Last week, amidst the current upheaval of countries and people, and sandwiched in between the world’s political circus, melting icebergs and the demands of my media-savvy clutch of children, I paused for thought. In my somewhat chaotic lifestyle two things happened to make me stop and wonder at the meaning of friendship. First, as can often happen, two people we had not seen for nearly a year came to dinner with their infectious smiles – it was as if we had seen each other every week and as is the way with best friends, the intervening months melted away within moments. Read more

What is the Fascination with France ?

IMG_9873I’m starting to think about visitors and spring and holidaymakers and travel, everywhere we go there are little signs that the tourist season will soon be well underway and I have this nagging question that I cannot ignore but I cannot answer it alone and so I thought who better to ask than all of you. Read more

Mountain Life, French Style

P7360143Our children have just enjoyed their two week winter break and as in the past few years we headed to the mountains for a week of skiing. Back to the Pyrénées and even though it is said that familiarity can sometimes breed contempt, it seems, certainly in our case, that it breeds appreciation and liking.

We were back in the same area once more, Barèges/La Mongie, but we were staying in a different village, negotiating new hairpin bends on impossibly narrow roads, never knowing what was around the next corner or whether we would be met by another breath taking view or a local driver in a 4×4 in a very great hurry with no desire to pull over for a tourist! Read more

Islands on the Skyline

For a week we have swapped the gentle flatlands and mild temperate climate of the Charente Maritime for an altogether more rugged terrain, the Pyrénées. This is another side to France, where deep in the mountains slate roofs replace our familiar red terracotta tiles and granite replaces the pale Charentais stone. Standing amidst houses that have hugged these slopes for hundreds of years, there is not a soul in sight; nothing stirs but the village cat, perched incongruously like a small snow-leopard in a tree. When the snow falls, it doesn’t make a sound; it’s a strange anomaly in the vast space stretching out to the valley floor below my feet. This is the closest to silence as one can get, high up close to the sky.

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Today’s post is coming from Roddy, who thanks to a dodgy knee can no longer enjoy the thrill of racing downhill. Instead, he spends his time walking and taking photos. I, of course, am off to the pistes to re-enact various Olympic events with the children, but I know you are in good hands.  Read more

Winter Greens, Snow and Blue Eggs

P7340830The weather gods have thrown everything at us this winter and this week we had the tiniest sprinkling of snow. On Tuesday morning the garden and the rooftops looked as if someone had dusted them with icing sugar, and just for an hour everywhere appeared to be picture-postcard perfect. Unlike much of France which is blanketed in snow our little flurry of charm didn’t last long and has become but a fleeting memory captured on camera. In the meantime the cold has continued, our lemon trees are wrapped in thermal blankets, and the fire is burning constantly. Read more

Seasoning Vintage Furniture

P7340782I have a little obsession at the moment that involves wood, velvet, deep dark gunmetal grey and a very specific shade of pink and it all started with a thrift shop and a piece of secondhand furniture. Read more

Town or Country ?

24059214_761930727335667_1180675717313672991_nWhich sets your heart beating a little faster? A rural home so beautiful yet bought for a price that will make city dwellers cry or an elegant pad overflowing with period features near the shops and the buzz of urban life where you can pretty much get anything you want in a jiffy? Read more