A couple of nights ago a friend in Provence sent me a photo of an incredibly vibrant double rainbow that was arcing high over the Luberon, with a simple message saying – ‘A double rainbow of hope . All will be well’.
Then another message from a friend in our hamlet of a rainbow seeming to strike the lane not far from our house and arching above Caseneuve in the distance, with a message to say she hopes we can be back soon.
The images came at a good time, as this week we have both been feeling a bit flat, missing Provence, and missing really getting on with starting our new life there (which had been the plan when we went back in January).
We find it hard to believe it was ten weeks ago today that we were in the car with the animals, heading back on the long drive through France to return to be with the boys during the crisis. We knew we wouldn’t be able to get back quickly, but we are still really not able to plan when or how we will be able to return.
The thing is that we’re great planners, we like to know what we’re doing and when and so are finding the current situation, exacerbated by the shifting sands of information, more than a bit of a struggle.
This was to have been a month of adventures, firstly driving Fifi down to start her new life there too … Although we have managed to get her fully serviced and the drive down with very little in the way of functioning brakes could have been rather interesting…
and then in a week’s time we would have finally set off on the cycle ride we have talked about for so long, riding from Exeter to our house via the places that we have visited and come to love over the years…. Saddlebag of Memories Ride
They were both to have been slightly fluid trips, without us being too certain of the roads we would take on the way, but they would have been amazing adventures too and something we had really looked forward to doing.
Both of these though are now on hold, the maps put away in a drawer and the plans tucked away in our minds waiting for the time we can dust them off and put them into action again.
Of course we know we made the right decision to come back and be with the boys, who are generally very happy to be left to their own devices whilst we are away, but were understandably worried about us being so far away and potentially unable to get back should they have had a problem here….
But it is strange realising that this will be the longest period we have spent in the UK since we bought the house.
Being back in Devon for the lockdown can hardly be described as a chore, with the River Exe on our doorstep, it’s meant we have been able to go for long walks along rarely used paths running along the Estuary,
We’ve been able to hop on our bikes and do a loop out around the pretty seaside town of Budleigh Salterton…
And more recently have been heading out to explore the peaceful and rather hilly back lanes of Mid Devon (although as Andy keeps telling me ‘riding up them is good for the soul)
It has also meant that we have spent Spring here for the first time in 5 years and this year it has been quite spectacular. The weather has been incredible and it has been nice to see Spring take hold.
When we first started walking along the little path we use between the Estuary and The Ship Canal, the Cow Parsley was hardly visible. Now it’s head height and we have to force our way through in places, usually spending the rest of the day with our shins tingling after brushing through heavy banks of Nettles.
We’ve seen the Martins arrive, swarming over the marshes, swooping to drink after their long flights back, and more recently the Swallows, skitting across the water and gathering nesting material for their new homes, built in the most unlikely of places.
The Swans too have built their nests, with the Cobs fiercely protecting their Pens that have been sitting on the eggs patiently waiting for them to hatch, with (happily) minimal disturbance from passers by.
Some have now hatched and the parents have been proudly taking their Cygnets for their first tentative glides along the Estuary and surrounding wetlands, searching for food and introducing them to their new world. A sight that always brings joy.
Then there has been the blossom, which has been spectacular this year. From the Apple Trees growing in the orchards and hedgerows, filled with flowers, scent and birds…
To the May Trees turning the banks Candyfloss shades of pink and white with their flowers, for a brief but beautiful period.
Over the last few weeks our days have slipped into a gentle routine of a morning spent either walking Millie
Or pottering off on our bikes…
Before returning for coffee and a mound of toast and marmalade, which has become our default lunch, especially as Andy has now perfected his bread-making skills to such an extent that he could give Paul Hollywood a run for his money.
The garden has been weeded, plants have been moved and we’ve almost finished decorating the house too, so we have been productive in our time back here.
That said, it isn’t Provence and the simple fact is that we miss it more than ever, which in many ways is a good thing as our time back here has simply confirmed we’ve made the right decision to relocate there lock, stock and barrel as soon as we can.
Our lives don’t differ much between the 2 countries, but Provence feels more like a second skin and for reasons we can’t even start to explain, it feels more comfortable for us both.
It’s been great to spend a sustained period with the boys before they really do fly the nest once and for all, with George already working full-time (and more over the last few weeks due to the surge in bike-use) and Tom heading off to University to start his training to be a Primary School teacher. It has felt as if this has been a time we wouldn’t have had otherwise and that has been rather lovely.
So back to the Rainbows, the image has become such a positive symbol of hope over the last few weeks, and these photos came at just the right moment…
This week there has been a bit of a cloud over us, tinting everything grey and making it hard for us to see things clearly or with any degree of colour and seeing the vibrant arches just made us smile….
Especially seeing the end of the Rainbow hitting the Hamlet, where our own little pot of gold is sitting, waiting for us to return.