Your Thoughts and a Lot on My Mind

P6780335La Rentrée defines the beginning of September in France. After the frivolities of summer everything gets that little bit more serious once more – and it’s not just for school children that the routine begins again. Almost everyone is back from holiday, it’s a new season and for some a new beginning; offices which have been closed for the entire month of August are suddenly buzzing with life again. The coastal roads which were jam-packed a week ago are miraculously smooth flowing once more. In many restaurants the clientele subtly changes, with flirtatious summer clothing swapped for more serious attire, and tourists replaced by the lunchtime business crowd. No one talks about going back to work, or back to school, or back to a normal routine after the holidays, they simply talk of la rentrée.  Read more

The First Days of September

P6780273Some seventeen years ago, when we were starting out on the journey of schools with our children, meeting mothers and parents at the school gates for the first time and starting a completely new phase in our lives, I remember one mother who I had quite recently met bringing her daughter over to spend an afternoon with Izzi. It was a beautiful summer’s day and the girls played in the garden for hours. When the girl’s mother came to collect her in the evening she gave us a huge bowl of raspberries; they were from her garden and she had just picked them and I remember thinking, how I would love to be able to do that some day. And I still think of that moment quite often –  it’s what has inspired me to always grow an excess amount of everything. Read more

Can a Staycation Really Work?

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It’s July and August; everyone it seems goes on holiday! But where would WE go that could possibly be better than right here? Our little slice of France is where those in the know flock to in their droves, and it’s a place that is also perhaps a little bit of a secret to those not lucky enough to have heard of this little corner of one of Europe’s most romantic destinations, tucked away on the Atlantic coast and nestled in its own unique micro climate.

Back on the Île de Ré

 

IMG_0925“How long have we got?”

“About twenty minutes maximum, and we’ve still got another 6 or 7kms to go!”

“OK allez, let’s go, we’ve got to cycle really fast”

You would think we would have learnt by now; this is our third summer of occasional day-trips cycling on the Île de Ré and we always end up in the same situation at the end of the day when closing time draws near and we somehow find we are a very long way from the bike hire shop. It’s a recurring theme that only extreme muscle power is going to get us back anywhere near on time. Read more

Just another week in SW France

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Another summer morning, time to draw the curtains, fling open the windows and let the early morning breeze fill the room. Summer always smells warm and enticing as it fills the house each day, and the instant sound of bees in the wisteria and the sight of swallows flitting past in a blur of winged shadow add to the sense of season.  Read more

PEACE AND TRANQUILITY

P6770708I wanted to make a feast. I had an insane urge to cook and create and make everything homely and perfect. Why?  Probably because I’ve been away more than I’ve been home this past month, and apart from the Auvergne there haven’t been breaks or holidays, long or short. It’s just been a long litany of hectic days away, tennis, business, children, and anything else you can think of. I just haven’t been home. So often have I left the house at 6.00am or 7.00am and returned around 9.00pm. Roddy has held the fort quite perfectly, obviously, usually accompanied by at least one or more of our children. But I’ve been on the road with the others; I have driven more kilometres than I dare to count and let’s just say I am a dab hand at filling up with diesel, again and again and again! Read more

France’s Land of Volcanoes

IMG_9739Not really wanting to leave Vichy, but knowing we must, we clambered into the car and headed over the bridge once more. We were saying goodbye to chic city life and trading it for an altogether more rugged experience involving hiking shoes and plenty of stamina; we were heading to the French volcanoes. Read more