My eyes opened to this my first morning in France……it was ……..idyllic, like waking to a dream.
After spending the previous night on the cold benches of Barcelona airport, I’d slept like a log, shuffling off a tiredness which resulted not only from the previous night, but from lack of sleep on the two nights before that, waking early and going to bed late to get all my stuff into storage, Trixy into kennels, and complete all those tasks which seem so urgent when you know you’re going away, and have now faded into the past.
That gorgeous window was in my bedroom in my friends’ house. Wendy and Tarik made me feel utterly at home. We ate. We talked. We wandered. We talked. We explored. We talked. This was the longest Wendy and I had been together since sometime in the 70s, and the joys of learning all about the backstories of what we knew had happened in each other’s lives was palpable.
We explored some of the Medieval villages of Languedoc-Roussillon, but at a gentle pace, stopping for coffees, food and ice cream as the mood took us, or simply spent late afternoons watching the BBC’s wonderful “The Hollow Crown” series – a huge catch-up for me. France was warm and sunny, but not hot or dusty. Balm on my parched soul and eyes.
I’ve written before about Autumn being a time for renewal and new beginnings, and that has never been truer for me than this year. As we caught up with the years, my tiredness, and a certain apathy which had enveloped me, melted away. That apathy had led to making changes in my life, but I’d been too busy actually organizing them to feel the benefit. By the end of the week my head felt clear for the first time in a long time. I’d fallen into a pleasant enough way of life that’s for sure, but it wasn’t going anywhere.
France wasn’t intended to be a destination to write about. It was very personal, so just a few photos to give you an idea of how gorgeous this often under-rated region is.
I boarded the train north with a renewed focus. As we skimmed across France, the clouds gathered, and I had an overpowering sense that summer was over. In England I posted home my cotton dresses and the books I’d read, and turned my soul to Autumn.
The food in France had lived up to its reputation, and it was a happy surprise, even after last year, to find that English food was up to the challenge. Very first day I took an eating tour of London’s colorful East End, but that will be a whole post of its own …… very soon!
London was a kaleidoscope: the latest movies; museums; strolling in Hyde Park; a totally different and entertaining show by Siro-A (go see them if you get the chance, they are SO clever); glorious family lunch in Rainforest Cafe with my god-daughter and her brood; bubble tea, Japanese food: American football (on tv in a bar); a long walk along the Thames; and a memorable visit to the foodie heaven that is Borough Market, where I conquered a 30-year aversion to oysters!
And after London, north to the Lake District, where the leaves are a little more autumnal, shades of gold and red sharp among the still green oaks and evergreen pines. Family time. Gentle mists.
And, speaking of gentle mists……onward to Ireland.