Le Trou Normand — Journey Cleanser

As this is a food, wine, and travel blog, the nature of my travels made it necessary to insert this journey cleanser, or Le Trou Normand, to be used three weeks into this blog, to allow my initial experiences to settle and linger, so that the next adventures could be enjoyed with a fresh perspective.

After Edinburgh, the trip took off into an entirely different direction and I became absorbed in a whirlwind of color, smells, sights and a whole lot of living. In other words, I cascaded into my travel experiences using all five senses, as I set out to do, and thus merely made notes for my travel blog. Reflections from the rest of the trip will be far less detailed, offering the flavor and overall impressions of my travels in Istanbul, the Greek Island of Paros, my one night in Athens under a full moon, 10 days with my ex-husband and father of my son in Anduze, France, with the finale of the trip, a picture perfect three days in Le Marais, the 3rd arrondissement of Paris.

I’ll be adding posts frequently as I am now back in the US and absorbing the amazing nature of this trip while adjusting to the responsibilities of being home.

Let it suffice to say the two month sabbatical was PERFECT.

Eela at Vidlin

Eela is a fishing competition that occurs in various Shetland villages throughout the summer.  This past weekend it was held in the town of Vidlin where Susie lives. This photo is of John Arthur, a friend of Susie’s, who at 13 years old won the competition for the juniors and beat out many older men for competitions including number of species and weight.  Congratulations John Arthur. 

Bert, is in the previous photo. He was kind enough to share fish that was given to him with Susie and me.  And, he even cleaned it for us!

ImageImage

Vidlin

Vidlin is the name of the small village where my cousins Susie, John and Jane Jacobs live in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. It is at the head of Vidlin Voe, and is the modern heart of the old parish of Lunnasting, which centered on the early church at Lunna on Lunna Ness. Vidlin is one of the most charming villages imaginable. In addition to the church, it is home to a small school of 25 children ranging in age from 4 to 12, the Vidlin Village Hall, lots and lots of sheep, water, rabbits and more sheep.

The village of Vidlin

The village of Vidlin

The Vidlin school garden

The Vidlin school garden

A windmill that provides energy for the Vidlin school

A windmill that provides energy for the Vidlin school

View from the Vidlin School entrance

View from the Vidlin School entrance

Lunnasting School in Vidlin

Susie volunteers in the local Lunnasting School every Friday afternoon as a cooking teacher for Fun Fridays. The school educates 25 children ranging in age from those in the nursery class to seventh graders. I met all twenty-five of the most fortunate children imaginable. The school overlooks the North Sea from the front and east side of the building and is surrounded by hills dotted with the Shetland Sheep on the remaining two sides. Tom and Mark gave me a tour of their school and proudly began it by explaining the ins and outs of their Eco School. Standing like a sentinel gracing the school garden was a windmill, and the solar panels were close by. A fruit-filled grapevine was the most prolific plant growing in the greenhouse — a troll-like house shown to me by James who explained all the subtleties of their eco-garden. The three teachers are each other’s inspiration and support in raising this generation of Vidlin children.

Another view from Shetland Islands

Another view from Shetland Islands

 

James explaining the eco-garden

James explaining the eco-garden

 

Grindwell Knowe (The Gate to the Well)

We drove through the countryside as sunset turned to dusk and then dark and when I awakened the following morning, what was my surprise to see a magical landscape surrounded by the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean which converge in the Shetland Islands? Of course the green hills and dales were dotted with sheep, many being very curious and coming right up to us to see what we were doing as we took our morning walk. There are lakes everywhere in Shetland and unimaginable shades of gray and blue.  Susie’s garden provides a plethora of color and shapes… all the more vibrant with the background of the whitewashed chocolate box house….

Image

Cousin Susie’s house. 

Image

Shetland Islands views

 

 

Welcome to Shetland

Arrived in the Shetland Islands and was greeted by my cousin Susie who immediately whisked me off for a beach walk merely moments away from the airport. It was sunset and the purple hues were stunning.  Little did I know that my cold toes from walking in the sand were merely a preview for what was to come.

Cousin Susie and her puppy Angus, my Shetland Hosts.

Cousin Susie and her puppy Angus, my Shetland Hosts.

Shetland Islands

Shetland Islands

Cousin Susie

Cousin Susie

Traveling is in my Blood

Traveling is in my blood. After 34 years of being relatively stable because virtually everything I need and want has been found in Sonoma County, California, I’m on the road again. Come September, I’m leaving with a one-way ticket to Europe. My cousin Susie lives in the Shetland Islands and I’ll begin there as we have a successful history of traveling together. In 1978, we spent three months on the Island of Hydra in Greece where she lived. The vibrant and diverse autumn hues of purple, fisherman who shared their daily catches, and older women in black who guided me in their kitchens while navigating me through ways of the heart left indelible impressions.  Greece in the fall is the one place in the world I am certain that I wish to return. So stay tuned.

Freedom is the theme of this trip. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the luxury of not knowing what to expect day after day, week after week, month after month….

I’ll keep you posted as I translate one culture from another using all five senses beginning in September…

Freedom!

Freedom!