When does a holiday stop and life begin? 

So that’s it – I’m back in the UK after another long summer at our little place in Provence – Andy’s staying on for another couple of weeks,  as he came out after me and we always want to use the house as much as possible! 

I find it hard to understand where the summer has gone – we’ve done lots of ‘holiday-things’,  but for 11 weeks? ……..

A full family cycle – enjoying the simple things ….

Is it really possible to be in ‘holiday-mode’ for that length of time?

We’ve heading back fitter than we were when we arrived – having spent hours on the bikes, cycling the quiet back-roads, visiting pretty villages and hunting out new places for breakfast…..

A breakfast picnic in the centre of Roussillon

We joined 30,000 others at the fantastic Fête de La Lavande in Sault, a highly scented & colourful event that marks the harvest & celebrates everything that we love abut that wonderful product…..

Lavender near Aurel ahead of the Lavender Festival

We’ve been to the beach….

A sunny day at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

Kayaked the Gorges de L’Ardèche…..

A great 32km paddle through this beautiful place

Walked up the Toulourenc…….

The beautiful, cool & fun Toulourenc

Spent an evening in Avignon & watched the incredible ‘Les Luminessences’ in the courtyard of the Palais des Papes …..

Waiting for Les Luminessences at Avignon
…….. and generally just enjoyed everything that we love about the area, which brought us here in the first place, so many years ago.

We all love being in Provence on our bikes
What we have realised though is that our ‘holiday’ is now just morphing into ‘life as normal’ and to be honest that is really nice.

I know we are very lucky being able to spend so much time here, but it now just feels like home and we’re finding it more and more of a struggle to head back to the UK – even the cat hides under the sofa if she thinks we’re making signs of leaving! 

Pusscat will miss her evening walks at home
Spending extended periods in France means we have had to deal with the things we would at home – plumbing & electricity niggles and this summer’s big problem – the internet – it should I say lack of it. Living with a download speed of about 25kb/sec isn’t easy, as today so much depends on reliable access to the internet. Over the summer I became very well-acquainted with the helpful staff in the Apt ‘Orange’ shop, who continually reassure me that work is being done on the line to improve the speed – needless to say we have everything crossed that is the case as Andy could do without having the get up at 4am just to ensure there’s enough speed to download Game of Thrones again! 

Our youngest has been doing schoolwork ahead of starting his A-Levels and our eldest has been having French lessons, in the hope that he may perhaps be able to find work over there at some point in the future.

We’ve had to visit the Doctor and have made use of the Pharmacies too…. one mopping me up & treating a wound I got whilst kayaking – a great service that meant no A&E visit was needed as a result! 

Equally though we are just able to enjoy all the things that make living in this beautiful area such a delight. 

An afternoon walk at Oppède-Le-Vieux
We buy fresh fruit & veg from the markets & roadside stalls, eating with the seasons as the produce has changed whilst we’ve been here.

Who knew tomatoes came in so many different colours?
We shop for furniture at the local recycling centre & Brocante markets, enjoying the prospect of finding something a bit different that we can make our own with a bit of work.

Our bargain Armoire hauled upstairs to the kitchen for storage – tubs of beeswax needed!
I’ve spent time in the workshop and also hosted 2 Exhibition/Sales of my jewellery this summer, just to test the market…….

My first Expo in France – what a great experience
…., and have even found a yoga class & hopefully now a Pilates class to join when I head back next month.

I’ll be trying these out when I get back in October
In fact to all intents and purposes we seem to have just sorted out our life in Provence and love everything it has to offer – I think it’s fair to say that we make the most of every moment & isn’t that what life is about? 

Quality family time is so important
Unfortunately though my heart still sinks at the first sign of new school books appearing in the Supermarkets for La Rentrée as it means we have to head back too and although we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK – it just isn’t the same.

My cycling mileage plummets when I’m back in the UK
Last year was hard & this year it is harder still, but with family commitments we are unable to just make the leap and stay.

It’s been a challenging year in a lot of ways as we have spent so much time apart – living by Skype for weeks at a time – but we feel it’s worth it – even when the connection drops out on a regular basis leaving us frozen on screen in mid conversation.

We also have no idea what the full impact of Brexit will be in the future – I wish I had some confidence – in fact I wish I had any confidence that sense will prevail, but unfortunately I don’t. As a result I fear that like so many others on both sides of the channel, we will have the rug pulled from under our feet. Whilst we don’t face the fear of the family being torn apart (I struggle to understand how can this be happening?) we may not be able to achieve our long-held dream of living and working I n France, with the ease that we would have at the moment, or perhaps not at all. Sadly only time will tell, but at the moment the signs are not good.

Stormy times ahead?
So as it stands we have 2 homes, 2 lives and we’ll continue to live our slightly disjointed ‘holiday-life’ between the two for as long as necessary, hoping at some point when, in the not too distant future, the boys are settled, to be able to just drive down and not book a ticket back. 

At the moment though I am back on Dartmoor and have a ‘to-do’ list as long as my arm, which will certainly keep me busy until I head South again and will mean I have little time to yearn for Provence! 

Although that will take some doing!! 

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