Sweet, sweet family memories were made during our French escape. A lavender-fringed house full of chaotic little cousins, morning discos, relentless rain clouds, swimming pool squealing, morning baguette runs, tasting the sand, first paddles in the ocean, saucepan banging and camping amongst the pines.
Our time away all together as a great big extended family will be treasured.
Sammy had his first taste of the sea in our second week. His walking took off whilst we were away, unhindered by the four walls of our home. As we got to the beach, he spied the water and toddled determinedly with bandy legs wide apart; it was the furthest his feet at ever taken him and his smile as wide as the horizon. The tide was way out. Hundreds of metres he carried himself, falling down and picking himself up, pointing to the ocean ahead. He was unnerved by the waves that would crash into him and send him off his delicate balance with his wet curls dripping across his eyes. He laughed and laughed and laughed some more. Dressed as Nemo, he was like a fish who’d found himself. Sammy likes the sea.
Il de O’eleron is the most beautiful place of pastel hued fishermen’s huts and terracotta tiled roofs built for a hot climate. It felt so far removed from home, to think that we’d driven there from London and we were given seven full days of sunshine. It was a true escape.
And finally, camping with a toddler worked out just fine. He was a dream. So he’d occasionally run off the deck towards the dusty cars, but having the freedom to explore a whole new world of scampering children and hidden pinecones late into the evening, was so lovely to see. Showers were temperamental so we obtained a turquoise baby bath at the local supermarket, to wash the day’s mud and ice cream away. He developed an inexplicable fear of bathing the previous week and would shriek as we splashed him down on our deck. He went to bed late and woke up late. He danced to the band in his grubby-footed sleepsuit, under the twinkling string lights whilst the adults sipped their beer. Every morning, we’d join the queue at the snack wagon for our fresh pastries and baguette. We played cards whilst he slept and he clattered pans as we woke. We didn’t want to go home.