I would have found it anathema before children to return to the same place each year when there is a whole wide world out there to explore.
But now there is comfort in the familiarity, joy in the patterns re-established, surprise in the little things that have changed in the house or the village.
And we do the same things each year: kayaking under the Pont du Gard, market day in Uzes, lunch at the Fountain, a mad day of sliding at Aqualand. Though there is always something new. This year we found a new restaurant in Nimes, and took the kids to the Musee de Bon Bon.
But the best thing this year have been the 'Chronicles of Cabrieres'. When Gertie and Gilbert were very little I wrote some stories based on events and photographs of real things that had happened to us, but always with a magical or adventurous twist: building a snow dragon that came to life at night, or having go-cart races in the sky. Absolute nonsense, but the children love it when they feature in the stories, and laugh at any recognisable mannerism or turn of phrase. There is excitement at bedtime surrounding what the day's story will be.
So, in the Chronicles of Cabrieres we have had Hearth-Father and Hearth-Uncle transforming into superheroes to rescue hedgehogs from the pool with their Velcro heads; an explosion at the sweetie factory that covered everyone in the mixture for their favourite sweet; a dramatic rescue at the Pont du Gard; a tidal wave at Aqualand that everyone had to surf, and transportation back to Roman times in the Nimes amphitheatre. Not bad for a couple of weeks in the south of France.
Only downside is that it's interrupted my sunbathing time a little as I have to write the damn things each day.
Currently Reading: Spies by Michael Frayn