Since arriving back in the UK after Christmas it seems that it hasn’t stopped raining and most days we appear to have moved directly from dawn to dusk with what appears to be no actual sunlight in between. It just hasn’t got light and to be honest it’s felt as if we have been in hibernation.
This has been exacerbated by the fact that Millie, our Retriever, stayed in Provence with our eldest son…. Great for her, but less so for us as we haven’t even had the incentive of walking the dog to encourage us beyond the front door for her usual 3 walks a day.
We have been out of course, doing some of our favourite walks, although it’s always been an effort and the rack above the Aga has been constantly packed with coats and boots drying off after yet another soaking!
So as you can imagine the thought of a return to Provence occupied many of my waking hours!
I should start by saying that Winter here is cold – there’s snow on the top of both Mont Ventoux & the Montagne de Lure & as I arrived in Lourmarin for yesterday morning’s market it hadn’t actually warmed enough to reach freezing, the thermometer in the car sitting resolutely at -2 degrees…… but somehow it didn’t matter as it was bright and above all dry!
The Winter light here is incredible and after having been effectively starved of sun for the last few weeks, it feels even brighter than I remember.
Early morning mist and cloud gives a beauty to the first dog walk of the day. The views have a ‘watercolour’ quality to them, all the colours muted behind a subtle veil as if the hills have been painted in simple shades of grey and blue.
The Oak trees around us still carry their rusted leaves from last Autumn and the bright colours glow in the rising sun, their edges blurred with a fringe of frost. The wind will eventually drag the leaves from the branches in time for the new growth to appear, but in the depths of Winter the colour is a welcome sight.
As the day progresses and the sun rises higher, the sky becomes a vivid blue and reminds me of those long summer days yet to come.
This is certainly a great time to get out and about….. In fact I think I have done more exercise in the last couple of days than I have done in almost the last 5 weeks.
Although I’ve been well & truly wrapped up in many layers (including ski socks) I’ve managed to get out on the bike 2 days in a row. On Thursday heading out to Roussillon & Goult……
And yesterday heading up through the dormant Lavender Fields on the Plateau des Claparèdes across to Bonnieux……
It may be cold and I’m sure some people must think I’m mad, but I feel as if the activity under blue skies has charged my batteries and given me an energy that has been missing for a long time!
Having the dog here has also given us the chance to go for long walks, including a favourite of ours through the old Ochre quarries near Roussillon.
Again it was chilly, but I quickly found myself tying my coat around my waist & walking in a short-sleeved top and it’s still only February!
I noticed yesterday that a report has been published showing Nice to be the sunniest place in Europe last month with 158 hrs of sun as opposed to London with 45 hrs and I am certain that in the Southwest we had probably half that!
Yes it may be cold but the light has a wonderful quality to it and after less than 72hrs here I am feeling brighter than I have been for weeks and the cough that has dogged me & driven my poor family mad since Christmas finally seems to be settling down, helped perhaps by regular coffee & croissant stops (to build myself up of course)
Perhaps, thinking about it, a Winter Break in Provence should be available on prescription….. In my case at least at the moment it’s just what the Doctor ordered!