Dressing up for Summer

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Summertime is the season for pretty dresses, bright colours and a general feeling of joie de vivre. Into the hallway cupboard we stow our wooly scarves, hats and gloves, and as the days warm we take off layer after layer of warm clothing, exposing bare skin and covering ourselves with the merest wisp of fabric, a transformation that always coincides with the rising sap of the new season. But houses and walls tend to do quite the opposite, the old naked structures donning their prettiest outfits as they metamorphose into summer creations of their own design. Read more

My Birthday Surprise

IMG_5148It’s been one of those weeks, when you leave the house at 7.00am and don’t return until 8.00pm, day after day. Sporting events with the children have taken me up and down the autoroute three times in as many days, and I’ve had plenty of more local goings-on to contend with as well.  I’m not quite sure I remember the last time I did something in the garden, let alone the house! But, when the children sprung the most incredible birthday surprise on me I know all the travel and long hours are terribly worthwhile. Read more

Finally, Summer Holidays Have Begun

img_1795Finally, the school holidays have begun for ALL the children. Until this week, poor Gigi had been trundling off to school each morning, trotting down dusty streets whilst her siblings all snored in bed. Mid-afternoon she would return in the heat of the day, the sun pounding on her back as she trod homewards, her footsteps echoing on the centuries-old pavements that many have trod before her. Sweating, her backpack heavy with books and her thoughts on the pool and not at all on homework, she’d remarked more than once how UNFAIR it all was. Read more

Building a Potager

P6600754My vision for our garden was always to create somewhere enchanting; somewhere that had a romantic feel, I imagined a place where one could float around while wearing a swirling skirt with a glass of champagne in hand. I didn’t want anywhere that would be taken too seriously, instead I wanted somewhere that would delight the senses, fuel the imagination and be easy to maintain. But above all else there had to be somewhere that provided edible treats. If you have ever eaten a warm sun-ripened tomato straight from the vine, you will know that the taste far outweighs anything bought in the chilled section of the grocery store.

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The World of French Schools

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From the moment we are born we start to learn.

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In the world of French school-life, this feels like the week we are in ‘no-man’s land’. School doesn’t officially end until next Friday, 7th July, and yet this week I have had two teenagers fast asleep until mid-morning as they enjoy well earned lie-ins, a 12 year-old slumbering on the sofa in the shade on the terrace while munching a croissant and enjoying the beginning of her holidays, and poor Gigi still getting up early and attending school as normal. A bit of a mixed bag, really. Read more

Summer Solstice

P6410392YESTERDAY EVENING, 11.45PM.

It’s dark. Outside it’s still 32ºC/90ºF, but inside it’s comfortable and pleasant without the need for air-conditioning – a good thing as I am not sure anyone in the village has any. Instead, we rely on old technology, whereby the two foot thick stone walls of our house keep us cool. I’m alone in the kitchen, the windows and doors are still wide open and I’m staring out into the stygian blackness. Roddy has fallen asleep in the sitting room; Bentley is with him as always and Evie is with me. She tried to stay awake to keep an eye on Rory the cat, her greatest mate, but she can’t quite manage it; thick eyelashes, black on one side and white on the other, gently close and she too enters the world of dreams. I’m thinking about the wonderful evening we have just enjoyed. I open my laptop, wondering how I can possibly convey this feeling of pure contentment – how I can explain such simple things which make a night so special? Read more