Un Grand Merci

 Dramatic evening sky.

Dramatic evening sky.

 Having a beer with Jay, post ride, at our local little bar in Vacqueyras.

Having a beer with Jay, post ride, at our local little bar in Vacqueyras.

These last weeks have been rather crazy. I’ve had non-stop visitors and travels. Between entertaining, visiting, organizing, driving, sorting, eating, drinking, cooking & riding I’ve barely had a moment to breathe or focus on work. I was officially on “vacation” which I haven’t done in ages. When you are self-employed, you are always working just a little. It’s a terrible habit and carving out time for a holiday is essential. I know this now.

 Natalie in Gigondas with that perfect blue Provence sky...

Natalie in Gigondas with that perfect blue Provence sky...

 Didi with the crazy scarecrows.

Didi with the crazy scarecrows.

One of the most valuable benefits of having friends come to visit is the opportunity to see things through their eyes. I always try to appreciate where I am and what is happening around me. I am the first person to say any occasion is a perfect occasion to drink champagne; I don’t believe in holding off or waiting for a specific moment in time. It may never come, so enjoy while you can. But even with that general viewpoint, it's easy to get caught up in the minutia, the everyday occurrences that distract us from beautiful and enjoyable things. So stepping back and taking a deep breath is an important thing to do. I can’t tell you how many times I looked up into the brilliant blue sky with views of the rolling hills in front of me and remarked on the beauty of this place, simply because all my visitors were doing the same. Visitors help remind us to appreciate how lucky we are to be here.

They want to see things they haven’t or go someplace you might think is “ordinary” after being there time and again. It’s easy to forget how unique and amazing things are in this part of the world when you get used to them. Last week we decided to take a bike ride to our old stomping grounds in the Bouches-du-Rhône. We wound our way down to the town of Arles where one of the few Roman coliseums outside Italy remains still intact dating back to the 1st century B.C. It’s an amazing structure rich in history. It’s fascinating and I might have missed it given I’d been before, so I sort of forgot about it. What a perfect day it ended up being, hot and sunny, enjoying a little nosh in the shadow of this great edifice. A day that might not have occurred had I been alone.

Those who know me best, know I am a partial hermit. My solitude is extremely important to me. But those with similar temperaments also understand how much I cherish being with the people I adore just as much. It fills my soul and helps me to keep things in perspective. So here’s to all those wonderful friends who hosted us, to those new friends met, to those who crossed the big blue ocean to share this world with me, and to all those who are deeply a part of my heart, a very big thank you indeed.