So ive had a bit of a breather from the blog what with it being the end of term and summer holidays. I don’t know how professional bloggers have the time when the kids are around you 25/8!
We’ve just returned from 3 weeks in France which has been absolute B L I S S. We have a house there that we use every summer. Think rural, no internet, no phone reception, fields, country lanes, birds, empty villages and quiet towns then you’ll be spot on.
We’ve had the house for about 12 years, so have spent many summers there pre-marriage and family too. Harry and his cousins have some very fond memories and this year was super exciting because it was Stanley’s first time 🙂 It was also where Tye and I got married. In the garden, we had a marquee, hog roast, fireworks and party that went on til early hours of the morning.
As beautiful and relaxing as the house and hamlet are, spending 3 weeks with 4 little children (2 mine, 2 my sisters’) between my mum, my 15 year old sister and I, we certainly had our hands full and fair share of ‘moments’! Our tag lines between mum and me are (and have always been) ‘MAY DAY, MAY DAY LORIS!!!’ and ‘ARE YOU ALIVE LORIS?!’. ‘Loris’ by the way is our nickname for one another. It initially came from a children’s animal book that my mum was reading to Harry a couple of years ago- naming each animal and pointing to the picture. Then she came across the ‘slow loris’…and in our twisted and obscure sense of humour we telepathically knew by the laugh that we both shrieked that it was officially our ‘thing’!
We did indeed survive the 3 weeks…with plenty of red wine and laughing with and at one another. But more importantly because mum and I are totally in sync with each other.
A few days in after arriving and everyone just relaxes and the children know the rhythm of the days. We spent most of our time in the garden, the children tearing up the swimming pool and creating squeals of excitement that will no doubt one year kill off our ninety-something year old French neighbour! Mum and I would take it in turns of being on Stan duty, which involved ensuring he didn’t swallow any of the thousands of gravel stones he kept putting in his mouth, shooing away wasps from his sticky (mainly covered in chocolate) hands and monitoring the speed at which he bum-shuffles through the house on the stone floor in case he falls backwards and bumps his head! It’s not like the hospital is by any means close. You have to have a helicopter take you in an emergency situation. Worried? Anxious? Us? …Never!! (more wine loris???!!)
We have a number of lakes nearby (I say nearby but still either 15 or 45 minutes drive away), which have beaches. Many of the French holiday at the lakes in campsites nearby. They’re fantastically clean, warm and the sand is often lovely and soft. Most have water sports and activities going on during the month of August, so everyone is distracted and happy. A day at the lake was always a highlight for everyone.. packing up the baskets the night before, arm bands, snacks, bottles of water, numerous large blankets and the all important ‘sun cream bag’. Which, I kid you not, had about 6 various bottles in, from kids factor 50 down to an 8 oil. I always buy a particular cream for harry because his skin is super sensitive to the regular well known brands. So I use Lavera factor 30 for him. It’s organic and has no chemicals in. But be warned, it is soooo thick and literally goes on as a layer of white cream (even though its yellow) so you only need a small amount each time. Tell that to my mum, who decided to apply some of it to my niece Isabella who is mixed race. Luckily she didn’t get to looking in the mirror that day because she looked as though she was in panto with a pure white-creamed face. Totally hilarious moment, not to be repeated!
This summer (and typically at the end of the holiday) we discovered a new Lake that we had no idea about.. Bellebouche. It lies among hundreds of other lakes in the Brenne National Park, which the borders of happen to be ten minutes from the house. A stunning drive through the wooded forest and fields of the national park, and 45 minutes later you find yourself at the prettiest lake, lined with tall slender pine trees and chunky acorn trees, 900 meters of sandy beach and wooden play areas. Oh and the best brasserie/ restaurant that you could possibly want for/ need on a hot day at the beach. Unfortunately we only got to spend 2 days visiting this lovely place, but next year we’ll be back in force!
We spent rainy days surprisingly NOT tearing our hair out, but either doing scrap books (essential holiday kit by the way) or watching movies. We take new A3 scrap books with us for the children every year. They draw pictures of their holiday, stick in leaflets from the places we visit, the occasional pressed flowers and (cringe) the odd dead and squashed insect (goes with the territory of having boys I’m afraid). Trust me, if they had it their way there would be dead slugs and lizards in there too. But luckily they don’t!!!!
We also try and update the kids dvd collection too, but have some staple classics for the adults which always get watched annually such as ‘Friends’, ‘Vicar of Dibley’ and one of our favourites ‘It’s Complicated’. This year we watched on more than a few occasions ‘The Other Woman’ and my new favourite and feel good movie ‘About Time’.
All in all, summer holidays spent at our summer house are pretty magical. The air is full of children’s laughter, sounds of Jack Johnson, pool splashing, adrenaline-filled bike riding, smells of bbq, the sounds of crickets in the garden, clear-un polluted blue sky, the odd whiff of sheep/ cows, and the smell of bacon first thing in the morning to accompany those fresh croissants. The children create new and everlasting memories year in and year out and grow up to appreciate what life is like outside of their hectic and fast paced city lives. I think it’s a beautiful thing that as parents we can encourage that and enrich their senses with new experiences just as my mummy and daddy have always done. And how lucky are we that we have a pretty house in France to do just that 🙂
(more photos on my Instagram page 😉 )