Sunday, 1 November 2009

Les Hameaux de Propriano

Most of us never take the time to truly appreciate where we live, so when the power pack for my laptop blew up, I decided to make the most of it and take the time to just 'smell the coffee', or in this case, the flowers in Les Hameaux.

We live in a gated community that covers above 24 hectares, criss-crossed with alleys and pathways, and sprinkled with stone houses and small groups of apartments, so there are always things to see and places to explore. In fact, there are even horse trails that Suzy & I had to use once when we were trying to escape from what looked like the Hound of the Baskervilles!

One of the nice things about Les Hameaux is that although there are very strict rules about the colours of the houses and shutters (no-one is allowed to paint their house pink which is probably a good idea!), the properties are still quite individual.

One of the ways people have found to express themselves is their chimneys. I have seen chimney stacks made with roof tiles to resemble birds and various other patterns, but this was the first time I’d spotted an olive pot included into the design of a roof terrace! Roof terraces are very popular here as the sun is scorching in the summer and the views are just superb.

Although we have two full time gardeners, the grounds still look fairly natural and they are filled with all manner of fruit trees such as lemons, clementines, figs, olives and even blueberries. Some are in peoples gardens, but many are in the common areas so residents can help themselves. There's nothing better than fresh figs from the gardens with some really strong local cheeses and maybe a glass of red - delicious!

I kept having to remind myself that it was actually November, because it was so warm and sunny, that some of the more sheltered oleander bushes were still in bloom. By this time of the year we normally see just the odd flower clinging on, but these were full of life - another reminder that the weather this year has been just superb.

I followed the steps up through to the development to ‘Les Hauters’ where two of the pools can be found. I think it must be nearly 2 years now since I've used any of the four pools we share, beacuse we're so close to the beach here, it's just too tempting even if the pools are rarely busy. It is here that I often collect mint for my soups and rosemary for roasting.

The colours were amazing – autumn in Corsica is when the colours are most vibrant and against the back drop of the clear blue skies, even the trees and bushes looked more interesting.

Being a Sunday in November there was virtually no one around, so I must admit that I made the most of the opportunity to be nosy! I followed the network of little stone pathways between the houses, discovering new shortcuts and having a good look at the terraces and views through the trees along the way. I particularly liked this mosaic table outside one of the houses but I think it probably needs to live inside when not in use as there was moss growing in the grouting!

As well as the fruits and herbs, the grounds are filled with a riot of colourful flowers; dark red roses and deep blue morning glory to name just a couple. It’s such a shame that people think of Corsica only as a summer destination because they miss out on one of my favourite times of the year.

I was tempted to while away a few hours on the terrace and make the most of the winter sunshine, but in the end I decided to collect some lavender and verbena that I can dry to give the house the scent of summer all year round.

If only my computer broke down every week!

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