Monday, 10 March 2014

Memories of Time Spent in the South of France

Our Thanks to Charles at Holiday Lets for Sale for this wonderful Guest Blog.

45 years ago I was sent to the small village of Juans les Pins, just west of St Tropez for two weeks on a summer exchange.  At 12 years old, the full pleasure of the area was a little lost on me.  It would have horrified my parents that, at the time, I would rather have spent a couple of weeks at Butlins or some other cheap and cheerful UK holiday camp.

The blast of warm air when I got off the aeroplane at Nice came as a shock to one who had not visited before.  The summer residence of the French family was delightful.  In the evening, fire flies blinked in small bushes between fragrant pine trees. They amazed me and the sunny days, that special light of the area, made the place seem even more exotic.  Several years of learning French at school began to come alive.  My exchange friend, who was later to die of cancer, took few prisoners but we got along quite well.  I remember how he laughed when I mispronounced ‘plaque minéralogique’.   Some years later, before he knew he knew he was dying… and a few hours before I found out, I got my own back with ‘Isle d’White’.

In amongst the self-centred short sightedness of early adolescence, the magic of the area crept in and left an indelible mark.  I began to appreciate that when you think in French, you tend to think a little differently and even humour changes a little.  My grammar was never that good but if I stuck to short sentences, dodged subjunctives and resorted to some pre-prepared remarks, observations and incidental humour, there were times I could pass myself off as other than a ‘roast beef’.  Once or twice I was asked, and there are few greater compliments, which part of France I came from.

Sadly, those days are long gone.  My French is a ruin held together with the creepers of a few memories.  Perhaps the magic of that part of the South has preserved and nourished them.  Although full of myself, all those years ago, having grown up a little since the magic, far from going away, is calling me back.

Such memories are potent and people buying holiday homes and holiday lets are massively influenced by them.  The trick is, of course, never to let them overcome economics; but it would be hugely dull to end this with a warning.  We only have one life and if we cannot indulge memories and discover new happiness revisiting places with strong remembrances then what is there left to do?  Such lack of appreciation could cause us to deny visits to the theatre on the basis that if you scaled it down to one person and put them on a pavement, some might call it begging.  Perspective and respect for the value of things that matter that have changed your life and respect for the feelings of the heart are immensely important.  Logic on its own is not enough.

If you can afford to find pleasure returning to places which once unawares entranced, assuming the sums add up, it seems a great shame that you do not, at least, play with the idea.  There, are of course, a thousand arguments one way or another, but if only to please myself, à la recherche du temps perdu, bring on the madeleines.

Thank you, Maria.  It has been a long time since my memories focused so clearly on those happy days.

Our Thanks to Charles at Holiday Lets for Sale for this wonderful Guest Blog.

Today we welcome a post from our Guest Blogger, Charles at Holiday Lets For Sale