Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Where did the time go?

I have taken a pause in packing up the house - a job I hate and put off for as long as I can - to reflect on our time out here.

So, has it been a good holiday? Well, yes it has. For the first time since we bought the place, I would say we have had a 'proper' summer and I thank God for that! Until now, it had been so consistently unreliable that, much as we love it as I've described, we were wondering whether it was really delivering the goods as regards the weather - so important in the context of it being an escape from the almost relentlessly cold, damp, windy High Peak. But, enfin, this year we have found what we came looking for.

The days have passed easily enough in a melange of friends, family, beach, meals in, meals out, and the odd trip further afield just to shake things up a bit. There have been breakfasts and lunches in hot sunshine - snacks on the beach watching the waves crash over golden sands, the view and the croque monsieur washed down with a chilled bottle of wine or a cold beer; other times in the shade of a favourite restaurant savouring the more maritime flavours of crevettes au gingembre, huitres, moules au bleu, seared scallops or squid in ink. There have also been plenty of omelettes, crepes, pizzas and the ubiquitous maigret de canard or steak frites. Simple pleasures of the palate. And then imagine young girls with chocolate ice-cream all over their faces and their pretty summer dresses, and you have a picture of childhood paradise.

Sea defences have been built and washed away, castles created and crowned, holes dug. Shells and stones have weighed down buckets; crabs called Colin caught and lost and tears shed; knees grazed, hair bleached blonder and skin turned softly golden by the warm and cold embrace of sun and sea. Books have been read, postcards written but not sent, new words learnt and new friends made.

And this year we have finally all made in-roads into the surfing. For many this is the raison d'etre of the Cote d'Aquitaine - the kilometre after kilometre of sandy seabord against which the mighty swells of the Atlantic Ocean bark their shins and curl into majestic aquamarine arcs releasing all the oceanic energy built up over thousands of watery miles. Somtimes these waves are strong and perfectly formed - a surfer's dream; sometimes they are ragged and angry, spitting with foamy rage onto the shore; and just occasionally they are calmer, quieter. Yet even then you must never let your guard down: the currents formed by the sand banks and hidden lagoons ('baines') are always present, always dangerous for the unwary or the arrogant.

It is over this sea, in all its moods, that the thing we love best about all western coasts takes place - sunset after glorious sunset. For us, a beach holiday can never really be complete without the full stop at the end of the day - the fiery orb, giver of all earthly life, slipping slowly through the earth's atmosphere towards the horizon, leaving, as it sinks ever lower, the rosy reflection of its flamboyant evening gown glowing on the faces of all who watch, transfixed, by this daily wonder.




And now I must put my own full stop on our holiday. The time has come to draw stumps, reluctantly but refreshed, and point the car north again. Time to go and finish the packing.


Au revoir for now.


France, 30th August 2009

12 comments:

Mark said...

Fabulous as always - what a post to wake up to!

Which reminds me... as a child I lived in Northumberland and there the sun rises over the sea and sets over the mountains. I remember when I came to Wales thinking, 'oh of course, it's the other way round here' - obvious really, but in its way, an important change to the pattern of your life, helping you see things differently.

Which of course, is what holidays are all about too...

Enjoy the Peaks this weekend - looks like you might get some sunshine.

Mark

HER ON THE HILL said...

Hi Mark - thanks as always for reading and for your lovely comments. Yes, looks like we have some sunshine at last - certainly this week has been great, no complaints! Have been walking with my brother in Edale and Stanage Edge - fabulous. Hope you see sunshine and get out and about too :)

Pondside said...

I, too, think that one of the best reasons for a beach holiday on a west coast is the sunset. We've watched exactly the same scene from the coast here and I always feel that little 'flip' at my core when the sun disappears.

Milla said...

that sun! going going gone. Except ... it's here now, finally. We have a summer. Tank feck as boy's 13th birthday party at the Lido on Sunday. Phewee.
Sounds a great summer hols.

TIGGYWINKLE said...

Beautifully written post on your sejours en France.It has put me in my French Mode, as we are heading for Nice and Cannes in two weeks time. What great photos of magnificent sunsets.It was a nice surprise to come home to sunshine after the bad Summer we've had.

HER ON THE HILL said...

Milla - good to see you, was about to pop over and catch up with you too. Belated birthday wishes to T12 now T13 (God, how this marks time!).

Pondside - hello again from far away! And that's the wonder of the sunset, isn't it? We watch it in one place, you watch it in another at a different time, but it's essentially the same the world over and draws people to stand and stare, time and time again.

TW - Hi there. Despite only recently returned from hols, I already feel they were months ago and therefore am suitably (albeit unjustifyably) envious of your upcoming trip to Nice and Cannes - love that side of France too, especially inland and when the crowds have subsided.

Ps: erm, why does the sun come out only AFTER the school holidays?

elizabethm said...

Sounds wonderful and reminds me of summers in New Zealand spent on the beach. I hope you feel ready for the new year! I always feel September is the start of the New year, not January!

Nutty Gnome said...

What a beautiful, evocative post - I was there with you (I wish!) ....and that sunset.Wonderful! We've had several holidays on that coast and love it :)

Great weekend for a trog around Stanage too! I was busy doing battle with our holly forest/jungle - and having to wear a jumper to avoid the prickles!!!

Catharine Withenay said...

Oh, I'm so envious. Delighted that you had such a wonderful holiday (love the pictures) ... glad to welcome you back to the High Peak.

There are some days that it doesn't rain...

seashell cosmos said...

Oh wow, I don't know what to say. Amazing photos and writing!! Huge fan of sunsets and there are some spectacular ones here over the bay, but there is something about watching them over the ocean. This is terrific!! :)

Woozle1967 said...

Wonderful, wonderful pictures and I am salivating at your food descriptions!! Ah, France: so much to love - thank you for taking me there.xx

Cathy said...

I love those photos of sunset.

Thanks for sharing,
Cathy@otoscope

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