La France, Ma France

So it's the last day of our holiday and as always with Jackson family holidays we seem to have outdone ourselves on the faffing front. My mother, understandably, uses her disability as an excuse but my father has only his puppy-like devotion and his fear of incontenence to blame. We seem to take FOREVER to do anything, it takes us 10 minutes to decide on a parking place and a couple of strolls up and down the street before deciding on a coffee shop. I mean who else manages to spend two hours in Decathlon debating the neccessity of a water polo ball, running sunglasses and a walking fleece (LOL, sorry to disappoint but the items of clothing weren't exercising themselves, rather they are items of clothing for running and for walking) and then a further two hours in Carrefour deciding whether we should buy budget or branded fromage frais!?

Don't get me wrong it's been a right hoot, us kids have made our marathon-running Dad proud by joining him on his morning run in our brand new running t-shirts (from Decathlon) plugged into our music whilst the locals stare at us in disbelief. My mother's british identity has disappeared before our eyes and been replaced by a french one, ever the extrovert she has managed to get us invited out twice in the space of a week. I have also loved spending time with my awesome, rather grown-up, brothers. Sam and i have had monumentous discussions about musical theatre and he has subsequently decided to become and opera singer...AND a rockstar. He has spent most of the time on a little balcony with his guitar serenading the villagers playing petanque below - much to Ben's disgust, but we both admit that he's sounding incredible - our own little Jason Maraz. The other evening Sam and I went up to the church on top of the hill to geta view of the village at night and it was BEEAAAAUTIful. Then as we were descending we heard Mambo no.5 playing in the square and naturally, being the extrovert performers of our family, we took the dance floor by storm witho ur crazy moves. Again, the locals must wonder what we're smoking.

Ben has been incredibly vocal this holiay even volunteering his out-of-tune rendition of 'Secret Ambition' by Michael W Smith. BLESS. On the way down he insisted that in the car we must speak German, mainly to alienate and annoy Sam but also so no one would point our how non-existent his french is - even the prospect of having to say 'non' 'merci' and 'oui' makes him break out in a cold sweat. Both boys have been throwing themselves off rocks, working the old walrus snorkel look (until Sam lost the thing in the sea - twit) and playing table tennis at such an excrutiating volume I've been tempted to hurl one of grandma's antique pots at their heads.

As for me, this holiday has been a rollercoaster but thankfully I've had my family to reveal the darkly funny side of my situation. This morning we drove to Tauchon to find a pharmacy and buy eyedrops. I've had the most horrendous eye boogies and Mum was desperate to find something would declog my retina from pllen and uncried tears - the results of the purchase are pending.

Sleep has also been scarce partly due to the heavy, moaning wind that rattles the shutters and makes the doors creak so violently it's impossible not to be woken up by them, but also my incredibly noisy thoughts. Despite being frustrating it has done wonders from my education - I knew the one minute Russian podcasts from Radiolingua would come in handy at some point! my parents have threatend to eject me from the car if they hear 'I can speak a little russian' (in russian) one more time. I've also had the opportunity to read and write. I seem to be devouring books like I've been on a literary fast for the past year or so. Thus, due to lack of sleep, I am now bloated with characters, narratives and random, but potentially useful, russian phrases.

I have also become physically bloated as a result of my rekindled love affair with sparkling water (I like most types, but am particularly fond of Pellagrino, but when one's father is a charity worker one cannot be fussy) But perhaps that is too much information for a blog. Meh. Whatever.

I am beginning to fall in love with France, to be honest, I'm not quite sure why I had such beef with it in the first place. Paziols in particular has captured my heart. The air is so fragrant and colours are their proper full shades. I love the view of the unfolding countryside with it's pop-up mountains and spiky vineyards. I love the way the houses in the old town lean towards each other like the roofs are trying to kiss and how on windy nights as your run through the tiny streets it feels like they might cave in on you. I love the stray alley cats and the age of the buildings, I love how, as Ben said, it wouldn't seem out of place for someone to throw a bucket of pee out of the window (it sounds disgusting but trust me it's weirdly charming) I love jogging through the vines first thing int he morning on the way to the river for an early swim. I love returning sundried and content to the cafe de sports with my book and my parents for a cafe au lait kindly sloshed into sophisticated cups accompanied by colourful, international cubes of sugar. I love how everyone in the village seems to know my grandmother and have probably drunk wine and danced with my grandfather (despite having a house in France his french is limited to 'formidable' and 'plus de vin) I love being invited for meals in the evening and greeting people with a kiss. I love the little square created for poeple to dance in and how often it's used. Most of all, I love how much like home it feels how comfortable and proper it seems for me to feel ownership and pride, for me to want to speak french and be part of the community. J'aime la France, parce que c'est ma France.

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