We spent the end of our summertime in Normandy, France where we rented a little Tudor house in the middle of the dense woods far from civilisation. We drove for 12 hours, through England, a rough sea crossing and a midnight drive down country lanes. I couldn't believe how quiet it was, you could hear your own heart beating if you sat still and I found it a great comfort. I'd slip into the pool, letting the cold water rush over me as I welcomed it with open arms. My giggles and splashes echoed into the woods, I felt like I was a little child all over again and life seemed to melt away like ice. One morning the dew was evaporating and it created a hazy lace mist around the house as the sun shone through it. I ran outside with my camera and just shot and shot until my pyjamas were soaked through sticking to my skin and my hair was beaded with water. It turned into the hottest of days where we returned to the underwaters of the pool before sinking into the bath inside to warm our clammy bodies. I loved walking barefoot over the cobblestone bathroom.
Every afternoon we would collect firewood and Nathan would light a massive roaring fire in the evening. We'd sit under blankets until I'd fall asleep in front of the popping flames and then wake up for a midnight whisper in front of it before climbing the creaky wooden stairs to bed. It was those little moments which I will cherish, where we had the best conversations of our lives feeling like we were the only awake people on the planet in all the space and quietness of the countryside around us. We met our first wild hedgehog and Florrie found a nocturnal gecko, it was wildlife I'd only ever seen in zoos and we jumped around afterwards squealing with excitement. Some nights we'd sit on the corner of the woods illuminated by the stars listening to the distant owl hooting, I never knew the stars could be so bright, but they were. We could see the Milky Way and it was magical to connect with so much of nature, I wasn't ever ready to leave.
My parents smiled a smile which they only smile at one another when they're truly happy, and I felt all kinds of happy from seeing it. Being able to spend quality time with them away from the stresses of our lives in London was something I felt was well overdue. Sometimes I miss not living in the family home any more, but I'm also grateful to live within walking distance from them just down the leafy lane and over the old railway bridge. My 'baby' sister moves away from our hometown in late September, and despite her being in bed for four days with a throat infection, spending that time with her felt all the more special. I did sometimes think of our home and missed it, but then remembered our mean upstairs neighbours and never wished to return. The fun-filled days rolled by and we were back on English soil. Yet, I find that returning from France has filled me with this hunger for more travelling before the end of the year, it's made me more determined to crack down and work on the projects that mean the World to me and mainly to just stop worrying about things that really don't matter in the scheme of things. We were inspired to start rearranging our sitting room to feel more homely and we dug out a pond in our garden after I found five little frogs living in the ornamental grasses. Before we left France behind I made a promise to create a routine I was happier with, and so far it's been working out. I don't know what France did, but it fuelled us and that is one souvenir I could never have bought.