From there to here…


The Vaucluse is the most beautiful place on earth. Well, perhaps not THE most beautiful. Cappodocia, Turkey probably is….then there’s Holy Island. Well, alright, there are quite a few beautiful place on earth and the Vaucluse is one of them. In fact, on our recent holiday,  I found it so beautiful, that it actually hurt in a Look-God-you-know-I-need-beauty-why-am-I-in suburbia? sort of way. (But God, who is used to my moaning, just chuckled and did a thing, which is what this post is about really.)

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The old house – shuttered and sprawling, with honey coloured stone – was run by a wonderful couple called Olivier and Christele. When translated, their website said things like, “We are a small family who love to receive and share the living environment so privileged,” and “We will guide you through our discoveries and our hot heart”. The living environment was indeed privileged with its vine covered terraces, inviting pool and shady corners. And their hot hearts provided us with ample breakfasts of lush fruit, home-made yoghurt and melt-in-the-mouth croissants. To say nothing of the cheese, and wine to die for (the latter not for breakfast obviously). The first night we ate outside as guests at their Table d’Hote along with five Belgians and a French couple (few English make it to these parts).  Olivier regaled us with stories of his visit to Brighton where he’d been required to put coins in a meter to make the lights work. We politely asked when this was. It turned out to be forty years ago.

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During the day we read by the pool or drove to tiny villages balanced so precariously on the edge of hills, that they seemed to float in a shimmer of heat and silence. We explored caves. We followed the River Sorgue to its source above Fontaine de Vaucluse and wandered in covered markets. We ate in brasseries in squares of sunshine or in the flower filled courtyard outside our room. We slept behind shutters which made the room so dark, you blundered into cupboards trying to go to the loo. We pushed them aside when we woke, blinking in bold sunshine. It was,  let me tell you, a slice of heaven.

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But here’s the thing. As I went through the various stages that we all go through on holiday – 1) This place is incredible. We are so blessed 2) I want to live here forever. It’s not fair 3) Nothing lasts forever, even life itself. Just enjoy it, you fool – I went on Facebook. That, in itself, is of course not particularly interesting. It happens all the time, rather too often in fact, and it was good for me not to have it available 24/7 for a week or so. But when I went on it one day I recognised, with a beat, some photos of my local area – Richmond, the River Thames, the lock at Teddington.  It seems that a friend, a beautiful and talented musician we knew in Turkey, was visiting our area. She had posted some photos of it on Facebook, excited about her visit.

My immediate reactions were, somewhat paradoxically, both surprise that she thought they were worth posting (after all this was Richmond Upon Thames, not Cappadocia or Istanbul or the Vaucluse), along with a beat of recognition and love for the place. How strange! Here was I, bemoaning my incipient return to “suburbia” and here was she, posting photos of her holiday there with excitement and pleasure. It opened my eyes. I actually live in a very pretty part of London. I should be grateful.

We’ve been back for three days now. We keep saying things like, “They’ll be having aperitifs on the terrace now,” or “I wonder if Olivier is raking up leaves”. The fascinating glimpse into the lives of these people – the cycle of guests arriving and departing (How can they remain so welcoming, so interested?) – is still with us. In an attempt to keep the spirit of our holiday alive, tonight we had aperitifs on the patio – a Peroni and a Pimm’s. We sat in the garden enjoying the environment so privileged. And then I served my husband a Saturday supper with my hot heart – pizza in front of the TV.

Come back Olivier – all is forgiven. I quite enjoyed the Brighton story really…

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6 thoughts on “From there to here…

  1. Great post. It’s funny how we have perspectives on where we live (or where we’re put) which are so different to those others have. It’s probably because wherever we are becomes ‘normal’. This is how I comfort myself, anyway, when I hear of people winning millions on the Lottery (or from their books …) and buying themselves manor houses and instant retirement. Those things too will become ‘normalised’. Glad you had a fabulous holiday. I hope you’ve already booked for next year ..

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    • Um, no not yet!Yes, I was struck by all this too, when I saw my friend’s post. We are so fickle aren’t we, always looking for new, shiny things and places…Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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  2. Finding contentment and joy right where we are situationally and environmentally can be a real challenge at times. I loved hearing about your wonderful holiday and enjoyed the fab photos, too. There’s a life and faith lesson in everything, isn’t there? I struggle to stay put and wish I had the wherewithal to go on holiday, but God is teaching me to look for beauty in the everyday and to see life via a lens of grace instead of a gaze of envy or comparison. A hard lesson yet a soul-saving one! Thanks for this beautiful post. Xo

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    • Joy, I know this probably isn’t much comfort, but you travel further than most of us in your hard-won determination to see the good in everything and in the way you encourage others in their writing. I appreciate your wisdom so much, and when I see your beautiful photos and read your posts, I always feel as though I’m reading words by a life-traveller who has seen and experienced much. Thank you for your lovely comment. Praying for strength for you xx

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  3. We’re recently back from Fuerteventura (not as picturesque as the Vaucluse but still with the simple joy of daily swimming, a restaurant right on the beach, and a very good German dentist – but that’s another story!) and I’ve been trying to recreate that ‘holiday feeling’ at home too. We had a week at home after and, in order to make sure we still relaxed, we treated our local area as if we were tourists. We found some beautiful new places to visit (an amazing Sculpture Park) and loved playing with our routine (breakfast mid week at a local garden centre). There are some beautiful places in this world but our own familiar, run-of-the-mill ones are just as lovely, if we only take the time to look again. Thanks for the reminder.

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    • What a great idea! I really like that. Might try to do that during the remainder of the school holidays. It’s just a case of looking at where we live with new eyes, I guess. Thank you for the superb advice 🙂

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