When your family is spread around the world it can’t help but alter what being together feels like. Once or maybe twice a year, if we are lucky, do we all get to exist under the same roof for a day or two, and back in July we had a whole week of family time.
Even though July’s vacation seems a long time ago, the memories are lasting, and I still carry the essence of our time together. I hope when Winter comes, and the sun seems far away, I will be able to close my eyes and transport myself back to our Summer in France. If not, I have this to remind me…
Stories from France…
Our days were a happy mix of good food, rest, play and laughter – all the best things really. Where breakfast stretches into lunch, and lunch lingers into dinner. With nowhere to go and nothing specific to do, the day is punctuated with what time we gather to eat, and when we might dip in the pool.
Our surroundings were charmingly French, the house was adorned with wooden shutters, the kitchen was full of copper, and the worn stone sink in the corner was all the more beautiful from its many years of use.
A blanket of green wrapped safely around the house and it was easy to forget that the rest of the world was busy existing on the other side of the garden wall.
Directly outside the house was a beautiful flower bed bursting with colour and full of dancing butterflies. It was the favoured spot for deckchair sitting after lunch, whilst little ones napped.
I’d forgotten what the heat of the sun can feel like – the sort of heat that warms you to your very core. Where a few moments rest amongst its rays can be transformative – a chance to store all the light, warmth, and goodness and keep a little bit, deep inside, just for yourself.
Soon the shade of a tree beckons, and the breeze gently whispers by telling you secrets of what it is to be free.
After a little lull, the children are up and ready to play. When you are four and five, the simple joy a swing can bring is enough to occupy you for hours. My feet leave footprints in the soft grass, as I stand pushing Bailey, back and forth… back and forth… back and forth. The hypnotising creak of the swing lulls me into a trance, Bailey breaks the spell as she shrieks with excitement “Higher mummy! Higher!”.
At about 4 o’clock as the day reaches its hottest point, we all pad up to the pool. The children are giddy with anticipation, and soon the infectious happy sounds of splashing and giggling are ringing in the air.
The cool water is a welcome relief from the heat of the day – energising us all.
I love to be the one that gets to wrap Bailey up in her towel all safe and snug. I pull her onto my lap, holding her tightly. Her skin is cool to the touch, and her sopping hair drips on to my dress leaving a little damp stain. She snuggles in to warm up, and then wriggles to get down, her wet feet leaving little foot marks on the hot paving slabs.
As the sky darkens, we are ready for evenings embrace. The old house, with its uneven floors, calls and welcomes us. After all the fresh air and sun, it feels good to be inside. We close all the shutters, and I find a little nook to spend some solitary time with a book.