My husband, and I were very lucky to go to France this year

Lucky because it wasn’t really planned, the opportunity presented itself and I told him I really really wanted to go. I have this thing about France, I don’t know why but its just kind of me. Then we had so many things go wrong through the year, the chances seemed very slim that we would get there but he kept saying we were going no matter what and so he made it happen for me for which I will forever be grateful.

We started off in Paris for six days and stayed in the most beautiful Air BnB in a very cool part of the city. Filled with vintage treasures and gorgeous art above a funky wine bar it was very us. We would lie awake at night and listen to the voices in the street below talking in French, someone playing a saxophone somewhere, city noises we aren’t used to but loved. Sounds I won’t ever forget.

We didn’t do the touristy things people normally do in Paris. We don’t like to travel like that. We like to fully become part of the culture and walk, watch, listen and eat our way through the city. We walk all day every day and we get lost a lot, once we even accidentally walked through a drug buy! Google takes you the quickest route sometimes and not the safest!

My favourite store was Merci @merciparis If you don’t follow them do, its made up of many old buildings, like a department store but different, they are all connected and there's cafes too, I could have spent every day there, they have a space which they use as a gallery and the exhibition when we were there was on upcycling and recycling. Its a total feast for all the senses and I would have bought everything there if I could have. The shopping in Paris is really beautiful. Every space is beautifully curated and they have so much pride in their stores. The window displays are stunning, they all put so much love into them and they always make you feel so welcome.

The French are the kindest most beautiful people, everyone is always so nice and they have such style. Their slow way of living is something we could all learn by, family first, savouring their day, enjoying the moments. The food is amazing. We lived on bread, cheese and wine and I can't think of anything better tasting! They work a 35 hour week, they take two-hour lunches, they can gift their sick days to co-workers, so many things we could learn from.

After Paris, we trained to Bordeaux and met up with my dear friend Gay from Floosie and her husband Jonny. Another very cool Air BnB with a broken elevator meant we were walking 99 stairs around 10 times a day. Bordeaux was amazing, I had totally not expected it to be as it was, it's so beautiful, so compact, so cool and again lovely people. The laughing started there and we laughed, shopped, ate and drank our way through the next two weeks we spent with them.


We then met up with our friends Tracy and Nic who own Romantique in Auckland. They have the most beautiful restored home in a gorgeous town called Villeneuve sur lot, a house that was vacant for 30 years before they found it. A house that as you walk through the unassuming front door envelops you with such beauty it takes your breath away. The first time I walked through the door was something I will always remember. I was actually speechless for most of that day, I just didn’t have words for what we were lucky enough to be enjoying.

Nic and Tracey have worked painstakingly hard to restore this house over the last few years and it's beyond beautiful. It had no power or running water when they bought it but all the hand-painted interiors were intact and a lot of the furnishings still there. It was obviously a much loved and happy home because it has the most lovely feel about it. There's even a friendly ghost. We were lucky enough to stay here for the remainder of our holiday and spend time visiting antique stores, brocante markets, abandoned buildings and generally living our dream life. These kind of trips are going to be an extension of their business here by having groups stay and ship their purchases home for them.

On our travels, we met so many lovely people selling treasures. I was given three very special gifts as we travelled around, the first time it happened I didn’t understand. I asked an elderly man how much a trinket was and he replied with ‘cadeau’ I was like, I don’t know what you mean and he tapped my bag, finally, I understood he was giving it to me, I rewarded him with a hug and he was all embarrassed. This happened two more times in our travels and I will treasure these gifts forever. We found so many beautiful things along the way, some of which you will see finding their way instore over the next few months, some you won’t, like the leather-bound old bible I found worn from time by the hands that held it, I didn’t know it, but later I found a very old pressed flower halfway through the book. Imagine who did that and why. Special, special times.

We met so many people, one a local antique dealer who was convinced Peter was an ex all black, even though we told him over and over he had only played for Auckland, he still wouldn’t believe us and had to have his photo with him. Was so funny. He made us promise to come back and visit and its a promise I hope to keep.

I still go to bed at night dreaming of France and I will be forever grateful to my husband Peter for understanding how much this meant to me to go and for making it happen.

I have a very full and happy heart xx