Welcome to another Lazy Sunday in France and in celebration of #WorldBicycleDay today, author and long-time blogging friend Stephanie Dagg is taking us on a bike ride to the Cruese, the real rural France, where her family have lived since 2006.
This year has been particularly busy for Steph as she has released two books, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France, the long awaited follow up to her memoir Heads Above Water, and Haircuts, Hens and Homicide, a cozy mystery set in France.
Lazy Sunday in France by Stephanie Dagg
Jacqui kindly invited me quite a while ago to take part in #LazySundayinFrance and it’s only now I’ve finally got round to writing my contribution. But not through laziness, honestly.
I don’t actually do lazy very well. I don’t find it easy to relax, and tend to flit around hyperactively, thinking I should always be doing something useful. It no doubt drives the family insane, but they lovingly accept me for what I am! In that respect, I’m the worst sort of person to be an author since that means sitting quietly and writing, which frequently seems way too inactive and self-indulgent. I try to write every morning (early) and evening for an hour at a time. However, between the youngest of our three children, sixteen-year-old Ruadhri, still living at home and another, daughter Caiti, here in-between term times at uni, seventy-five acres of land populated by assorted livestock such as llamas, alpacas, pigs, sheep and poultry and jointly running two businesses with husband Chris (carp fishing holidays on our three lakes, and editing and author support services), frequently life throws up some obstacle to keep me from my computer and the latest book-in-progress. So there are always priorities to weigh up to find time to write. Sheep having problems in labour? Rush off with the lubricating gel. Child stranded at a rail station owing to a cancelled train? Hop into car instantly. Angler just caught a humungous carp? Dash to the lake with a camera. Huge pile of washing up about to block out light from the kitchen window? Sit and write.
Having said all that, Sunday is perhaps a little quieter than all the other days of the week. Saturday is changeover day for our lakes so there are cabins to scrub, showers to clean, floors to wash, grass to cut, equipment to sort and repair, bait to cook and bucket up, and so on. It’s a crazy, exhausting day, and in a seven-day working week it can bring us to our knees. We’re not spring chickens any more! So on Sundays, if at all possible, Chris and I like to go off for a nice relaxing bike ride for coffee and buns in a local town or large village. That’s as close as I get to being lazy – 40km up and down hills (we’re in the foothills of the Massif Central here in Creuse) in pursuit of a petit crème and, preferably, a croissiant aux amandes or pain au chocolat, but really anything will do!
Cycling is physically demanding but calming and enjoyable. You see fascinating things you’d never glimpse from a car – a line of caterpillars pottering along the verge, a bird catching a worm, a clutch of orchids in a ditch, an iridescent beetle scuttling for all its worth across the tarmac, someone’s sock on a branch. You can stop and inspect a roadside cross, hop off your bike and peep inside a village church or into an ancient lavoir or fontaine, have a conversation with a curious cow when you pull off the road into a field gateway for a breather. It’s wonderful.
I’ve always cycled, just as I’ve always written. My current bike, Dave (named after its builder Dave Yates of Teesside) is 32 years old and in better working order than me. Well, he is slightly less than half my age. Dave cost a couple of hundred pounds back in 1986, which was a huge investment for two broke newly-weds, but he’s proved to be worth his weight in gold. The only thing that’s been replaced in all that time are the handlebars, and not because they were broken but because I was. A little bit. A neck injury made riding with drop handlebars uncomfy so I went for straight ones. Dave and I must have racked up tens of thousands of kilometres over the years, possibly more. And all being well, we’ll still both be going strong in another 32 years.
So lazy for me is not doing something I feel I should be doing. It’s being unproductive, irresponsible almost, and preferably on two wheels.
Lazy Sunday in France for French Village Diaries
You can read more about Stephanie’s life in France on her blog here and follow her on Twitter. You can read my France et Moi interview with her here and my reviews of some of her books here:
All of her books are available in ebook format and links to Amazon can be found below.