I live in Westbury, Wiltshire but when I am in France I am located near Orange/Bollène/Avignon (complete with the unfinished famous bridge). Provence is wonderful, full of sunshine, good food and wine. Breathtaking ancient sites, lavender fields, olive groves, vineyards and restaurants abound. Driving along suddenly a fabulous Roman amphitheatre pops up or an unexpected fort from the 11th century – amazing!
This part of the south of France is very dry. Even after a storm the ground dries out quickly so a watering system is needed in my garden. On the perimeter there are five wonderful oak trees, full of birds and small animals and a fence has been created by planting laurier rose (oleander), honeysuckle and forsythia. Two olive trees are growing vigorously as they are indigenous to the region. English roses are growing happily in large tubs. The only downside is the mistral – a cold strong wind that blows in from the north and lasts three to four days – but on the upside, a mistral is welcome in high summer!
Working on a computer for hours is way out of my comfort zone, so my creative writing is done longhand and then transferred onto the computer. I think my hand and brain work very well in tandem whereas the lit screen is not a creative tool for me. Mornings are allocated for work and I always allow two hours in the sunshine (but never sunbathing under fierce sunshine), as a reward. The only problem lying on a sun lounger on the terrace in the autumn is that the squirrels target me with acorns. I try to chuck the acorns back at them but I can hear them laughing at my aim as they leap around the branches!
French people love their dogs and friendships are often founded on a chance meeting. This love of dogs extends to restaurants and cafes where dogs are welcome. They behave beautifully, sit under the table and are always given a bowl of water and often some scraps of food. I plan to get a dog from a rescue centre very soon – the French call this ‘adopting’ a dog, which I think is a charming description.
My happy times are spent socialising and partying with friends and messing around in the garden, I am no gardener! At weekends I often visit a type of market called vide grenier (empty attic), uniquely French and somehow better value than car boot sales. Terrific bargains are to be found, unusual people to talk to and generally a bit of a lively event. One object I found – unusual, very plastic and rather unattractive, was a male doll – complete with all his bits! Ah well, only the French would manufacture this – or do you know differently?