A Land of Contrasts

p4970114Everywhere there are signs of the warmer weather to come, with blossom on some trees, buds appearing, daffodils and the striking yellow mimosa. However, for just a few more days it is still winter, but nonetheless there is a beauty in it, a certain clarity, the kind of thinking that lets me notice small details like how the trees that are still bare, have the promise of spring within them. It’s quite different to the gentle sunshine of the coming months, yet it is a part of life that I want to enjoy just the same. All of this I notice from the car as we speed south to the mountains.

Having driven for hours the twisting road finally takes us away from the foothills and into the Pyrenees themselves.

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Round and round we go, spiralling up into a completely different world.

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Close your eyes for a second and pretend you are breathing in great big lungfuls of pure fresh mountain air; your nose is freezing cold but at the same time the sun has enough power to warm you through. It’s hot and cold at the same time, like sweet and sour, the opposites go hand in hand, inside warm gloves designed for the snow.

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High in the mountains the snow is a permanent resident for months on end, but slightly lower down it comes and goes. One day we’re basking in incredibly hot sun, and the ground is clear and dry….

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….and the next we’re plunged into a world of white, as giant flakes fall silently to the ground, transforming everything they touch. The snow brings with it a purity that elevates the spirit and cleanses the soul, it whistles in my mind with a keen coolness.

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The Pyrenees, like many mountainous regions, are an area of extreme contrasts; the landscape is harsh but when the snow comes down and wraps everything in a soft fluffy blanket it changes again.

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The buildings are designed to withstand the tough brutalities of winter, they are neither fancy nor pretentious

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but the insides are cosy and warm offering a perfect respite from freezing conditions. With a crackling fire the winter weather seems less severe and more like a pristine wonderland when peered at through frosted windows. In the warmer summer weather the buildings’ metre-thick stone walls keep everyone cool, as well.

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Trees are thin and bare, twisting up from the cold ground. Snow gathers on their branches, wrapping some in a thick white scarf, while on others it hangs in small clumps like baubles. Bushes become lumps of frosted icing.

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The snow quietens the usual sounds that go hand in hand with everyday life. A certain peace falls over the villages, a silence punctuated by the avalanche cannon as the mountain community ensures little is left to chance.

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On the slopes the most common sound is the swoosh of skis against the powder with occasionally a more grating noise as an edge cuts through an icy patch. Restaurants are only accessible to those with skis or snowboards, and they’re bustling hives of activity; at one is my old time favourite Citroën 2CV van, boldly advertising its presence (although how it got up there remains another mystery we have yet to solve; most likely it was towed by one of the enormous piste bashers for even in the summer there are no roads up here).

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In the valley, the rushing flow of water over rocks and boulders breaks the silence, some are gentle mountain streamsp4970282

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others are urgent torrents, flowing fast down the mountain.

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Whether you are waiting for the imminent arrival of spring or autumn, I hope you are having – or have had –  a lovely weekend xx

165 thoughts on “A Land of Contrasts

  • So interesting the way the houses seem to be built in a line down the mountain. Then I realized that they have terraced walls extending out to the sides, so that must have been, or may be?, the farming model. Thanks for this lovely dose of winter.

  • I always share your postings on Face Book. The photos are stunning and your way of life is so interesting!!

    • Thank you so much Carol, it really has been the most wonderful holiday and fabulous to see another part of France, not just to enjoy the skiing, but to explore a little as well. Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

  • Glorious photos Susan, what a beautiful place it is. Here in Edinburgh we are having an extremely mild winter @10-11c most days, & M&S have had daffodils since Xmas! I’m having building work done at the moment in the bedroom, so the whole flat is a tip, inches of dust everywhere, but amidst the mess I have a beautiful jug of Daffodils! In my tiny front garden the rose bushes are in bud, so I hope we don’t get a sudden cold spell. Enjoy the rest of your stay.x

    • Wow I had no idea you had had such a mild winter. You have been as warm as we have. Ironically when we drove to the mountains we left the Charente Maritime in the morning and it was 12C, as we got further south, around Pau it was 17.5C and it kept climbing, by the time we were in Tarbes it was 19C and truly in the mountains, in the village of Sers, where we stayed, it was 20C, unbelievable! Then we had snow, then a more regular 12C each day, before another dump of heavy snow and freezing weather. Enjoy your mild winter, just a few more days and it will be spring. I am so loving seeing all the blossom and the daffodils are spectacular at the moment. Hope the work on your flat is finished soon! xx

  • Susan, this takes me back to the years I worked in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a famous ski resort, and to my time in Colorado in general as well as the winter I worked in Grindelwald, Switzerland at the youth hostel (many, many years ago.) I know those contrast, the feel of the air, the beauty of the snow and the quiet that it brings. I also remember the fifth season: mud season, when people took their boots off inside the door of the library so as not to track in all the mud. 🙂 Thanks for some lovely memories as well as the beauty of the stone buildings and the Pyrenees themselves.

    janet

    • Thanks so much Janet, but what I found most amazing is that you worked for a season in Grindelwald. Roddy spent every winter of his childhood there, we have skied there many times together and taken the children back there as his family have many ties to the town. I love it there, but the Pyrenees are very much closer for us!! I loved the architecture and the way everything is but using local stone and slate. Have enjoyed every second of exploring the area, not just the skiing. Have a lovely Sunday xx

      • My uncle, who’s traveled all over Europe, said Grindelwald is one of the most beautiful places there and I have to agree. I happened upon the job and as I love mountains and skiing, it was a great fit.

      • The winter of 1974-75, between my junior and senior years in college. I spent almost a year in Europe, mostly traveling except for this stop in Grindelwald.

      • He would certainly have been there that winter, but he would have only been 14, not quite old enough to hit town!! What a fabulous experience you must have had, I can imagine you have never forgotten it. I know I remember my year of travelling after school in India like it was yesterday! xx

      • That must have been quite an experience, too. I was going to go for the first semester, but once I got to Europe, I realized I wanted to see more and be there longer. My parents said it was fine as long as I got a job through the winter so they didn’t have to keep paying for things. I was doing the $10 a day or less for the most part, but we didn’t have lots of money. I ended up being there from September to July…and I would have been happy to stay longer, but my parents were looking forward to me coming home and I had a year of college to finish.

      • Wow, that must have been a great experience. Did it create a real desire to travel, or did it do just the opposite and satisfy your need to travel and leave you content to be at home. Whenever I ask people this I find the answer is literally 50/50. But I know you do come back to France quite regularly. xx

      • I’ve always had a desire to travel and this just added to is. Even though we didn’t have much money, we went on vacation every year to various places in the US. My parents don’t fly and also don’t have a desire to visit elsewhere, but I’d always wanted to go to Europe, as I’m a history buff. I’m fortunate now that my s-i-l and b-i-l live in France, giving me the opportunity to come over for almost “only” the price of the flight. I love travel!

      • It seems we have much in common, my Father never flew in his life either, he loved Great Britain and saw no need to leave, he felt there was everything there he could ever want for a holiday and I love that people can be so content like this, each to their own. Of course I love travel and so does Roddy and so do the children! I love exploring different cultures and different areas, it all fascinates me. You are lucky to be able to come over here so often. The best of both worlds! xx

  • Your photos really are breathtaking and you describe it all so well, I did feel as if I was there in the mountains with you. Have a blessed Sunday.

    • Thanks so much Lisa, I really wanted everyone to feel as if they were in the Pyrenees with us, I would love to share it with you all, it is so beautiful. Have a lovely Sunday xx

    • I can imagine if you live in the snow by now it is getting just a touch tedious, time to head into spring weather. Of course, for us, it is a novelty! But we had a bit of both, warm sunny days and snow, it was lovely to see the architecture and the way everything is built using local stone and slate. Hope you get your rock house some day! xx

    • Thanks Nadia, the mountains are just as much fun for non-skiers too though, snow shoeing, hiking, just being there is good for the soul. I didn’t ski last year because the children were all with an instructor, learning and I had lots of fun. But I have to admit it was fabulous to take them on the slopes myself and ski as a family. The dogs went into a local kennel, a lovely lady who takes just five dogs at a time and treats them very much as her own. They kind of go on holiday too! xx

  • I love the hugely contrasting areas of France from Paris to the mountains to the lovely area where you live. Thanks for yet another beautiful insight into French life.

  • Wow. Simply gorgeous photography! One question? If there are no roads, how do those people get in and out of their home sites in winter and summer??? I cannot imagine. Here in Loosiana we had ONE weekend of below freezing temps. Every other weekend has been 70 and above. I’m headed to the French quarter in new orlreans for a girlfriend getaway and temps will be 80 and above!!!!
    So crazy how far apart our worlds are yet we all really live as one people!!!!

    • The homes are a little lower down, but many are only used as shepherds huts during the summer. Others we still have not worked out how they are accessed, one of the many mysteries we have yet to fathom out! The restaurants at the tops of the mountains are accessed each day by snowmobiles which tow trailers to bring up the supplies. Enjoy your getaway with your girlfriend, I think I might envy your wonderful warm weather now we are back at home and no longer have the snow to play in! However, I know it will be spring soon. Our worlds are all so different and yet in many ways also very much the same, I just wish everyone could live together in peace, wouldn’t that be the best gift of all. Oh well, here’s hoping. Have a great Sunday xx

    • Thanks so much Monika, there is a complete stillness, even the frenzied ski resorts seem quiet in their own way, fast paced yet calm, it’s all about the opposites it seems!! xx

  • oh Susan, wonderful photos and first of all your romantic description which is o compelling to spend some days in
    the snow

    • Thanks so much. The mountains are just so beautiful. We have had so many fluctuations in temperature, we arrived in the mountains and it was 20C, at 1,200 metres, unheard of said the locals! Then we skied in a blizzard the next day, our faces numb with wet and cold. Then it settled into a regular sun and 12C or so before another great big dump of snow. Now back in the Charente Maritime and it’s decidedly chilly with gale force winds! Oh well, soon it will be spring. No doubt you are enjoying much warmer weather than we are! xx

  • So beautiful Susan. This morning we woke to SNOW….yes on March 5th. We are in total shock. Hopefully it will turn to rain and wash away soon. The daffodils and buds look strange surrounded by white. I would love to drive home to spring…..sigh…..soon I hope.

    Ali xx

    • OMG, I cannot believe you have snow, you are not meant to get snow on your little island in the winter, let alone in March! The weather has gone crazy. When we arrived in the mountains it was 20C at 1,200 metres, warmer than in the Charente Maritime! Then the next day we skied in a blizzard our faces numb with cold. Then more sun, then more snow, now we are home and it’s chilly and really windy. Soon, soon it will be spring. But I am amazed in the week we have been away at the new signs, blossom is out everywhere. daffodils are in flower, wall flowers, we’ve seen the first bluebells in the village and marigolds flowering beside the road. Soon winter will be behind us for another year! xxx

  • I awoke yesterday to snow, too. We said, no to the market, but by 10 the snow was gone, so we went after all. By afternoon, I was outside in a T-shirt, hosing down our trash can. But that morning, it was a thick blanket, however momentary.
    The Pyrénées have been etched majestically against the southern horizon every day. When it snowed, we couldn’t make out the Black Mountains, much closer to us, but the Pyrénées were still there in all their glory.
    The traditional architects were geniuses at adapting their designs to local conditions, whether that be weather, building materials or terrain.

    • It had forecast 30cm at 1200 metres, so we knew it was coming, of course when we awoke everyone was jumping around in excitement as if we had never seen snow before, no one would believe we had been skiing for a week already! There is just something so magical about everything being totally blanketed in white, before it turns slushy and dirty. I love that so many of the traditional building methods have survived and people ae continuing to build and renovate houses the old way, it adds to the beauty of the villages. Lucky you being in t shirts, we returned to the Charente Maritime today and its decidedly chilly and very windy! xx

    • Thanks so much for reblogging. It really is such a beautiful area, there is so much to explore, not just the skiing, but the local architecture, the little villages, the churches, it is all so gorgeous! Have a great end to the weekend xx

      • Thanks, I love the mountains too, in an ideal world I would spend my time between the two, sea and mountains, I find both equally invigorating! There is something so majestic about the mountains though, with or without snow, winter or summer, I love them too! Enjoy what is left of your weekend and have a great week xx

  • I have been to the Pyrenees many times and always find somewhere new to discover, this time Sers, through your perfectly written blog I have been transported to a new place, somewhere I shall bookmark so I can visit. Your photos are fantastic by the way.

    • Thanks so much, next time you go to the Pyrenees you must visit Sers, it is meant to be the best preserved village in the area, it is tiny, just 100 year round inhabitants and it does not have a touristy feel at all, quite the opposite, it is just a lovely natural little gathering of houses with a small restaurant and a town hall and a church. I would highly recommend it to anyone. xx

    • Thanks Lulu, me too, I love the old stones and slate that is used almost everywhere, the walls are a metre thick and the old stonework is very much in evidence everywhere inside. Warm in the winter and cool in the summer, I always think we can learn a lot from how things were done years ago! Hope you are having a lovely weekend xx

  • Fantastic photos, Susan, and a beautifully written post!
    We went to North Lake Tahoe on Friday to check on the snowman our grandson had created 9 days ago, and it had melted into a modernistic ice and snow sculpture. We returned home yesterday morning, but have a camera set up and aimed at the snowman. Now, thanks to last night’s new storm, it is almost covered with new snow, and the main highway up to that area was closed last night and is still closed. We had an easy trip home yesterday, but knew what was expected. I imagine that lots of people will have to stay there and ski instead of returning home today! Poor things! (All the roads to the ski resorts are well maintained.)

    • It seems the weather is all over the place, we have friends on one of the islands off the west coast of Canada and they had snow today, they aren’t meant to get snow at all, ever!!! Global warming seems to have a lot to answer for. But I would imagine your grandson is extremely happy to have more snow so he can make another snowman! Enjoy your warmer weather. xx

      • Our grandson is back in school and reality in the low country, but probably dreaming of snow. Meanwhile, some of these storms are “Pineapple Express” warm storms, from the south (Hawaii); others, like right now, bring hailstones and cold temps from the Arctic. Our camellias are in bloom and unhappy to be assaulted by the hail.

      • Yes ours are back to school tomorrow and not happy about it at all! I can imagine your camellias are seriously unhappy about hail, strange weather indeed. We have gale force winds forecast again for tomorrow and an orange alert, winter is having a final finale it seems! xx

    • Me too, it was really sad to have to leave, back to the Charente Maritime which is decidedly chilly and very windy! But everything seems to have come to life in the week we have been away, wallflowers and marigolds are flowering beside the road in the village and blossom and daffodils are everywhere, I’ve even seen the first bluebells. Spring is just about here! xx

  • A wonderful evocation of a part of the country I love so well. I’m so glad you shared your impressions of it, and gave my lungs a burst of that wonderfully energising fresh cold air that only the mountains can provide. One year, go back in spring for the wonderful meadows of flowers, and later, for the clouds of butterflies, and later still for the rich feast of colour provided by the autumn trees. I can’t decide which I like best.

    • Thanks Margaret. When we lived much further south in the Pyrenees Atlantique we used to go to Iraty in the summer, a beautiful mountain escape, I remember so well the Pottoks, the wild ponies that roamed freely all summer and swimming in freezing cold mountain streams. Like you, I cannot decide when I prefer the mountains, summer or winter, both have their own unique charm. xx

  • Just got back from the Alps and we had great snow, like you, very up and down weather, one minute we were skiing in t shirts and the next freezing cold! Never skied in the Pyrenees but seeing all your photos we will definitely put it on the agenda, love the house you stayed in, have bookmarked that too!

    • So glad you are going to try the Pyrenees, you won’t be disappointed, I love skiing there, it is much quieter than in the Alps, although the skiing is not quite so extensive, but the snow is still good. You would love the house, it truly is stunning, quite luxurious in a natural understated way. xx

  • Thank you Susan for so generously sharing this beautiful place with us, both in your photos and very poetic reflections. You even shared the feel and sound of it. What a gift you give to us so continuously!
    xo
    Adelia

    • Thank you so much Adelia, I have to tell you it was such fun to be able to explore the local area as well as skiing. The architecture fascinated me and the little village was incredible, it was as if time had stood still and yet at the same time it had moved on, that probably doesn’t make sense but it really was a mixture of old and new and not at all touristy. I love the mountains, but today we are back home in the Charente Maritime and all the spring flowers are starting to bloom! Enjoy what remains of the weekend xx

  • What a great place, Susan! Amy and i both agree we have to visit the Pyrenees some time – we’ve never been and you’ve definitely made us want to. And those buildings, simply gorgeous! Jaw-stopping scenery, too. Wonderful!

    • Thanks so much Simon, you really must visit the Pyrenees, it is such a beautiful area, the skiing is great, a lot less crowded than the Alps and the little villages and architecture is gorgeous. They are equally fabulous in the summer months too. xx

  • Beautiful mild autumn weather here in Melbourne. High 20-30’s C and likely to stay that way all week. Just gorgeous! Sitting in the garden, I notice the leaves are just starting to turn, and drop…. next week, I will be raking them up!
    Would love a winter trip to France, but for now we get our yearly dose of snow, by nipping over to New Zealand, my country of birth…. beautiful scenery, but no little villages on the mountainside, unfortunately…😊😊

    • It sounds like the perfect temperature and I do envy you the warmth, although I have actually really enjoyed this winter as well, it makes us appreciate the spring and summer more. Our youngest was born in NZ, so we know it quite well, a beautiful stunning country. Enjoy your approaching autumn days, it is mild back here in the Charente Maritime today but blowing a gale, the weather has been all over the place, it has certainly kept us on our toes! Have a lovely week xx

  • Susan, you seem to be a hugely organized person – thus I am hoping that you have all of those fabulous photos of yours in folders ready for the day of you compiling a book . . . dunno, can’t see you happy with a coffee-table one, but one with a huge collection of ones like these and your I-am-talking-to-you writing 🙂 !

    • Thanks Eha, I am organised, I think it’s the only way I can manage with five children!! But not that organised! Sorting through and organising photos is one of those things I always mean to do, I put off for when I have some free time, but it never quite happens!!! It’s funny lots of people keep mentioning a book, I’ve got a lot of ideas but I would need a publisher first and with that I wouldn’t have a clue where to even start looking! Xx

    • Thanks so much, I was quite captivated by the streams and waterfalls, they are so beautiful and peaceful even though they are noisy. I would imagine once the snow starts melting that they get really full and fast flowing. Xx

    • Thanks, it was the most beautiful village, not at all touristy but so well preserved, enjoyed every second of the skiing but it was also fabulous to be able to spend a little time exploring as well, the best of both worlds! Xx

  • What a wonderful way to begin my day and new week. I love this time of the year when one season is coming to an end and the other – beautiful Spring – is beginning to show her face. These photographs are superb and definitely invite the viewer to be there with you and enjoy ……Have a lovely day and week…janet. 🙂 xx

    • Thanks Janet, Spring has truly sprung back here in the Charente Maritime, so much has changed in a week, everywhere there are wallflowers and marigolds in flower beside the road, daffodils and blossom in all the gardens and I’ve even seen some bluebells flowering. Today though we have gale force winds and I hope it doesn’t blow the blossom away, I haven’t had time to enjoy it yet. We have gusts of 100kph forecast! Have a great week yourself. Xx

      • Ah so very beautiful…however time to batten down the hatches…We are having a lot of very ‘changeable’ weather at the present including lots of wind….As an avid weather watcher, I will look at the weather maps over France. Janet. xx

      • Very much so today, strongest wind we have had for years, even more so than the gales a few weeks ago. I love looking at weather maps too, you will see we are under an orange alert. xx

      • Storm Zeus, at one point yesterday apparently there were 600,000 homes without power in France. It was a major storm with gusts recorded at 195kph in places. It seems we escaped lightly here, we didn’t lose power during the storm but lost it today for 9 hours, presumably whilst they were working on fixing things. Let’s hope Spring makes an appearance very soon! Xx

      • I think we are all going to have to get used to more of these extremes…or as the weather people over here say…weather events. Yes, here’s to the onset of Spring:) xx

    • Thanks so much, it all went by way too quickly, so wish we were still there instead of back to normality, whatever that is! The inevitable of sorting out clothing, putting away ski things for another year and then I have to do something with the garden, time to start thinking about Spring! Wish we had a pony the grass is thick and lush and perfect, but then he or she would probably suffer from laminitis so perhaps sheep would be better!!! Xx

      • I intend to have sheep when we settle. Along with the chickens (for which I will be turning to you as my Hen Guru for advice) we want to have a couple of mouton and try our hands at brebis cheese. I would also like something to ride and a donkey to keep it company but I guess we should find the house before the horse!!!! Welcome home – as much as you want to be back in your little niche of paradise in the Pyrenees I am sure your beautiful place is welcoming you all back with a sigh of delight xx

      • I think I wanted all of those things too, occasionally we still toy with the idea of a couple of ewes, we have the room, but not sure about the French equivalent of Defra, sheep dipping etc., if I was in the UK it would be much easier! But most of all I miss not having a horse, maybe once all the children have upped and gone I shall get back to riding, just sadly no time at the moment. Our house is shouting with delight rather than sighing, the wind is horrendous, Roddy was at the bakery this morning and saw a man literally get blown over, he went over and helped him, he said it was the strongest gust he has ever seen or felt in Europe! xx p.s. Love brebis, I am not a great cheese lover, but a mild brebis I do love!

      • Do take care all of you …. that is serious wind! You will get your horse when you are through the eye of the mummying storm and all those chicks have flown the nest …. in the meantime, you have your hands more than full and you wouldn’t have the time to enjoy it even if you had one. And us? We will know what we really want when the time gets here. I think dreaming can be akin to tying oneself up in knots but so long as one doesn’t become too prescriptive it’s a nice pass time until the real time comes. Xx

      • It was a crazy mad afternoon, I ventured through the garden to pick some daffodils and felt as if I was taking my life in my hands, but much quieter now! One day another horse for sure, but it’s a long way off! Now I love your dream, the donkey, the horse, the sheep, a ram or a neighbour who has one because otherwise you can’t get the milk to make the brebis, and of course chickens and it starts with just three or four and then the flock grows! It’s certainly fun to dream, but when oh when will you buy the house? xx

      • IN reality the house will be next year. We still have to get back to Mass, finish the work I started on the house there and get it sold. So we plan to really start looking in earnest next winter …. xx

      • I try to be laid back and welcoming about it but I am innately impatient, and I do want to be settled. When I moved to France in 2013, it was to be a permanent move but everything changes, nothing stays the same (as I council my girls often) and for reasons not in my control and which are not for this thread, we have had to re-think. He won’t now retire til Christmas 2018 (his birthday is 25th December) so we decided to spruce the goose in Boston rather than sell it as a borderline fixer-upper (as you can imagine The Man with Two Brains needs prompting to understand that kitchens and bathrooms that are perfectly serviceable might not appeal to millennials! It’s a beautiful house with almost 2 acres and a pool and the estimates from Realtors took his breath away … I reckon I can double and some the money invested in upgrading but it was my business à l’époque de noughties so I should know the tricks 😉). Anyway, I’m banging on but fear not we will rendez-vous along the line and I so look forward to it. Life is, indeed a box of chocolates 🍫 xxx

      • The best laid plans frequently go awry, trust me I know, we’ve moved more than our fair share of times, things don’t always work out quite as we plan, but I am a great believer in always looking on the positive side of things, as I frequently say to my children “the power of positive thinking!” I too am impatient, patience is just not a part of my vocabulary, although France has certainly made me a little more so, because I have had no choice! The rendez-vous is a definite, much to discuss xxx

      • A great friend once said to me when the going was choppy, changeable and not at all comfortable ‘find the value in the way things are’ …. I think that is the sagest of advice and aids and abets the positivity no end. Xxx

      • Very very wise advice. I’ll remember it, often the going gets choppy, but then if it was all smooth sailing it would be deathly dull! Variety is the spice of life and all that! xx

    • Me too, very little cement is used to fix the stones, rather they are cut and laid to size, a real skill and a great deal of craftsmanship has gone into building all of these houses and they have stood the test of time. I had such fun exploring. xx

    • Oh me too, then it would have been utterly perfect! The slope of doom was only so for Millie, I thought it was the most fun run I did all week! Anyway it gave us lots to talk about that evening, along with the chairlift debacle!!! xxx

    • Fortunately I very rarely think about it! She was a fabulous car, I called her Nellie and she took me from Normandy to Paris to the south of France and back to Paris several times, I drove her all around Paris, everywhere and she never let me down. When I met my husband to be and left France I gave her to someone I didn’t even know very well, I was just grateful that I didn’t have to worry about trying to sell her and store her! Oh well we live and learn, just like your brother! But no regrets really I had lots of fun with her, one day I shall buy another! xx

  • I always save your posts for morning, what a perfect way to begin my day of appreciation. Thank you for bringing these beautiful far away places to my doorstep…

    • Thanks so much Deborah, I am so happy to think that I brighten up someone’s morning. I love exploring places that are new to us, of course the skiing was excellent and great fun, but it was also so nice to be able to have the time to explore a little, I fell in love with the architecture of the old houses and sheep huts, real craftsmanship and skill. Hope you have a lovely week xx

  • Have enjoyed your writing about the Pyrenees Susan. We haven’t seen snow like this for ages down in the South West of England. You describe it so well, that soft hush that descends upon an area covered in snow and how everything is fresh and the snow-covered outlines of architecture and trees bring to our notice the beauty all around us. Have a lovely rest of the week.

    • We were amazed, snow was forecast and we each took a guess at how much we would get. We were at 1,200 metres and the forecast was for the actual ski station about 200 metres above us. When we went to bed it was actually sleeting rather than snowing. When we awoke to so much snow the children were ecstatic, one would think they had never seen snow in their lives before, no one seeing them would have guessed they had just spent an entire week skiing! Snow is such fun when it falls thick and heavy like this, it is the first time we have seen it fall where we are staying so thick for years and years too. A real treat. Have a lovely week too xx

  • Oh, I enjoyed the armchair adventure to the beautiful Pyrenees this morning via your lovely photography. Thank you so much!

    • Thank you so much Ann, there is a great deal to be said for armchair travel, it has none of the hassles of real travel! So glad you enjoyed our trip to the Pyrenees, it is such a beautiful area. Have a lovely week xx

    • Thank you. But I have to tell you it wasn’t cold! Sure on the day it snowed, but within a few hours the sun had broken through, and the sun is really powerful in the mountains, we sat and ate lunch in t shirts, having to find the shade because we were too hot! It’s kind of a best of both worlds situation!! xx

  • Having stayed near the snowline in Switzerland and travelled either side of it I can understand well the land of contrasts. But that’s quite different from being in a village that is virtually cut off. I hate the cold, but having a cosy cabin to retreat back to does sound very nice indeed!

    • It really is a land of contrasts, it is also so interesting being right on the edge of the snowlike, it is like two different worlds. After we had the heavy snowfall we drove down the valley and within five minutes the hills were all green, a striking bright contrast to the snow! I too hate the cold, but funnily enough I can always cope with the cold of skiing, probably because often the sun shines and then it is almost too hot! plus as you say, the cosy nights round a log fire make it all just perfect. Now however, back home I am quite ready for spring! xx

    • Sounds like a lot of fun, we went snowshoeing for the first time last year in the Pyrenees and thoroughly enjoyed it, this time we didn’t get a chance as it was all about skiing! I have heard that many parts of BC got snow over the weekend, the weather is a little crazy this year for sure, global warming has a lot to answer for. Spring is definitely in the air here, so many flowers are out but today we were treated to gale force winds all day! Hope you have a lovely week xx

    • Thanks so much, it was a really beautiful area to explore and much though I love my skiing I also really did enjoy having the time to look around the village and appreciate so much of the local architecture. Xx

  • Susan,
    First, may I say you have such a wonderful style of writing! I could read your thoughts and view your pictures for hours. You have a keen sense of your surroundings; and a very compassionate way in which your pen magically tells us yet another beautifully written life story.
    You have so much talent. What a beautiful thing to share this with your readers! Thank you.
    I love your reference to “and the next we plunge into a world of white, as giant snowflakes fall slightly to the ground, transforming everything they touch. The snow brings with it a purity that elevates the spirit and cleanses the soul.” So touching and lovely!
    My family would ❤️ the French Pryrenees…Another one for the Bucket list. Glad you had a wonderful time with the family. Thank you for sharing! ❤️ Happy Tuesday!

    • Thanks so much Stephanie, you must put this on your list of places to visit, it is stunning both summer and winter and one of my favourite areas to go in France. Storm Zeus visited us yesterday, hammering it’s way across western France all the way across to the Alps. 600,000 homes were left without electricity, Roddy saw an elderly gentleman blown over by the wind in the village and helped him back on his feet, it was absolutely crazy and wild. We were lucky we didn’t lose power, although they turned it off today for 9 hours whilst they worked on broken power lines. Finally this evening we have power again! Am very ready for spring now! Xxx

      • Storm Zeus is hanging around my area, too. That is ALL anyone is talking about. I will definitely put this area on my bucket list! I’ll never get out of 🇫🇷! L0L!
        I am just so glad that “good people” get rewarded with “Best Time Ever.”
        BTW the house you posted on Instagram I am ready to move in tomorrow. Beautiful and Charming…It is ALL I need to fulfill my housing dream! 😜Another thing for my bucket list! Oh my gosh tomorrow is Thursday! Hasn’t this week sped by? Oh Happy Day!❤️

      • It was quite a storm, very sadly killed two people in France. Trees uprooted all over the place, we escaped lightly. Oh that house on IG, isn’t it just gorgeous, and it gets even better, on the far side the garden leads down a steep bank to the river, so no risk of flooding but the most gorgeous setting. My to die for house too! Alas it is not for sale!!! But a little day dreaming does us all the power of good. Thursday already, time flies xxx

      • I am so sorry for the loss of Life. I can take just about any kind of weather except for the “Zeus” weather. Today was better. But, how can you go from 60 degrees on Monday to 19 degrees today? Oh, well…I did cut out our “Chateau” and put it in my “Dream File.” You just never know…wink wink! xxx

      • Zeus was horrid. Weather is slightly all over the place here too, today we are forecast to be at least 70C and tomorrow too, then much cooler and wet again! So I am going to attack the garden with this fabulous sunshine whilst we have it. I think I would like a peek at your dream file, it sounds fabulous!! xx

      • This is the first year that I wished “winter” hung around a little longer. Don’t get me wrong I love spring but I would have enjoyed one more snowfall.
        I have been collecting my “dream” file for years. Recently, I have thought about taking 100 of my “favorites” and making them into a cofee table book as a gift to my daughters. That of course is after I do something with a very tiny diary I found in my father’s belongings from World War Two when we were cleaning out the family home years ago. I thought a book-like form would be a “lovely” rememberance of a Grandpa they dearly loved.
        If I ever complete the “dream” book you will definately get a copy.
        Looking forward to seeing our Chateau! xxx

      • What fun, it would be an incredible idea, both the diary and the coffee table book and a wonderful thing for your daughters and I am so glad our chateau will be featured!! I also love the idea of the diary, I have my grandfather’s diaries from WW1, they were all written in pencil and tiny tiny writing. I think it helped them to write those little notes every day. Treasure these things, becauase they can never be replaced. xx

    • ha ha, I know what you mean, but I find it much easier to go out into the cold in the mountains than I do on a cold grey day in the Charente Maritime when all I want to do is sit by the fire! It’s a much dryer type of cold plus the snow makes it all so much better! Next challenge for you surely has to be some of those foothills on your bike? I am so impressed with how many kilometres you cover. xx

  • Beautiful photos as usual. We had a lovely and surprising snowfall last week and it changes the landscape and the quality of the light so much. You have captured that so well. Thank you for the post.

    • Thanks, snow really does change everything, at the house one day we were looking out on green fields and the next it was all white, and it really does go so quiet. Enjoy your snow if it is still around. xx

  • A photographer’s feast! I love rugged and isolated landscapes in their varied seasonal blankets. The stack-stone houses blending into the mountains…what a treat. Thanks for sharing.

    • It really is a photographers paradise, it was wonderful to be skiing, but also great to be able to spend some time exploring the local village of Sers. We were so lucky to be able to see it in really mild weather and also covered in a beautiful blanket of fresh white snow. Loved every second of it! Xx

  • You had me, once again, at “pretend you are breathing in lungfuls of……”
    Wow – I LOVE the beautiful finishes on the wooden shutters and doors! The Citreon van! Your cabin lodge.
    Thanks for nudging us to enjoy our winter while it’s here for just a tiny bit more! Gorgeous photos.
    Sublime

    • Ha ha thanks so much, it seems like ages ago already, not just a week. Already looking forward to next year’s skiing adventures! Just as I wrote this winter came to an abrupt end here! long may the sunshine and blue skies continue I am quite ready for spring finally! xx

  • Such beautiful images to highlight the contrasts. I’m glad you weren’t faced with the other contrast of being in the mountains – unpredictable, changeable weather. It looks like you had gorgeous weather for a great winter get-away.

    • The mountains always look so majestic, but as we all know they can be quite dangerous too. Fortunately lifts are closed if the weather is too dangerous. We had a little bit of everything weatherwise, it all went by way too quickly though, last night, at supper, we were planning next year’s skiing holiday, honest truth! Xx

  • One day Susan, I will let my husband read this blog. And if you would like to know why ‘one day’, it is because if I let him read it now he would be miserable forever…or at least.until the day he gets his feet into a pair of snow ski’s again. And since that day is not going to be soon, I will not put him through the agony of awakening his longing for it, by these beautiful photographs and descriptions…..and so I must store safely it until the dreaming starts turning into planning! Bon weekend ❤ Jeanne

    • Best not to show it to him! We are already sitting around the supper table and planning next year’s skiing holiday, right down to where we will ski on day one, day two etc!! Shows how hooked we are and how much we enjoyed it! Let me know when you are planning on skiing again, will it be in Europe? Until that day, hope you have a lovely weekend! xx

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