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Showing posts from August, 2009

The roads we travel...

I have just returned from my friend's house 10 minutes away. When I first visited her in this part of the world four years ago she was pregnant with her first child, long awaited. This afternoon we had a cup of tea by the pool as our children swam, played dolphin games (I found myself briefly masquerading as a dolphin, flipping my flippers, jumping for fish and making dolphin noises - a talent I never knew I had), and acted out a shark attack. Funny how their minds work sometimes. We chatted around the edges of the animated watery activity and moved seamlessly enough into aperitif time. Tea was exchanged for wine. We have much to discuss at the moment as she is separating from her husband of many years - almost as many as N and I. I understand all the reasons, and understand them more and more the more we chat. But nevertheless I am sad. And so is she. She has a very bright light shining at the end of her tunnel but it doesn't make the ending of things any easier. In the few y…

Guiraboye

You will be pleased to hear that I am writing this with a glass of 'Coteaux de Chalosse' rose by my side. The Chalosse is to our south, a land which rolls more than here, lanes cutting through high hedges of maize at this time of year, with glimpses of the Pyrenees in the distance. Further south again, the undulations increase and become the softly crumpled foothills of the Pays Basque, another beautiful and fascinating region. I will never forget peering from my plane window five years ago as we came in to land at Biarritz. Seeing the soft green curves dotted with attractive looking houses and blue pools, the high mountains standing proud and strong, the sea glittering to the west, I had one simple thought: 'This is where I want to live'. The memories of my four hot, sunny, intensely happy days in this vibrant 'grande ville' by the sea will stay with me forever.

While I was there, I travelled a little further north into the pine-clad flatlands to visit my frien…

And so to France....

Every August I shift my home and family from the heather-hued hills of north west England to the flat pine-strewn expanses of south-west France: from stone and moss to wood and sand, from being land-locked to being in touch with the ocean. In short, from the High Peak to Les Landes. It is a set of contrasts I adore, and a way of keeping me sane.

France has been in my heart and, I like to think, in my blood, since I was a young teenager. My parents used to take in students and teachers. One of the first ones we embraced was an auburn-haired creature called Cathy. I thought she was the bees knees. She had a fabulous French accent and I was so jealous of her ability to speak the language. I had passed many a family holiday in France, living as we did just across the water. Newhaven-Dieppe. It's etched on my psyche. The reason I particularly wanted to learn French,though, was because I am also particularly curious and I soon worked out that sitting in French bars, cafes and restaurants…