Thursday, 3 June 2010


Here I am, posing in the glorious sunlight in the magnificent city of AVIGNON, where last week I spent a wonderful two days with my lovely son, Patrick.

Here he is.

This photo was taken when we took the bus to Aix en Provence - which I found a little underwhelming. I much preferred the buzz of Avignon with it's beautiful, high-walled buildings. It was there we ate dinner, overlooking the gleaming Rhone - on an island which is the longest river island in Europe. We could see the famous bridge, too.

However, it was in Aix that I found this house in a tiny, dappled square - and I just knew that it was going to feature in a future book. (Just not sure which one, since I have never written a French hero!)

I found myself wishing I could live here - if only for a day, a week, a month!

Have you ever found a property which made you drool with house-envy?


  1. Great photos! I think it's rather apt that as a writer you long for a "shuttered chateau" - although I don't think this is quite the forum to quote Larkin's spin on that old chesnut of a phrase!

    My drool-inducing property is in the link above. Cothay Manor in Somerset: stunning gardens, centuries of history, miles from the hum of traffic and yet thankfully not a National Trust shop or guide in sight! It's still privately owned and run as a family home.


  2. What IS Larkin's spin on that "old chesnut (sic) of a phrase", Pip?!
    (And thank you for the luscious link).

  3. Two of my oldest friends live in the lakes region of western Maine. I try to visit them once a year. It is their house that makes me drool with envy. It's not a large home, but it's right on the lake - their front deck extends over the water - and it has incredible charm. I've spent many memorable evenings with friends watching the golden sunset illuminate the water. One of my favorite spots to get lost with a book is the 2nd-floor window-seat that overlooks the Maine woods. It seems that the turn of each corner reveals another surprise to guests of this charming house...

    I'm very much looking forward to another visit this summer.

  4. Lovely pics, Shazza (and your son looks such a sweetie!).

    Whenever I start a new book, I need to know where my hero and heroine live. Which means browsing estate agent websites. My husband always forgets this, and really panicked last year. 'You're not serious. A chateau and a vineyard in France?' (Why do you think I am cooking Provencal dishes for dinner, honey, and buying wine from the Ardeche instead of my Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc rut? Same reason I'm going on a perfume-making course? ... bless!)

    Kate xxx

  5. Dan - that sounds a perfect place to sit and read.
    And do the leaves of the Maine woods turn golden and russet in the fall?

  6. Thanks for the comment about my son, Kate - I'll pass it onto him unless he HAPPENS TO BE READING THIS BLOG!

  7. During one of my stays in Capri (four or five times, I think – I love it!) I once sojourned for three days in a gracious detached house on the beach, which was similar to those Greek, lavish houses. A white building surrounded by flowering trees and the blue of the sea, whose salted scent was everywhere in the air.

    I love the house in the photo! It seems one of those little mansions where French painters used to live.

    It looks like Patrick is having a great time in Avignon! I remember that he also wishes to see Napoli one day – hope he won’t have to wait long.

  8. Sharon, Autumn is a glorious time to visit Maine...the colors are incredible. I've spent countless hours walking in the woods there. The wondrous view to the west reveals New Hampshire's White Mountains. It's just a beautiful, peaceful place to be...

  9. Larkin - The Life with the Hole in It

    When I throw back my head and howl
    People (women mostly) say
    But you've always done what you want,
    You always get your way
    - A perfectly vile and foul
    Inversion of all that's been.
    What the old ratbags mean
    Is I've never done what I don't.

    So the shit in the shuttered chateau
    Who does his five hundred words
    Then parts out the rest of the day
    Between bathing and booze and birds
    Is far off as ever, but so
    Is that spectacled schoolteaching sod
    (Six kids, and the wife in pod,
    And her parents coming to stay)...

    Life is an immobile, locked,
    Three-handed struggle between
    Your wants, the world's for you, and (worse)
    The unbeatable slow machine
    That brings what you'll get. Blocked,
    They strain round a hollow stasis
    Of havings-to, fear, faces.
    Days sift down it constantly. Years.

  10. Pip, I didn't know this poem at all but found it compelling reading. Gloomy, but curiously life-enhancing. Thank you.
    Anyone else like Larkin?