Tag Archives: Birds

Look, Listen, Live

19 Jun

When walking down the street, switch off your ipod and listen to the birds.

When riding on the metro, lift your eyes off your paper and smile at the person opposite you.

When stuck in traffic, turn off the radio and sing your favourite songs with all your heart.

When on a long journey, put your laptop away and look at the incredible trees lining your route.

When back home from a long day at work, get off the sofa and go to watch the sun set.

Rumour in the Treetops

16 Feb

The Sun was knocking on my window.

“Come and join us!” she beckoned. “Rumour has it, someone important is on her way!”

Enticed by the Sun’s soft voice, I opened my balcony doors and stepped outside.

I soon saw that the Sun was right: the whole of nature seemed to be preparing for some grand event. The birds had a surplus of energy and were chasing each other at roller-coaster speed through the sky. The trees were standing taller than usual and were turning towards each other for advice on the most attractive position to hold their branches. The grass was showing off its new highlights, and the clouds were parading all of their shapes and forms across a light blue sky.

The Sun, with its long elegant rays, was nudging awake the sleeping flowers, who were reluctant to throw off the warm layer of dry leaves that had kept them warm during the winter. A zephyr came shyly towards me and kissed my cheek so softly that I barely noticed. Before I could give him an embarrassed smile back, he had already slid away silently.

The air was gathering perfumes from all corners of the Earth, and my eyelids were drooping slowing from this overdose of odours.

And in my dazed state, I believe to have heard a Whisper make its way through the treetops.

She spoke very quietly, but I caught the most important part of her message: “Spring is on her way!”

Photo Friday – Autumn is my True Love

14 Oct

Autumn Is My True Love

Fall

Fall

Fall

Fall

Fall

Ducks swimming on lake

Fall

What Gets You up in the Morning?

5 Oct

Waking up in London is easy. From 5am I hear the delivery and rubbish trucks moaning in the streets. From 6.30am buses open and close their screeching doors every fifteen minutes outside my window. From 7.30am the hum of cars at the cross-roads signals that the city is awake. Millions of people are already preparing for a day of action and decision, of learning and discovery, of fulfilment and happiness. By 8am I bury my half-open eyes into the warm pillow, relishing the smell of sleep and sweet dreams. I know that in the neighbourhood someone has already done a morning work-out, had a fresh fruit juice, read the paper, got their kids ready for school, prepared lunch for the family, and is on the way to work, looking fresh and full of energy.

“I gotta get moving,” I mumble to myself, stretching in bed and reaching for my diary. “How many things are programmed for today?”

Waking up in the South of France is a challenge for the unprepared. Heck, even the locals seem to have a hard time making out of bed on time for work. Shutters keep out the sunlight, making the body insensitive to the time of day. Living in suburbia, my morning alarm is a rooster calling out from a neighbouring house. Birds tell each other their dreams and I listen, lulled back to sleep by their songs. The elderly gentleman in the house opposite is no doubt walking around his garden, checking what changes the night brought on his crops. The cats are stretching on their fences, wary of getting their paws wet on the shimmering morning dew. The sun, like a ripe grapefruit, is peeking out to check that the world is ready for him. My plants are shivering in the shade; the warmth won’t get to them until the afternoon.

The alarm rings for the third time. “I should get up,” I think to myself, seeing the sunlight creep in under the door “Or else I’ll miss the cool smell of morning air, the shadows cast on the kitchen walls by the rising sun, the rare stillness of the trees, and the silence that falls upon the whole of nature in the early hours of day”. I open the shutters eagerly and a smile spreads across my face. “Good morning to you too, Mother Nature!”

London vs. South of France

23 May

In my birth city, it is 15 °C; in the city I grew up in it is 20 °C; in my new city it is 28 °C. The weather is not the only difference between London, where I spent 15 years, and the Southern French city where I live now. The geographical distance between these two places isn’t spectacular, but the lifestyle is noticeably different.

The most obvious difference:

1) London: 8 million inhabitants. My new town: 200, 000 inhabitants.

London From Above

London - 8 million inhabitants

Amusing differences:

2) London: you’re lucky if you meet a British person in the city. My new town: I stand out for having a foreign accent.

3) London: everyone has an Oyster card. My new town: everyone (apart from me) has a car.

The differences that a Londoner, who is used to having anything/everything at any time, is finding hard to get used to:

4) London: the nearest grocery store was three minutes away from my house. My new town: the nearest grocery store is a twenty-minute walk away; add ten extra minutes if it’s a particularly hot day.

5) London: within a ten-minute walk from my house I had: a grocery store; 3 gyms (including swimming

Cat lying down in garden

My new neighbours

pools, dance/yoga/martial classes); 3 libraries; a dozen restaurants, bars and cafes; 3 bookshops; a park; several hotels; a museum; clothes shops, banks, etc. etc. My new town: within a ten-minute walk from my house I have: a football pitch, a small park, a post office, an organic food store…and hedgehogs, cats and owls.

6) London: shops are open from early morning until late at night every day of the week, including Bank Holidays. My new town: shops are closed at lunchtime, on Sundays and any other time they choose.

7) London: life never stops. My new town: everything stops between mid-June and September, when everyone goes on holiday. Students leave the city, all evening classes are cancelled and the sun drives the only remaining people into the coolness of their homes.

8 ) London: it would take weeks to count the number of galleries and theatres in the city. My new town: I can count them on one hand.

And the differences that a Londoner is greatly appreciating:

My new city centre

9) London: the buildings reach up to 253 m, soon to be 310 m with the completion of the Shard London Bridge tower, the tallest in the European Union. My new town: buildings are mostly around five-storeys, with a lot of houses in my area being bungalows or two-floor homes. Apartment blocks vary from two to six storeys, with only a handful of tower blocks on the edge of the city.

10) Following the point above – London: we appreciate nature through a square meter of sky directly above us. My new town: a 360° view of the sky!

11) London: you’re lucky if you get eye contact from…anyone, really. My new town: passers by not only look you in the eye, they actually smile at you.

12) London: you haven’t even put your change into your purse, but the check-out assistant at the supermarket is already screaming “Next!”. My new town: the check-out assistant makes a comment on the delicious food you bought, says thank you and wishes you a nice day.

13) London: with double-glazing and closed windows I could hear the incessant noise of traffic, fire brigades/ambulances/police cars, drunk people singing in the night, bus doors opening and closing, cars beeping, delivery

A cycling route in the area

trucks unloading, garbage men cleaning the streets. My new town: I can hear birds and the wind, and sometimes a rodent rustling in the bushes.

14) London: ride a bike at your own risk. My new town: ride a bike at your own pleasure.

15) London: after two years of living in the same place, I had no idea who lived in the flat opposite me. My new town: I know four of our neighbours; two of them helped us out during our move, the third gave us DIY advice, and the fourth invited us for drinks at their place on several occasions.

16) London: if you blow your nose after a tube journey, don’t be surprised if your handkerchief turns black. My new town: during the first few weeks here, I got lightheaded after every walk, because of the high quantity of oxygen in the area.

17) London: silence is golden in public transport. My new town: communication is appreciated and even encouraged.

18) London: complaining about the weather, the public transport, the tourists, the parking wardens, the queues and the prices is a daily practice. My new town: the weather is nice, everyone owns their own car, tourists are far and few, parking is permitted pretty much anywhere, there are no queues and prices are reasonable. No wonder everyone always has a smile on their face.

~

Every place has its advantages and inconveniences, and it is always an enriching experience to explore the rhythm, the rules and the visions of a life that is different to our own.

More about this change is lifestyle to come soon…