I appreciate that our situation is a total privilege:
we can work from home and are used to it
we are also used to be 24/24 with each other in a small living environment (a car)
we have a nice flat
we are not getting tired of each other
we are lucky enough to be less than a kilometre from most of the touristic and iconic Edinburgh’s spots, making our rare walks precious moment to enjoy the city free of people
1km radius around the flat
500m from the Castle 650m from the Meadows 800m from Princes Street 600m from St Giles’ Cathedral 1.5km from the bottom of Arthur’s Seat
Because there is not much to say about being at home, I have decided to describe our confinement in data:
35 days since we decided to stay home (few days before the beginning of the official confinement in UK)
7 short walks around the neighbourhood
6 yoga sessions with Adrienne
3 local grocery shopping
1 grocery delivery
1 time getting vegetables with the van from a farm
3 apple tarts
2 batches of crepes
1 batch of cookies
3 masks used from our China stock
1 mask lost
15 Disney movies
6 new remake Disney movies
5 studio Gibli movies
6 movies on Mubi
3 graphic novels
66 work related emails
1 zoom meeting (I am lucky)
3 online lectures
25 facetime /phone calls with family
6 skype / zoom with friends
5 drawings & paintings
2 sewing projects
We tried to avoid going out of the flat for the 2 first weeks, but as some of you know, the amount of natural light inside is limited, so we were getting a bit depressed + we were starting to have back/neck pain from working from the sofa and the lack of ‘exercise’ – so we decided to do short walks once in a while. To immortalise this situation and the beauty of the empty city, I took my camera with me and shoot the (almost) blank streets, parks and squares.
On Tuesday, we started 2 years ago, and we are now 2 weeks before lockdown: a week in Lanzarote, end of February.
And because 2020 is full of unprecedented / unexpected events – this week was not an exception.
Day 1 : blue sky, some sunburn, discovering the very dry landscapes, amazing cactus and enjoying living in a camper where we felt way too much like home (this ended up buying Marsouin on the Sunday we were back…).
Days 2 & 3 : a completely different atmosphere: yellow / orange sky. We were in the middle of a sandstorm that has covered the Canary Islands: the phenomenon is known as a Calima – which is when strong winds and rising air lifts up Saharan dust and carries it across the Atlantic. It was apocalyptic; we felt like we were in the movie Interstellar. We read that a lot of people were complaining: “Sandstorm in Lanzarote! I came for sunshine not sand!” – in our little van we decided to enjoy this rare phenomenon and drove on this deserted island finding secluded and photogenic spots. We visited an abandoned hotel in the middle of nowhere, right in front of the ocean – very spooky and apocalyptic during the storm.
Day 4 : grey sky – the storm is gone but the weather is very gloomy.
Day 5 & 6 : blue sky is back. We finally hiked some volcanoes & enjoy some beach time. Then it was already time to say goodbye to the WhiteVan, and say hello 2 days after to the Green one 🙂
During the trip we visited some incredible spaces by Cesar Manrique : an amazing artist, architect and interior designer – he completely understood the language of his island and translated into his art and design.
Looking back at the pictures of the week-end we did for the past two years in Scotland, and so grateful that we choose this country and make it home.
Why do we love Scotland so much ? After planning to stay for 4 years, why are we still there after 10 ?
the nature: it amazed us how wild and beautiful this country is, and after all these years we are still not tired of it. The variety of landscape is a gift we know how to appreciate: from the highlands to the islands you can’t help being caught up in the drama and light on the hills and Loch. It is a photographer’s dream. And don’t forget that Scotland has some of the most beautiful beaches of the planet.
the people: Edinburgh is home and the kindness of the Scots is definitely one of the main reason for it (+ we love love love the accent).
where we live: beautiful human scale capital, where we feel safe, where we can do everything by foot or bike: 30 min cycle on one side and we are on a beach ; 30 min on the other side and we are on the hills – where we feel not stressed (like we do in London or Paris).
we come back to family after 1h30 plane journey and 1h30 train – even if we were living in south of France we would not beat that.
should we talk about the weather ? You get used to it 😉 – in Edinburgh it is not that bad actually, it is rarely raining all day, and we have blue sky at least once a day. (to be honest we are only missing being warm).
they have deep fried mars bar, sticky toffee pudding & haggis
and finally, Scotland’s Highland Coos are the cutest.
Bellow the latest selection of pictures we took the past 2 years during week ends.
If you want to discover Scotland through our lenses – there are some other albums:
I did not do Deer Stalking ! I was Yves Gellie assistant on one of his trip to Scotland for his deer stalking project. I had to go there with an open mind as it is something I am very not confortable with and kind of despised. I discovered the job of being Ghillies/ pony boys. These guys love their land with big harts and are very respectful of nature. One of their role is to make sure that the ‘stalker’ (the rich person paying to kill the dear) will only kill an old and sick animal. They are protecting the estate and its wildlife.
Last summer the plan was to live on the road (the #vanlife trendy hashtag) 3 months, in France first and assess how feasible it was to work remotely for Clément in our Whale for a long period of time. Unfortunately, similar to the previous year our plans did not really unfold as planned. But fortunately we were in France to be close from Family who needed us.
In total we were on the road for 5 weeks (instead of the 11 initially planned). We started in June with 3 brilliant weeks in south of France, back in my Favourite place on earth “Cabasson”, and hiked during the week ends in Provence, Porquerolles, Verdon during the heat wave (yes we are slightly insane).
In July we spent a week in Dordogne and after weeks with family members and an unfortunate decision to buy Beluga, we went for well deserve week holiday end of August in Brittany for 2 days and then the Cevennes (yes we drove across France to chase the sun, as said previously we are a tiny bit insane). We highly recommend this region for everyone who love nature and crystal waters.
It was our last week in our beloved Whale that we sold few days after being back. We couldn’t find better family for her, they are passionate and are taking care of it like she is a princess.
Why did we sell it ? Because during our weeks one the road we realised that if we wanted to continue to be able to work remotely, we needed a van where we could cook and work even when it is pouring rain, and which doesn’t cost an arm in petrol (V8 ??♀️). We knew all of that before, but needed this experience to confirm our intuition.
We were right to check because sometimes intuitions happen do be wrong: we thought that we wanted to push the experience to the extreme and go to Asia with a car, that is why we bought Beluga, to make our dream come true. The problem ? as soon as we bought it we realised that we were not ready to jump. We had the perfect car for this huge adventure and couldn’t feel any joy, just the sensation that we did a big mistake. After few days wondering why we had this feeling we come to the conclusion that driving in a house on wheels through developing countries was not something we could assume – it is already difficult with a backpack so we should have been thinking about it earlier, but well, little stars were blinding us. We had to give ourselves all the means to do it to realise that #vanlife yes, but not without a home to come back to, and only in Europe or America (and we will continue to visit incredible Asia – if we can – by Bike or Backpack 🙂 ).
It was the right move to leave this dream on the side because we would have been on the road far away otherwise and it would have been a tricky situation. We are glad and very grateful to be safe in our little flat on the quiet Grassmarket during this pandemic (more to come on that later this week).
South of France, 2019
Gorges du Verdon, Dordogne, Provence, Cévennes, Var
Pictures by Clément Mouchet & Me
We went for 3 days in Lisbon last year.
I have difficulty to recall how easy it was to jump on a plane on a Friday evening after work and spend the week end in another country, discovering a new city. It was a first for me in Portugal, and hopefully not the last time. I loved the colours, the climate (taking the sun January is not something you can hope for in Scotland), the architecture, the food…
It was a proper break, no plans, wandering in the small streets and living in the moment. And when you don’t plan it is when life give you opportunities you can take 🙂 : we were walking towards the Expo ’98 Portuguese National Pavilion – “an enormous and impossibly thin concrete canopy, draped effortlessly between two mighty porticoes and framing a commanding view of the water” (ArchDaily).
This is not my picture, I don’t have any good one – why ? because we didn’t see before dawn. 500m from it, we noticed people (a lot of people) queuing in front of building (we will learn that it was the Altice Arena) – Because I am very curious I went to ask someone:
– why are people queuing?
– it is for the circus
?♀️ Circus you said ? Google: ‘circus Lisbon January’ = OVO Cirque du Soleil ? = tickets available ? . We went in the queue, booked tickets while queuing and, here we were seating in this arena to see the last Lisbon’s show of my favourite Circus company. It was completely unexpected and made it even more magical.
Being at home – like more than 50% of the world population – without any project currently, gave me time to finally edit and select pictures we took during the past 2 years.
Looking back at our life during this lockdown; at all the incredible landscapes we saw, the kind and helpful people we met, the simple life we lived in our car – help me remind myself how lucky and grateful we are for the life we have.
Looking forward for when will we able to leave the flat and take Marsouin for its first adventure – Marsouin (Porpoise in English) is our camper, a T4 VW from 1995 we bought 2 weeks before lockdown.
This virus also highlight the impact we have on our planet and Nature is currently enjoying to be left quiet. Even though we always do our best to leave little trace behind us when traveling – we will try to reduce our impact even more in the future (I don’t think you know anyone driving as slow as us, trying to lower our consumption of petrol as much as possible 😉 – and we are selling the Beluga which is running on Diesel – yes it was a bad decision to buy it in the first place, but well we are learning from our mistakes).
This week, I will post one album a day – sharing my escape time with the World Wide Web.
I am starting with a trip we did with La Baleine(the Whale) 2 years ago. We drove from France to Timisoara in Romania, going though Germany, Austria and Hungary. He took us 10 days with stops along the way and Clément working remotely while I was driving (slowly and slightly stressed). He worked 3 weeks in Timi, where we camped on the carpark of his company and visited the country during the week-ends.
Romania is an incredible country; so far unspoiled by tourism, it offers the last remaining preserved virgin forests in Europe, sheltering centuries-old trees, sites of rich biodiversity and home to wildlife such as the brown bears, wolves and lynxes.
An offbeat road trip in Romania will take you through some of its most gorgeous historical villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the iconic Dracula’s Castle, scenic roads… One of the most iconic is the Transfăgărășan (this Top Gear video made it quite famous for car enthusiasts) – we were going at less than 30km/h, giving us enough time to truly appreciate the beauty of the surrounding landscape – the sky was clear for the first part until the tunnel – we entered it and when we came on the other side, at the top, we were in a big cloud of mist and rain, creating an unrealistic and quite magical atmosphere.
Unfortunately we had to drive back to France in 48 hours and skip our plan to visit Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Italy. It will be for another time…