Monday, 10 October 2016

Summer 2016 - End of an Era

For the first time in 10 years of travelling to France for our summer holiday, we were not the normal band of five. No, this year we'd lost a girl and gained a boy. G was in Greece with a friend from school whooping it up post GCSE endeavours, so we filled the space in the car with E's boyfriend. It was fun to mix things up but I couldn't help feeling how it was the end of an era.

When we bought our house in the woods in south-west France back in May 2005, I knew that we would have 10 good years, all being well, of family holidays and shared memories. It was to be a place in which the girls would grow up, becoming familiar with the languid habits of a holiday in Les Landes: setting up routines, becoming comfortable with French customs, culture and language and making life-long connections with people and place. It may lack the glamour and adventure of family holidays in far-flung exciting places, but we hoped it would be a solid grounding which, the older they became, the more they would appreciate. There is something deeply reassuring for the human soul to return to the familiar. We always hoped it would become a 'home from home' and I think we have achieved that. They have the rest of their lives to globe-trot, after all.

Next year E has declared that she may only spend a couple of weeks with us and G, no doubt, will have her own plans too. People will come and go, especially with E hopefully passing her driving test soon and therefore able to get to and from airports and home without the need for complicated logistics involving ever-patient friends. The treasured five weeks of time together in a French home rather than an English one have certainly finally come to an end. I feel rather sad, but have to look beyond that selfishness and perhaps take some comfort in the fact that hopefully N and I will come to spend more time there across numerous seasons and that the girls will always want to return.

Like a dying tree which has a last flush of flower or fruit before giving up the ghost, the sun actually decided to shine in south-west France this August and we had the best weather we've had there for many years now. We woke almost every day of the four weeks (not five this year, due to the need to return for GCSE results) to blue skies rather than grey - something our sun-starved bodies and souls were yearning for. The sun was very hot, the air quite cool and the sea positively cold - quite bizarre conditions really which must have been something to do with gulf streams or jet streams but we never got round to finding an explanation. While evenings were not balmy, the days felt like true summer - but not so hot they were impossible.

We had the usual string of visitors - friends and family - including celebrating my mother's 80 years of life with my brother and mother-in-law and G's 16th. It was all very convivial with memories to treasure. The house has provided many such special moments over the last decade, for which we will always be grateful.

There was inevitably a lot of hurtling up and down the autoroute to airports - Biarritz and Bordeaux - collecting and returning everyone but we always managed to make something of it by having a special meal, a bit of shopping, or simply a change of scene.

N continued his long-established routine of doing a bit of work every day - something which still frustrates me as he never quite 'switches off' - and we jointly dealt with issues that needed sorting around the maintenance of the house and garden (specifically the problem of how to keep the wild boar out!).

For all these reasons it is never quite a holiday, but a change is as good as a rest. To be able to dip into a cool pool, feel hot sand between my toes, be tossed around by powerful Atlantic waves, read a book from time to time and have the odd sneaky snooze in the sun is a blessing and a privilege for which I am eternally grateful.


Silly selfie on the ferry...

The sun setting on Portsmouth...

G comes back to the fold from Greece with friend in tow...

The bay of Archachon...

Oysters...

The first week gang...


The first week gang gets bigger...


Late lunches at the beach...


Mother and Brother cooling their heels...

Just driftin'...


The Birthday Surprise for G - her best friend arrives!...

Bordeaux...

More driftin'...


Luminous Landaise light...

Sweet 16!...

Celebrating in Biarritz...


Mine's a pina colada...

So many sunsets...

Sun, sea and sand...



Having a laugh after Dax races...

Surf's up...





Wave watching...



Final sunset...

3 comments:

Emma B said...

As a follower guilty of lurking and never commenting, just wanted to say beautiful pics.

The Queen of Light said...

Wow I really liked this blog. The pictures are so nice and cute and with great quality I loved it so much <3

The Queen of Light said...

Wow I really liked this blog. The pictures are so nice and cute and with great quality I loved it so much <3

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