Headed up north to Rouen

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I took the TGV from Bordeaux to Paris, I had one hour to change train stations, there are four I think in Paris, maybe five, but I arrived at Montparnasse and I had to get to Saint Lazare across the river Seine. I took the metro and in only twenty minutes I was at Saint Lazare waiting for the screen to tell me which platform my corresponding train was at, the train ride was very pretty, I passed big and small towns, beautiful countryside and at last, as you can see, my train pulled into the beautiful city of Rouen.

The city of Joan of Arc, the poor thing, it was here where the English burned her at the stake. The Rouenais have never forgotten, they love their Jeanne.

One last visit to Bordeaux

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My mother and I went into Bordeaux for one last promenade together and also to meet one of my younger cousins, my mother’s god daughter for lunch. We spent a few hours talking, the three of us, about this and that, it was a one of those moments between generations that become ingrained in a collective memory that belongs solely to its participants, a very special afternoon.

My mother and I then went off together, my young cousin off in another direction with one of her friends to have fun in the sun as young people should when it is close to summer’s end.

Our direction pointed to elegant boutiques and impressive historical buildings, which are pretty much everywhere you look, left or right, up and down, I love this city.

Canelle a sweetheart of a dog

  
  
We were my cousin’s house for yet another family get together. Their dog Canelle (Cinnamon) who I have met before, was so happy to see everyone, especially my niece and nephew. I scratched her hips and told her my usual doggy sweetnothings, she is so sweet! It did make me miss my Jack and Lulu even more, but I will see them both very soon.

  
   
    
    
 As my time in Bordeaux slowly winds down, I am getting misty. My aunts and uncle, who I have spent time with as I always have in the past, have been reminicing of the years when they were much younger, I sit and listen, trying to absorb as much of their memories as I can.

Perhaps what I miss most, when I am not with them, is how young I feel, not in relation to their age, but in terms of how they have always taken care of me as one of their own. When they speak of me, I am not Laurie, I am la petite, the little one, just like when I was 8, 13 or 16. I do not take offense, I embrace it. It is always an honor in my book to have not one or two parental figures, but more like a tribe of parental figures, you get different perspectives and types of love. There can never be too much love in one’s life.

A view that I would wallpaper to my mind’s eye

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I realize I have posted several pictures showing the Dune de Pyla over the past few days, but I can’t get enough of this view. This would be my mind’s wallpaper for those rare nights when I can’t either fall asleep or stay asleep.

I have had the good fortune of seeing other ocean, sea and bay side views and this is still the one for me. 

We found more family!

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I am having a devil of a time uploading my pictures. We had another family gathering, once again at my sister’s place and I want to post the pictures, if only to make them happy because they will be able to see themselves on Facebook. Technology when it works, you post away without a care or thought, but when it stubbornly fails with the upload, you don’t understand why, you only know you are frustrated and you rail against the iPad and its screen, not sure at all what to do about it.

I am going to try once more time, if it works hooray, if it doesn’t, well I am so not happy with the wifi connection I am tapped into, if you are wondering.

Our family dinner was as lovely as the previous one, we had to space the dinner out between two nights because we hadn’t had enough chairs, plates, forks or knives to accommodate everyone. Each night was full of laughter and joy, happy in our reunion after too many years of an ocean keeping us apart.

I think I am going to be lucky this time around with the uploads. I am keeping my fingers crossed as I press publish.
 

    

 
      
 
 

A view of the 12th century

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 One of my favorite things about traveling throughout France is the odds of falling upon a 12th century mill on a nicely travelled road are quite high. This particular one used to be a part of the pilgrimage stops on the way to Carmino de Santiago of Compostelle. Aside from that, I do find its simplicity is what makes the ancient mill so beautiful.

I would love to spend time discovering all of the ancient relics of France, it makes me see time and history differently, more along the lines that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We might like to think of ourselves as evolved, but underneath all of the new technology we are still made of the same stuff; fear, uncertainity, love, doubt and unfortunately hate.

Walking along these old monuments puts these thoughts first and foremost in my mind.

 

Generations

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At this gathering we were 24, ranging in age from 14 months to 88 years old. The last time we had everyone together, I think we numbered 90 and that was quite a few years ago, our family has multiplied numerous times since then and even with the death of my aunt, we still come out being a much larger family.

This is the reason for all of the mini-parties, we can’t house all of us, we have to break it up into parcels of between 15 and 25 just for practicality.

It does make for a lot of eating and we are so lucky that our aunts are the most amazing cooks, we eat like royalty.

Tomorrow we are having clafoutis with goat cheese and peppers, we are having sausages on the barbecue and a gratin of courgettes and potatoes. It is going to be so extraordinarly yummy especially with the homemade apple tarts afterwards.

My sister’s place is so lovely, we couldn’t have asked for a better venue. I shouldn’t say her place, it is a rental, but the spirit of the place is enticing, I’m sure my sister wouldn’t mind having some acreage here sometime in the future.

A view of the bay at Arcachon, p.m and a.m

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My cousin Leon took me out to reconnect with our “childhood” friends from 30 years ago who, one of them, has a house right on the road alongside the port of La Teste de la Buche. The clouds were starting to menace thunderstorms and pouring rain, but lucky us it didn’t happen until well after dinner.

The following morning my cousin, his friend and I had breakfast closer to my sister’s rental in Le Canon but still on the same bay, the Bay of Arcachon, whichever side you find yourself, it is incredibly beautiful.

This trip is very bittersweet, one of my cousins is dealing with a serious health issue, my aunts and uncle are in their eighties, in the back of my mind I feel Father Time counting minutes and seconds. I am forcing myself to embrace the here and now.

In the fourth picture down, I zoomed in a little bit to show the Dune de Pyla across the bay, a spectacular dune, the tallest in all of Europe and one that I climber very often as a child.

   
   
   
 
   
 

Off to the farmer’s market

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We are still gathering and reuniting, today was a visit to the local farmer’s market to restock the pantry and the refrigerator for the next go around, this time at my sister’s rental house.

This year has a somber feel, it was only two months ago that we lost my eldest aunt at the age of 91, we weren’t prepared for her passing, she was very much loved and we just weren’t ready to part with her. I have other members of my family not doing too well so I am so very happy to be here, spending time with them.

It may look like a lot of parties but they are really just our way of expressing our happiness being together.

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