Thursday, 23 May 2013

May - our busy happy month!

I love May, not only is it the best Spring month for flowers and new life everywhere but we have our beautiful daughters Birthdays this month as well - have done since they were born obviously but this month is extra special - our Chloe is now 21 and our Naomi will be 18 in 2 days time! Planning was not on our minds quite obviously! BUT the good thing in France they don't really celebrate 21 as a big all out Birthday, it's just another birthday having already celebrated the 20th.

Happy 21st

These are the photos of the most important people in my life - it's very rare to get photos of us, the girls and parents - but sometimes the right time comes along! And yes there are a lot of "selfies" :)

Soon to be 18 year old!

my beloved hubby

My Mums and Girls!

my 21 year old !

My Dads and Hubby

The most wonderful lady in my life!
So basically we ate a lovely lunch and just had lots of fun and laughs and of course Missy got lots of lovely pressies!

We then had rain, rain and more rain and do you know what - rain on top of that - it really hasn't stopped since the 6th! And when it does we all run outside to celebrate! It is wet out there, but just to prove we have had a few dry days.....

These were taken on the 6th - I went outside and it was relatively warm and sunny evening and I happened to spy rather a lot of flying critters around the fruit trees, at first I assumed they were the weird Dangly legged  St. Mark's flies but no! These were different totally I have since found out they are  Green Longhorn Fairy Moth (Adela reaumurella) Male, I was astonished at the length of the antennae on this little moth! But oh so pretty and dancing in the dusk!

The butterfly on the next leaf was considerably giant like in comparison!

Just as I was going back inside I noticed this dandy was losing it's seed heads in the breeze!

We decided to paint the kitchen over the first of the Public holidays - there was us thinking ALL the shops would be closed but no the locals were all open and most of them packed with "holiday shoppers!" We had a good root through the paint selection and could not quite believe my eyes - the colour I have wanted since "forever" in the kitchen - it was fate so home we went and started the task of giving the kitchen a face lift  I admit it is not finished yet! 

The first market for me of the year was at one of my favourite places of Aigre although it is still a little quiet at this time of year - cards left the area! Also Naomi took the music on solo as Chloe was studying for the upcoming exams! She did very well even if I do say so!

Whilst there I couldn't resist taking photos of the lovely soap that Angie makes from her very own Goats Milk, well not hers you understand but that of her Nanny goats!
 If you are interested in the soap and candles that are made naturally without anything remotely bad in them, then why not pop over to Angie's Facebook page?

We my husband and I went on an EPIC (for us) bike ride on the Sunday covering in all 33.5kms which was actually at the end completely exhausting as we had a horrible headwind all the way home and we have a hill to climb before we can get home! BUT we did it and yes it took us most of the evening to recover but we had such a great day, we even stopped at our friends and they came along with us for 10kms (which we hadn't added into the route originally!)
Sainte Soline looking very green!

le Lavoir

Hawthorn (May!)

There they are!

Le Moulin at Lezay
We also paid a visit (Rob for work me for pleasure) to my friend who fosters Pedencos and Spanish Galgas! They were the most gorgeous dogs I have met - they are so docile, friendly and just want to be loved!  My lovely friend  fosters and finds homes for most of them but these lovelies have stayed with her. They all have such fantastic natures and you wonder how mankind can be so cruel to an animal that only has love to give! They have a new lease of life once saved and re-homed. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them and capturing their personalities! For more information on re-homing you can contact Lévriers and Compagnie for more photos please do pop over to my Facebook page or Flickr.

not a Galga or Pedenco but just gawjus!

The 16th May - Naomi's 18th Birthday - the realisation your youngest is now an ADULT! gulp........but I hope she doesn't take that label too seriously! I don't think she will it's not in the genes!

Lunch was at Au Bureau a really lovely "Irish Pub" which had the best menu to suit all 4 of us that day, and Naomi's friend being a vegetarian also had a good choice! We of course only went for the Guinness (which I can't stand!)!

Mines a Guinness please!

How to embarrass you daughter - by asking the lovely waitress to stick a candle or sparkler in the dessert - only this was more like a firework! Still did the trick...

We had a concert to go to on the Friday which was Naomi's music class from the Lycée and 3 local Colléges. Singing songs from the Plantation days......a lovely story but the singing was fantastic, all the youngsters bar one (ours) were French but the sound the produced was so good. Amazing Grace brought the hairs on my arms right up!

After so much fun  over the last few days it hard to believe we still had Naomi's 18th to celebrate...but we did!!

The much loved JB Olives (named after my friend Julie B!)

 I didn't need to panic about the cake topper - another of my incredibly talented friends got me out of a spot and helped me out! I couldn't believe this when I saw it - we all think it's incredible!

 The look on her face says it all I think don't you?

Along with 3 Dr Who t.shirts and many other great pressies from family and friends I think we can safely say someone enjoyed their 18th celebrations a lot!

SO now onto another event - yes the 3rd Birthday of the month - I will be celebrating on the 26th (now those of you that have been looking at dates of the birthdays may have noticed a little theme running through the numbers  - and I promise you - not intentional, well not much anyway!) So my Nearly Birthday Twin (Julie is the day after me) decided to treat ourselves to something completely different for our treat and it was  different and a treat! 

We went on a Paint Techniques workshop with a very talented and local lady Danielle who loves shabby chic - so much she is making her dreams come true and working her passion on a daily basis - you must pop over to her page.... she has some beautiful furniture and home accessories. Well we started with a boring old piece of furniture - mine has been in the family for years and recently been used in Naomi's room, I say nothing at this point! So I chose the cupboard because I wanted to show it off really it is such a pretty little thing, well I think Danni and Mr Toad (her husband) loved it as well! After spending many hours, and having lunch with Birthday cake AND a candle :D we were seeing our furniture emerging that was quite lovely! In between the painting we did a lot of talking and I mean a lot - well 2 Geminis from Essex in the same room - it was never going to be quiet or even sensible really! The best thing was hearing music from our era and it really took us back down memory lane - even managed to fit in a few dance moves to Saturday Night much fun!!


This was our practice board which became a work of art! Here we are learning the skills to work on our furniture including "whispering" which we weren't so good at!

Tada! the finished article! Which now has a place in our lounge!

Well after the day we had, you would have thought we would be exhausted but Danni and I (poor JB had to leave to go home to reality!) got chatting about my photos and her skills, the creative juices had been working over time all day anyway, but the more we talked the more ideas started flowing.... and we have now joined forces - I am so thrilled! Danni will be transforming my photos into wonderful and unique gifts - our first one is this wonderful cushion which is "So French" this has to be my all time favourite but also my bestselling and competition winning photo so it means so much to me that Danni also sees the potential of making it into something so special! There are more unique ideas to follow but she is a very busy lady and she does do all the hard work of making and creating!

So far this month has been fantastically special despite the continuous rain but to be honest compared to Oklahoma we are incredibly lucky!

Today also the terrors of the Woolwich attack is on everyone's minds and being talked about everywhere, so I leave you with this photo which as someone pointed out is particularly fitting today! My heart goes out to his family and parents a young life stolen by mindless people!

I will be back soon - after all we still have a few days left to cram in more events this month - I wonder what we will end up doing?

I wish you all a good, safe weekend and once again thank you for reading my "Life through the Lens" from France.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Postdated April - the catch up!

 The sun and warmth did indeed wait out until we started on the "Vacances de Pâques (thankfully!) Youngest daughter had the best week "ever" in Southern Ireland enjoying the culture of music and Guinness! Although this was shared between 4 of them but when in Ireland you just can't not can you? The host family she and her 2 friends stayed with were lovely and thoroughly looked after them. They met new friends in Ireland and made new bonds as a group - all that you can hope and ask for for your children! Our eldest also had a fantastic time in Sicily again embracing the culture, the music and yes the beer! Probably the cheapest item on the menu! But they were there to entertain and sing with a Sicilian Uni as well but had time to explore also! Again a wonderful experience that will last with her for many years!

We did get our "holioneday" as well which was lovely, we all voted on Royan as we haven't been there for a couple of years, we wanted the coast - the sea air and to spend a little more time exploring.

We ended up going to 3 different beaches along the coast line...and each one very different! I love this one purely for the houses, what an eclectic road this is!
Mixing it up architecturally!

view to the "modern" church in Royan town

 And for the first time since I was 18 went on a Ferris Wheel,
umm it's quite high up!

all the feelings of "no I don't want to" surfaced and the only reason I was scared was because during our "yoof" we used to go to Peter Pan's in Southend-on- Sea with our crowd, and the last time I was up the top of the Big Wheel our dear and truly beloved dare devil friend decided to spin the wheel making the tub go round and not stopping there started to rock it - by this time I was terrified and really not enjoying this experience! So all that time on and still not been up again - until my lovely family gently cajoled me into it!
The first round of going up was actually quite hilarious in as much as it was silent - all you could hear was the squeak, squeak of the rubber wheel and the wind, which at that point did start making it's presence felt (Great!!) but once at the top - fabUlous the view was so amazing sea on the one side going on for miles and endless sea miles and then to the other sand and rolling countryside - such a juxtaposition of life!
my view
a very rare capture of me it has to be said but I thought I should really record this act of  bravery!
looking at the "Front de Mer"
A well deserved treat!
to the Church

After more beachy pics and paddling in the oh so chilly waters we went to the Marennes d'Oleron for a picnic alongside the river - all very lovely indeed...... 

Hubby is the most patient man I know and he really does put up with my sitting in the car saying "oh how I wish we could just pull up and stop so I can take a photo of "this, that and the other thing" this is normally said whilst driving along the N10 or another motorway where all wildlife tends to hang out! On this occasion however he found a little lay-by so that we could finally see the Storks nesting - although we noticed, quite sadly that most of the pylons have had added extras in the way of spikes to stop this nesting process, which is all well and good IF they (the powers that be) put in place new nesting posts - there are a handful out in the marshes and certainly not enough for the amount of Storks that come to nest here every year! I won't get on my soapbox just yet about this as I haven't done my research into why they are stopping this but for the life of me I won't understand it!

Each pylon used to have a nest on it!

Just one of the nesting posts!


love these cottages!

Taken from the car whilst moving excuse the quality!

We had a lovely day and slept like logs!

I had the absolute pleasure of photographing baby Valentin and his big sister in April also ... these are just a few of our favourites! 

*Thank you Angelique and family!*

To show that the weather in April was also turbulent whilst out and about this wonderful rainbow caught my eye - now this is a view I could get used to on a daily basis!

And then the sun came back out one Sunday so we made the very best of it and went on (at that point) one of our longest bike rides, taking in the local Fôret and the wonder of the Bluebells - what is it about these beautiful, delicate flowers? I don't think we have ever had such a good year for flowers in the wild, the Cowslips have been nothing short of magnificent in the ditches and fields and now the Bluebells and Wood Anemones are shining in the sun (when it's out) like a real life fairy grotto!

Excitement came to pass in Lezay as well this month, with the Tour Auto Optic 2000. "The 22nd edition of the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo once again offers a brand new itinerary between Paris and La Rochelle via Orléans, Vichy, Albi and Limoges dotted with timed stages on closed roads and circuits. There were 250 competing cars. And I captured about 30! We stood for about an hour and half in the not so lovely sunny French weather but in a very nice area :)

I have also come to realise that I am really luck to have patient and understanding friends also - a picnic for me turns into "ooooh....a shot here, a shot there, can you pretend I am not here with my camera please".  You know the sort of person who pretends they are NOT taking a photo of you - but umm yes they are, sorry that's me! But this for me is fun....watching people, children in particular (and I don't mean that in a creepy way) but the innocence that we tend to forget as an adult, the taking in what you have around you - the dandelions and the daisies are there to be picked and made into that wonderful garland....that's the fun in being a child not the parent who thinks "oh dear what's been there before my child!" The tree becomes a hiding place - you can't catch me! The toy dog - well that's made to be taken for a "walk" around the car park isn't it? Brothers, Sisters, Friends - that's what childhood is about and hopefully by taking a few random and candid captures they will remember the fun times they had out - Making Memories - that's what it really is all about! 

Thank you Julie, Karen and Sara!

Well my April fun is coming to an end's only when I look back at the photos I realise what a good month it was. Lots of nice things have happened, lots of projects have been formed and will be taking place over the next couple of months.

I would like to leave you with the sun setting on this month.....

If you would like to see further images taken over April then please do visit my Facebook Page or my website.

Hopefully I will be able to keep a little more up to date with this blog over the next few months, but I thank you to those that have taken the time to read and look at the month in photos. Thank you also to my lovely family and friends that just add that extra!