I can admit when I suffer from the deadly sin of envy. And even though anything with “deadly” and “sin” attached to it is not usually a positive thing, I am still TOTALLY envying the gorgous adventure that is the life of Ronelle Van Wyk. I mean seriously…she lives on the banks of the Loire and bought a farm in the hills of France that she is restoring with her husband and family. And that is on top of being an insanely talented and creative person. So really, I feel that my envy is totally justified, no?
P.S. I think Ronelle’s self-portrait as her”head shot” (below) goes down as my very favorite one so far on Amuse Bouche. Just so you know.
Bonjour!! Welcome to my corner of the world here in France. Please join me with your coffee and let’s share some stories !
Apart from having photographs taken of myself, the one other most difficult thing is to talk about myself! I’m of nature rather a listener. So I thought it good to show, rather than tell, my story to you . I hope you will feel free to join in, chat along and tell yours too!
Like most people, my life made many stops and turns, took some dives and dips and of course still does. Everything always works out in the end and much better than I can ask for. I am blessed with a gorgeous husband, two wonderful daughters, a small circle of good friends and a worldwide connection with wonderful people, many of whom I’ve had the delightful pleasure of meeting and many I have not yet met.
Our home is on the banks of the Loire river in Touraine, le jardin de la France, where we’ve restored our 1880’ old house and established a small jardin de curé , a place where we dance to the rhythm of la Loire and of the seasons. It is a place where we paint and make wine, cook and invent. It is above all a place of stories and we allow our house to freely whisper its old tales while we add our day to day new breathings and experiences.
I have my art atelier in the old stables, my art gallery in one of three caves in the garden and another cave is the summer kitchen, where my husband is master and commander. The third cave snakes deep into the cliff at the back of our garden and finally ends up in our neighbors garden. It was used during World war II as shelter against the air attacks..
Two years ago we bought a farm in the green hills of Correze, where we are once again busy restoring an 1800’s farmhouse. While we work on the house, we are temporarily living in the barn during summer. We’ve come to an agreement with the owls…leaving the barn to them in winter, and we take over in summer…
We’re doing all the restoration ourselves, or should I say…my husband is doing the restoration himself…I am out in the hills most of the time with my easel and camera, but I do see to filled water bottles and crèmes for aching muscles. We’ve had our fair share of emergency chases to the hospital, but we’ve also had unforgettable birthday celebrations among the hills, the woods and cattle and we eat around a barbecue fire, watching the sun set every evening…if it sounds like heaven to you…I can promise you..it is, accidents and all! It has been a long time dream of ours and one day, when all is said and done, Coin Perdu will become our home..
As a young child my father often took me along to his work, where he was a draughtsman at a gold mine in South Africa. I would sit beside him and draw on large sheets of paper with his pens and pencils. Since then, I have never put those pens and pencils down.
With my mother I cooked. I was her sous-chef from a young age.. She was a formidable woman from whom I’ve learnt that passion makes you live life to the fullest. She taught me to give nothing but my best… in everything I do, however small or insignificant the task.
Then I met my soul mate at university and together we’ve created and lived our own story. An engineer and an artist. We travelled the world, brought up two cute daughters while moving across continents. We fought and disagreed, we cooked and concocted, invented and experimented. We still do. But mostly, we love, appreciate and encourage. From this man I learn that everything will always work out, no matter how bad the circumstances might be. I learn from him that everything is possible. I learn from him that every dream is worth chasing after. From these daughters I learnt how to be humble. Forgiving. I’ve learnt from them that without a sense of humor, life is a drag. I also learn from them about the latest style of jeans…and shoes…!
With this family I am living my wildest dream.
We can probably talk a lot more about me, or perhaps this is all there is to say. The rest of my story is simply detail which can only be told around a table with good food, some flagrant flair, gesture and exaggeration, good humor and fun company…..for what is a story if one can’t revel in all its colorful nuances?
So, I suppose I am a collector of stories. A listener. A dreamer. A lifelong student. I am a wife and a mother. I am a happy person.
My art on Africantapestry
My cooking on Myfrenchkitchen
My life in a barn on Coin Perdu.
And finally a word of thanks to Jo Packham, the editor of Where women create and Loralee Choate who is responsible for Amuse Bouche, who invited me to be featured in the magazine and here. What an honor and joy it was/is to share in this creative adventure and be in the company of all these extraordinary people!
(Awe, shucks! We think you’re pretty swell yourself, Ronelle! xo)