Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Why not take a 'Gap Month', from your Empty Nest?

This morning, I want to celebrate with all you 'Empty Nesters', who, having mourned the loss of your child rearing years, have stepped out into the sunshine of a world waiting to be discovered.  Just think of all those times when the idea of travel, writing, exploring history and art, were something you were too tired to contemplate, and, even if one did, it was only to concede that there were nappies to be changed, home works to be done and in the latter years a taxi service to provide!

Well, it's our time now, and like children in a sweet shop, life is laid out on the shelves in front of us and we have time to savour it!  Just this weekend, for example, I stumbled on an amazing documentary 'The Riviera: A History in Pictures', narrated by Richard E. Grant.  Having missed it on television, I caught it on iplayer, a great resource for learning and catching up.  This heady mix of the story of modern art, intertwined with the history and development of the Riviera, taught me so much and has inspired a return trip to the region, with the benefit of enlightenment.

On a recent stay in Burgundy, I learned the art of wine appreciation.  Accompanied by my son-in-law, an expert on the subject, my husband and I came to understand the importance of terroir, the ground in which a vine is planted, climate and the slopes on which the best vineyards benefit from the warmth of the sun.  During our final night, as we sipped a glass of chilled Chablis and watched the sun set over the vines, I looked forward to learning more about the world of wine and discussed our plans to move to the region in the spring.

At Christmas I received a card from my cousin, who decided to take a 'gap' month from her empty nest and set off alone to Africa.  She spent the first three weeks helping the local people build walls around their wells, to protect them from damage by elephants. On her last week, she travelled with a guide right up to the Angolan border in the north, across deserts of mind-blowing vastness and slept under the stars, waking up to sunrises indescribable in their beauty.

There are so many things to explore in this new stage of life.  They don't have to be big things; it could be learning a foreign language, taking a course on the 'History of Art'.  Maybe you have some ideas? Why not let me know what adventures you have had, since you found yourself in your 'Empty Nest'!

Monday, 7 January 2013

A Lovely and Surprising Outcome! in my 'Empty Nest'.

Welcome back readers, after what I hope was a very happy Christmas for you all! Surprisingly, my nest is looking quite spacious, since a six foot Nordic pine was extracted from the front room, and as I embark on a de-clutter amongst the twigs and debris of 2012, I feel an optimism creep into the nest, energising me to meet the challenges of the new year head-on. 

During 2012, you may be aware, I completed the travel memoir of my French adventure. Since then the manuscript has been with my son, Richard, who in his capacity as a proof reader has just finished the lengthy process, returning it to me for my amendments.  I would love to take a moment to share with you how Richard's involvement, besides being useful to me, has had an interesting knock on side-effect... 

Like all adult children, having flown the nest, his opinion of mum would be something seldom pondered upon, except perhaps to acknowledge in passing my reasonable efficiency as a mother and  home maker.  The years I spent in France would certainly have passed him by in a bit of a blur, whilst during this time he was engrossed, rightly so, in the important business of establishing an independent life for himself and his new wife.

Proofreading the book, therefore, has allowed Richard an insight into his mother's life and thinking, that would otherwise have been unavailable to him and the lovely and surprising outcome has somehow enriched our relationship.  Through the book he has come to see me not only as a mother, but as some one who has taken on an amazing adventure, the story of which, for him, has been a really interesting read, providing him with the opportunity to get to know me as a woman, as well as a mother.  We now share a healthy respect for each other as people, and a phone call recently, during which he expressed his admiration for me as a writer, is one of those moments I will treasure for the rest of my life!

So, as I embark on the arduous task of finding a publisher for my book in 2013, I draw on the 'Joie de vivre' my passion for France has instilled in me and throughout the remaining long dark days of winter, I will share with you more of my French adventures, from the comfort of my spacious 'empty nest'.