Thursday, August 2, 2007

La douce vie

My life in France couldn’t be more different than my life in New York or London. Of course, my parents have a big house and garden in a relatively peaceful small town in the Loire region of France - hardly a hub of urban activity! I also only go there 3 times a year on holiday so I am in a different state of mind.

But my days here have a marvellous and soothing routine to them …
They start with breakfast on the patio outside and must involve lashings of Nutella on any kind of toasted bread. My mum makes all kinds of wonderful jams from fruits we pick in the garden or the forest, but I need my fix of the nutty chocolate paste every time I’m home, much to her despair.

Breakfast is then followed by an energetic 2 hours mountain bike ride with my dad on the small paths along the riverbank. Although we are breaking with the cycling tradition tomorrow as my dad and I will be trying “skyline”, which involves swinging between trees, above the river, while hanging on for dear life on (hopefully very strong) ropes – Dad & I are the adventurous ones in the family, so I can’t wait! (click here for more details on skyline:

Lunch will obviously be taking place outside too and will last for a minimum of 2 hours as we tend to linger over a full platter of cheese and afterwards a few cups of coffee (with a small piece of dark chocolate). Lunch time in France (or certainly in my family) is the perfect time to talk about politics, global warming, unemployment - generally how bad the world is basically (the French are a pessimistic breed) - or the latest news about our extended family & friends. As we tend to all have different opinions, these conversations are never dull.

In the afternoon, we’ll all don swimming suits and try to catch some rays while reading our books, apart from my dad who will have found something to fix in the house/garden/computer (or even in a neighbour’s house) and will be busy attending to it. Today, there was nothing to fix, so he made alcohol – “Verveine Liquor”… pretty handy to have my dad around …

If my sister & I are feeling brave, we’ll play squash for an hour and work out any deep seated frustrations we may have – I may only be 5’3 and her 5’1, but when we play together, there is no mercy and we’re like tigers!!

At some point in the afternoon, we’ll be foraging the garden in search of the latest young courgettes or tomatoes that seem to grow overnight so that we can cook them in the evening.

At around 5pm, we’ll all start thinking about dinner, debating whether to grill the fresh sardines or the huge prawns on the bbq tonight or would it be too greedy to have both? We’ll have an aperitif or two (Martini for the girls, Pastis for the boys) and enjoy a leisurely dinner on the patio again, sometimes carrying on with some of the heated debates we started at lunch time …

To say that it is pure relaxation is an understatement. Nothing is required of me apart from being there, lending a helping hand from time to time and generally be happy.

I am amazed at how I feel equally at home here, in London & now in New York considering the immense difference of lifestyle in each places … perhaps I have a multiple personality disorder I am not aware of …

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