Fifty Shades of Grey

p4940636The freezing weather of last week has been replaced by rain. For much of this week the village has been shrouded in low lying clouds. As the thermometer rose on Monday so an assortment of grey skies moved in and took up residence, all fifty shades of them! But it’s only a temporary stay, as supposedly cold air from the Arctic is coming to visit at the weekend.

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Too often we complain when it rains and I for one am guilty as charged. Of course, there is the destructive side associated with flooding that can’t be overlooked and we can all find another reason or two to hate the rain, my hair goes frizzy for a start. But, I thought to myself, how about turning things around and appreciating the rain; aside from the obvious reality that we need it, perhaps I should focus on the fact that it can be fun! I’m not talking about jumping in puddles, (although I actually quite enjoy that), I can’t stand it when the water goes inside my wellies and I get soggy socks, so I’ll leave that game to the children; instead I’m going to concentrate on the visual aspect of rain.

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When I think of taking photos, I usually look for blue skies and clear weather, no one wants to see a photo in the rain, or do they? Perhaps it’s time to think again; not every day is sunny, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good day, bad weather has its own beauty. When it’s raining the depth of colour in everything is magnified, puddles become mirrors and roads turn slick with moisture.

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Armed with my camera and feeling strangely optimistic I headed out early yesterday morning as soon as the children were safely in school. I knew where I wanted to go, Saint Sornin, a small village not too far from us, I’ve photographed it often in perfect conditions but never have I thought of going there in the rain.

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Parking the car, I stepped out into the damp street, thinking I was probably quite mad but determined to remain resolutely positive. I pulled the hood of my raincoat over my head to ward off the fine drizzle and shielding my camera inside my scarf to keep it dry I set off across the village, down the narrow streets, stopping to take photos here and there. There was not a soul to be seen; no one was quite as stupid as this silly English women strolling around, seemingly sightseeing in the rain.

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I quickened my pace as darker clouds began to gather in the sky. The car was now quite some distance away on the far side of the village. The drizzle had given way to a more insistent rain and I took shelter under the canopy of the huge church door, watching as the rainfall became more intense.

Eventually I made a run for it. No sooner had I unlocked the door and was sitting in the driver’s seat, dry and warm, than the rain ceased.

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I set off towards home. The rain may have stopped but the morning still remained overcast and grey.

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I couldn’t resist stopping briefly at another village.

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I had no idea what the photos I’d already taken would look like once they were on the computer but I knew I wanted to take some more; the light was poor, the day was dull but the local stonework stood out.

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Every crack and crevice had been enhanced by the rain,

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walls and roads looked as if they had been freshly painted in clear liquid varnish.

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Later in the afternoon as I was running some errands there was a chink in the clouds and a sliver of blue sky appeared.

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And then the sun came out, illuminating the houses around me and putting them under the spotlight. I stopped, time to take some more photos.

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It didn’t last for long. Within an hour the skies were heavy with dark brooding clouds once more, and in no time at all they had shouldered my sliver of blue sky aside and a fine misty rain started to fall again. My Father called it ‘mizzle’.

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213 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey

  • Your photos in the “mizzle” were in incredibly lovely. Thank you for sharing a different image of a village!` I’m living on the East Coast of the USA but recently moved from California where we were in a drought for over five years. Rain is a precious gift!

    • Hi Carol, rain is indeed a very precious gift and so important, I think of all the famines around the world, and the droughts and the need for rain and it made this even more purposeful for me to photograph the beauty of buildings in the rain in the depths of winter. I hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

  • What a wonderful trip through the small villages of France on a rainy day. I felt as if I was traveling with. Great photos of texture!

    • Thanks so much Leah, it was fun to go out and take photos in the rain, although I am sure the locals, spying me from the windows and warmth of their homes, probably thought I was quite mad! Xx

  • Susan, now I KNOW IT – you are me and I’m you….. Although you (lucky so and so!) have FAR more sunshine than we do here on Ile de France, I for one also see the many positive aspects of the rain. Not least as I have a huge garden and before Christmas we had no rain at all for some 6 weeks. Then, it rained a few drops and then it went bitter cold. I didn’t protect my plants this year just moved the pots into the veranda – so I gather I will have lost quite some of them by springtime – but today I bought tête-à-tête (mini) daffs on pots, narcissus (ditto), I have three recent beautifully blooming Christmas roses, I have primroses everywhere – and we SO NEED the water! And same as you I took umpteen photos on our way to Switzerland and back too, both journeys were difficult and we had fog as thick as ‘pea-soup’ (as my husband says, we say ‘fog to cut’….) – now looking at them on screen I’m shocked at just how little ahead we could see – we were crawling along the motorway!
    And also you’re so right in saying how everything (except our car, I just completely. messed up my coat AGAIN after having it washed 3 days ago because it’s so dirty – and when I went to have it run through the washing (the car!), it was all locked up for maintenance or ….? That’s why there were no cars – and I was so jubilant! – well, how ‘clean’ everything looks – I saw a beautiful rose half-open on my way to the car, covered in dew drops (which then turned to rain later on) and I thought: Roses blooming in my garden in January, how GREAT is that?
    Love your photos, you show the lovely old stone buildings in their wonderful faded beauty. Thanks a lot.
    NOW, I’m off to make another winter soup from scratch! My ‘pantry’ yielded a surprising choice of veggies and stuff – bon appétit à toi aussi!

    • You made me laugh Kiki, we are both quite mad! We say pea soup here, I was just describing that very expression to our youngest, Gigi, the other day, as we drove to tennis unable to see more than a few feet in front of us. It was so dry here too before Christmas, we were still eating tomatoes out of the garden in December! Then the cold, then the rain and now soon to be cold again, but I am happy, it’s good to have a “real” winter. This time last year the daffodils were in flower, the plum trees were in blossom and everything was out of sync, the result was hardly any fruit because there were no pollinators around, and a cold spring and no olives this Autumn either. So I am hoping the French are right, a cold Christmas means a warm spring and a glut of vegetables! The water is good, all of last summer we irrigated anything in pots and the potager from the well, I was terrified it would dry up, but it seems it is fed by an underground spring and it kept going non stop, but I love the idea that the well will be full again, it is huge, everything is being watered, everywhere is green. I can’t complain in fact I am really rather enjoying this winter. Even the hens are still laying, fresh eggs frittata for lunch, hope you enjoyed your soup! Xx

    • Actually I haven’t even read the book, but let’s face it, we’ve all heard of it and feel as if we have read it! I love the villages in all seasons, each has its own special feel. Xx

    • I can vouch for the fact Susan has never read this. In fact, I don’t think we know anyone who has read it. The most exciting book we have on the kitchen table right now is “Plomberie Pour Les Anglais”. I have a loo in several parts as we speak….sigh

      • Amy was lent this book a couple of years ago. I think she read a handful of pages and then threw it down – not because of what it was, but because of how it was written. She likes her literature and just said it was appalling English.

        But, your post is wonderful, Susan – a celebration of greyness, whether it’s 50 shades of it or 100. Love the colours, the sombreness and the ritual of winter in all the pictures. That photo of the little avenue of plane trees is worth a lurch of heart on any dull day. Much enjoyed, thank you!

      • Thanks so much Simon, Roddy muttered something about he wanted to read the book earlier! certainly 50 shades of grey today, ghastly weather and now it’s howling a gale as well. A day to stay by the fire for sure! xx

      • Oh Roddy….. poor guy!
        Some of the main fun of reading Susan’s blog are the comments – I so DO commiserate with you, even speaking pretty good French I still feel a total fool when it comes to spécialised vocubulary for stuff like your toilet!!!!!! It might amuse you a tiny bit in your misery that I ordered a ‘Toilet seat’ online, and when Hero Husband meant to replace the old one (which was perfectly alright, wonderful quality, made from wood and quite substantial, BUT…. ha ha….. we couldn’t leave the lid open as the pipe feeding the water into the toilet is right behind the toilet and has a heavy joint where the lid should fold back!!!! As that seat was expensive we kept it for a while, but I had to throw it out – only the new set was broken at the joints!!!!! Me back to square one, now we have a dirt cheap replacement but at least it does the job. A month later I asked my husband what on earth I might have bought for €12.- which was called ABATTANT…. It took him a while too even though he is Suisse Romand (french spoken – well sort of, as the ‘real’ French keep telling him). So don’t feel bad – and look out for a ‘plombier’ to do the dirty work 🙂

      • …. and I praise you for being surely right about NOBODY WE KNOW would read this stuff…. There is far too much really good material to spend our reading time on/with!!!!! 🙂

      • Hahah what an amazing title for a book Roddy. I have read ‘that’ book and encouraged some of my more literary friends to do so at the height of its popularity. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about, how a crappy book ( is this related to ‘Plomberie’?) could stay on the top selling list for so long. But it was also an eye opener. Apart from the appalling writing, I will admit I had never read female erotica before. It’s a field open to men more than women- and so 50 shades was ground breaking.

      • Kiki – I’m fairly adept at specific terms required for ‘la plomberie’, and I have almost all the tools, too. In fact, my skills surprise myself on occasion, but this time I fell foul of replacing a seal and a joint with a modern equivalent from Bricomarche that had no intention of defeating the evil machinations of a 200 year-old house. Two hours of fruitless grubbing around in the bowels of ‘le joint d’evacuation du cuvette’ with a collar that was 1mm too narrow for a bodged job from the 1950’s made me reach for the phone.

        Amazingly, my plumber listened to my tale of woe (and all I was actually phoning him for was advice), pursed his teeth down the line, and simply said, “J’arrive.” He just happened to be five minutes away and was knocking on the door even as Susan and I were discussing the phone conversation in some disbelieving manner. I can honestly say it’s the quickest response I have ever had in my life to a man with a spanner.

        As it turned out though, the simple task defeated even he, his mate, and a foreman. However a trip back to their store unearthed a section of long-lost pipe with the ‘special’ diameter required, and an hour later they left me with the job of putting everything back together after the joint/seal had been repaired. Just one of those things, I’m afraid. The matter of a cold water stop-cock that I broke through sheer fury with my bare hands won’t be mentioned but in passing. I have that to replace tomorrow. And then there’s the employee in Bricomarche who sneered at my demands for the correct piece that he said he didn’t have until I got quite cross. I will refrain from throttling him tomorrow but I may leave a little spittle on his collar when I go to buy my new tap.

        As for ‘The Book’, I have no intention of reading it, despite Susan’s murmurings. I am in the midst of reliving the exploits of Madame Bovary with Millie at the moment and that is quite enough for me! It’s amusing to find that she and I both giggled at the same bits in that story under the stern gaze of our respective teachers!

      • Francesca, the plumbing book is something sorely needed for people who might not have all the correct terminology, but then you still have to overcome the steadfast refusal of people to understand you when one asks for something quite specific. A ‘beignet de cire’ is the wax ring typically installed in many toilet installations as the seal between the waste pipe and the hole in the floor. No one in BricoMarche had ever heard of it, and the pained looks on the faces that reflected my stupidity only ceased thanks to the data plan of my smartphone and a visit to a Leroy Merlin website where the requisite article was displayed in all its glory to my little troupe of disgruntled, disbelieving employees in yellow aprons. I really wanted to then say, “Who’s feeling stupid now,” but cowardice got the better of me. The one man who had pointedly told me that no such article existed in the French plumbing lexicon did have the decency to look a little sheepish. Unfortunately it was he who also sold me the new seal and joint this morning which he assured me would fit any waste pipe in France. It is he whose collar I shall be aiming for in the morning. Thankfully he’s but a sore thumb amongst a handful of people who I have become very friendly with over the past two years. The man who cuts my plywood and glass is almost on my Christmas card list. Rugby-speak transcends all boundaries!

      • Roddy, I have just won the 1st price for the stupidest (is that E, don’t think so, but in my defense, I’m Swiss German spoken first, G/E/F after only…) person on this blog. In the back of my busy mind I was thinking, Roddy – I’ve heard that name before lately but where – not realising that indeed you SHOULD know whether your Dulcinée is reading the 50 shades or not!!!!
        And I must say: I do not only love Susan, but you too…… Peeps like you are the main reason we so adored the 8+yrs we lived in Devon – not taking oneself seriously, being able to see the craziness and self-importance in others and still be laughing (after a while…. when you’ve swallowed your anger and brushed off the spittle from your opponent’s collar) – and honest to God, I did think you had that title made up!!!! I loved you just for this alone – and now I must find another reason 🙂 And I’m really glad that you too had the sense of getting help – this must have been the quickest help in this century. If we had the time, I would have to tell you (but I won’t, even if you sd come to visit one day….) that we went ‘through’ 5 or even 6 so called plumbers when we had a very major worry with our toilets. In the end it was the husband of a friend in our choral, a real ‘Jack of all trades’, a hard-working Portugese, who openend up our basement bathroom floor (a 3rd time!!!) found the ‘culprit’, had it sorted and put to order within 1 1/2 days AFTER we had spent some 3.500€ on all kinds of specialised and recommended companies. The worst to us is that, coming from Switzerland, we had no addresses to rely on, and we even think that the one address we received from them was given to us in the full knowledge that this man was useless. Now, nearly 9 yrs on, we know how to be stern and when to shut up. Mind you, we also had our share of useless professionals in Devon, but we could handle things far better than here and we did find some absolute pearls (a youngish man who fell short of the law in his youth, picked himself up and became a brilliant, wonderful and skilled ‘floorer’ – he replaced our intricate mosaic floor at the entry (1880 Victorian) with literally searched-for and cut-to-the-job pieces of tiles and he would NOT give us an estimate because he said he wouldn’t charge too much but didn’t know how complicated and time-consuming his job would be. We reluctantly took him on because I had this good feeling (and to my credit, I hardly ever in my life got things wrong when I listened to my inner voice) and although it was more than we meant to spend it was absolutely worth it. Sometimes we must ‘jump over our own (50) shadow(s)…. and spend money on things we thought we could do on the cheap. Thanks for the many laughs you gave me with your replies to various posters and sorry for not having recognised you immediately. It won’t happen again, RODDY!!

  • You know what I really loved this, a walk through French villages in gray weather, it made such a change from either picture perfect snow or sunny summer days, no chocolate box images with roses scrambling over the wall, well done to you for finding beauty in the plain and ordinary

    • Thank you Caroline, first of all I really have to thank all of you, my readers, for making the blog what it is, because you see, as a result of the blog, I have learnt to see so much beauty all around me that I would probably otherwise have just overlooked, I find I now see things through the eyes of a foreigner, I imagine what it must look like to someone who doesn’t see everywhere ten times a week. And this is real France, at this time of year there are few or no tourists, this is real everyday French village life! Hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

    • Salut Roddy ! Souvent les vendeurs des magasins de bricolage sont des commerciaux formés en quelques jours pour vendre des outils très techniques. Au moins la moitié sont incompétents dans le bricolage. Ne pas connaitre le ” Beignet de cire pour toilettes ” ( un ” Anneau en cire pour toilettes ” ) est une honte pour ce pseudo-technicien !// Hello Roddy! Often the sellers of DIY stores are commercials trained in a few days to sell technical material. At least half are incompetent in DIY. Not to know the technical term ” Beignet de cire pour toilettes ” ( or ” Anneau en cire pour toilettes ” ) is a shame for this so called technician! Have a good day.

      • Bonjour Philippe! Oui, tu as raison – ‘les pseudos’ c’est un bon phrase. C’est le même en Angleterre, aussi, il ya a des gens pas particulièrement informés partout dans ces grands magasins. Mais c’est pas un chose nouveau, dommage eh?

    • I would stand out there singing in the rain too except my hair would be a total mess and as all my children know, I cannot stand having frizzy hair!! So instead I am watching the rain from the comfort of my kitchen, but I know the plants and trees are singing and happy, everywhere is so green. Xx

      • NOW I’m really jealous!!!! Still food from your own growth…. that IS quite amazing – and FRESH eggs, organic no doubt….. Can you see my screen slipping away from me because of my saliva rushing over it?????

        AND we have the same frizzy-dizzy hair too – and you are still blond, whereas I WAS and am ’50 shades of grey-white’ now. Just back from getting the mail (I have to walk across the garden and down a stone staircase, very, very formal, at least from far away – the déception comes later….) – now my head looks what my son when he was very small used to say: Mummy, have you reached into the plug socket again….?! 🙂 He, btw, was slightly curly too when a child and young man, now I wd just call his hair ‘wavey’.

      • No tomatoes anymore though, the frost finished them off, but yes the eggs are organic and come in a range of sizes and colours! You can take your choice, small and white, large white, medium brown, large very dark brown and soon to be blue (I hope) with a couple of new hens in the spring, but that’s another story!! Oh the saga of hair! I only have to run from here to the car in the drizzle and my hair is a mess, a giant frizz ball, nothing but nothing works! Our eldest has a head full of curls, all natural and quite stunning, goodness knows where she got those from, all the others are blonde and straight haired! xx

  • Even though I was looking out of the window at the same drizzly day , your photos & positive thoughts put a whole different light on the day. Loved seeing your photos through your camera lens.

    • Ha ha! And so the rain continues, but there is sun forecast for tomorrow and next week looks super clear, but not even getting above freezing all day. I think I would still sooner have the frost and sun though but I am putting a very positive spin on the rain and it’s working, I’m happy with it!! Xx

  • Loved every picture. It showed the beauty of nature beautifully. Even on a grey day that is a disappointment to our plans, there is great beauty if we just look. Thank you.

    • Thanks so much Carole, I totally agree with you, it was actually a really interesting exercise for me too, a time to really appreciate everything about life and a time to be grateful that we have warm houses to cosy up in. It really made me think. Hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

  • You’ve been away from England too long! Otherwise you would have remembered that English photogaraphers have little choice but to embrace fifty shades of grey. And you’re right – all weather conditions bring their own charm to the photographer. Great photos!

    • You are so right, I am reminded of British weather every day by our eldest daughter who is there at Uni, she messages me, “when will it stop raining?” But it is raining again today, then after that bright sunshine is forecast once again. Something that might amuse you, the French love talking about the weather just as much as the English! I feel very at home!!! Xx

      • Exactly! Any morning in the boulangerie where we lived, there were people mithering on about the weather just as much as anyone in England ever does!

      • Exactly, it’s the first words on everyone’s lips, it’s either too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, even our neighbour’s 11 year old son starts off a conversation with the weather!!

    • Thanks so much Mary, it was actually really interesting, I thoroughly enjoyed the rain yesterday, I saw everywhere through fresh eyes, rain is good I know, but sometimes we hate it, especially when it ruins our plans, for once it made my plans perfect! Have a lovely end to the week xx

  • Your photographs mirror what’s happening here in London with regards to drizzle/mizzle and 50 shades of grey….and like you we are supposed to get very cold by the weekend. I am one of those strange types that actually enjoys a day or so of rain. When living in very hot climates, there have been times when I have yearned for days just like these, and although I must admit to loving the images where the sun had peeked through and thrown a golden light onto the buildings….the quietness that the grey pictures evoke is quite magical…almost surreal especially with no humans in evidence – other than you, of course:) You are so right, every detail comes to life and for that reason I do find this sort of atmosphere a very interesting one to paint in. Thank you for another superb post….I really enjoy you blog. Hope you are enjoying a lovely cozy time around your fire at this moment. Janet. xxx

    • Thanks so much Janet, I am indeed sitting in the kitchen, replying to comments, working and the fire is roaring in the corner, it’s grey and raining still but it’s not cold, around 13C today. Rainy days can be rather fun as I have learnt, but then we are so lucky, we have the comfort of warm homes to retreat to, it really does make us realise how much we have to be grateful for, sorry to be philosophical. Meant to get very cold here, but the forecast for snow has changed, which is rather sad, now it’s just going to be sunny and very cold! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

      • I do acknowledge my good fortune every single day…As I walk through London (and other cities), where I see so many homeless people – I am reminded that indeed we are most fortunate to have a warm home. Very cold today but bright…Have a lovely weekend…Janet. xx

      • I know, we have quite a few homeless here too, just before Christmas we were in Saintes and Gigi asked me for a couple of euros to go and give to a homeless guy sitting by the river, he was so grateful, she said it was one of the best things she has ever done. Hope you have a great weekend, windy and sunny here and getting colder! xx

  • Your rainy photos are wonderful. We need all kinds of weather to exist on this earth. I follow a lot of gardeners and the ones up north never post snow photos. I am always amazed at how many buildings are made of stone there.

    • You are very right, the rain is excellent because I know it is filling up our huge well which we use to irrigate our vegetable garden all summer long. Frost is also excellent for breaking up the soil and this winter we are having something of everything. This time last year we had daffodils in bud and blossom on the plum trees, everything was out of sync. As a result we had very little fruit in the spring as there were no pollinators around and a cold spring and the garden suffered all year long. Now it is green and looking good. Hope you have a lovely end to the week and stay warm in the Arctic conditions which are forecast. Xx

  • I had a friend that was dying of cancer; when you asked him how he was doing, he’d say, “I’ve got good days and I’ve got better days.” That quote reminds me of quite a few things and rain is one of them. Lovely pictures, the detail…

    • He sounds as if he was a brave fantastic man. Always positive, always looking on the bright side, and yes the rain is one of the positive things in life. We need rain, it’s good, but then I think also how lucky we are, we can appreciate it from the warmth of our homes. We have much to be grateful for. Hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

  • i love all the pictures of the stone buildings and walls…beautiful! i love a good rainy or drizzly day…being joyful in all seasons and weather for different reasons gives variety and interest to our days…love all your photos and you write so simpy and beautifully…i hope to visit the french countryside some day…

    • Thanks so much, I am in total agreement with you, there is something to enjoy about every season and about all weathers. When you make your plans and get to visit, let me know, I’ll happily show you around! Have a great end to the week xx

  • Such beautiful photography, thank you for taking me on this amazing little tour this morning …. places this Indiana gal will never see in person. I will re-read again & again !

    • Thanks so much Deb, sometimes armchair travel is the best form of travel, it is certainly the most convenient! So glad you enjoyed following along. I have never been to Indiana, there are also a great many places I would love to visit and I know I probably never will, but I still love to read about them and learn more about different places. Aren’t we lucky to have the Internet and modern technology. Hope you have a lovely end to the week xx

    • Thanks so much Libby, it was an even worse day today, but somehow I looked out of the window and just enjoyed the rain, everything looked so happy and everything is so green! Have a great end to the week xx

  • I loved this post! It’s made me look at rain in an entirely different way. Now when I’m traveling and it rains, I won’t be disappointed. I’ll know how to appreciate what I’m seeing around me.
    Btw, your blog is my very favorite.

    • Thank you so much Sally, I know just what you mean, often when the rain ruins our plans we hate the rain, I do too, but slowly I am learning to love it just as much, we need the rain and it does make everything look so slick. Perhaps we can enjoy it because we are so fortunate, we are able to view it from our homes and we have warm houses to return to, it makes us realise how much we have to be grateful for, or at least it made me realise that. Have a wonderful end to the week xx

    • Thanks so much Penny, I do agree with you, but there was something really quite fabulous about photographing in the depths of winter in the rain, with no one else around and I was so happy I experimented, it was fun! xx

  • Long ago, I realized, nowhere does grey better than Paris. However, I had not realized that this might be the specialty of the entire country (my favorite). You’ve literally captured masterpieces here — seek a site for a one-person exhibit. I cherish your mantra, “bad weather can be beautiful.” If you go onto NJWILDBEAUTY, put Island Beach in the search function, and see our wild and wonderful day as northeast as we could be, right on the beach, in a furious nor’easter! The four of us had such fun, we went on to experience the storm in another New Jersey Preserve. Thank you for following NJWB and for introducing me to your splendid blog. Carolyn Foote Edelmann

    • Thanks so much Carolyn, it’s true Paris looks stunning in all weathers, but then so does the rest of France, the rural parts, perhaps it is the centuries old stone. I shall go and search out the blog post this evening when the children are in bed and all is quiet, looking forward to it already, I love wild and windy weather. The wind picked up here along with the rain this afternoon, nothing impressive but still enough to make us run quickly to the car and not linger! xx

    • I totally agree, some of that stone in the photos is from the 12th century, imagine how that must have been all built by hand and how it has weathered with so many centuries. Utterly incredible really. xx

  • Loved the photos. You are a good photographer. Made me fall in love with France even more. The streets & the villages looked like they had so many stories to tell. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much Deborah, I am a true amateur with a good camera thanks to my husband who bought it for me! But I do love playing with it and yesterday was great fun, although it was a struggle to keep the camera dry. If only the walls could talk, imagine how many stories could be told and how many secrets best not told too! xx

  • How I envy your beautiful rainy morning -I live in Ontario,Canada and we have had a lot of snow and then rain and everything looks dirty and slushy. When we have a real snowy day it is so pretty. Christmas card scenery. I would love to visit some of those homes that you walked by. I Picture ancient beauty. I have watched this blog over and over this morning -just loved it. Thank you so much for sharing your French beauty. Wonderful,wonderful pictures. Regards Betty Baker.

    • Thanks so much Betty, I envy you your snow, we long for just one snowy day here. It was forecast this weekend and everyone was so excited, but now it has changed, now it is just going to be very cold and sunny. We so rarely get snow. I know once it becomes slushy it is horrid and I know what hard work it is for anyone living in it all the time, shovelling drives, not to mention the cold, but just a day would have been exciting! Instead I have to accept rainy day photos which in their own way are just as pretty, just somewhat different!! One day I hope you do get to visit, let me know if you do, I’ll gladly show you around. xx

  • Lovely photos. You really captured the essence of the area. Love the stone work. The round leaf plant growing on the mossy wall looks like what we call “miners lettuce”, here in California. Every Spring I head into the back country to gather. It has a marvelous flavor, a cross between lettuce and spinach. It would be interesting to learn if that is the same plant growing in that area. A few high end restaurants have added to their Spring menus, quite the delicacy. It got it’s name from the gold miners in the 1800’s. There were not many fresh vegetables available in the gold rush camps and the gold miners would pick the leaves and eat. Very high in vitamin C, I believe. Thanks for sharing your wonderful region.

    • Hi Debbie, thanks so much. I am going to investigate the plant as I am intrigued. I have never heard of it so I shall be doing some research on google this evening. This is what I love so much about blogging, I learn so much, thank you again. Have a lovely evening xx

      • I believe it was introduced to western Europe around 1800. So quite possibly the same plant. I was a little shocked to see it in your photo. I truly enjoy seeing and reading your posts. My family is from France so my hope is to one day see the countryside in person. I love all things French. Thanks for sharing your story.

      • I saw some in our garden this evening, it was a lovely sunny day and I was looking at the daffodils peeking up and noticed the plant beside a low stone wall. It must have always been there I have just never seen it. So now I have it at home which will make it much easier to identify. I will come back to you at the weekend and let you know! I hope too one day you get here and let me know when you do. xx

  • Each image looks like a beautiful watercolor, Susan! Here in Southern California it is raining, and we are overjoyed, because we have been in such a drought. Now we can turn on the tap without feeling quite as guilty, and I can only imagine how our parched land is drinking in all that wonderful moisture! The spring should be glorious…rain is such a blessing from heaven to the land!

    • Thanks so much Lidy, I can imagine how fantastic it must look now you have rain, I always love that smell of rain on parched dry land and imagine how happy all those plants must be, finally they have water. Rain is a blessing, when I think of all the drought ridden countries and famine as a result, we have a great deal to be so grateful for. xx

  • Thank you so much for your lovely blog post, I wanted to read more and I am not a reader by any stretch of the imagination but I felt as if I was there on the streets in those villages with you in the rain, I too dislike the rain as it gets into all sorts of places you don’t want it to but to embrace it as you have is wonderful, making something good out of something normally miserable, I too live in France and really have been able to cherish the seasons here where I didn’t even acknowledge them in UK, thank you again for a wonderful blog x

    • Thanks so much Roz, I really enjoyed appreciating the rain, it was actually quite humbling and it made me really think about how much we have to be grateful for. Plus it was a lot of fun! Where are you in France? We’ve had miserable weather all day today as well and a howling wind too, however as of tomorrow it’s meant to get sunny and much colder, a real winter! xx

      • A beautiful part of France. Windy more than chilly here this morning, around 5C at 7am. But a biting wind this afternoon and meant to get much much colder with an orange alert for the weather due to frosts, sadly no snow forecast here at all! Stay warm and have a lovely weekend xx

  • So beautiful and peaceful. I guess living on the West Coast of Canada I should understand and appreciate rain. Years ago when I used to run, it always felt liberating to run in the rain. Once you are wet….every puddle is fair game. Splashing through with child like glee. There is no bad weather….just wrong choice of clothes…….I sound Like Pollyanna..😇

    Did it arrive?

    Ali xx

    • I absolutely love that saying and quote it often, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” so so true. The email did arrive, just going to find a few free minutes to look through it, I was out all evening and have only just returned, a bit of a busy evening! xx

  • Absolutely lovely post, love the way the stone buildings are reflected in the rain. I am in the Northern UK. Aren’t we so lucky to have changing seasons. Snow on the hills yon side of Durham will probably reach us tomorrow. We have a lovely bottle of red to enjoy by the log burner – looking forward to it already! Have a great weekend all.

    • Now you have made me completely jealous! Changing seasons are wonderful, it makes us appreciate the next one so much more. We were promised snow for the weekend, but then this morning the forecast changed and now there is none at all, just getting very cold next week, not getting to much more than -2 during the days, which is really unusual for us, but brilliant sunshine. I would rather have your snow. I shall imagine you enjoying it and then enjoying a good bottle of red and the wood burner. Have a wonderful weekend, sounds perfect. xx

  • Thank you for sharing. Rain has been a rare site in Northern Nevada and we have been in a drought for a few years. Today, as I looked through your pictures, it is snowing outside, and this comes just after a week of rain and flooding. It reminds me how beautiful each season is, even the ones that create huge messes in their wake.

    • Wow Lisa, it sounds as if you have all types of weather being thrown at you at the moment, but so glad you had some rain, the flooding must have been awful but I know how badly the rain must have been needed, and now snow, at least it will melt and provide more water. Every season is to be enjoyed and then we enjoy the next one even more, that is my new motto this winter. Have a lovely weekend ahead xx

  • Everybody knows Paris is beautiful in the rain, but so are French villages. Around Carcassonne, and I assume where you are as well, the rain is greeted because it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
    When I lived in Brussels, folks called that mist “brusseling.” I learned there to always take an umbrella, even if it was sunny. Now, I know to always take my sunglasses because the sun is likely to pop out between the heaviest downpours.

  • A mizzle of a day or week, lets me go through my recipe file and sort out and toss “why did I save this, I will never make that”.

    • Very good idea, it’s a fantastic excuse to stay inside and get a million little jobs done and not to feel guilty about it. Today was horrid here, driving rain, howling wind, but it makes it almost quite fun and makes us feel so grateful that we are able to watch from the comfort of a warm home. Have a lovely end to the week xx

  • Such powerful photos. From the stark church to the soft mist by the road amongst the water. An excellent post to read again and again.

  • Raining here – looking out the window – fully appreciating it – thanks due to you for sharing your thoughts.
    I’m originally from the Willamette Valley region of Oregon state in the US, and I am, therefore, well practiced with rain.
    As I became a teenager ( and this continues to this day), I became a little obsessed with hedges, evergreen shrubs and trees, magnolias………and yes, stone, brick, pathways, gravel, pebbles….anything to bring semblance to the soggy chaos of a wet, leafless, muddy, winter. So yes, I am completely smitten with the beauty that stone, hedges, painted shutters……the architectural elements that give year round beauty…..and done so well in the old country(s).
    I’m always surprised at the vast amount of stone! I just love it. Thanks so much for all of the wonderful photos and musings.
    And mizzle will be put into use here henceforth as well. Thank you

    • My Father would be so happy to hear so many people loving one of his favourite words! We got a lot of mizzly days in England! I love evergreen hedges, stone work, wrought iron gates, as you so rightly say, anything that breaks up a damp and wet landscape. Here we are surrounded by a lot of old stone walls, they are fencing in the fields, it looks so pretty, so much nicer than the far more practical electric fencing! xx

  • I’m writing you from the not so sunny California. We’ve had several storms blowing through one after another. I think I would prefer mizzle instead! As always, your photographs are stunning!

    • Thanks so much Jennifer, it sounds as if you are having some quite turbulent weather at the moment, hope it all settles down soon. The muzzle turned to rain today accompanied by a howling wind. Tomorrow sun is forecast and then very very cold icy weather all of next week. This is being quite an interesting winter! Have a great weekend xx

  • I so enjoy your beautiful photos of your part of France, even in the rain! You make it come to life and make me want to visit.
    We are experiencing a severe drought here in Knysna, so when I woke up to a gentle drizzle this morning, I was so happy for my dying garden and all the surrounding vegetation. Rain is so essential for life, and we welcome it here in South Africa where so much depends on it. But I do remember living in the north east of England many years ago where the winters, with their short days, constant greyness, damp and rain, made me yearn for those big blue African skies. I have learnt with time that everything has its beauty.
    Keep warm!

    • Very very true Ingrid, everywhere and everything does indeed have it’s own unique beauty. I can imagine how fantastic the sound of drizzle must have been for you this morning, the smell of rain must have been wonderful and your plants must be rejoicing. Hope it continues long enough to do some good. My husband spent several years living in SA long before we were married, his brother still lives there, a very beautiful country. xx

  • Fabulous photos! Whenever it rains I think – ‘Oh well, it’s good for the garden.’ But it’s raining as I write this and I am somewhat put out by that – it’s supposed to be summer! Best wishes for 2017.

    • The good old Kiwi summer! I know them only too well! I do sympathise though, there are only so many times we can say “it’s good for the garden” before we get really fed up and just yearn for some good summer weather. It’s much the same in England too, usually the weather is a little more predictable here, normally!! Wishing you too a very happy and healthy 2017 xx

  • Breathtaking photos…the burst of sunlight is magical against all the shades of gray…I really enjoy your work. Here it is almost always sunny…yes, really…when it rains, people stop and watch…I find this funny and enchanting having moved here from the typical gray/sun/gray climate. Your photos are lovely. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, where are you exactly? I am intrigued by somewhere where people actually stop to watch the rain, they must be really happy when it arrives. What grows in your climate, I would imagine it must be quite difficult? xx

      • Hi Susan – I live in New Mexico – high desert, 5000′ above sea level. Desert plants and grasses grow best. We do have trees – Cottonwoods, Elms, and some fruit trees but all the trees need lots of water. You’re right, the rain is very welcomed for everyone. The high desert has its own beauty. Snowcapped rugged mountains. A river – Rio Grande – runs through the city. And all four seasons. 🙂

      • I can imagine it must be absolutely stunning, not an area I know, but we did have friends that moved there from Colorado and they love it. Everywhere has its own unique beauty. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • Hi there Susan! What a lovely post. The evocative pictures reminded me of the first year I lived in Vienna. It seemed to rain every day and the skies were always gray. But, as your photos proved, gray can be beautiful too. I loved the contrasting textures and muted colors. Pat @ Bringing French Country Home

    • Thanks so much Pat, admittedly it’s easy to appreciate the rain when we’ve had a relatively dry winter, a few rainy days are quite enjoyable, good for the garden, they fill up the well ready for the summer and it does mean that it is very mild. I am slowly learning to appreciate the grey skies, fortunately here they don’t last for too long. xx

      • Thanks so much, it all takes time, but I love chatting with everyone and getting to know them, this is what to me makes the blog special, the comments are as important as the posts! Bonne nuit à vous xx

      • it’s a Lumix DMC G6, uforme! I also bought Susan the 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 lens for Christmas to replace her kit lens. I think it’s working out okay!!!

      • We are expecting rain here today . I love how everything looks refreshed after the rain when it’s so hot. So green and alive. I bet it was fun taking the photos. 😀

      • and how fantastic it smells after rain when it has been so hot, it’s as if one can smell that refreshing scent. Enjoy the rain as much as I am sure your plants will. Taking the photos was great fun and so was looking through them all afterwards! xx

  • Some of these photos really catch light and texture beautifully. That first one with the light on the stone and the first one of a church–the one with the poor pollard end tree–catches that lovely rainy light. And the colors do pop, don’t they? The one with the sea green shutters contrasting with stone, and a couple where you caught wet reflections are marvelous. I hope Roddy doesn’t have to fight the plumbing much longer. Even in the same language, I often go in with the part in hand…

    • Thanks so much, it was great fun taking photos in the rain, the colours are all so different and it was a great experiment for me! Plumbing issued solved, we called in the plumber and even he was baffled, but finally all sorted!! have a great weekend xx

  • Peaceful. We’ve had similar skies lately. Gray, foggy — the other day I dressed myself in shades of gray from head to toe, walked outside and said, “Heh, you too, huh?” 🙂

    • Ha ha, yes endless days of grey, but today we had brilliant sunshine and it’s forecast to be sunny for a week or more now but very very cold.I’m glad I grabbed my rainy day photos, it was great fun! Have a great weekend xx

  • Your photos have demonstrated that even grey, rainy days are beautiful. The way I look at it is if I only waited for perfectly blue-sky days, I would miss most of what nature has to offer.

  • Thank you for this beautiful post! I live in Southern California and I always appreciate a rainy day. We are getting plenty this winter, but we desperately need each of them. I am not the best at leaving comments, but I appreciate the time and thought you put into each of your posts. Your blog is such a nice break to the day and always beautiful. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Julia and thank you for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it and I love hearing from people who have not commented before, people I didn’t even know were following along! I am glad you are getting plenty of much needed rain. Have a lovely weekend xx

  • I absolutely love your collection of rainy day photos. My favorites are the two showcasing the moss growing on the stone wall.

    • Thanks so much Julie, I love moss, it fascinates me. We have lots of it here on old stone around the garden, different colours, different shades, different types no doubt. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • SUSAN, hope you’ve got your 5 snowflakes now!!! We had a terrible Wind-Storm yesterday and this morning, when HH left very early for a long train/car-trip it snowed (Snowdon!!! Auto-correct!) lightly. It stays on for now, we even have some slivers of blue sky, so I do hope you have been blessed with a bit of it too….. Thinking of you – and having, all on my own, a second meal of my lovely soup – so gratifying, so healthy, so good!
    (Did you get my card, finally?)

    • No we have not had a single snowflake just brilliant sunshine all day long!!! Very windy last night and blustery today. Sun now forecast for the next week or more, your card arrived today, I loved it, I was so so happy to see it, thank you so much. I will email over the w/e, just a bit pushed for time today, have a lovely weekend xxx

  • Susan, you captivated the atmosphere I like at most. Those derelicted old piles in the rain reminds me on
    extraordinary and beautiful old human faces. There must not be perfection to discern something and there
    must be not always sunshine to feel well.

    • You are very very right, there is much beauty to be found in imperfections and the rain magnified everything. It was a great experiment to take photos in the rain, I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • I love the pictures…and kudos to you for going out into the rain to get them! I love the moss on the rocks! I’ve noticed with all our rain lately that moss has returned…
    Nancy
    wildoakdesigns.blogspot.com

    • Thanks so much Nancy, I adore moss, it fascinates me, we have quite a lot of it around here and in the garden and I love all the different types and colours and it feels so wonderful to touch. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • “Mizzle…” Lovely! ❤️Life is all about scene-stealing moments. Even the smallest statements can become memorable ones for us! The well-worned character of the collection of buildings against the backdrop of life (and rain) reaffirm to me that even the simplest things are beautiful! “Life is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination…” Voltaire
    Susan, your well loved-look and timeworn appeal of the villages has a language all its own! This visual narrative is one of my All time Favorites of yours!
    Happy Weekend to you! ❤️🌈

    • Thanks so much Stephanie, love the quote, very very true and one I shall remember. I do think there is so much beauty to be found in imperfection, I far prefer the wonky door to the perfect one, always! Every time I visit any of our local village I find new places I haven’t seen before, there is always something new to discover, a new little alleyway I haven’t walked before. There is just so much history here, right in front of our eyes. Have a lovely weekend yourself xx

      • So much history…! ❤️ Having a degree in history I just can’t seem to get enough of the small villages and the thousands of stories that have passed through them. I have travelled a lot but I always seem to want to come back to 🇫🇷!
        In the end it’s really about the wonderful people like yourself who open up their ❤️S to us so we may get a “flavor” of 🇫🇷 living. For this I am forever grateful. ❤️

      • Thanks so much Stephanie, Even though I have lived in Europe most of my life I am still fascinated by the history and I still look at ancient buildings and marvel at how they built them. Hope you are having a lovely weekend xx

  • Hi Susan, I have just found you by way of Sharon Santorini. Love your blog, love everything French and would love to be able to “pin” your recipes, tablescapes etc on Pinterest. Am I missing something on your site or are you not linked up, and if not any plans to? Many thanks from a somewhat grey Wellington NZ!! (Mizzle was my Dads word as well😀)..Kim

    • So happy you found me Kim and welcome to the blog. I did open a pinterest account and then did nothing with it. I will look at it again and see if I can do something, I probably won’t be able to do it until Monday, quite a busy weekend ahead, but I promise I will come back to you and let you know. Our youngest daughter was born in Auckland, we spent a couple of years in the Bay of Islands, it was a long drive home, 4 hours, with a newborn baby, our little Kiwi. We absolutely loved our time in NZ, a beautiful country and wonderful people. Hope the weather improves and you have a good sunny summer weekend xx

  • These are absolutely breathtaking photos! I would think this would be a perfectly calming way to spend the day- a village to yourself without a soul to be seen. I do love a rainy day. Sometimes, it forces us to stop and take a break. Funny how these villages can seem so still but still be bursting with such character!

    As always, wonderful post! 🙂

    • Thanks so much. I totally agree, the villages may seem deserted to a stranger, but there is always plenty going on behind the scenes, behind closed doors and I am quite sure that more than one person watched me walking around the village!! I love the odd rainy day too, I love the smell of rain especially after a long dry spell. Sunny again here today, hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • Living in a high mountain desert, it’s wonderful seeing someone else appreciate rain (although I think it’s human nature to complain of one’s current state all the time). Shade of grey dreary weather really make texture pop. Your images (as always) are incredible and underscore that. The textures seem to beg those inside to come out and relish the sights of the village.

    • Thanks so much Monika, we had such a dry few weeks before Christmas that it’s good to see it raining, suddenly the grass is really green and everything looks revitalised and I know our well will be filling up for the dryer months ahead. It was a great fun experiment to take photos in the rain and I learnt a lot which is never a bad thing! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • Susan, I’m far behind on my blog reading and commenting, so I can’t read all the comments, but I can appreciate your tenacity in going out in the rain, something I did with my s-i-l while visiting this summer. The stonework looks amazing in any light or lack thereof and I think there’s a beauty in both rainy times and winter. It’s simply different from sunny, summer days. Your photos are a perfect example of that.

    janet

    • Hi Janet, don’t worry, I am behind commenting, just been a very busy couple of days! So here I am at 1am trying to catch up with everything online!! It is just different, precisely that, I think there is much beauty in both summer and winter, but it was, for me, interesting to see that houses that look so pretty with roses around their doors could also be so photogenic in the depths of winter in the rain. I learnt a lot and loved every second of it! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Super photos Susan, French villages look beautiful in any weather I’d say. I’ve often thought it incredible that some of the smallest villages have enormous churches, like the second one you featured and wondered if the pews are ever filled these days? I so wish I had your problem of frizzy hair in rain, mine goes lank!
    I was curious about Fifty Shades when it was published, due to all the publicity and read an excerpt online, it was appalling, the dialogue was dreary and I certainly didn’t find it erotic…the charity shops are full of copies now. All this toilet talk has reminded me that I need to change the loo seat in my mobile home. Would Roddy know if a UK toilet seat would fit a bog standard (sorry… couldn’t resist!) French loo? Am thinking it could be cheaper to bring one out rather than buy one there, if they are universal.
    Wishing you bon weekend from snowy Sussex

    • Hi Fiona, well first of all I am very envious of your snow! We had snow forecast here but then it all changed and now we just have sun forecast and lots of very very cold weather, in fact we have an orange alert for ice. I would far rather have snow! I certainly won’t be reading 50 Shades, I heard it was awful! Now for the loo, I have no idea and Roddy says he doesn’t know either. It might be safer to buy one here, it would be really annoying to bring one over and then find it is a couple of millimetres out! Hope you have a wonderful weekend in snowy Sussex, long walks, good wine, a great fire, I am making myself even more jealous, worst still I can picture where you are being a Sussex girl as you know!! xx

  • Love all the photos with lovely old buildings. Looks like no one goes out in the rain. I`m a canadian living in bavaria and not so far from you. I`m also live in the country and love the views to the Alps, small villages, hills, fields and forests. My 2 girls are growing up bilingual too. My older daughter is studying french and visited La Reunion last year. Lucky you to have a farmhouse. They`re impossible to find here. Skiied in Trois Vallees last year and loved it. All that french cheese is amaziing. xx00

    • Hi Fiona, wow it sounds as if you have quite a fantastic life and a great opportunity. Isn’t it wonderful having children grow up to be bilingual, it is so easy for them and they will benefit so much from it. Our dinner service is Bavarian! Hope it is not too cold with you, I would imagine it is and you also probably have lots of snow, of which I am more than a little envious! Enjoy your European lifestyle, it sounds perfect. Xxx

  • Hi Susan. It’s so important for us in the Northern Hemisphere to try and find the positive in rain! It’s amazing how much the weather affects our mood and I recall driving through country lanes in the spring sunshine, seeing the pink blossom and yellow daffodils and feeling ecstatic, almost drunk with the joy and beauty of it. But equally, I’ve seen our beautiful stone church, with inky blue/black skies behind it and a tiny torch of gold sunshine bursting through and lighting up a tree in its yellow/gold autumn glory. It was stunning, brooding but beautiful. So what a great idea for you to go out and capture your lovely villages in the rain. My only question – where does everybody go??? !! Are they all at work? The roads are totally deserted! Have a good week ahead.

    • I totally agree with you Marion, we have to learn to appreciate all weathers and all seasons and I know just what you mean about the blossom and daffodils in the spring, it’s a fantastic sight. But where do the people go? Good question. The villages I photographed are small and not busy at any time of year, but mid morning, people are at work, the retired people are in their houses and there were plenty of cooking smells from various houses, lunch being prepared. The roads are certainly busier at 12 noon when people go home for lunch. But at this time of year there are few tourists around, children were in school, it’s a quiet time of day, apart from the mad Englsih women playing tourist for an hour in the rain, with a camera no less!!! Xx

  • This is amazing and very, very beautiful. I Went France few months ago and can I just say, I fell in love with the place, the people were amazing and sweet and the country overall is breath taking. Cannot wait to see more of your posts and all things French.

    • So glad you had such a wonderful trip here, it is a beautiful and very varied country, there really is something for everyone. So happy to have you following along and looking forward to sharing lots more about France with you. Have a lovely end to the week xx

    • Thanks so much Laura, this is absolutely real, unedited, just as the village appears. Often during the winter months whilst the children are in school villages are quiet, adults are at work, the retired are indoors and so the little lanes are quiet and peaceful. It would be very rare to find trash thrown in the road, for which I am most grateful. Hope you will come back often to visit the blog and for some further distraction! have a lovely end to the week and weekend xx

  • Rainy days do reveal many shades of grey as you have stated! The greys can have yellow, blue, red, or green undertones. Until I started oil painting lessons, I did not “see” all the nuances of color in nature, especially in winter or on those grey days. In fact, I tended to feel somewhat “blue” in winter and disliked the rain. But I don’t feel that way at all now! A whole new world opened up for me and I find joy in discovering those little gems of subtle color. Your beautiful pictures and descriptive words give me joy as well. I would be missing out on so much without your photos and stories! My love for French architecture and countryside is great and I can be there through your generous efforts and talents! Thank you so much for sharing! The very first photo in this blog..of the village…I like the perspective of the large mass of buildings on the left curving to the right, the curved wall at the right side of the picture, the wide road at the front diminishing as it curves towards the back. Each building beside of each other has a different texture, color and shape. You captured so much in this one moment in time. I enjoyed all of the pictures of course. I was just particularly drawn to this one. Well done!

    • I love the way you describe this Melanie because in a way this is just how I felt. Sadly I am a poor artist, my children have inherited their grandmother’s artistic genes but I alas am quite without any talent whatsoever! However, when I started the blog, I started to see things through different eyes, the eyes of a visitor or stranger. If it weren’t for the blog I would not have been tempted out in the rain to take photos and I would not have seen how stunning everything is during grey dull days. I loved the winding narrow road, I love that every house is different, they are not a uniform size and height, it certainly makes one want to walk further and see what is around the corner and that is how everything is here, it is certainly a fabulous place for the curious mind! We have cold frosty weather at the moment which means brilliant blue skies and clear days, another kind of beauty. Hope you have a lovely week xx

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