Thursday night was date night. And by date night I mean that my partner and I cooked together and ended up watching TV. Just as we have done most evenings since March 11th.
Nevertheless, sitting on the balcony in the evening sun with a glass of Rosé in hand, I almost forgot about our current situation. Instead, I was reminded of a trip that I took to the South of France with Dad in 2014.
I haven’t gone mad enough in lockdown yet that I compare South East London with France’s lavender fields. Although, with the sun on my face and the beautiful wine going down, it wasn’t too difficult to pretend that I was back on those streets with Dad’s company and nothing but people watching to keep us busy.
We based ourselves in Aix-en-Provence as part of a bucket-list long weekend to finally watch the F1 Monaco Grand Prix live. This makes the whole thing sound very glamorous, when in fact all we had paid for were ‘entry’ tickets into Monaco and seven Euros worth of fold-away picnic chairs from Lidl. We watched the whole race from the lofty heights of a road overlooking the main harbour and had a fabulous time in those cheap seats.
In fact, that long weekend was one of my most memorable holidays.
Not only because I got to spend quality time with Dad after years in Australia but also because it was a trip down memory lane. A postcard gallery of my childhood memories. Days spent traipsing behind my parents through tiny towns with cobbled streets and bustling produce markets. Of course, with no idea at the time how bloody wonderful a cold glass of Provençal Rosé actually was.
As well as the Grand Prix and an emotional return to Porquerolles island, we also spent a few long afternoons simply sat in Aix’s streets. Sheltered from the May sun by a beer-sponsored parasol, we polished off entire rings of baked camembert and enough wine that we couldn’t really take the hire car anywhere afterwards. What wonderful afternoons.
By the time I drifted off to sleep on Thursday night, I wasn’t in London during the Covid-19 pandemic anymore. I was firmly in Provence having a long lunch, complete with a dream-sized chunk of delicious french cheese.
Trawling through my photos from that weekend the next day, I realised that there are so many small details of the town I had snapped but missed. I’d taken a whole series of shots of facades. Slender, ochre slithers of medieval buildings. Many whose signs haven’t been replaced since the 1920s. Each view from a different angle, with another detail to spot.
If today, you find yourself wanting to dream of somewhere else, maybe these images will transport you to a little sun-drenched town in Provence…