La vie en rose

50 comments

Days are drifting by like clouds on the crisp November winds, each one tinted rose by the ebbing warmth of the setting sun. I feel as though my time here should be accompanied by an Edith Piaf soundtrack. Hours pass in a delicious blur of cooking, creativity, and country walks. I am revelling in domesticity, finding pleasure in the humblest of tasks; the perfectly made bed, the crumb-free kitchen counter, the neatly stacked firewood.

We have been living here in our borrowed French chateau for almost a month now, and already I am dreading the day we have to leave. Though still five months away, I feel it looming in the distance, a shadow that causes me to question everything that went before. Am I cut out for a life of indefinite travel? Can our design business flourish on the road? Could we do this with children in tow – or rather, would we want to? More and more I am beginning to sense that this may not be the case, and instead find myself dreaming of one day owning a little farmstead here in France, obsessively pinning images to satiate my new desire for a base from which we can travel – for months at a time, rather than years.

It has been an unexpected side-effect of having found myself, quite serendipitously, in exactly the right place, at precisely the right time. I feel a change slowly unfurling like the delicately rippled edges of the chanterelle mushrooms that line the path beyond our front door. Or perhaps more than change, what I really feel is a yearning. A growing need to belong to one place; for one small corner of the world to belong to me. I have learnt that the gift of travel is one made all the more sweet with a home to come back to.

Unexpected as this may be, I cannot say I am surprised. A quintessential dreamer to my very core, it makes sense that now, having brought my biggest dreams to fruition, a new one would begin to emerge. I feel as though the years of hard work and saving that enabled this nomadic life we currently live were akin to summiting a mountain. Now, having reached the top, I realise that this is merely the beginning of a whole range of mountains still to be explored, and this very knowledge itself is enough to delight my traveller’s soul. I know that I am capable of creating the life I most want to live. But perhaps it would now be wise to relinquish the reigns, allowing my horses to run wild for a while, and let the future be guided by fate rather than my own hand.

No thoughts of distant climes stir greater excitement right now than the rolling fields beyond my window. Every day something happens here to delight me. Every walk reveals some previously undiscovered treasure – the chanterelle mushrooms; wild walnuts; the orange of fallen leaves against the stark turquoise of the swimming pool floor; the last of the season’s figs still bravely clinging to the branches, though the leaves have long given up the battle. After a year of movement the adventure is now in standing still, and observing all that is around me. A great challenge emerges – the seeking out of what is hidden; the beauty tucked behind dense woodland, or down winding country lanes. Discovering the details, foraging and unearthing.

I spend whole days exploring through creativity instead of my passport – writing, designing, gathering kindling, arranging flowers, baking pies and learning to build the perfect log fire. It may sound trivial, but for me, it has shown me the full expanse of the world, and the many forms our lives will take throughout our time upon it. That road I first set out on over a year ago, that led me through India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, also led me here, and the journey still continues – for it is not in how much movement we can cram into a day or week or year, but how much stillness to observe, that the real value lies.

As I sit and write this, alone in the spare bedroom we have morphed into our office, a glass of wine beside me and the sound of Lee’s laughter echoing through the high-beamed ceilings, I feel more at one with the world than ever. The room smells of pine, perfumed by the pile of freshly fallen cones drying on the window ledge in front of my desk. Outside, the bare limbs of centuries-old trees bend and sway with the breeze, the naked branches holding aloft the last of their gold, exposing a winter wardrobe of moss and lichen that carpet their bark. A few stubborn roses still climb the stone wall, their fading beauty painted a perfect shade of pink.

In the distance rings the heavy boom of an unknown force, that we have learned is some form of explosive used to disperse clouds and preserve the late autumn grapes as they brown in the heatless sun. I have no idea if this is true or not – Google had little to say on the matter – but I like to think is may be possible. That if you listen quietly to the distant booms that resound within, you will hear your deepest truth, clearing away what once seemed permanent, and allowing something nourishing to blossom in its place.

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Sally November 28, 2013 at 21:51

Your writing is exquisitely beautiful and if I were to do more with my blogging I would like my style to reflect a similar beauty in the words you choose.
Your life in France sounds wonderful and very different to those of other travel bloggers who seem to end up in Asia, I admire you for pursuing creativity, it can truly nourish the soul.
Sally recently posted..The Art of Leaving

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Hannah November 28, 2013 at 22:54

Thank you so much for your kind words Sally, they really mean a lot. It has been refreshing to come to Europe after a year in Asia, and it is truly a place where I feel nourished and inspired.

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Victoria November 28, 2013 at 21:56

Hannah, it sounds absolutely idyllic. The funny thing is, we’ve just arrived to a similar life in Devon. We’re not in a chateau, but our days are similarly peppered with fire-building, marveling at the beautiful landscape and learning to bake the perfect cookie. Like you, I have no desire to be anywhere else but here. I’m watching myself curiously to see how long that might last.
Victoria recently posted..These are a few of our favourite things

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Hannah November 28, 2013 at 22:57

I’m watching you curiously too, and am excited to hear how this time in your life develops! We will have to exchange recipes and fire building tips – we already learned how to clean the glass door of our wood burner, surprisingly with nothing more than water and ash. Genius!

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Ross J Dougan November 28, 2013 at 23:10

Love your writing style & quality. Check out the book – “Synchrodestiny” by Deepak Chopra, I read it recently and some of your writing style and themes remind me of it, it’s best book I’ve read in ages.

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 09:27

Thank you so much for your kind words Ross – and for the book recommendation! I hadn’t heard of it before, but am a big fan of Deepak Chopra, so I will definitely be adding this to my Kindle. It certainly does sound like the perfect book for me to be reading at the moment!

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Rika | Cubicle Throwdown November 28, 2013 at 23:36

I always look forward to reading your posts Hannah, but the ones from France have been particularly dreamy.
Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..10 Ways That I Know You’re a Tourist and Not an Expat

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 09:34

Thank you so much, Rika! It’s lovely to know people are enjoying reading about our time in France as much as we are enjoying being here.

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Steph November 29, 2013 at 03:51

I can’t believe you’ve already been in France for nearly a month! On this end, it feels like the time has flown, but I’m sure for you guys it feels like everything is unfolding exactly as it should at just the right pace, not too slow but not harried either.

I’m so happy to hear that you and Lee have been reveling in your life in France. It really does sound like you two have found the exact right place at the exact right time. Perhaps in 5 months you’ll feel the pull to explore other environs, but for now, it’s great that you are so content to just be exactly where (and as!) you are.
Steph recently posted..Celebrating 15 Months of Travel: 10 Things We’ve Done Wrong & 5 Things We’ve Done Right

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 09:42

Time certainly has been unfolding at a steady pace, though I fear this is still too fast! I think we will definitely continue to travel when we leave here, and the full to explore will never leave me, but also feel now that we will come back to this place and create a home from which to continue our adventures. It will be nice to actually be able to buy some of the beautiful things we have seen around the world, and have somewhere to put them all.

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Jade November 29, 2013 at 03:53

This is beautiful. The thoughts, the writing, the photographs- all beautiful!

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 09:19

Thank you so much, Jade! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

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TammyOnTheMove November 29, 2013 at 06:31

I think after a year of constant traveling it is only natural to yearn for some routine. I have the opposite feeling at the moment, as I have been living in Phnom Penh for two years now and I am really itching to go. We will be here for another 2 weeks and then we are off to Burma, UK, Germany and South America. We will settle down in Bolivia and Peru for an extended time though, as I don’t think that constant travel is for me. Every now and then I want to wake up in the same bed, go to the same market and befriend some locals. You don’t get that when you are constantly on the move.
TammyOnTheMove recently posted..The day I ate a tarantula

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 09:45

There are definitely many benefits to the art of slow travel, a major one for me being a kitchen of my own to cook in! I’m so excited to hear that you and Chris will be leaving Cambodia for new adventures, and look forward to reading about your journey.

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Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? November 29, 2013 at 08:24

The meaning of life is almost in your hands! Whenever I climb a mountain, right after a sense of accomplishment there is an emptiness, like I want to climb another one right away. Then I settle back into the moment and enjoy the view. Wherever you go, there you are.
Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted..Thanksgiving in Turkey

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 09:36

“Wherever you go, there you are.” What a beautiful way to sum things up, Peter – thank you for sharing your wonderful insights.

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Kim November 29, 2013 at 10:30

Beautiful photos Hannah! SO jealous of your wonderful chateau life :)
Kim recently posted..Thanksgiving

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 12:03

Thanks Kim! It has been very quiet around here since you and Brian left. Feel free to make a return visit any time!!!

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Lunaguava November 29, 2013 at 14:31

Beautifully written and very evocative. I’ve been following your descent into creative domesticity with a tinge of melancholy – not because of your questioning of a life of constant travel, but because I recognize the setting. No, I did not grow up in a castle in the French countryside, but the landscape is similar to other parts of southern Europe, including the one I associate with home. To me, your photos convey a decadent tenderness which strike a mnemonic burst into a distant past: picking walnuts from the crackling floor, adjusting tiny hands to a ruggedness already presaging old age, the smell of autumn shifting to winter, scattered leaves, death and regeneration. It’s an old world, and my veins will always feel its slow flow, even if I am uncertain of ever returning to it. Thank you for this piece. Good luck.
Lunaguava recently posted..A Ryokan in Mitakesan

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 20:07

Thank you for your kind words Luna, I’m so happy I was able to evoke such fond memories for you, and simply adore your beautiful description of what the past means to you – you conjure such vivid imagery in your comment. I grew up in England, and life here in France certainly holds some remnants of familiarity, which I too find myself moved by. Perhaps the future will surprise you, as it has done me, and lead you back to a similar setting. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, it was really lovely to hear from you.

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Monica November 29, 2013 at 15:53

Hannah,
Your words and images perfectly weave together to bring the reader into your home and heart. Love you to pieces and counting the days until we eat, drink, and be merry in FRANCE!!

xoxo

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 17:48

I’m counting the days too… only two to go!!!

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Rhonda November 29, 2013 at 16:49

A thought provoking post. I know that when we were on the road on our 14mth journey, we got homesick for home cooking, a comfortable bed, etc. Now that we’re home, we can’t wait to get back on the road. You never know where your path in life may lead you, but if nothing else, you have benefited greatly from getting out of debt and roaming the world for some time, and can now choose which life suits you best.
Rhonda recently posted..Foto Friday

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 17:53

I don’t think we’ll ever stop travelling, it is just becoming increasingly apparent that a permanent nomadic existence may not what we want after all. At the moment I think we would both love to build a home in the countryside, then take off for 3-6 months a year. I guess the fun part is that our dreams and ideals will continue to evolve, and we have gifted ourselves with a lifestyle that provides us with the freedom to pursue them as they do :)

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Adena Harford November 29, 2013 at 18:17

Such beautiful colors. Lovely to read what you are up to! Good luck with it all, ever unfolding…
Adena Harford recently posted..Ayurvedic Self Care: A Women’s ‘Night In’

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 22:41

Hi Adena, it’s lovely to hear from you, thank you so much for reading! I hope things are good with you, and that your Ayurvedic business is going well.

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Lorena Cora November 29, 2013 at 19:36

Hannah, you have no idea how much inspiration your blog brings to my life. You give me that push that I need so much to get my things going. Perhaps, one day I may be able to share my adventures as you do.

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Hannah November 29, 2013 at 22:44

What a lovely compliment, thank you so much Lorena – I’m so glad you have been enjoying my blog. It was through reading blogs myself that I found the inspiration I needed to change my life after years of procrastination, so it is wonderful to think I can now do the same for others. I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your dreams.

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Beatriz November 29, 2013 at 22:44

Hannah, I completely understand your words and feel so grateful for your honesty in this post. Sometimes we get so caught up trying to reach for something that we stop asking if that is what we really wanted. Many times in my life I have also had found myself craving the exact same thing I was running away from just a second before. That’s why lately my biggest exercise has been just to live the moment – make the most of the present, stop trying to chase the future or lingering on the past. I am glad you are enjoying your moment – I wish you many more moments like that next year :) x
Beatriz recently posted..Gemstones with Francesca Romana Diana

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Hannah November 30, 2013 at 11:19

It can be all too easy to get caught up in the task at hand, and lose site of the possibility of more. Living in the moment is something we have to remind ourselves to be aware of, especially when we get caught up in the frenetic motion of modern life. Like you, this is my biggest exercise. I wish you well with it, and hope you are able to master the elusive balance!

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Katie Munro November 30, 2013 at 05:39

Your most beautiful post to date my dear. Thinking of you always xo

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Hannah November 30, 2013 at 09:44

Thank you so much honey – thinking of you always, too xxx

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Colleen Brynn December 1, 2013 at 01:27

I’m with you in this post… the biggest blessing after a big adventure is having a home to return to… and I don’t think there is anything wrong about this or in desiring this. I refuse to believe that there is only one type of traveler out there, the nomad (which I think is much more rare than a lot of blog titles would suggest). I am a traveler. And yes, I have a home.
Colleen Brynn recently posted..Details: Mailboxes Of Shek O

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Hannah December 1, 2013 at 09:32

Thank you Colleen, it’s nice to know I’m not alone, and you are absolutely right in your belief that there is more than one type of traveller. The only way to travel, as far as I am concerned, is the way that is right for you, and you alone, and this very way itself is likely to change as often as your location. I will always be a traveller, but I will also always be a lot of other things, and am realising that the key to happiness is in nurturing all the varied and wonderful sides of yourself, irrespective of anyone else’s opinion or expectations.

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Maddie December 1, 2013 at 10:51

“I have realised that the gift of travel is one made all the more sweet with a home to come back to.” – This exactly! I’m having identical thoughts at the moment to everything you’ve written here Hannah, the immense satisfaction of having achieved a great dream and what the next dream may be. Great post :-)
Maddie recently posted..So what happens now?

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Hannah December 1, 2013 at 14:40

Yes, I can imagine you, too, must be having very similar thoughts now that you are stationary for a while. It’s amazing what can blossom when you stand still long enough for new things to take root :)

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Sherri Dingle December 1, 2013 at 18:12

Hello Hannah. It is a joy to read your blog from a part of the world I know very well. We also sold up in the UK and moved close to Montalzat for a year. My son was 6 and spent a year in school in Montpezat. I can sense the wonder each day out there can bring – it is a very special part of France. We moved back to the UK in 2007 and settled in Somerset where the rolling hills and peaceful landscape bear some resemblance. Exmoor is close at hand and we can get to the coast in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall with ease. I still miss the Quercy and we visit often – I teach French so it goes with the job! One day, we may well move back again. Enjoy every minute. The Chateau looks so beautiful. x

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Hannah December 2, 2013 at 10:03

Hello Sherri, thank you so much for you comment – it’s lovely to hear from someone who knows and loves the Quercy, and I’m so happy you enjoyed reading about our time here. Though I am uncertain of what lies ahead for us when we leave here, one thing I am absolutely sure of is that we will be back. France has me under it’s spell…

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Alana - Paper Planes December 2, 2013 at 06:09

Well, it sounds like it might be time to start chateau shopping ;) And I’ve been loving your pins on Pinterest – you have impeccable taste!
Alana – Paper Planes recently posted..>> The Day-to-Day: Bangkok >>

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Hannah December 2, 2013 at 10:09

If only! Though I am pretty certain we will never own a place as magical as this, the idea of having a little home in the countryside is one that I can’t turn away from at the moment – there’s a feeling of rightness here that I can’t ignore. And I’m so happy you ave been enjoying my pins – I must admit I have grown rather addicted!!! It’s lovely to know you like them :)

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VeeraBianca December 2, 2013 at 11:32

Wow, the way you write is amazing! I read this post again and am just falling in love with your blog :)
VeeraBianca recently posted..Why I love Working at an Airport

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Hannah December 3, 2013 at 11:25

Thank you so much Veera, what a lovely compliment! I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

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Carmel December 2, 2013 at 12:23

It’s funny how things take a turn. Before we left, we kept saying, “maybe we’ll be back to Portland.” Now that we’re actually gone, we’re realizing how much we love our home there and appreciate so many of the little things. We’re pretty sure we’ll end up back there. At least for now.

I can’t wait to see this for myself! (willing it to all fall into place…)
Carmel recently posted..ISLAND HOPPING

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Hannah December 3, 2013 at 17:31

It’s funny – I really think this act of bringing our biggest dreams to fruition is about so much more than the dreams themselves. It’s about showing us our capabilities, through which all that matters most is cast in such a different light. Now, because I know I can do great big things, suddenly it’s the little things that hold the most meaning.

And I’m REALLY hoping things fall into place so you can come see France for yourself soon xxx

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Naomi December 3, 2013 at 05:36

Your writing is so absorbingly descriptive – it makes me (almost) long for a home too :)
Naomi recently posted..Building castells in the sky: Catalonia’s human towers

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Hannah December 3, 2013 at 17:32

Thank you so much Naomi, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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Victoria December 12, 2013 at 12:14

One word: love.
Victoria recently posted..A weekend by the beach in Bali

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Hannah December 12, 2013 at 16:16

That’s a good word ;)

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Amy December 14, 2013 at 13:50

What a beautiful place you’ve ended up in – I envy you! What you wrote about your dreams of travel morphing into something new really struck a chord with me; since I left the UK nine months ago I’ve realised that this period of travel is just the beginning of my new life. These months of constant change have led me to consider all kinds of prospects (such as teaching in Taiwan for a year) that I never would have considered before leaving home. Love your site redesign by the way :)
Amy recently posted..Journeys from Hell

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Hannah December 14, 2013 at 14:13

You are so right when you say that travel is just the beginning – I really feel that time out in the world helps us see our place within it more clearly, and allows us to refine our dreams. I’m so glad this post resonated with you, and also that you like the new redesign! I hope the coming new year will be filled with joy for you.

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