The Great French Baguette

p1000988I discovered a little secret the other day about the pâtisseries you see in a typical French boulangerie. All those lovely tarts, the fruity slices and the sensual rum babas, perfectly centred in little paper wrappers – do you know who buys them? Certainly, there are lots of them sold in beautiful cardboard boxes to elegant ladies dressed to within an inch of their lives, and of course, others go out the door in the clutches of small children, but to my surprise I learnt that very few go home with bored housewives. Of course, no French woman touches anything outside of a meal-time; we know that. So where do these pâtisseries go? Read more

Time to Stand and Stare


Finding the time to ‘stand and stare’. It seems like only last week I was lamenting the end of the summer holidays and somehow the children and I were trying to get back into the school routine of early mornings; bundling everyone into the car on time, usually while someone is carrying their shoes and someone else has a drooping backpack half-open with books threatening to make a bid for freedom. We’ve just about got organised, the daily drill has almost fully fallen back into place and now here we are eagerly looking forward to the two week autumn holiday known as les vacances de la Toussaint.  Read more

Falling into Autumn


It’s mid-October yet at midday  you’d be forgiven for thinking we were still in the midst of summer; but by evening there is a discernible feel of autumn in the air, a decisive nod of acknowledgement towards the cooler months ahead. However, if you rise with the lark the crisp early morning chill is unmistakable. I’ve put the heating on in the car for the school-run, I’ve found a scarf to wear over a t-shirt and when I return home I firmly shut the front door behind me. Read more

Hurricane Matthew

p4880327I had my blog post for tomorrow half-written; I’ve been taking photos and preparing it all week but then Matthew came into the equation. How could I write about the tranquility of our autumn in France when lives have already been lost and people are suffering so greatly from the devastation caused by a hurricane churning it’s way slowly northwards through the Caribbean and into the Bahamas? The answer – I couldn’t – we have many friends in the islands and many in Florida, and although we may not be there we’re thinking of you all a lot right now. Read more

Brocantes, Treasure Hunting and Your Advice Please.


Rummaging through someone else’s possessions or scouring makeshift tables for illusive treasure may seem like an odd way to spend a perfect hour, but I’m a bit of an addict. Sometimes I’m on the lookout for something specific, and sometimes I’m merely browsing, looking for items which I can repurpose; searching for relics of the past, for vintage bric-a-brac or genuine antiques. More often than not, I walk away without buying anything. But no matter what reason one has for browsing Brocantes I always feel a tiny frisson of anticipation as we arrive at our destination and see a bubbling crowd thronging around the stalls. Read more

The Good Life


When we first moved to France, I think we all secretly harboured a desire for a sort of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ existence, for a life that would be one long dreamy ride through quiet backwaters and along sun-dappled valleys until one returned at night to the warmth of a fire in an ancient fireplace set square in the crumbling wall of an old farmhouse. Read more

Lost and Found – A Short Story

Lost and Found


It was Claire who found the camera, her 13 year-old bright eyes spotted it halfway across the beach at La Cible one morning in September as we had a mother and daughter cycling-expedition on the Île de Ré. We were recent summer arrivals in France, and the island had become one of our favourite spots to explore on a weekend, our custom was to cycle from the car-park at La Cible, through the old fortifications and onto a lunch on the quay in St Martin de Ré. Read more