La France

French streetI am tempted to stop writing about travel and photography, and instead start a food blog. Only it wouldn’t be much good, because pretty much every entry would be about how wonderful the food in France seems to be.

So that probably isn’t the best idea. I’ll stick to travel and photography type stuff, and keep going on about how wonderful that is. Seems like a plan to me.

I am now living in France, for those of you keeping track of such things. I have the pleasure of living with my parents, people who are actually, contrary to generally well established opinion on the subject, rather jolly to live with. The property we all live in is an old converted farmhouse, which is constructed of the sort of giant stone blocks that indicate a good amount of stability. Not that they have hurricanes regularly in France, but if they did, I think we’d be ok, wall wise.

There is a massively cavernous barn, in which it is easy to wander around and get lost. Wooden beams, of the sort that property conversion aficionados get wobbly knees about, are liberally sprinkled about the place. There is a wood burning stove. There are shutters on the windows. There’s a massive wood burning bread oven. That retirement plan that everyone in the UK seems to have, about moving somewhere warm in France and growing vegetables? I’m on that, only thirty years in advance.

boulangerie

Of course, I’m not really retiring (that would suggest I have something to retire from). The property also happens to be a campsite, home to six fixed pitches for motorhomes / caravans, and three tent sites down by the river, which is rather wonderfully fringed with broad leaf woodland. Having arrived in Autumn, I have spent quite a lot of time already getting acquainted with our leaf blower.

The surrounding area is a huge Parc Naturel, which is the French way of saying it’s all rather rural and quaint. There are villages, with buildings and stuff dating from the eighth century and earlier. Less than 20km from where I am sitting, Richard the Lionheart met a rather grisly end at the wrong end of a pointy arrow. His entrails are buried nearby.

Red leaf coated house

There are more castles than you can shake a stick at, and having just spent two years in the “new world” as it were, I’m pretty excited by seeing some seriously old stuff. And of course, the rest of Europe is right on the doorstep.

So, does this mean the end of the travelling, you probably think. And the answer being: of course not. From France I have the entirety of Europe on my doorstep. Fleurie, our soon to be converted campervan, is going to convey us with the sort of style and grace that her forebears, Fluffy and Bernie, have already managed. And I would hope to find more far flung destinations appearing in my plans on a yearly basis, perhaps for periods of two to three months at a time. In the off season, naturally.

View from my window

But it is nice to have a base again. My own bathroom, for example, is a luxury to only previously have been dreamed about. A spice rack with an actual selection of spices in. A shower that I don’t have to juggle my belongings in, before giving up and putting wet socks on anyway. And amazing people to live with. I’m not sure there is much more one could want from life. (Oh, a computer I can actually edit my photos on in style and grace. Because seriously, much as I loved my netbook, it could not be described as a photo editing powerhouse…)

I’m looking forward to sharing France with you. There’s all sorts of awesome going on here, from the food (did I mention the food yet?), to the scenery, to the buildings, to the general relaxed way of life, to the incredible bureaucracy, to the fact that I seem to have changed sex as a result of my name. Which might be another story. Until then… enjoy yourselves. I plan to.




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