Sunday, 31 May 2015

Enjoying the new neighbourhood

While I was writing my novel in November last year I had the chance to go on a few walks in the area where my sister lives, and given they say a picture is worth a thousand words I'll post a few here by way of explaining why I chose to settle here for a while longer.

The first two photos are from the top of a hill at the Torre del Far, a fire and smoke signal tower dating from the 10th century, standing between the villages of Cases de Pène and Tautavel.

Dominating the Corbières, the top offers gorgeous views of several Cathar castles, the Pyrénées mountains, the sea pond of Salses-Leucate, and the Mediterranean sea. The walk is only like 2-3 hours long, and highly recommended. I also walked nearby the Serrabone Priory, another beautiful area with great views of the mountains and all the way to the sea on a nice day.

I've already mentioned my sister's vineyard, it goes without saying the region is known for its wines. The quality of wines and reputation of several small producers in the Roussillon area are steadily growing both in France and internationally. I've really enjoyed walking through the vineyards over winter last year, and hadn't seen so many beautiful rainbows in a very long time. The area tends to get a lot of wind and sunshine, (most) autumn and winter rains don't last long as rain clouds get blown away, and one can see many rainbows in the Roussillon and Fenouillèdes at that time of year.

The Eastern Pyrénées mountains are right there, barely over an hours drive away, to spend a few days there for New Year's Eve 2014 at a friend's place in a lovely little village. We spent a day hiking in snow shoes to the Lac des Bouillouses, pictured above.

A few days after new years eve, I realised I hadn't been to the seaside since I'd arrived in late October. I got on the train from Perpignan for 20 minutes to Collioure, a lovely town on the rocky Côte Vermeille leading to Spain. The town was known as a centre of artistic activity in the early 20th century, with several fauve artists such as André Derain or Henri Matisse making it a regular meeting place. I just spent a few hours walking around and reading on a sunny terrace with a coffee - I had been a few times before and still enjoy it, particularly in low season.

Meanwhile, once I'd finished the NaNoWriMo writing challenge, I spent a lot of time pretty seriously thinking about what I should be doing next and where I should be living. I had a few job interviews for full time roles in Paris and London as well. One interview conversation in particular was extremely useful, challenging, and overall a great support in helping me think things over.

It took me a while (and conversations with friends and family) to realise and admit what was pretty much staring me in the face: I am in amazingly beautiful surroundings, close to my family which was one of the reasons I left Singapore, and close to busy international airports with Gerona and Barcelona next door to get anywhere in the world. I managed to make a living as a consultant while backpacking around Asia, I figure I should be able to do it from here too. I have a little bit of work going already, and will be traveling to London, Paris, Barcelona, Singapore, or wherever needed on a regular basis to meet clients - and keep working on my novel on the side. We'll see how it works out.

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