Tag Archives: maps

trips

Wild swimming in France

Here are some more pictures of our wild swimming road trip around France. We were there for ten days, swam in five different rivers (and the sea!), covered about 3,000 miles, camped in four campsites, and… just had the best time. Hands down. Hands up. Best.

I thought, rather than giving you a day by day run down of what we did, I’d just post some of my favourite pictures, and tell a few stories alongside them.

It doesn’t even look real does it?

It certainly doesn’t feel real that just a fortnight ago
I was swimming here every morning in lieu of a shower!

Our route

Our first stop (after an early start, a ferry across the channel and a long day’s driving for Mr V) was a beautiful wooded campsite near Angouleme on the river Charente. There were four families there when we arrived and then we had the place to ourselves for the second night!

The river here was gorgeous. One evening, as we sat quietly by the water, we saw a furry little head bob past in the water – we’re fairly certain it was an otter or a eurasian beaver. Either way it was one of those moments you know you’ll always remember.

The campsite itself was in an oxbow of a river (we could see and hear the water from our tent) and quite fast flowing, so on the morning we left we had a great time swimming round in circles (hop in upstream, drift downstream and then run across the narrow sliver of land back into the river upstream!). (This ‘method’ is recommended by Roger Deakin in his lovely book Waterlog, I’ll post his description of it sometime, because it makes me happy.)

While we were there, we also went into Angouleme for dinner. We didn’t see much of the city, but did enjoy the cheeky little bits of comic book graffiti around the place, like this funny little chap:

Doesn’t he look like Where’s Wally’s scruffy little brother?

After two lovely nights in the Charente, we drove in the pouring rain to the Dordogne. Luckily, this was the last bit of rain we’d see all holiday – something we were thankful for after a soggy few months in England!

We spent three nights in the Dordogne at a gorgeous campsite next to a clear, surprisingly chilly tributary of the big river. Every morning we’d wake up hot in our little tent and slip down to the river for a swim before hordes of children overtook it. Those morning swims are the thing I’m missing most now we’re back in the city.

(Wow, I look so glum in this photo! I was going for serene water nymph)

That little pool above was right by our tent, but then we discovered this dreamy pool, and that’s when we knew we’d found a campsite we’ll be coming back to again and again.

During the day, we went to cafes in cute little towns, hired a canoe (I lolled in the bow taking in the scenery while Mr V paddled for three hours, it was epic!), found little nooks in the river to call “our private beach”, did lots more swimming and found dogs to befriend. (I speak pretty good French, but Mr V speaks dog like its his first language.) (Maybe it is, his parents got a puppy when he was two weeks old and they grew up together!)

Dodgy picture taken on my iphone through its waterproof case!

Mr V taught me to skim stones here! I’m now obsessed.

When I call this a ‘wild swimming holiday’, that might be a bit misleading
as we mainly enjoyed floating our way around France. Just FYI!

The view over head. Sigh.

This little fella was so hot and sleepy. We loved him!

After four dreamy days, we packed our little tent in our little car and headed to the coast. We camped at Ronce-les-Bains and, even though we thought the Dordogne was crammed with tourists, we soon realised that that was nothing compared to the crush at the seaside. After a swim in the Atlantic, moules frites on the Ile d’Oleron and a good night’s sleep, we hightailed it to the leafy Loire.

Ah! The Loire. I love the Loire.We hired a canoe again and literally paddled through the moat of a chateau. It was amazing (those pics are on my underwater film camera so not in this post). We swam in the Indre and the Loire, had lovely beers on leafy terraces and felt the last few days of our holiday slipping blissfully through our fingers.

We stayed at another lovely riverside campsite, this was the view from our tent

On our last day, Mr V bought me a basket at the market (I’m a bit obsessed with baskets) and we spent hours and hours with a picnic at another place that felt like a private beach, swimming and skimming and sunning ourselves.

I know you’ve seen this one before, but I really love baskets, ok?

Then the next morning, we woke up, packed the tent up while it was still dark and drove all the way home!

Man. I know I’ve already gone on about how brilliant this holiday was, but it really was magical. Ten shining, bright, beautiful days. We left the ipad at home and listened to audio books. We cooked simple meals over a teensy stove (more on this soon). We woke up and slept with the sun! Ah. I could go on forever….

DIY Everything else

Make a postcard hanger from an old frame

Do you like my new postcard display thingamajig?

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Once upon a time, well over a year ago, I spotted these two large frames looking lonely in a junk shop. I haggled them down to £4 for the pair. (I know… £4 for two massive frames… that was a good junk shop, huh?).

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Then. Well. I put them in the basement of the house I was living in at the time and then sort of forgot about them and moved and they stayed in the basement and got put in this nasty corner.

Then I spotted this on pinterest. Oh me oh my oh.

(Courtesy of Talia Christine, check out her cute blog and baby)

I remembered those frames. I realised this would be the perfect way to display our his and hers holiday memory postcards. The frames I have are good and sturdy even without backs (they’re made out of something like fibreglass so they’re solid) and would look great like this.

But you know. Time passed. I picked them up from my old house and…. stuck them under the bed. You know how it is.

When suddenly…. Young House Love (with a little help from some friends) set the challenge to make something from Pinterest in one week.It was the perfect spur to get my frame done.

So I did!

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I was going to do a tutorial, but you know…. I just measured where I wanted my string to go, then drilled tiny screws in the back of the frame at those points and wrapped the string around the screws. I did take pictures of all this, so if you want a more detailed tutorial, just shout.

The multicoloured mini bulldog clips were left over from this project, one day I’ll get around to replacing them with nice (mini?) clothes pegs, I think it’d look a lot nicer, but this will do for now.

At the moment it has one of these map tea towels from Anthropologie I bought in the sale a long time ago.I haven’t yet decided if I prefer it ‘naked’ or with the tea towel backing. What do you think?

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I quite like the tea towel being there for now as we’re having it above the bed in our bed nook so it go with the whole maps in the bedroom thing we’ve got going thanks to this bad boy. I seem to have a thing for maps in the bedroom – in my last house my bedroom had a whole wall papered with maps 

I just want to finish by saying, wasn’t the pinterest challenge such a good idea? It would have taken me months to get around to doing this. Being set the challenge to do it in a week with a chance to brag about it? Such a good incentive! Let’s do it again, yes?

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Looking for things to hang on your wall? What about turning a reusable carrier bag (or any bit of fabric) into a piece of “art”?

Everything else

Mapping it out

As promised in the sneak preview, here is our vintage French map above our bed.

Here you go!

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To recap, we bought this in a field right right right in the middle of France (near Moulins, in the Allier, for the detail lovers). for €15. I’ve since seen others from the same range in both a London antique shop and the Paris flea market for around £140. You can bet I’m kicking myself for not buying the other map they had for sale! (Oh well. Mr V stil regrets not buying a retro Donkey Kong handheld game at the same sale.)

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I don’t think I’ll try and sell this one though. I just love the colours, the enormous size and the fact it’s France. It’s a country that means a lot to me (I lived there for a year) and for us as a couple (we’ve had three magic holidays there).

When I took these photos, it was the ‘after’ – but it’s now the ‘during’. Confused? Well, we’ve since thrown everything in the room up in the air and the bed isn’t anywhere near in the same place.

Like the bed? I got it on Freecycle. It’s the reason I met Mr V. We love it. It needs a bit of a paint touch up though, and I’m dying to replace the knobs.

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Edited to add: I know the placement looks a tiny bit weird, but we centered it on the room rather than the bed and in 3D it’s definitely the right place. Particularly now the bed is moved!