We have just returned from a holiday in France. I got into a habit whilst we were there of walking to the Boulangerie for bread and croissants each morning. Before anyone else was awake.
I woke up at about seven, pulled on my clothes oh-so-quietly, made a cup of tea oh-so-quietly, and crept across the gravel drive oh-so-quietly. Which is not easy to do.
We were staying in part of this farmhouse. I love the blue shutters.
The owners live in this part of the house. They weren’t up yet. Only a slightly strangulated cockerel was up at this time.
First I had to walk down a long driveway lined with Hibiscus. I love Hibiscus. It is the red splodge at the centre: a sense of careless abandon and wind up your skirts.
Perfectly coiled petals, and new buds ready to burst.
And the fresh spriggy growth, at a time of year where the garden can be starting to look tired of summer.
We were surrounded by vineyards and fields of sunflowers and maize. Oh, and a few polytunnels. Which look kind of mysterious at dawn, don’t they?
As does this field of newly planted grape vines.
I could see that these grapes weren’t ripe. But do you think that stopped me from trying one or two?
It seems that wherever I go in life, there is always a little Salvia to accompany me. Today it was this one. It hasn’t quite woken up. It has sleep in its eyes.
The vineyards and sunflower fields were pretty much weed-free, but along the verges were a few wildflowers. I think this is Daucus carota, (Wild Carrot), or a close relative. Whilst those I see on roadside verges at home are very green, the foliage had completely died back on these, and so the colours are muted. The stems are chartreuse to straw-coloured. The background is variations-on-buff, with a hint of soft pink and apricot, and the unopened flowers are burgundy. It gives a warm, fuzzy feel as the sun is coming up.
I love the spidery, curled calyx at the base of the umbel.
I think this is my favourite photo, because it looks like a cosy little nest.
There were also some rather handsome teasels. Again in tones of buff.
Another good habit I got into on holiday was doing some yoga every day. It might just be a couple of sun salutations, or some standing postures. I felt the difference in my posture and my walking. I was conscious of where my shoulder-blades were and where my hip-bones were. It is this awareness that I love about yoga. It makes me love what my body does for me. Just the simple act of walking is a miracle when you think about all the bones and muscles and tendons working in synchrony. I breathed deeply and felt the blood pump to my fingertips.
A couple of kilometres on, and we are approaching the village of Cravans. This is the rather lovely cemetery.
This is the little village of Cravans. Whilst the surrounding fields are golden, in the village there were pops of colour from the green lamp-posts and pots of flowers.
I loved this rusty bike with its basket of flowers.
The crepe myrtle was spectacular. I am used to seeing these explosions of colour in spring. Spring blossom tends to cascade, or bubble in all directions. Crepe myrtle shoots up into the sky, as if reaching for the stars.
It explodes from the centre, like a firework. The sparks fly outwards. The flowers are held on the end of the stems; I’m guessing from this year’s growth. This gives a lovely ombre effect as the flowers fade.
There were some lovely textures walking along the main road. I loved this wall with its roof-tiles. That’s Hibiscus again!
And shutters. Lots of shutters.
And beautiful Oleander. It seems to pop up everywhere.
I enjoyed this Campsis too. It just can’t contain itself.
The sun had come up now, and there was a clear blue sky.
With a baguette in my bag, I made my way back. I got a strong whiff of Lavender when I passed here.
Is this tree Robinia? I love its lush growth. There were three growing in the school playground.
Past the cemetery again, and this house looking down over its vineyard.
Seedheads are beginning to outnumber flowers. It gives a shimmery, burnished quality at this time of year.
Back on the open road.
I seem to be having a texture day. I love these weathered and worn posts.
Even the twists of plastic twine lit by the sun look pretty.
Oh. I’ve got company. I feel I have a natural affinity with cows. There is little in the world you can do to upset them. Where horses can be skittish, there is little you can do to upset a cow’s docile gaze. Moo.
Pesky flies. They did seem to be a particularly tenacious type of fly. I had the same fly follow me, buzzing around my ear for half a mile. I wish I had the equanimity of this cow. I didn’t.
It was an uneventful but satisfying yomp back. This field of sunflowers seemed to go on for miles.
Then back up the drive of sunlit Hibiscus.
The diaphanous Gillenia.
And sweet-smelling honeysuckle.
Blue skies, and the smell of fresh coffee.
Do you ever enjoy walking alone? Do you notice more of the world around you? Do you have a favourite time of day to take a walk?
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