Nature, photography & France

The Bay

The BayIt’s early morning as I slip out of the cottage door and head down the short lane alongside the garden.  There’s a faint pink glow in the sky as the sun starts to rise behind the clouds.  The tide is high in the bay and there’s almost no room to walk along the sandy shore.  All I can hear is the gentle lapping of the tide and the early morning chattering of the Brent geese that apparently winter here every year.

There’s a slight chill in the air but it still doesn’t feel cold enough for a January morning.  I only have on a thin top beneath my jumper and jeans and the scarf thrown around my neck keeps me warm enough.  The water sounds loud to my sleepy ears after the quiet stillness of the cottage at night, nestled between the ancient cedars in a corner of the well-tended gardens.  The only disturbance is the occasional squirrel using the roof as a shortcut between trees.

I fleetingly wonder what my friends and family think of this latest escapade.  It wasn’t really what we had planned at all.  We thought by now we would have work and an apartment in Bordeaux and would fast be heading back to the life we knew before.  But I guess the universe had another plan because here we are in another housesit on the beautiful Arcachon Bay with just enough work to keep us ticking over and plenty of time to explore the area, to keep writing, taking photos, working on our various projects.

I look out over the bay with its tides and changing weather, oyster farms and resident and visiting bird populations.  I take a deep breath and register the feeling of calm and peace that has been with me since we came here.  The first rays of sun are just beginning to pierce the clouds as I make my way up the lane again and quietly let myself back in to the little wooden cottage, our home for now.

From Paris with Love

From ParisAll week I have been sitting in the offices at La Défense, the business district of Paris, looking out over the grey skies of these late autumn days.  Watching flocks of pigeons scatter, dark shadows against the gold and burnt orange of the last of the autumn leaves, and contemplating life’s strange twists and turns.  An email, a phone call, a snap decision and all of a sudden I’m on the TGV to Paris.

For three weeks I have joined the sombrely dressed commuters arriving to work by train every morning and marching across the cold, grey concrete of the concourse at La Défense into a myriad of offices.  I stand out here as I do not own a black winter coat, nor any other black clothing, and my scarf in autumnal russet and gold is a far cry from the muted colours of other commuters.

As I walk the final stretch to the office I can’t help thinking that most of the people around me look like they are on their way to a funeral.  A funeral of the soul maybe as the French idea of a job for life is still so very prominent here.  The very thought of it makes me shudder.  And although a regular income would be great and more worry-free than my current situation, I somehow feel I’ve come too far this time.  Too far along my own path to hop back on the corporate commuter train.

From inside the office I take a sip on my herbal tea and relax as the warmth from the hot liquid spreads through my body.  I think about Running Boy back in Bordeaux and feel a strange sense of separation from my own life.  I know where I would rather be but for the moment I am here in Paris, the city of Love, the city of Lights.  I take a deep breath and bring myself back to the present moment and the working day ahead of me.  I’m happy to be working and I’m happy to be in Paris, I’m just not sure how I got here!


WJR-2014-courage-Q3

PS.  I’m just about to start the Winter Joy Retreat run by Cigdem Kobu from Peaceful Triumphs.

It’s a virtual retreat for creative women and offers an intimate experience of truth-telling, self-discovery, self-compassion, and transformation through reading, writing, storytelling, literature, and introspective journaling.  This year’s theme is Courage.

If you would like to join me on the retreat please click the icon.  And hurry!  Only a few days left to register.  Hope to see you there ♥

Indian summer

“a warm, calm spell of weather occurring in autumn, especially in October and November” 

[the Met office meteorological glossary]

“We could be in for an Indian summer” is something I remember hearing when I was a kid.  The air still and silent in the heat of late afternoon, the smell of warm tarmac and cut grass.  T-shirts, shorts and lemonade sparkles.  I never really knew what they were talking about, I just knew it sounded good.  A romantic yearning for far off lands and cultures I had yet to experience.  It fuelled my young imagination as I sat in a sweltering classroom in the middle of September, staring out of the window at my future self, travelling the globe through endless Indian summers.

To be honest though I don’t really remember the warm weather lasting that far into October and I’m pretty sure I never experienced it in November.  I always assumed the phrase had something to do with India and the weather there but after reading a recent article I now realise that it may come more from Native Americans and the American east coast.

Either way, as we head into November with a forecast of 25 degrees this week in Bordeaux, I feel I may finally be experiencing a true Indian summer.  Hopefully it will be another lazy Sunday at the beach.  Huge sand dunes covered in wild thyme and immortelle (an aromatherapist’s dream) with pristine never-ending beaches and deep golden sand.  Mesmerising waves and beautiful clean surf.  I could sit there for hours…..

Here’s a little visual of my Indian summer – enjoy ♥

The best way to get around Bordeaux in this weather is bicycle

The best way to get around Bordeaux in this weather is bicycle

Watching the kids splash around in the miroir d'eau in the warm evening

Watching the kids splash around in the miroir d’eau in the warm evening

Enjoying the good weather at Lacanau beach

Enjoying the good weather at Lacanau beach

Sampling some local food and wine at the Bô Bar

Sampling some local food and wine at the Bô Bar

Admiring the waves at Le Grand Cohort

Admiring the waves at Le Grand Cohort

Watching the sun set over the Atlantic

Watching the sun set over the Atlantic

A visit to Saint Émilion – a photo essay

Yesterday’s weather gave the perfect opportunity to take a leisurely drive to the wine-producing commune of Saint Émilion.

Road sign

We were out of Bordeaux in a matter of minutes and into the lush green countryside of vineyards and châteaux.

Chateaus

Once in Saint Émilion we headed straight to the “caves” to see what was going on underground.

Barrels

Barrel,

Barrels stacked

upon barrel,

Caves

cave,

Eerie

upon eerie cave,

Wall art

with ancient wall art depicting the wine-making process,

Wine bottle 1957

and very old bottles of wine ~ wonder what that would cost?

Tasting

Not forgetting the chance to taste the local wine too.  The most famous being Saint Émilion grand cru.

Vine plants

There was even the tempting opportunity to buy your own vine for €2.50 and start your very own vineyard.

Skies

Back outside and the stormy sky gave an impressive backdrop to the pretty stone buildings of Saint Émilion.

Vineyards

Time for a quick glass of wine ourselves before heading back to Bordeaux through the endless vineyards.

Vines

We’ll definitely be back for another visit soon ♥

Hello autumn my old friend

It’s that time of year again in the northern hemisphere and I’m excited to be getting out and about with my camera to catch the changing seasons.

What seasonal changes are happening where you are?  I’d love you to leave me a comment and let me know ♥

Life in the bubble – what really goes on here

This is our last week in the bubble.  The “just the two of us in the middle of nowhere in rural France” bubble.  This time next week we’ll be in Bordeaux doing various things associated with moving to a new place.

But for now we are still in our own little world.  I’ve been asked many times what exactly we do for weeks on end in the middle of nowhere so here is a photoblog of what’s been going on this week (click for captions).

And that’s about it.  I’m off to cycle to the garage and hand over a large fistful of euros in exchange for my now functioning voiture.

What have you been up to this week?  I’d love to know ♥

Stargazing and sleep

Universe GandhiRunning Boy couldn’t sleep last night.  Consequently neither could I.

We went outside at one thirty in the morning to walk in the garden and look at the stars.

The night sky was beautiful with so many bright stars.  The Milky Way was almost aglow.  I reached my arms up to the sky and looked at the dark shape of my hands against the brightness above me.

I remembered to trust the universe.

I remembered we are all connected and part of the same universal sea of energy.

I thought about the ripple effect.

I listened to the owls screeching in the night and realised that we are all animals of the universe.

I felt the smallness of my body and the enormity of what lay before me and I saw that my cares and worries really were inconsequential.

I felt like I belonged.

I breathed in the night air deeply and quietly headed back to bed.