If it’s Friday, it must be France …
One of many things I love about this writing world I inhabit is the constant opportunity, online in particular, to meet people from all over the globe who have great stories to tell!
Although writing is often described as a solitary venture, I find that most writers are interested in interacting with each other. Many of these artists share their work both visually and literally … feasts in every sense!
Their personal stories are often as intriguing as the ones they create.
When readers email me (which I also love), they frequently share snippets of their own lives and I feel honoured to be welcomed into their worlds.
(Note to self: ask Ida, my French instructor extraordinaire to translate that) …
and now I want to introduce you to a woman who certainly fits that category in grand style!
Bienvenue, Carolyne Kauser-Abbott ~ it’s such a grand plaisir to have you visit today and share your story. I love the possibilities you and your husband envisioned and embraced. What an adventure!
Patricia ~ Let’s start at the beginning. What came first?
Carolyne ~ University professors might shudder at my lack of business planning. My travel blog for foodies, Ginger and Nutmeg, got its start as a lark, a dare almost, a challenge certainly. The moment is etched in my mind. Rod Stewart, the real one, not an impersonator was in concert at the Saddledome in Calgary one Friday evening in early spring.
The moment I do not remember was my first airplane ride when I was six months old. Today when the right of passage for every toddler is a hand-me-down iPhone, and they are iPad gamers by the age of four, air travel is no big deal. Half a century ago it was uncommon. My grandparents and extended family lived outside of Canada, so we went to exotic locales (even today) St. Vincent in the Grenadines and Caracas, Venezuela. By the time I had hit my teenage years, my family had visited the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and France.
Our pre-concert conversation twirled around most of the typical subjects kids, shopping, holidays, and food. It is only the last two where I have any credible input as I am only an aunt and department stores are my nemesis. Food and travel however are my obsession; the girls fortified with a bit of wine encouraged me to start writing a blog on the exciting trips, and foodie encounters that my husband and I enjoy. The blog’s identity was conceived during our discussion. The name had to be about our encounters, but not about us. It would be about food but not a food blog. It needed to be playful and credible, spicy and sporty -Ginger and Nutmeg.
How hard could it be I thought? After all, my father had written a blog the year before detailing the 6000-mile Great Loop adventure that he and my mother had undertaken in their power cruiser.
Rod Stewart finished crooning his playlist of predictable oldies, and I headed home to fire-up our desktop and opened a WordPress account that evening. The rest is history one might say, however the realities of blogging, freelance writing, and online content were completely new to me.
Patricia ~ So you took a chance and followed a dream! Way to go! How did you feel as you embarked on this new adventure! Did this journey take you where you envisioned … or did new possibilities begin to appear?
Ginger and Nutmeg began to see the light of day and I had eight loyal followers my parents, my husband, his parents and the three girlfriends who encouraged me to start writing.
At the same time, our previously stable and somewhat linear dual-income-no-kids lifestyle was cracked open. My husband (aka Ginger) was out of work, the result of a corporate take-over and downsizing, and he was headed to Toronto for ten months to complete a master’s program. I was left in Calgary to tend to the house and our two black Labradors while juggling the pressures of my corporate real estate position.
Patricia ~ These days it’s hard to be certain about anything. Often what a first appears to be an unexpected problem, becomes a fabulous opportunity!
Carolyne ~ Early in the New Year what had previously been opaque began to clear. Ginger’s master’s program would be finished by late summer, and I would very likely be jobless at some point in the near term.
I could only see opportunity in this turn of events.
Somehow in the haze I managed to convince my poor husband who was in another city, sleep deprived and way behind on his assignments that we should take a yearlong sabbatical.
Patricia ~ What did you see as your possible choices?
Carolyne ~ The final decision took a little negotiating on both our parts. I had pushed for an eat-eat-eat trip with four months in Spain, Italy and France accompanied by our two dogs. Decidedly more practical, Ginger agreed to six months with a “home-base” in France. We decided on France and determined that if we were leaving Calgary’s crazy weather in the fall and winter that we should head to the south of France to Aix-en-Provence.
Patricia (grinning) ~ And what a fine choice that was!
Carolyne ~ We flew to France on September 30, 2010 with one dog (the other had sadly passed away) and began what turned out to be a 13-month adventure and 35,000km on a second-hand car.
As the calendar turns to 2015, I start to plan my return trip to Provence in May in what has become a fantastic ritual. We have a base, a growing group of friends and a long quiver of stories to tell. Our bucket list fills the “well” of food and travel inspiration for Ginger and Nutmeg stories.
Patricia ~ You obviously have a treasure trove of photographs from all those travels, as well as stories. Magnifique! How did this wonderful new venture, Perfectly Provence, come to life?
Carolyne ~ Perfectly Provence (launched October 2014) is my newest folly, a digital magazine with content from writers who share my infatuation for the region. At time of writing there are 15 regular contributors who share thoughts on living in Provence, exploring the region and some of their favourite places. Perfectly Provence is about candid articles aimed at adult travelers and expats. It is Perfectly Provence that feeds my French “twin” the one that I have wanted to be since my first solo visit to Paris as a 17-year old.
Patricia ~ Bravo! Both of these ventures are absolutely wonderful and provide excellent information. The photography is outstanding! Combining food, travel, photography and entertaining personal experiences, there’s something for everyone. Do you have plans to move permanently to France?
Carolyne ~ Ginger is an Alberta “boy” and I have to admit that the Canadian Rockies are impossibly beautiful even in the dead of winter. So our home remains in Canada, and we get our fill of Provence during the summer months, or in my case online.
Patricia ~ You are so right, Carolyne, the Rockies are magnificent… year round! It seems you have the best of both worlds at the moment and we are all very fortunate that you are sharing those “bests” with all of us! Merci mille fois!
If you would love to see Provence for yourself, there are still a few spots left on the women’s tour I will be leading from June 22 to July 5. Come along and visit the same beautiful towns you read about in The Promise of Provence. You may even get to meet Carolyne! Here’s how to reserve your spot! We’re waiting for you!
Bon weekend tout le monde!
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