You summer sounds like a world wind of family, fun, visitors and love. How wonderful.

    • It has indeed been a bit of a whirlwind of friends and family and tennis! But I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s been a perfectly perfect summer, busy but busy in a wonderful way, just as any holiday should be in my mind! Xx

  • I hate the ‘rentrée’ with a passion. I also love having children in the house and I’m not fond of the strict routine that goes with back to school. Still, we can’t complain – with this weather I can’t see us shutting the pool anytime soon! We also went to the Pays Basque for a tennis tournament – too bad it wasn’t the same one… 🙂

    • Hate the routine as well, but you’re right, the pool is still nudging 30, with a little help from solar heating, and we will all be swimming for a few more weeks I hope. Our tournament was in Bidart, 39C! Too hot for tennis! Wish our tennis players were the same age, next time we come south I will let you know and likewise if you come up this way for a tournament. Xx

      • No, we have enough figs!!! They end up rotting as we just can’t eat enough, I have to find a way to preserve them that I like. I certainly will let you know if we are down that way again, I would imagine we will be, but not sure when, it’s a struggle to find tournaments for 9 and 10 year old girls. Loads of boys playing but not so many girls. Xx

  • It has been so hot and humid here, oh to escape to your beautiful part of France for a summer, this is what dreams are made of, enjoy your real life dream x

    • Thank you Varsha, I can always cope with heat, it’s the humidity that I really don’t like at all, does anyone? Here it is always a dry heat so no worries about frizzy hair which is another bonus! Xx

      • Every European tourist I ever get to know complains about frizzy hair! and I have grown up with humidity and still I cannot abide it, it never gets any easier.

      • When we lived in Florida frizzy hair in summer was the bane of my life, even a 30 second walk to the car was enough to ruin the perfect style! One of the great things about living in France, bad hair days a almost a thing of the past!!!

      • I use a mixture of native herbal products and oils and have never had a problem, I’ll email you some suggestions if you like.

    • It has been a great summer Nadia, of course the weather has helped! It’s been crazily busy, we seem to have crammed in a vast amount, but in hindsight I wouldn’t have it any other way! Hopefully the weather is set to last for a while longer at least and we’ll be swimming throughout September, fingers crossed! I imagine it has been just as hot and dry in the Dordogne? There was rain forecast for some parts inland last night, but nothing here. Xx

      • Our grass is like that too, it is crunchy and crisp underfoot. Our well is down but is fed by a spring, at least we think it must be, no one really seems to know, we have asked the previous owners who were here for nearly a century, but they just shrug! We have asked our neighbour’s but they have no idea. We have tested it with a fishing rod to measure the depth as it is very deep, but it is not so large, and it never, fingers crossed, seems to dry up, but it is never full either, and we have watered endlessly this summer. It still pumps out clear fresh water with immense pressure, I hope our assumption is right and one day it doesn’t cease to work!!!

      • It definitely sounds like it must be fed by a spring. Ours is just fed by rainwater and I guess that even with all the rain in May and June, it was not enough. I am praying we have enough to last.

      • I know how you feel. Last night Roddy topped up our pond, it was about 8″ lower than normal and is quite large, I imagined how much well water it was using and kept my fingers firmly crossed. I have resisted topping it up all summer thinking we would get rain soon and dreading the well drying up, I think we will open it up and put the fishing rod in again today and see what the score is after we used so much last night, that will give us a pretty much definitive conclusion!

      • Oh no I cannot believe that, I hope to goodness we didn’t jinx it all. The funny thing is, I turned on the pump for our well tonight to water the vegetables and no water came out. I went running into the house and said to Roddy, “we shouldn’t have filled the pond last night, we run the well dry, we’re out of water”. His reply is not printable! But by the time I returned (I had left the pump running) there was a trickle of water out of the hose pipe and within five minutes it was back to normal. I am assuming we had just used so much water last night that the holding tank could not be filled and today the spring has filled the well again and it just took time to draw up into the tank. Tomorrow we shall check the depth again and try and figure it all out. Do you have a hose pipe ban on mains water or are you able to use that. At least it is slightly less hot now and the evenings are noticeably cooler so the plants perhaps will be ok. Xx

  • The best part of our summer has certainly been with our boys at home and family time, we spent a week in Portugal but apart from that I just like to relax and garden and cook with family to cook for.

  • What a beautiful summer you have enjoyed. Love the photos and that super blue sky that I’m sure looks that way to no humidity. I would love to experience what no humidity feels like since we are consumed with it in Georgia! I hope some day you start sharing the inside of your home.

    • Hi Kim, I love the lack of humidity having lived in Florida! One day, the inside, hmmmm, well maybe, I always think people might find it rather boring, but maybe I’ll think about it! Have a great Sunday xx

    • Thank you so much, I really appreciate it, family time is the most important time there is and whilst the children are still young enough to be at home I want to make it as special as I can for them and I hope this just goes to show it doesn’t have to mean going away on expensive holidays, time at home can be just as much fun, trips to the beach are free and yet add a picnic and they are fantastic! X

      • Well done!. Family has to be priority after our creator of course. We can only get the kind of world we love if we take good care of our families and they grow up as best they can. Poor parenting is behind so many crimes in society.

      • A good solid background, sensible rules and children knowing where they stand makes such a difference, I truly believe they then grow up respecting rules with lots and lots of love and encouragement along the way.

  • lovely pictures of the Family you make me sad about Summer being over it can be nice in Canada in the Fall you have written a lot of very interesting things love see the two girls with their tennis outfits on the USA open is on TV for another week look forward to more Blogs from you before the snow comes Anne xxxxx

    • Thanks so much Anne, we are watching the US opens in the evenings, sad that it is the last major of the year. Gigi will carry on playing all winter indoors and outdoors when weather permits, she’s very dedicated for such a young girl! I hope you have a long mild Autumn and then no doubt I will be jealous of your snow, I love snow, but we rarely if ever get it here. Xx

      • In the winter I would find it hard to leave, I am totally in love with snow and you’re right I would absolutely love it. I will have to make do with photos from you instead! Xx

  • I also find the house too quiet when school starts. But there is a difference between adolescents and babies, of which we’ve had back-to-back visits. I thought we were equipped, but I ended up with mysterious stains on the sofa, only some of which I got out (blue colored pencil on a white cushion came out but not something??? else). We went to Toulouse yesterday for more school shopping–bigger stores and more selection–and enjoyed the change of being in a real city. Everytime we saw very small children, my kid would say, “that one is so cute, but I’m sure glad he/she isn’t at our house.” Very cute indeed, but a lot to keep up with! Luckily their hugs and kisses make them so lovable.

    • Ah yes young children take a great deal more looking after, in different ways. Our house tends to be full of nine year olds, Gigi’s friends, up to sixteen year olds with everything in between, much easier than babies and toddlers! I hope you manage to get whatever it is out of the sofa! We tend to leave our school shopping until the last moment too, I cannot be one of those that does it at the start of the summer! Only another six weeks and they will be on holiday again! That’s the way I look at it!!! Xx

  • I’m amazed you got your journée d’integration. My son started Lycée last week and was meant to spend the first day on a 10km walk for exactly that reason. Ours was cancelled by the authorities under Vigipirate, and so they had to spend the whole day in school. I had assumed that the rules were nationwide, but perhaps they were just local after all. Lovely post, your garden looks lovely. Have you lost your university children yet? Two of mine head off for the first time next week. I can’t imagine having only half my children left at home!

    • I had no idea they had been cancelled nationwide, ours are at a private school, so I assume that is why it is different. They have been every year since they started in both College and Lycee. I remember the very first year, it rained and they were so cold, they said their lips were blue! Fortunately the weather looks excellent for tomorrow and Tuesday (Lycee day for Millie). Last year Jack went scuba diving, that’s a 4eme thing, all the best things seem to happen in 4eme as he went to the Alps for a week too! Only one is at Uni so far, she heads off in two weeks time, it will be her last year, amazing how time flies. Where are yours going, UK or France? Xx

  • This is what memories are made of. Your children will be telling their children of their perfect summers with their family…..an so it continues.

    Ali xx

    • Oh I really do hope so Ali. I often talk of my childhood, it seemed so perfect. I never recall it raining, save for the odd downpour during a thunderstorm, although obviously it did, it was always sunny and hot, summers were long and perfect. If our children remember their holidays and childhood with such fondness then that is all I can ask for. Xx

  • You look like you’ve had such a wonderful summer! Great photos! Your blog posts about the summer have definitely been a highlight of mine.

  • What a fantastic set of photos, Susan – makes me quite envious. We normally spend a great deal of time in the parks here in London, but we’ve had a foul time of it this year. Either we’ve been busy when it’s nice or vice versa. I think we shall drive to Portsmouth and catch a ferry next year. Have you a tent we can borrow? 🙂

    • Hi Simon, the traditional unpredictable English summer! I think this is why, us English, are so obsessed with the weather and talk about it so much. I think you certainly head south next summer, the fast ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg is only 3 hours. Of course we have a tent, or a comfy little cottage in the garden might be better! Xx

  • You have such a great outdoor life in the summer months, Susan. I love all of your photos, but especially the colourful garden produce, which looks so wonderfully edible. My summer has been mostly about the house renovations, but thankfully they are nearing completion, and we can get our life back again. We’re planning to go to South Africa in October, so we can enjoy some of their summer with friends and family. 🙂

    • I can’t wait to see you new kitchen photos Syliva, I don’t envy you at all, we’ve been there and done that but I am happy to say it was during autumn and winter, but I remember how I longed for nothing more than to have a house which was liveable in and not in a state of upheaval. South Africa sounds perfect and the weather should be lovely by October. Hope you have a fantastic time xx

  • Hello Susan, My favorite part of this summer has been going to estate and yard sales. Seems we’ve had more than usual this year. Maybe people, like me, are trying to simplify their lives and get rid of their junk. Yes, please. I heard a funny saying once: “One man’s junk is another man’s junk!” Fortunately, I love other people’s junk and have found some wonderful treasures this summer. Warm hugs, Pat at Bringing French Country Home.

    • Hi Pat, I think we all like to have a good clear out, so much that we read about design nowadays is all about decluttering. I would love a minimalist house but with five children it will simply never happen, but I do constantly try and simplify everything. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure is perhaps a more fun way of looking at it! We are off to our favourite brocante in a couple of weeks, last year I bought so much and I have been very restrained all summer, so who knows!!! Xx

  • I can figs in a simple syrup. They are wonderful at breakfast or any times really. I also preserve them and give them as gifts at Christmas. There are people that wait all year to get my preserves. Bacon and fig preserve toast for breakfast with a large cup of coffee is to good to tell about. Enjoy what’s left if summer. I dread our cold winters and snow here in Colorado.

    • Your preserves sound truly delicious Alice, I can imagine how lucky the recipients are. I rather envy you your snow, we rarely if ever get any here, but it doesn’t get very cold either, perhaps just one or two frosts a year is normal. I hope you will have a long Autumn that will make winter as short as possible for you. Susan xx

  • Susan, I came late to the party that is your blog, so I enjoyed this look back at what was certainly a marvelous summer. Our girls are both grown and out of the house. We loved it when they were here and we love it when they’re not, as living their own lives is what we raised them to do. That being said, we also love visits back and forth. 🙂

    Although we’re moving toward autumn here, summer is still in verdant control. I’m just enjoying every singe green minute. I wish I were close enough to take some of those figs off your hands! Our younger daughter, the last time she was in Provence, made fig jam from “The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence”, by Georgeanne Brennan. It was divine, especially on foie gras on a toasted baguette slice!!

    janet

    • Hi Janet, I am so glad you have come and found me now! I can really appreciate you enjoying them leading their own lives, watching our children grow successfully is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Our eldest is away at University in the UK for most of the year and admire her hard work and also how she is slowly building her own life. There was a very slight autumnal feel in the air this evening as I was watering the vegetable garden, but the forecast is good and with plenty more warm weather to come, usually it stays nice until the end of October. I made fig jam last year, eveyrone loves it with cheese. Susan xx

  • It looks like you’ve definitely all made the most of your summer! What was your favorite part? I feel like we’ve all been able to share in so much of it! Your grape vines look wonderful, we just started eating our own figs here last week so we definitely share in the excitement of fresh fruit.

    • Hi Lily, lots of people seem to have been eating their figs in the UK a week before us here, I wonder why ours are so late this year, they seem to be late all across the area, but now they are ripening we are thoroughly enjoying them, there is, as you say, nothing quite like fresh fruit from one’s own garden. I truly don’t know what was our favourite part, we had some fabulous days on the Ile de Ré and some wonderful times with friends staying, it was the whole that was so good rather than individual parts. Xx

  • Our children have long since left home but I remember those days when they returned to school, other mothers would be rejoicing their freedom and I would be the one crying in the car line! Now I love it when they come to visit with our grandchildren and I am rediscovering all sorts of favorite things to do with them now- life moves on and each stage brings its own pleasure for us to enjoy.

    • Hi Shari, I am definitely one of those crying at the school gate! Each stage of life does indeed bring it’s special times as I am finding out. When they were babies they were adorable and fantastic and I thought nothing could be better than tiny babies, but now they are getting older, I am finding I love the 9’s and 10’s and 11’s, and I also love the teenagers, they are not difficult, but rather young adults who are such incredible conversationalists. Enjoy your grandchildren, sounds like great fun xx

  • What a summer, ours was just as busy with my elderly parents visiting for a month. I am intrigued by the house you mentioned was for sale. Will you take photos when you go and visit and show us the inside on the blog please and the rest of the garden, I too would love to sit under that grapevine, it conjures up such images of contentment and peace. Bravo on yet another brilliant post, not quite sure how you do it but keep going, I am loving every word.

    • Hi Erin, I hope you had the most wonderful time with your parents visiting. The little house was indeed quite intriguing, I shall call the number on the sign, it was a private sale, and see if I can go and have a look this week. If it is interesting I shall certainly write about it, I promise. Xx

  • Loved scrolling through your blog today and seeing your beautiful pictures capture the memories of summer. I too am so glad that we can hang onto summer just for a little while longer. Your family pics are adorable.
    Hugs,
    Kris

    • Hi Kris, thank you! I am very happy to hang on to summer for a while longer, the nights have a slight chill, yesterday had a definite autumnal feel to the evening, but it’s still beautiful and I am off to do some work in the in garden! Have a great week, Susan xx

  • It looks as though you had a fabulous summer. Like you, I’m holding onto those last few weeks and savoring the season as it moves toward fall and (ugh) winter. The light in some of your photos is almost as though you’ve bottled it for the winter. Gorgeous. And don’t get me started on the grapes and figs!! Yum.

    • Oh if only we could bottle it for winter. In truth winter is short and not bad here, usually Autumn is beautiful and winter only really is three months at the most, just as it should be and we can often eat outdoors at lunchtime on sunny days, but still it is winter, it gets dark much earlier and the garden is bare, just not my favourite time of year! But for the time being the weather is fabulous and I am enjoying every second I can. The figs and grapes are delicious and so are the tomatoes, it’s a feast every time I walk outdoors, overindulging on natures gifts every day, I truly wish I could share them, I feel so lucky. Have a great week. Susan xx

  • This is our 3rd summer in Middle TN and has been so warm. Maybe this will be the norm, gosh I hope not. Rain is hit or miss and have given up on cukes and annual flowers. Even the herb garden in raised beds is suffering. Figs are doing well and go out daily to harvest. Mums are showing up at the stores and the nights are cooling down. I look forward to fall (my favorite). Before that I will enjoy a 10 day holiday in Paris. Love reading your memories.

    • I have found too the cucumbers just cannot take the heat, they were fine in June, we had lots, but then June was chilly, but I gave up on them in July, despite my constant watering it’s not the same as rainfall, everywhere is dry and hot. Everything has suffered here too, it’s hard to even find a flower in the garden apart from geraniums! But the nights are cooling down here also, however I cannot complain we have no humidity and so the weather is gorgeous as a result, a lovely dry heat. If you feel like an excursion for a couple of days whilst in Paris you could always head west to the Charente Maritime, would love to meet you at some stage! Xx

  • Walking around each new village in France, my children, who would have run on ahead of me, would run back to give me the free real estate magazines that they would find in the baskets outside the agencies. It didn’t matter where I was in France, I always loved pouring over them and dreaming. I wanted to rescue every slowly crumbling building!

    • Ahh the free real estate magazines! I picked one up last week on the Ile de Ré! I dreamt of owning a small cottage on the Island, but prices are Parisian prices or higher, more like London prices! When are you back in France? Xx

      • Of course, your summer holidays. I will keep my fingers crossed for snow for you. Locals here are already predicting the winter ahead, some say it will be harsh winter, but they said that last winter and it was the mildest on record! Who knows, the weather has been so far from normal for the whole of this year so far with a cold wet spring and a drier and hotter than normal summer once it finally arrived. Snow would be perfect, we so rarely get it here and I do love it. Xx

  • Oh Susan, what a treasure trove of photos to linger over at the Christmas table. You’ve had a good time of it by the look of things. I hate to admit it, but we’ve been busier here than we thought we would be with the indifferent weather this summer. I like September though, the crowds go and the light becomes a little more transparent and golden. My wife likes to paint and she loves this time of year. Wonderful pictures, as always.

    • Thanks Phil, glad you have had a good summer. September is often a fantastic month, as you say the crowds have left, we find the beaches here are suddenly quite empty by comparison and yet the sea is if anything warmer and the days are still quite beautiful. Have a lovely week.xx

  • What a life! Beautiful family and home. Susan, your gratitude and love show through.
    Absolutely love reading your blog. Yes, summer goes fast, doesn’t it. I have such good memories of those carefree days, many of them from my own childhood – going barefoot, playing with siblings and not a care in the world. Still brings a smile when I think back.

    Our summer in North Carolina, USA has been a hot one. Talk about humidity! Not so good for this natural curly head! I do keep several hats ready for the bad hair days.

    Here, we love to head to the mountains or beach and we are lucky enough to have the best of both in NC. Spent some time in the Outer Banks and hope to enjoy a trip to Blowing Rock, a fabulous area in the mountains, next month.

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

    • Thank you so much Judi, your memories are just as they should be, perfect summer holiday memories, just what I hope to create for our own children, just as a childhood should be. Nothing elaborate, it doesn’t have to be expensive, a simple picnic on the beach as it turns dark is just as much fun as a restaurant. My husband fished quite a bit in the Outer Banks, it is a beautiful part of the world. Hope you have a wonderful time in the mountains next month and happy Labor Day today. Susan xx

  • What a lovely summer!

    A favorite part of ours…goodness, it was just great – picking one thing is difficult. We got to take some great trips to the beach and vacation areas. We got to enjoy a first summer in our new house. The State Fair was fun as always. What we really need is more time o continue enjoying it!

    • Oh I so agree, we need to be back in July with the summer still ahead of us, wouldn’t that be fantastic. We sat, as we always do, and ate dinner outside this evening and I said to the whole family how I just didn’t want this to be over, it seems to have been such a wonderful summer. X

  • Your weekend sounds lovely! And the pictures of your summer are simply sublime!
    Love your glimpses of life….thank you!
    Nancy
    wildoakdesigns.blogspot.com

    • Thank you so much Nancy, it was a great weekend, very laid back, very relaxed but lots of fun, just what I love the most, messing about with the children and family meals altogether. Hope you have had a lovely Labor Day and hav e a great week. Susan x

  • What a glorious retrospective of a swallows and amazons meets Enid Blyton summer as it should be! I think I’ll bookmark this post to dip into when sombre days dominate once more ☺️ x

    • Don’t remind me, as we sat and ate supper on the terrace this evening, I just said to eveyrone, I don’t want it to be over, it’s been a really good summer. I’ve quite forgotten what rain and green grass looks like, I’ve watered so much it’s become another job that has to be done somewhere in the garden every day, but I wouldn’t change a thing! When I look back on my childhood, it was very much a Swallows and Amazons summer with lots of ponies. I don’t remember it ever raining apart from the odd downpour with a thunderstorm, I only remember perfect fun summer holidays and that’s just what I hope for my children! Xx

  • I love your summer review. Those pictures are scrumptious — the sky, oh, the sky. My kids are older than yours, and I did homeschool mine for years, but now I’m relieved once everyone has returned to school and I can walk around the house sans clothing. My middle child graduates from university in December and I’m optimistic that everyone will be settled so my husband and I can escape to France next summer. Maybe we’ll even visit some of the towns and villages you explored this summer. And maybe we’ll buy one of those houses you wanted to save.
    Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

    • Ha ha, well that’s one thing I hadn’t thought of! I thought your mind was set much further south in the Languedoc? A truly beautiful area, but do let me know if you find yourself on the Atlantic coast in our direction, I will gladly show you around. Susan x

  • You ventured many places that we hadn’t seen – what a wonderful summer recap! One day of rain since June??!! Oh my!! Wonderful to know you have little to no humidity.
    Spectacular photos of idyllic family life…….thanks so much, as always, for sharing!! Feel like our summer vacation/staycation is enriched by adding yours to ours!!!
    Thanks Susan!

    • Thanks so much, despite not going away we seemed to cover a lot of ground! I am going to start to know my way around the country by tennis clubs much the same as I know my way around the UK by racecourses!!! It is so very very dry, I know we need the rain desperately but I am also loving this weather! We could mix our two summers together on two sides of the pond, wouldn’t that be fun! Xx

    • Thank you so much Judy, we have quite a lot of the old stone planters around the property, they were all left here when we bought the house, they are so incredibly heavy, if I ever decide to move one it is a major operation! Susan xx

  • That is one of the loveliest post ! So idealiic you seem to have a perfect life. We are holidaying in your wonderful country for a month. We did a holiday last year but included Italy, this year we are staying within the French borders. You have a lovely home and beautiful children xxx

  • I love your post…I love to read of France….my favorite part??? Finding an antique house and dreaming of buying it to live in and make it a home….I subscribe to French-Property.com…I dream of finding a lovely, ancient home in France too. 🙂

    • Ahhh, haven’t we all subscribed to websites like French-Property, I know I certainly have. Sometimes my husband and I will flick through the properties and then play a little game, which would he choose, which would I choose, most of the time we select the same one! Dreaming is good. I hope your dream comes true. Susan xx

  • Such beautiful images! I must admit I couldn’t cope with your summer, I have blue skin and can get burnt at a fireworks display, but I’m so glad you shared your images xxx

    • Andrea, I absolutely love the sun and the heat, as in I love living in it, but you will never find me sunbathing or lying out in the sun, I am the one who always seeks the shade whenever possible! Apart from our youngest daughter we are all fair skinned! Susan xx

  • As you say the blog is for everyone for a good chat but how lovely for your children to be able to look back on their summers with their memories too. They definitely had fun, and as you say, it is the simple, free things that often stick in our minds. Lovely Susan xx

    • Totally agree, the blog is a community of like minded people and the simple free things are very often the best. It’s hard to beat a bike, a picnic, a warm summer’s day, great scenery and family and kids playing – my idea of heaven! Xx

  • What a lovely summary of your summer memories. All your photos are so beautiful … I can imagine so well the warmth and smells.
    But the photo that stands out the most for me – and you’ve posted variations of it before – is the dinner table in the shade under the tree. That one image speaks volumes for me. I’m in love with everything it suggests 🙂

    • Thanks Joanne, we move that table around so much. We can’t leave it permanently under the Lime Trees because they drop sap and leaves non stop. So often it is in the middle of the terrace shaded by a big umbrella. But early in the day the umbrella doesn’t help much and so we move the table up under the trees for breakfast and also if there are a lot of us for lunch as there is far more shade. I am in love with outdoor dining, breakfast, lunch and dinner, it always makes everything so much more special, even a sandwich! Xx

  • Sounds an idyllic summer! I love it when our wisteria blossoms, which it has just started to this week (being reverse seasons of course to you). We have had a colder than average winter and we are still getting cold fronts pounding through – another one due tomorrow which may well set the wisteria back a bit. I do love the Mediterranean climates though. We don’t usually get too much humidity here it’s a dry summer heat so it’s more bearable even though the air temperatures get very hot plus we have the cooling ocean breeze in the afternoons 🙂 Such a lovely collection of photos! 🙂

    • I was amazed that our wisteria has flowered all summer long, I assume this is to do with the very hot summer we are having. Our winter by contrast to yours was the mildest ever on record, but that was then followed by a rather wet and chilly spring. In fact summer certainly took ti’s time getting started. It has been very hot, in the 30’s most days and some as high as 39 to 40C, but like you it is a very dry heat which means it is totally bearable and makes living outdoors a real pleasure, plus we are also close to the coast so we do get those gentle breezes. Lucky you with all that summer has to offer just on the horizon now, the fun of watching things come into flower and the emergence of new life, enjoy! Have a lovely weekend. Susan x

      • Gosh that is a hot summer Susan – we have the occasional 40 degree day here in summer but like you it is a dry heat and we’re near the sea too so get the cooling afternoon breeze called the “Fremantle Doctor” as it comes in off the Indian Ocean. Dry heat is far more bearable and I’m usually fine up to the mid 30s but then it does feel rather hot! Wisteria is lovely – ours never lasts that long as usually a spring storm blows it away but it is lovely when it is out! Have a lovely weekend too! X 🙂

      • I totally agree, dry heat is bearable, but when it hits the high 30’s/40 we do wilt a little, everyone slows down completely, the pool is in constant use and other than that it is impossible to do anything in a hurry. But they are rare odd days, normally in the high 20’s, low 30’s the weather is gorgeous. Our weekend is going fantastically so far, hope it’s the same for you. Warm and sunny, high 20’s – perfection! Xx

      • It sounds similar to Perth in the summer – mostly around high 20s to low 30s with the occasional really hot spell. We’re still experiencing cooler than average weather and am sitting in our family room with the wood burner blazing but it’s so warm and cosy! We have a pool, which is essential for summer! Enjoy the rest of your weekend – it’s evening here! Xx

      • It sounds really similar, that is just our type of weather, but this summer there have been a lot of the heatwaves and upper 30’s has been unusually common! Our spring was really chilly too, even June was chilly and wet! We have a pool too, essential as you say for summer, sometimes there just is no other way to cool down. It’s been a lovely weekend, hope you have had a great one too x

      • I do love Mediterranean climates as you get the variety of the seasons. We have had a coolish start to spring as the winds are still so chilly! I love the fact that we can still light our wood fire though as it will be too warm in a month or so. Have a lovely week X

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