Spring Optimism

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Spring is awakening, it is a time of rebirth and growth and surely brings with it a level of optimism in us all. I have learnt to love winter, with its cosy evenings around the fire, steaming bowls of soup and hearty casseroles simmering in the oven. I even like the crisp cold days and the starkness of the garden as it lies in dormant hibernation. But then something happens; the nights start to lengthen out, February rolls into March, and suddenly I am thinking about warmer weather. January may see us making New Year resolutions but spring is when I find myself bursting with energy and making endless plans. It’s that time of the year to banish the winter blues and start afresh, even if the weather seems to have other ideas.

On Sunday we were eating lunch on the terrace, leaving doors and windows open. I spent a full five hours gardening without even the need for a coat.

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The only time I felt the slightest chill in the air was when I found myself standing  watching the chickens for far longer than I had meant to – a practice that much to my surprise is one of the most charming and comforting things one can do. They were scratching about in the sunshine and Sirius, our rooster, had a real spring in his step and was quite intent on sowing his oats as frequently and abundantly as he possible could. I found myself giggling as he leapt on one poor girl with rather too much enthusiasm, it was one of the Marans who are quite a bit bigger than he is, he quite misjudged her size and how far his legs would be off the ground; she lurched sideways and dropped one shoulder and sent him summersaulting forwards through the air, unceremoniously landing a good foot in front of her with his head in the dirt. He slowly pulled himself up, trying to salvage a modicum of dignity and shook out his feathers. The hen stood quite still, watching in a matronly fashion, but I swear there was a smirk on her face!

Then the next day, all of the chickens were huddled under the trees taking refuge from a grey sky that was disgorging huge lumps of rather wet snow. Taking themselves to bed early they wondered what all this white stuff was all over the ground yet again – the second time in as many weeks. We’d made fun of the meteorologists who forecast snow for the weekend in the Charente Maritime, it seemed they had got it all wrong, we’d all been outside, the girls swinging on the swings and kicking a football with Jack. Sunday had been a wonderful day to be in the garden. Snow?  Tsskk.

But actually things had just been delayed a few hours and the meteorologists WERE right. The snow started to fall lightly on Monday morning – wet sleety stuff.

“It won’t settle!” we said, virtuously.

I had a meeting in La Rochelle and headed off, paying little attention to the flecks of sleet. But the snow got heavier and heavier, and suddenly there were blizzard warnings on the radio…..”Do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary.”  Too late! I was half an hour from home and I’d been reduced to a crawl.

IMG_7797 I turned off the main road onto a country lane and instantly skidded, after which I  reduced speed until I was inching forward at the speed of a snail – and of course I had to stop and take photos!

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Like I have said many times before, “we don’t (normally) get snow in the Charente Maritime!!” Let alone blizzards that dump two to three inches in an hour!

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We awoke the next day still living in a rare winter wonderland

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but by mid afternoon it had nearly all melted; our early spring flowers shook off the cold stuff and turned their heads towards the sun, perking up almost instantly with the warmth on their petals.

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Yellow is undoubtedly the colour of spring here. The very first glimpses of hope of the new season appears with the mimosa in January. This is quickly followed by the first daffodils, and here they are everywhere, growing wild in the country as they emerge from hedgerows and pop up in fields to make our walks just that little bit prettier.

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Carpets of primroses smother sheltered banks beside the road and grow out of cracks in the old cobbled stone path in our own garden.

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Yesterday I took a short cut that I rarely use, normally because I am unlucky and get stuck behind a farm tractor and any thoughts about saving a kilometre ends up taking me an extra ten minutes. However, on this occasion there was no tractor, in fact I didn’t even see another car, but still I was late, the cause being my camera rather than any exasperatingly slow farm vehicle. Suddenly the lane was lined with abundantly flowering forsythia, its unmistakable bright yellow buds just begging to be photographed. Another sign that spring is here.

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And then there is the blossom, the first trees which flowered are already coming into leaf now, their pinky white petals falling to the ground like confetti.

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img_3785How can one not be cheerful at this time of year? Staying positive in life when the going gets tough is terribly important, but it can also be one of the hardest things we have to do. We all go through ups and downs. So many people comment how fabulous my life is, and I know it appears to be easy and perhaps I portray the vision of a perfect life a little too much. Apparently I make it look all so effortless. But trust me the sun doesn’t shine every day. I have the same problems as many people, the same worries, the same difficulties. We have to make ends meet too and sometimes at the close of the month things can be a little tricky! But I am an eternal optimist. I could sit and moan and fret, and sometimes I honestly do before I pick myself and sternly admonish such behaviour. I have so much to be so incredibly grateful for.

Why am I telling you? You may well ask. It was triggered by someone who wrote me a lovely email telling me how they loved how I am always so positive and how my blog helps them because it is always so upbeat. I thought long and hard about this, as the last thing I ever want is for my writing and my posts to be saccharine sweet, I can’t think of anything worse, but I also don’t want to focus on the negative. I mean does anyone here really want to know that so and so vomited yesterday and I got a speeding ticket in the mail? OK, so fortunately neither of those things actually happened yesterday, but you know what I mean; they quite feasibly could have done and they have done in the past and no doubt will do in the future. Instead I always try to focus on everything that is positive; I am definitely a glass half full type of person and that is what I have always wanted to do here, pass that hope and confidence on to you, but in a way that is genuine and real.

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I had this post half-written, I was taking photos and adding them and then I had a real wobble, I worried that what I write is not of interest, I started reading all sorts of things into “being nice” and that all I do is waffle along showing pictures of flowers and pastoral scenes and that it is not connected to the real world at all. You see I lost confidence (does anyone want to see another daffodil or another pretty view) and I started to doubt myself. Do you ever do that, or is it just me?

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So I took myself off for a walk, I didn’t have long, my timetable is actually so jammed packed that half an hour with the dogs is an absolute luxury at the moment, but I grabbed their leads and set off and I found the answers I was looking for. This is not just a load of pretty pictures for Instagram, this is real life. Just looking around me gives me enormous inspiration, listening to the birds singing, watching nature unfurl. This is a part of my life that I share, it is not sugar-coated, it is as it is and that is what you all get!

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And I want to share my enthusiasm because spring does this to me, it always seems to reawaken hopes that I had perhaps kept suppressed all winter; it is a time for cheerfulness, there is so much promise in the air and anything seems possible.

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112 thoughts on “Spring Optimism

  • This winter has certainly kept her brashest displays of what she can do until last. In New England four brazen Nor-Easters in less than a month – yesterday’s meant all flights into Boston, JFK, Newark and Washington cancelled until tomorrow meaning I get my husband until Saturday instead of waving him off yesterday morning. Silver linings … and they are all around us, one of them being the ability to be the optimist and to spread good humour instead of grumbles and for that, Susan, you must be thanked and I am glad other readers are of the same mind. Long may you sprinkle fairy dust,long may you contemplate blue skies and long may you delight us with darling stories of your own buds of May haven in France xx

    • Thank you thank you, I really did have a real wobble. I hate false saccharine sweet things! Climate change has a lot to answer for, this has been the strangest of winters and kept all of us doing nothing but talk of the weather, the French are becoming as good as the English at it!! But a few extra days with your husband is always good, everything has its bright side does it not? Hope spring really is on its way for you too, its beautiful here now but still that cold North easterly keeping us huddled in cashmere and lighting fires!! xxx

      • It’s cold here but bright and sunny …. however tomorrow I head to Cantal – I imagine Saint Bonnet le Froid is under snow as usual 🤣 xx

        • It’s damp and grey here, what my father would call mizzling and I would call down right miserable! I imagine St Bonnet will be looking as wonderful as ever, enjoy the Cantal, spring in the mountains is always magical. xx

          • Yes, I would say Mizzly too 😊 here is sunny and breezy and the mountains are covered in snow … people have a spring in their step and doubtless there will he a mass exodus from the city for a Friday afternoon skiing and boarding around midday – it’s de rigueur for les Grenoblois 😉xxx

          • I am so happy for all of the people who’s livelihoods depend on the winter ski season, it should be longer than normal this year and with plenty of people, that can only be good for everyone involved, the end of March and there is still ample snow and fresh snowfall too. It never got any better here today, I believe London was both a whole lot sunnier and warmer!!xx

  • I love looking at your lovely photos and I live in France! It’s always interesting to compare your countryside to ours.

    • Thank you and I agree with that too, I love seeing Instagram photos from people living in France, it is always interesting to compare all the different areas, each place is unique, that is what I love so much and yet everything is tied together by much similarity too! xx

  • I understand, it is the connection to nature that helps me to relax and be able to cope with whatever comes. To paraphrase John Muir the naturalist, I want to live IN the world, not ON it. I am fortunate to live in a beautiful place too, and that helps. Your pictures are a restful refuge for the eyes, you have such an artistic view. The photo of the daffodils on the stone ledge is a true joy, and one I’d like to have on a wall somewhere, just beautiful. Sure, there are everyday worries and challenges, unexpected things and stressful times, but focusing on the beauty and joy in the everyday is something we all can do.

    • I think it helps immensely to be able to see beauty in the simplest things around us, it costs nothing and can rally lift the spirits no end. Just as a smile from a stranger and a message from a friend can make all the different – it is the little things that count! xx

    • I meant to add, but I was in a rush! I too want to live IN the world and it also means we need to look after this world we live in, but that is a whole different subject that would take hours and hours to write about! xx

  • I think we all have moments of self doubt, even the most confident people do, it is a form of reality check, it keeps things real. Your blog is loved by so many, don’t change a thing, it’s a lovely REAL life that you show us. X

    • Thank you so much Lisa, it is real, there is nothing made up here, as I said I just leave out the boring everyday mundane stuff that goes hand in hand with life! Because I find it is better to focus on the good things! xx

  • I Am so glad “it is what it is”. I love reading your blog, and especially your short stories. Is it about time for one of the dogs to write a post? They are always so funny!

  • Please keep on doing you on this blog. I enjoy beautiful photos and positive thoughts. I have you on my blogroll and love visiting. Don’t ever compromise yourself. Be who you are.

    • Thanks so much Peggy, your words are so encouraging and this is just what I am going to do, but it is wonderful to hear this from people who read what I write, thank you again xx

  • I look forward to each and every blog post with enthusiasm! Many of us so love France but may never get the chance to visit again (like me) so I love each and every picture and story you have to tell. They fill my heart. Even though I live in beautiful Michigan, I still long for the French countryside I was so fortunate to visit many years ago. Don’t change a thing.

    • Thank you so much Amy, I have never been to Michigan, but I am sure it is stunning, enjoy everything you have there and at least you were lucky enough to visit France, even if you do never visit again. I am sure spring will be welcome with you too xx

  • As a fellow blogger I understand questioning what you write and how you portray life. We all need an encouraging friend and I’m thankful that you are one on the other side of the world. Sharing your life from a positive point of view is a blessing to your readers. I try to be honest and transparent but only so I can encourage others who may be in the same place. I’m thankful for your words since this encourager needs some encouragement and in America’s Midwest, I am winter weary so, thank you for the lovely spring photos. We all need a breath of fresh air!

    • Debbie, I know just what you mean, sometimes I think we all doubt ourselves and need a little encouragement. I think we just have to be brave and keep doing what we love and that will show, because it is honest and truthful and who we are. We are so bored of winter here, not just me but Roddy and the children and every French person I know, it seems to have gone on and on, most unusual for us here where normally we can find days to eat outside all winter, but not this one. Now it is sunny but still unseasonably cold. Roll on real spring weather! Keep writing, keep loving your blog and have a great weekend xx

  • Dear Susan, now I feel bad for the person who surely only wanted to assure you of the wholesomeness, the goodness, the beauty and the kindness coming out of your blog and I’m sure they wish to take their words back and stuff them somewhere…. 🙂
    Being the very same as you I always try to see the bright side of everything, learn lessons in a positive and not ‘poor dear me’ way, and believe me, I’ve made the experience several times that some dear, dear people do NOT WANT to be told about the half-full glass because they prefer to see it half empty. I had to stop sending them my positivism, who would want them to be angry at you?
    All your photos are adorable and the chicken & rooster story made me laugh out loud. I had, here in France, a similar story of ‘outstarring’ with a cat. But I’m not going into this…. It was über-funny (for me) and in the end, the cat won anyway because two days later it shat at several places in the garden, without the usual ‘scratching grass to cover up’. It had almost a theatrical effect on me 🙂
    Next time I see that 2Chevaux on your blog, I’ll come over and steal it – and the setting…. goodness me! And the château!
    Quite a large number of your photos are twins to the ones I took yesterday when the sun was shining and it truly felt like spring…. It would have been too fresh to eat outside but in the veranda it was glorious, surrounded with all those blooms, hundreds of deep red camellia, all the springtime delights, protected from the worst and therefore thankful bloomers – it smelt lovely, nature was smiling and so were we. Even a glass of celebratory bubbly tasted like a million bucks when it was far, far less…. Today it’s back to November weather and it’s hard to believe that only yesterday was REAL SPRING. Our ca 6cm of snow have melted, it was a half-hearted affair, luckily. No blizzard at all…. The present weather situation as well as the general state of our earth is incredibly harsh to ‘digest’ and some days it’s difficult not to moan a bit. But we don’t give in, do we?! No, we’re made of stronger stuff…. Let me harp my mantra once more: Wild women don’t get the Blues 🙂

    • Oh no Kiki, I know the person meant so well, it was a lovely email and we exchanged a couple more. It was me, I thought perhaps it is too nice, perhaps it does not seem real. But then I thought I don’t want to include all the boring stuff, because it is, well, just plain boring, half of our life is a bit like that, we have to run the errands, clean the house, keep the wheels turning, it’s the beauty around me that I love even when it is a grabbed glance whilst on the school run! Ha ha your cat story is brilliant! And the 2CV, just a few kilometres away, I had never even noticed it before! The chateau is near La Rochelle, isn’t it gorgeous, I am going to visit next month. We are made of much sterner stuff are we not. But most of all I am so happy you were able to at least eat on the veranda surrounded by flowers for your wedding anniversary, what a wonderful meal it must have been, full of love, just as it should be. Huge hugs to you both xxxx

      • The thing is: I know you…. I know it’s for real, it’s not under false pretence, and I’m convinced that BECAUSE your ‘being in the moment’ and your Love for Life, all your readers are such fans of your blog. It gives them reason to be hopeful too, to see the bright side of things not only the probs (which we truly all have and which truly doesn’t do anything for us by complaining). So let’s go on and CELEBRATE FRIENDSHIP wherever and whenever we can! To a gr8 SPRINGTIME and with big, big hugs xox

        • Thank you Kiki, you know I once read about how so many people meet bloggers in real life and they are so disappointed because the reality is so far removed from what they portray on their blogs. I can’t even remember where I read it, it was quite a long time ago, but it struck a chord with me, I must always be true to who I am. Anyway, I don’t have time to make things up even if I wanted to, it is what it is, warts and all! But I am so for celebrating friendship, friends old and new. Not at all springlike here today, drizzle, cold and grey, yucky English weather, only Izzi said London was bright clear and warm today!!! xxxx

  • Like all the others comments above I too like the lovely pictures. Your writing always leaves me with a sense of optimism. We all have the same battles or issues and we will all muddle through. But it’s the beauty and calm that you give us with the pictures that you post and the cheerful tone of your writing that gives us a positive boost and no it isn’t saccharine. So keep cheering us up. We do appreciate it.

    • Thanks so much Heike, you know it is so very encouraging to hear your words and everyone else’s, I now know I am heading in the right direction and it has given me great confidence. Thank you again and have a lovely end to the week xx

  • Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. What a lovely way to start the day! We are experiencing the same conditions here in Atlanta, GA, minus the snow, thankfully. Everyone was outside eating and enjoying the nice warmer weather over the weekend, and last night we were bundled in blankets and hot water bottles watching my son’s baseball game. I am so ready for warmer weather.

    • I know this weather is so strange, we had such a beautiful weekend, then the snow, and then sun once more, but a cold north easterly wind and a frost again last night and one forecast tonight. It is all so strange, climate change certainly has a lot to answer for, or rather we do for causing the climate change. Roll on real spring weather xx

      • Our daffodils were fabulous this year, but in our garden they are just about all over, however there are plenty of wild ones on our walks. Our tulips are about to come into flower and the iris are growing fast. But it is the bluebells which are about to steal the show, we have lots of them all around the garden and once they flower nothing can compete! Xx

    • You had snow as well? What strange weather. You are way ahead of us though, our wisteria buds are just starting to grow, they are now all of about 1cm long! A fair way to go before we get to the flowering stage, probably another month, can’t wait! Xx

  • people call me “little mary sunshine” as i am a bringer of joy and always see the good in people…you could never share too many lovely photos…i find inspiration and delight in spring as well…i pity the poor fool who cannot…in new jersey we had some snow last night…lovely! everyone is grumbling about it and all i see is the beauty…you write beautifully, you live in a beautiful place, your family is beautiful…keep up the cheerful optimism and i will too…with your inspiration!!!

    • We are soul mates! I always see the good in people and find something good in everything, like you I love the snow, it fills me with excitement and it looks so beautiful, I was snapping away non stop! But I am also so looking forward to spring and eating outdoors and getting out in the garden even more, there is always something to look forward, isn’t there. Xx

  • Susan,

    Please don’t change a thing about your blog. It is wonderful as is! It is a respite from all the terrible things in the news today. I don’t feel you sugar coat everything at all. You are sharing your life and focusing on the good. I think most people realize that it is not all roses all of the time. I for one read it because it is a break from all the negative things we see in the media today. I love the glimpse of life in France that I would not be able to enjoy otherwise. There are always going to be people that you can’t please, but don’t let this change your blog or the way you share with us. Your photographs add so much and are an encouragement to me to hopefully be able to devote some time to learning photography when I retire. It’s always the highlight of my day to see a post from you in my email.

    Sue In Florida

    • Thanks so much Sue, the email which triggered this was actually a really lovely friendly email and we have exchanged a couple since. It was me, I worried that it was all too nice and that people wouldn’t think it was real and then the doubt crept in for a wee while! I like to focus on the positive, as you say there is so much horror in the world today, that it is nice to be able to switch off for a bit and see something nice and safe and just natural. Do take up photography when you retire, I am very much an amateur who clicks away on auto, but I would love to have the time to learn a whole lot more. Xx

  • Hi Susan! Your blog is my favorite blog. I look forward to your posts all the time and grab a cup of coffee when I see it in the inbox. Your pictures are beautiful and your stories are fantastic. I am a bit envious of the beautiful place you live in with so much history. I would seriously love to see the inside of that mansion with the wrought iron fence! So if you know them please ask for a tour! 😂 Please continue to keep doing what you are doing and taking your pictures for you have the best blog ever!

    • Thanks so much, I do know how lucky we are to live here! I am actually going to the chateau I photographed in the snow next month and will be taking lots of photos of the inside and the beautiful gardens, there is a wonderful story there as it is still lived in by the owners. Xx

  • I just have to say ‘ditto’ to all the above comments. I get much needed inspiration at times too. And don’t give up on daffodil photos, I think a daffodil is nearly the perfect flower. I know when I see them poke up that the spring adventure of something new is on its way.

    • I too love daffodils, they are so perfect in every way, they last so long uncut in the garden, rays of sunshine on cold days. When we first cam here I planted nearly a thousand bulbs, now I have to plant some more this Autumn, I can never have enough! Xx

  • I think self doubt is in us all, but it could also be called Reflective Practice. When I studied to become a Foot Health Practitioner following redundancy, this was one of the things we had to do: look back at what we had done, what it had achieved and how it could be improved. That is what you have just done. You’ve questioned what you are doing and what affect it may be having on others and have – rightly – come to the conclusion that it is absolutely spot on!! And what better time to do it than at the start of Spring?! I think most of your readers must realise that you are a normal family and a busy mum and dad, with all the ups and downs that naturally brings. But we all need some sunshine, some escape to something different, new thoughts and ideas and reading your blog does just that. For those who don’t live where you do, it gives education about new environments and traditions. On a bleak rainy day in the US, it gives a glimpse of warmth and sunshine and in a dry dusty city it gives pictures of clear air, greenery and colour. Your blog also reminds the rest of us who lead busy, sometimes frustrating lives, that we all have so much to be thankful for in the world around us, in nature and no matter if we’ve all seen daffodils outside our door, we haven’t seen yours!! Keep on doing what you’re doing Susan, I love it and you have a wonderful knock of pitching it just right, not moany and negative, but definitely not saccharine sweet, just real and happy. I hope spring keeps on springing your way and that we’ve all seen the last of that snow!! Our girls are fed up with going to bed early!!

    • Thanks Marian, you have hit the nail on the head, I did question what I was doing, if I was getting it right and your words reaffirm that was just what I needed to do. But sometimes I think we all need a little reassurance, we are only human after all! Our snow, which was absolutely gorgeous, is all gone, replaced by sun once more, but it is unseasonably cold, only 10C today and another frost forecast, we never normally get more than one or two frosts a year, let alone several each week! Hopefully Spring will really get underway for all of us soon. Xx

  • As everyone has said, please don’t change anything in the blog. We all have choices and if some of us want to see the glass half full instead of half empty that’s their opinion.. Two people can travel the same road…one can see the beauty on each side of the road, the other just focused on the occasional piece of trash…same road…choices.
    This does not mean that one is not aware of the harsh realities of life. Just a personal choice.

    Yes to more stories….Evie must have an amazing story to tell about the last few months of her life….
    Ali xxx

    • Everyone sees everything differently that is for sure. I just always choose to see something beautiful in just about everything, there is nearly always a good side if we search for it. I am sure Evie has many stories to tell and Bentley too, I am working on it!!! Xxx

  • Oh Susan, your blog is such a joy to read and I hope you will continue. The photographs of your home, family and life in France are captivating. The way you view the world is how I see it also. Why not be positive? There’s more than enough negativity to go around and sharing what inspires you also gives me thoughts on how I can infuse some beauty and light into my own family’s life. Super sweet; not at all….. just seeing God’s creation through the lens of an appreciative eye… a gift! Gratitude for what we have.

    • Thank you so much Carol, this is just how I feel, there is so much horror and so much negativity as you say, I don’t spend vast amounts of money or need it in order to really enjoy life, I just love seeing the beauty in the simple things because if we look for it, it is amazing what we can find. I also love trying to help the children appreciate things like this too, rather than just the screen of a phone! Xx

  • Good on you for working through it. I learnt long ago that emailing, facebooking or blogging negative episodes can be a mistake if you are an expat. By the time anyone who matters reads it you’ve got over it and solved it. Which is not to say you can’t mention negative things, but there are ways of doing it that are more reportage and not global angst feeding.

    • Thanks Susan, I am quite lucky, when I have doubts they are usually very short lived and it is amazing what a walk, even a short half hour one, or a bike ride, or some work in the garden can do to change our view on things, for me they are a complete tonic, I see something in a hedgerow, or I watch the chickens scratching about, or I notice a new flower about to bloom and everything seems to fall into place once more. Xx

  • I so enjoy reading your blog and hope you dont change. I live in the SE United States, and really enjoy seeing your landscape and the same, and the different plants. And yes, life happens, sometimes good, sometimes not as good, but there is the promise of tomorrow, and family, and beauty in little things if one looks, and I appreciate your maintaining the high road and optimism. The past few days here in GA were nasty cold, high winds, and frost hitting the emerging buds……. and today the sun is shining, the trees are still blooming and the birds are singing. I so enjoy and appreciate today because of the past several days of not nice weather……

    Thanks for sharing your world with us!

    • Thanks so much, tomorrow is indeed always another day, and it is incredible how many times I have said “go to bed and sleep on it, everything will look better in the morning” and it nearly always does. We have had sunshine since the snow but it’s still cold, roll on Spring and some warm weather! Another thing to always look forward to xx

  • Every comment says what I feel too. This is my favourite by far of all the many blogs out there, yours is one of the few that is NOT sugar coated and IS real. People can relate to you because it is real. Love everything about it.

  • We love you and your family life in France. You give us all hope in our painfully messed up world. And I agree spring is my favorite season always.

  • Susan – My sister and I found your blog over a year ago and we read it with anticipation every time you make a post. You give us the rare glimpse into a country we have never traveled to but certainly have on our bucket list. We are inspired to look for the beauty in our everyday lives as you do. Whether it’s just a recipe you shared for mince tarts that had me baking them at Christmas or the beauty of a bowl of tangerines on your counter that I duplicated, you open me up to new possibilities. Please continue to blog and if we ever cross the pond we’d love to see your village.

    • Thanks so much Diane, it is wonderful to know how much little things are appreciated, I am so glad you copied the tangerines! They add a great splash of colour and we all love them, I eat two every day in the winter! I hope both you and your sister do make it to France, and if you do, you absolutely must let me know, it would be a pleasure to help you with your plans xx

  • Such a funny story about the hens, it did make me laugh. Love all the beautiful photos too, spring is definitely on the way! Having said that, it is very erratic indeed, & you never know what you will wake up to weather wise. I’m loving the lighter evenings, it makes such a difference.
    Re your blog, as Billy Joel said-‘don’t go changing , to try & please me, love you just the way you are’. It’s true to life & of course there are ups & downs, but it does cheer me up to read your blog.
    I’m feeling very cheerful at the moment, just 10 days until I leave for Paris, problem is, I think I’ll have to pack clothing for all 4 seasons! xx

    • Thanks so much Janet, your weather is much the same as ours, although we might be a tad warmer, but it’s still chilly with a horrid north easterly, but the sun is very very welcome! Ten days, how exciting. Yes pack for all four seasons, Paris can be very cold in the spring but also very warm, who knows. I was looking back through photos yesterday and saw the girls in shorts and a t shirt this time last year, no chance of that at the moment! It is still fires, polo necks and warm boots! Xx

  • That snowstorm sounded quite frightening! I am so glad you made it home OK — and happier still that this last gasp (hopefully) of winter was short-lived.

    • Thank you, it was a little frightening driving in it, we saw several minor accidents. But it was also quite stunning at the same time, it quite changed the look of everything. I do hope this is the end of winter weather though, pretty it may be, but I am so ready for some warm weather! Xx

  • The saying “Not all those who wander are lost.” I’m so glad when you wander your camera is along for the ride so to speak. Never ever tire of your beautiful pictures and stories. Thank you, Susan! Wishing you and your family a Happy Easter and a wonderful spring. Mother nature renews and reveals herself in such wonderful ways and I so look forward to her offerings.Cheers!

    • Wise words! I am never without either my camera or my phone, I never know when I might need to quickly snap away! Hope you to have a lovely Easter, hard to believe it is just a week away and surely Spring will follow with all o the charms it has to offer. Xx

  • Self doubt is in us all, it is quite normal, it actually makes us ultimately do things better because we question how good we are and it makes us strive to be better.

    • Smart advice Annabel, I do believe we all need to stop and look at what we are doing in order to get better, but I also think a little encouragement can sometimes go a very long way! Xx

  • I love your blog and your photos. I also always really enjoy reading every comment, they are so pretty interesting as well. Don’t change please.

    • Thank you Peggy, I absolutely love reading all the comments, from so many people in every corner of the world, that alone fascinates me, the huge variation of readers, how lucky we all are to be able to communicate together like this, that is what I always think xx

  • I am glad you share what you see and love. I do the same thing–look to the world for pleasure and beauty in my everyday life. It’s good and not too sweet because it is genuine. Keep it up. I appreciate it as well.

    • Thank you, I really do find the little things to be the most inspiring, sometimes it is just listening to birdsong or seeing wild flowers going their heads out of the grass along a bank, it makes one realise how lucky we are, for me it is as simple as that. xx

  • Looking at these evocative photos, be they of the brief snowy spell or the burgeoning light and warmth and colour green, I just wish I could be alongside you when you take the pups for a walk . . .not even to talk, just to feel. I live in a wonderful part of the world and in a very special part of that land, but tho’ we also talk of the four seasons I have not ‘been’ to the snow since youth time skiing in the Australian Alps taking up so little of the continent. Most of our greyish ‘greenery’ is not deciduous, many people have never seen snow and we bitterly complain when somewhere the temps drop below -1C !!! And last week the temps hit 40C+ in parts of the SE in the middle of autumn and there were over 35 bushfires in the state and one lovely coastal; township was obliterated within an hour or two and a hundred homes were lost . . . I wonder if one had one’s druthers . . .

    • These bush fires are beyond catastrophic and so heart breaking. +40 in autumn is really rather worrying. The climate is so messed up everywhere, we never get snow like this here or indeed so many frosts, it has been the strangest of winters, not just global warming but complete change. I think mankind has a lot to answer for. When you make it to France we shall take those walks…

  • As always an enjoyable and thoughtful read 💙 We all seem to have gremlins on our shoulders who whisper things which make us second guess ourselves. I am thankful you decided not to listen to yours. As you approach warmer climes, I am marching towards Winter… although a Sydney Winter is very mild and tollerable. As you may look forward to lighter meals, I am looking forward to the stews, soups and casseroles simmering on the stove. No doubt when I enjoy your ‘warmer climate’ posts, I will whistfully wish I too felt the sun on my skin….

    • I know I do tend to second guess myself and it takes a good walk to clear my head and get back on track. At the end of a long hot summer, we are always looking forward to wearing scarves and gloves, lighting the fire and making those slow comforting meals that simmer for hours in the oven, warming the kitchen and throwing out the most deliciously tempting smells. But now, as you look forward to these, we are soooo looking forward to some decent weather, eating outdoors, gorging on tomatoes straight from the vines, the list goes on, it just proves that seasons really are good for us! xx

  • Susan,
    A beautifully written and heartfelt post. It was so heartfelt all I could think of is I want to give you a Big Hug.
    I actually thought about getting out of the “social media” world recently. Why, because everyone’s life looked so idyllic and wonderful. I can not believe the talented people out there and I began to question my own talents which can’t even begin to compare to any of the bloggers out there.
    Then your post yesterday…
    I wanted to give you a Big Hug.
    Life is full of mystery. All of us do the best we can with the “gifts” we have been given. Susan, what you give your readers is a wonderful “uplifting” account of a family living in France. Do I think everything is perfect? No. Am I a “little” envious? Yes.
    We do the BEST we can and I can’t thank you enough for being a part of my life.
    We are truly Blessed and you are a Blessing to me! ❤️
    Big Hug!

    • I know what you mean, that is why I had a moment of self doubt, I read lots of things and everyone’s houses are always perfect, they look perfect and like you I began to question myself. My house only ever looks good for about ten minutes and then someone leaves their things all over the kitchen table or the sitting room or their shoes and coats and backpacks all over the hallway and it’s a mess once more! It goes with the territory of lots of children I guess! I have to tell you, lots of excitement here, take a look at G’s instagram, it makes us all feel truly blessed. We are all so lucky. Have a fabulous weekend xx

  • Susan what a lovely frank post. You always write with such passion and the photos are beautiful. I think many of us bloggers struggle and wonder if we are good enough but you always hit the right balance and inspire. The weather has certainly been scary this year and we had an earthquake too and a new roof required. My stress levels have been tested! Like you, when I take my dogs out and see the flowers that have magically appeared things do seem better. Amanda xxxx

    • Self doubt is only human isn’t it? Perhaps it really does do more good than harm as it means we question what we are doing and strive to do better. Well that is what I tell myself! The earthquake was the cause of the new roof? How scary. Any news on the house sale? Is there some way I can help? Spring always somehow makes everything seem that little bit better. The weather has been horrid, today was grey and drizzling all day. The latest terrororist attack in the south, there is much to be sad about and I think just making the most out of dog walks and nature is a very good thing. Have a lovely weekend, lets hope the sun manages to shine a little xx

  • Bravo!
    Please, please continue what you do on your blog! I so look forward to it. And the last thing I would ever call it is “saccharine “. I find it refreshing, endearing, insightful, joyful, thoughtful, funny, heartening, but never, ever saccharine! And those precious doggies…they make my heart sing!❣️

    • Thanks so much Liane, you know I think sometimes we all suffer from a little self doubt and yours and everyone else’s encouragement has been incredible, I really appreciate it so much. Have a fabulous weekend xx

  • We take enormous risks when writing and publishing our posts. I say ‘our’ because i also press that publish button at least twice a week and often experience the same sense of self doubt. Publishing is quite different from writing a journal which I am sure you did before the advent of blogging. It’s risky in that you are allowing anyone in the world to view your life, or what you are prepared to share with them through your writing and photos. You obviously go through a selection process, choosing from thousands of photos, scrapping the ugly ones, editing the better ones. Ugliness is everywhere- in my life and I am sure in yours too, but who wants to share that? We are surrounded by enough crap in the world, whether in politics, or homelessness on the streets, child hunger, world dislocation and refugees, idiotic world leadership particularly in the States, the movement towards the right wing in Europe, a move away from the Eurozone, and the big one,global warming. These are the topics of your dinner table and mine. It is wonderful to have a break from heaviness of the world and to see what you see as you go for a walk in your area. You are being yourself when you write, and you are taking a risk- its a creative risk. People who enjoy your style you will follow you and enjoy it- those who don’t like it, won’t. Well, that’s what I tell myself. Being true to yourself is the best thing you can do,

    • Very very good advice, thanks so much Francesca, I think we all have moments of self doubt indeed. As you say, who really wants to see ugliness, I think the blog is a little form of escapism for many, just as I like (normally) quite light hearted books for bedtime reading, a little light hearted entertainment before I go to sleep. I love your blog too as you know, it is a very muddled up world, let’s hope we can all bring a little sunshine into it every now and then. xx

  • Dear Susan, Mrs C and I adore your blog, as you well know, and insist you change nothing. As my grandmother used to say; “A good piece of meat always has a bone in it to chew over.”

    Love the photos and post as always – you are a wonderful writer and photographer, and you have Mrs C’s approval which is VERY hard to get!

    Spring has arrived on the shingle, we have four dog-walkers today instead of none – things must be warming up!

    • Thanks so much Phil and a big thank you to your wife too, all of this encouragement means a huge amount to me and is very much appreciated.

      Spring is trying to arrive here but each time it gets a foot in the door winter seems to knock it back again, oh well, I am sure it won’t be long. Have a wonderful weekend. xx

  • Please don’t change – you write from the heart which makes me feel as though I’m reading a letter from a good friend. Thank you for allowing us to share a corner of your world, and for being so open and honest.

  • I don’t usually comment, but this post just stirred something in me. I love reading about your daily live, you write from the heart, and I love to get a glimpse into someone elses day.

    Like you I get these “wobbles” about my blog. It doesn’t have a large following and on a regular basis I ask myself why people would bother reading it. So yes, you are not alone with those wobbles.

    Don’t change what you write about or the photos you share, they are who you are and I for one find them very engaging. It helps me to keep a hold on our dream of moving to France in a few years time!

    • Thank you so much, I think it is probably only natural that we all have wobbles. I always remember reading, before I even wrote my first blog post, when I was researching starting a blog, someone wrote, “just because you find your life interesting doesn’t mean anyone else will want to read it!” Every now and then I think of this!! But I really appreciate all of the encouragement and the fact that everyone enjoys the reality, there is nothing made up here, I just leave out the super boring mundane parts! Hope you make your dream come true and that you do move to France, where are you hoping to make your home? Xx

      • OMG, we must have read the same advise on blogging, as this is a sentence that constantly haunts me! lol

        We are trying to narrow it down, so far the Charente-Maritime area is our favourite, possibly the Dordogne as well. Sadly it will be another 2 years before we can make the move, as our daughter is still in college here and we want to wait until she is done.

  • 100 times yes! I’ve thought the very same things. But I for one (of the many! look above at all those comments!) really enjoy your writing. I think it goes without saying that the more mundane and negative things in life are not often highlighted on a blog. But, just as you did here, I think it’s helpful to readers when you’re really feeling it, to acknowledge that of course, you have those times too. Your joy and gratitude are gifts – and we all benefit from them. Carry on! 😉 Happy Spring! Xo, ~julie

    • Thanks so much Julie, it is very true we all have our ups and downs and I try very hard only to focus on everything that is very positive and I try and teach the children that too, to concentrate on what is important and what makes us happy and to help others in whatever small way we can. The rest can take care of itself! xx

  • No, your blog is not too saccharine. What comes across in your blog is gratitude for life, family, surroundings and gratitude is something that I believe we all should practice more often. It makes us happier to focus on what is right in our world. There is so much turmoil in the world right now that we crave stability, happiness, and beauty. Keep it coming! I for one love it! I live in the Finger Lakes area of New York state in the rolling hills (small mountains really) south of Syracuse, NY. It is beautiful. I love the wildlife and the scenery and living in the country here. I thank God in my prayers for letting me land here in this spot and I pray that I never take my surroundings for granted. The world has much beauty and your blog shows us the beauty in your little part of the world. I love it!!!

    • It sounds as if you live in an absolutely beautiful place Lucy, I have never been there but just your small description has me drooling at the mouth! I know what you mean about feeling lucky to live somewhere, and I hope we never take it for granted. Hope you have had a lovely Easter xx

  • Don’t change a single thing…every mood, every musing, every photo that captures your eye, captures my interest and wonderment. Must be true for all of us here reading your posts…

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