Posts

Showing posts from 2016

Summer 2016 - End of an Era

Image
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…

EU Referendum - A Wider Vision

Image
I grew up looking across the English Channel. I grew up wanting to live and work in France. I grew up learning French so I could go across the English Channel and live and work in France. When I was grown up I went to live and work in France. That was before 1993 and the formation of the European Union (until then it had been the less binding EEC), which means it was less easy for a Brit to live and work 'abroad', but it was still possible. It required some focus and dedication, but that's not such a bad thing, is it? It certainly makes you question yourself closely as to your wants and desires which, you could say, is also a good thing. In the early 1990s I went to live in Italy. This was still pre the European Union, but it was still possible to live and work there. Europe was not a closed door.

All the talk about leaving the EU being a big, scary unknown black hole perplexes me. We've lived without being part of the EU a lot longer than we've lived as part of it.…

The Definition of Cool

It's a funny old business when one's distinctly middle-aged accountant husband is regarded as 'cool' by the friend of your daughter whose father is, erm....a rock star.

Yes folks, bean counters are officially hip! The father of Friend of Eldest Daughter is drummer with The Verve, but it's the boring accountant who is currently being viewed as Mr Cool: fast car (a battered and bruised Audi Quattro A4 convertible 3.2 litre engine, permanently filthy, which has had various encounters with dry-stone walls due to dodgy handbreak); suit, sunglasses (actually, they're just reading glasses for failing middle-aged eyesight) and a Honda Blackbird in the garage. True, there's a slight 007 edge to the International Man of Mystery but only because we pass like ships in the night and most of the time neither he nor I have a clue what either of us is up to - wedded bliss and all that.

It seems that Turgid Predictability is still highly regarded when all I've ever wan…

Circle of Life

I turned the key in the ignition and the radio blared on. I would have turned it off if it hadn't been Blondie belting out 'Denis Denis', immediately followed by Abba asking to 'Take A Chance on Me'. It was Pick of the Pops from March 18th, 1978. I was hooked.

I drove out of the village in the darkness, my youngest by my side, and by the time we hit the traffic-less main road we were waiting with baited breath for the Number One that week: it was Kate Bush and her ground-breaking, rather extraordinary debut single Wuthering Heights. A new career was launched. I started wailing away in an unnaturally high voice, actually remembering the words for once, to the great amusement of L. I then went off on a riff of nostalgic explanation:-

' In 1978 I was fifteen, I'd broken my leg skateboarding the year before, I was having orthodontic work, I was madly in love with a boy obsessed with Kate Bush, and who would have thought that here I would be, 38 years on, drivi…

Sunshine and Snow

Image
Now that the weather has turned more spring-like, this day, two weeks ago, seems a little surreal. Did we really have snow? Well, yes, we did, over the Mother's Day weekend, but it seems a lifetime ago given how the landscape has changed again since. 
It was the first proper snow of the winter, which I had feared would remain essentially snow-less. How times have changed over the years we have lived here. We would get snow every winter 10 years or so ago, but still never in the way it used to be in earlier decades when the villages and towns of the High Peak would be cut off and the snow so deep that it rose above the dry stone walls and people would ski over it's pale virgin expanses. 
A great sadness to me is that those days are long gone.  I adore the mountains, skiing, and everything that the white stuff brings - cold, bright light; fresh tingling air; a new stillness; footprints.  The other Monday - while we were hardly knee deep in the stuff -  was nevertheless a small rem…

And so to Como...

Image
After a morning meeting up with an old Milanese friend and then exploring the Castello Sforzesco in glorious warm sunshine, we had a quick, atmospheric lunch in the thronging business quarter of Milan before hopping in the cars and heading up with The Godfather and Son to Lago di Como.


The Italian lakes have long held lyrical associations and never more so than when the likes of William Wordsworth and other poetic exponents of the Romantic Movement were wafting around their sublime shores:-

AND, Como! thou, a treasure whom the earth
Keeps to herself, confined as in a depth
Of Abyssinian privacy. I spake
Of thee, thy chestnut woods, and garden plots
Of Indian-corn tended by dark-eyed maids;Thy lofty steeps, and pathways roofed with vines,
Winding from house to house, from town to town,
Sole link that binds them to each other; walks,
League after league, and cloistral avenues,
Where silence dwells if music be not there:


Young Wordsworth's obvious attraction to 'dark-eyed maids' asid…