Between us we’ve holidayed in France plenty. My first visit was around the mid-eighties to Lacanau Ocean on the Atlantic coast near Bordeaux, a trip with some friends who turned out to be better surfers than me. With every subsequent visit, including two seasons partying, sorry… working as a holiday rep for Keycamp, my desire to live in France increased. Thankfully it didn’t take long for Heather to share that desire. Our holiday in Clermont l’Herault a few years ago did more than spark a desire, and each holiday that followed became more like a house-hunt, until they were just that. Until it became reality four months ago, I’ve been dreaming for thirty years of one day living in France. Why?
I love its beautiful attack on my senses. I love the culture, the cuisine, the language, and from my earliest memories over thirty years ago, I love the way it looks and feels. Its hilltop villages, perched for centuries above green rivers and fragrant landscapes, and its obvious desire and ability to love and retain its history and tradition, evident amongst beautiful towns such as Rochechouart just please my eyes and warm my heart. Also, a vivid memory amongst my two years working along the Mediterranean coast was a love of its vast, sweeping fields of fragrant crops and vibrant colours. It’s vineyards, wheat, barley and corn fields glow like a sea of yellows and greens whilst its lavender, sunflower and poppy fields look to me like works of art, like an eighth wonder or a vivid blast of sensory perfection. So, safe to say I’ve been looking forward to living amongst such delights.
We arrived in winter so field crops and colours were muted to say the least, but now we’re in spring so humans and nature are both getting to work. Learning about a new culture is one of the many attractions of starting a new life in France, and becoming familiar with crops, plants and flowers is a big learning curve for me. Heather’s knowledge is encyclopedic compared to mine so our walks are full of me asking her dumb questions like “what is that?” She’s patient. As well as crop knowledge, it’s learning about the French farming industry that also interests us, especially as non-meat eaters the way local farmers rear their animals. Carol and Frank are our local go tos for meat produce information, that alongside a wee foray into the world of wine and a more in depth discovery of the inner workings of house restoration. Every day is a learning day.
One thing is very apparent throughout our recent spring walks; the most common field we see at the moment is ‘ploughed’. Not the most attractive, but we view them with a sense of excitement as well as relief as the previous, waiting mountains of dung, which now lay amongst the dirt are no longer a fragrant, visual temptation for Pepper to sniff, eat or roll in. Rapeseed is also prevalent, adding rich, intense yellows amongst a landscape of browns and greens. Up close the fragrance is quite intense, and it loves the camera too. It now feels like the months ahead will be hugely productive in our nearby fields. As we notice our neighbouring animals are regularly relocated amongst them, our field watch exploits are about to go to another level.