What was I looking forward to most, on my holidays? What was I thinking about most in the weeks beforehand, in the days getting stuff ready, on the drive to the airport, in the plane, on the drive out to Gruissan Plage? On those succulent days before a holiday?
Was it the sunshine, the warmth, the sound of the waves wafting up from the beach? Bare feet and sandals, no socks? The beach, stretching itself out long and lovely, exotic in sunshine? Non, monsieur. Non, madame. Continue reading “On Gruissan Plage. 2: Bonjour, une Baguette S’il Vous Plaît”
It is evening. I am writing on the balcony. The sun is slanting across the chalets. Its light is softening, running to red.
The chalets are mostly white, white legs, white bodies, their gables ends pristine and clear.
Shadows rise. The shadows of electrical wires rise on walls. Continue reading “On Gruissan Plage. 1: The Evening.”
We did a bit of sightseeing before today’s walk (our last of 2016 together) in Saint-Jean-de-Côle, which is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. M. Besson and most of the books had recommended it. And the Romanesque Byzantine church to Saint-Jean Baptiste was very special I must say, its stone walls almost white, with small rounded chapels to the side. They had choral music playing through the sound-system and long elegant candles (Pad and I lit two) and I could have stayed there longer and prayed. There was a map on a notice board at the side showing a walk through the village all the way to Santiago de Compostela, a good walk, beginning in Vezelay – almost 1,500 km according to Googlemaps. Now that would be a walk and a talk. But we agreed to settle for somewhat less that Friday. Maybe some other time. Continue reading “Five Days Walking in France – Day 5: Saint-Jean-de-Côle et Angoulême”
Thursday came with our first clear dawn and a hard frost. I put on a hat and gloves for the short haul down to Madame Aldi – we weren’t quite on first name terms yet, myself and the woman who opened it up in the morning, but we were getting there. Light had been filling my East facing bedroom since well before eight and I went outside with a cup of tea to enjoy the sun’s rising over the glen. It came up clear under a blue sky ribboned with aircraft contrails, my breath misting in the cold Autumn air, long shadows appearing behind the garden chairs and the porch column and on the pages of my notepad and my pen was enshadowed now too, and the back of my cup. Funny how the shadows are longest at the dawn and the dusk. Mist from my nose and mouth in the cold, mist billowing gently from my cup of tea. Mist in the soft stream of condensed air rising from the central heating chimney of the house below. Continue reading “Five Days Walking in France – Day 4: Words of Love”
Reader, we ate them. The spotted apples on the tree on the short walk outside Nontron. On the winding road near the stream, the little apple tree just there, as pastoral a picture as you could hope for. I wish I’d taken a photo now. I remembered those lines from Big Yellow Taxi: Continue reading “Five Days Walking in France – Day 3: Spotted Apples”
Our second day’s walking was around Agonac, a small town about a 20 minute drive south-east, and the morning fog hadn’t yet lifted, so we couldn’t see much of the countryside as we headed down there. But we knew it would, as the sun rose and warmed the day. Der had been up and out on the porch when I’d come back from Aldi with the baguettes rustiques first thing that morning, watching a watery dawn rise over the glen beyond, brightening the trees – the same trees the sun had reddened as it set the evening before, the darkening slowly pushing up its soft and tired red light until finally it was only a thread at the treetops and then it was gone. Continue reading “Five Days Walking in France – Day 2: La Palombière”
We wanted to start our first day’s walking from the house so that’s what we did. By making our way down to the town via the paths along the meadow, and then taking on two loops in a figure of 8 route around Brantôme, near to where we were based. We’d had a short stroll around the town the day before finding our bearings and that was pleasant – it’s picturesque and old and cobbled and French. We were buoyed just to be there, after the long drive down from Nantes the day before and having met Aude and her nephew Bastien, and Marine, and especially Aude’s mother, all of 88 years old – that was a wonderful treat. Continue reading “Five Days Walking in France – Day 1: Bonjour White Rabbit”