Do you ever feel as if you are living life at an alarming pace, but that you are not taking the time to really enjoy it ? The other day I had one of those moments. The children wanted to go blackberry picking, as always I had a million things to do and my instant reply was I hadn’t got the time. But something stopped me in my tracks; “Why not ?” I thought. The school holidays are flying by, and my babies are now teenagers; I have to make the time, because one thing is for sure, time is not going to wait for me. “Let’s go” I said – everything else would simply have to wait.
We grabbed our bikes and a couple of containers and headed out. “Where shall we go?” they called over their shoulders, already way out in front and heading out of the village !
We took a much loved route down old farm tracks, past rows of small privately owned vines, heavily weighed down with great big clusters of ripening grapes.
Every now and then we stopped and we picked blackberries. Eating at least half of what we gathered, our tongues and lips turning purple from the sweet juices.
With everyone busy gathering I wandered down to look at some old apple trees. They have long since been abandoned but for the first years we were here they bore plenty of fruit and we helped ourselves, knowing that the majority was only going to fall and be left rotting on the ground. Last year they had none and I wondered if it was the lack of care and pruning that had finally caught up with them. However, I saw that all is back to normal and as if I needed more proof I picked an apple and rubbed it against my t-shirt until it shone. Walking back towards the children, they were chatting together, picking, eating, being pricked by thorns and scratched by brambles but laughing and loving the simplest of pleasures. Biting into my apple I silently thanked our lifestyle for the sight of three teenagers aged 13, 14 and 17 all having so much good old fashioned fun, whilst at the same time I savoured the slightly tart, but deliciously crisp apple. Appearance wise it was far from perfect, certainly it would have been a supermarket reject, but who cares what it looks like, the taste was up with the best.
And that was one of those moments when in a flash I thought of all the reasons why we had come to live in France. I realised I hadn’t taken this walk or bike ride for a while and I had missed it. We came here for a slower pace of life and it has been quite the opposite. I have never been busier, combining several small home businesses, fast growing children and their needs, a family, a guest cottage, chickens, ducks, the potagerand a large garden. But it is a great way to be busy; I go to bed exhausted but I wake up full of excitement.
Again this year we are staying at home for our summer holidays. With seven puppies who are now two weeks-old, leaving is out of the question. But as I have said time and time again, this is where everyone comes on vacation, so why would we want to leave ?
I admit a change of scenery is good for the soul, but so is a change of pace and ‘staycations’ do the job just fine here.
Besides who could leave these adorable faces ?
I truly cannot get enough cuddles, nor enough of that adorable puppy smell. Yes I am smitten, but we all are. Puppy-love is quite overwhelming here at the moment.
So we are here, we are not going away, but that doesn’t mean we cannot explore locally. Yet again this summer we’ve been tourists in our own back-yard so to speak. We’ve hired paddle boards and kayaks on the river twenty minutes away, we’ve had numerous beach afternoons and picnics, and we’ve visited endless brocantes and markets. We’ve taken the time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner outside. We’ve done everything our guests do and loved it just as much. We’ve walked, sometimes all together and sometimes alone. I’ve stopped and taken photos. But most of all I have refused to be in a hurry. I’ve noticed little things I have missed despite having walked past a hundred times.
A restaurant that I never knew existed….
A road-name that surely has a hidden reason for being – ‘The Road of Eight Brothers’. Did they all live here? My guess is they certainly did, but were they much loved or notorious for some ill gotten gains? Either way why was a street named after them? I think I need to go back and ask some locals of this particular village and find some answers.
There is of course never a shortage of houses and architecture to daydream over where we are. Be they grandiose mansions, country houses, town houses or far more humble abodes, even a simple barn, they all get my attention !
I have also come to realise that I definitely have something of a fascination with old doors and gates !
Perhaps it is the promise of what lies beyond that holds the mystery
or maybe it is knowing that once they would have been so terribly important and asking that all important question of Why ? Why have they been left to fall into such disrepair, and why are they no longer in use ?
You see, France is a country that urges one to stop and think. Here there is always a question to be answered for an enquiring mind.
At the end of the day, though, our time here is our choice, it’s a very simple lifestyle perhaps, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.