Friends for Tea

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I remember when we first arrived in the village; a couple of weeks later our two youngest girls started at the tiny local school, a pleasant five minute walk from our house, past the 12th Century Church, past the old Presbytery with its time-worn wrought iron gates and along the narrow winding lanes flanked by ancient stone cottages.

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I remember standing alone at the school gates, a stranger and a foreigner amongst a sea of unfamiliar faces who were all acquainted with one another, all talking, sharing stories and snippets of gossip.

Annie was there to pick up her grandson, who was soon to become one of the girls’ best friends; Annie’s was the first friendly smile I ever saw at the village school gates.

One day I invited her to stay for a cup of tea whilst the children shared their afternoon goûter, and slowly our friendship built. We always have much to talk about for she is a fountain of all knowledge. She has helped me in the garden, advised no end with the chickens, produced antidotes to ailments and put one poor bird out of its misery for us when we first arrived.

She has given me endless cuttings from her own garden. The papyrus in the pond was a tiny plant which she gave us in the depths of the winter. We were away skiing and it was Annie who let our chickens out each morning and shut them in again at night. When we returned there was a small selection of plants in the shade, gifts from her garden. The papyrus was one of them.

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She is probably one of the kindest, nicest people I have ever met.

Over time we have also got to know her husband, Jean Francois, an equally fascinating man. He has patiently showed us how to prune our vines in the winter, how to prune them in the spring and how to keep them in check all summer. He also is a fountain of knowledge of all things in the potager and a master-electrician who once solved our long-standing hot water problem within a minute of being shown the fuse-panel.

Yesterday they came for tea.

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As it is the school holidays we hadn’t seen them for a while, they have had family staying and everyone has been busy; it was fun to catch up with their news.

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The girls love to cook. Gigi made a chocolate cake, without any help. I thought it was  pretty impressive for a nine year-old, but she does know the recipe off by heart. She measures out her flour, sugar, butter and cocoa powder, she’s an ace at cracking eggs and has become quite proficient at making a simple chocolate buttercream icing.

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There is something terribly civilised about sitting down with a cup of tea. Looking back we always had tea in my childhood, at school and at home; and my father would always come in at 5 o’clock from whatever he was doing on the farm. In one form or another, tea is a daily occurrence here. Sometimes it’s quite literally just that, a cup of tea whilst the children enjoy their afternoon snack; at other times, it’s a deliciously decadent pause during a busy day to spend an hour or so with friends, enjoying the weather and each other’s company.

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I often make scones because everyone adores them, especially the French! They are very quick and very simple and it’s a recipe I have used for ever.

Take 80zs of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and 2ozs of salted butter. Crumble everything together with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add some milk a little at a time until the dough holds together without being sticky. Roll out the dough on a floured surface with a rolling-pin until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds, I use a 1.5inch cutter. Brush with a little beaten egg and bake at 220C/425F for approximately 15 minutes. Many people add sugar to scones but I don’t! I like them better this way and strangely so do the children. Often they cut them in half and add some jam which is more than sweet enough, and Hetty and Roddy love them with a little cheese too.  This recipe will make approximately 12 scones.

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Hetty, another budding young chef, made miniature marbled chocolate & vanilla cupcakes and then iced half of them, leaving the others plain.

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In the afternoon we took the dogs for a walk and picked the first of the season’s blackberries on our usual route behind the house. We intended to bring some home to add to our tea, but there weren’t enough ripe yet and so with purple tongues from a mini feast we returned empty-handed.

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Izzi made her signature chocolate truffle-balls. These are rich and powerful but amazingly they’re also very good for you. Ok, I am sure you don’t believe me,  but let me tell you what they are made of.

2 cups of nuts (you can choose your preference, hazelnuts and almonds are her preference), 1 cup of dates (de-stoned), 1/4 cup of coconut oil, and 1/2 cup of pure cocoa powder

Blend everything together in a food-processor. Shape the mix into balls and roll in unsweetened natural shredded coconut or in cocoa powder. Chill for at least half an hour and store them in the fridge. They will keep for several days. They do need to be served really cold.

I have made these for friends visiting from Florida, and Izzi has made these for various dinner parties; everyone is smitten. We tend to always have some in the fridge as they are my after-dinner indulgence! Gigi takes a couple to tennis tournaments where she eats one or two between and during matches; they’re much much better than any shop-bought sugar-laden energy boost. I urge you to make them and try them, you will be amazed. They are sweet and delicious. Our family, children included, are somewhat addicted!

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There is never anything formal about tea here, it would take away the relaxed atomsphere. I’m not looking for perfection, merely simple enjoyment.

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Yesterday Evie thought she might join in, but when she was banished from the table, she and Bentley patiently waited underneath, just in case a crumb should fall.

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The backdrop of the house makes the perfect setting without anyone having to do anything; with the mass of yellow and red mirabilis and the wisteria flowering for the second time this year we don’t need to add much more.

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We put a couple of stems of cut hibiscus in an old bottle.

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Undisturbed a wasp helped himself to leftovers.

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Re-energised the children had slipped away to enjoy the pool. Half listening to them whooping in delight in the crystal clear water our conversation continued, we discussed the fungus that has attacked their vines. We talked about the Vendée, the department to the north of us and how different it is to the Charente Maritime. Of course we talked about the weather; Annie said summers are cooler than they used to be, while Jean Francois said they are much hotter! We chatted about children, the amount of Dutch tourists in the area, cooking, food, chicks and chickens, the pool, the problem we all seem to have keeping basil plants alive, you name it, we probably talked about it, just as friends do. An unhurried hour with great company, exactly as it should be.

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126 thoughts on “Friends for Tea

  • Thank you for this glimpse into your life, Susan. Absolutely charming descriptions of everyone’s contributions. I especially loved the sharing of your favorite recipes. Will definitely try the scones and the truffles. Your weather looks gorgeous. We are suffering here in Washington DC with an especially hot summer–though, like your friends, I am sure that if I said that to my friends, some would say it is not as hot as usual!!

    • Thanks Anne, do let me know how you like the truffles, as I said, we just adore them, healthy and delicious and sweet at the same time! It is beautiful here, the perfect temperature always with a coastal breeze. I hope it cools down for you a little soon, I never know which is worse extreme heat or extreme cold! Susan x

  • What a fantastic start to your series, I want to come and have tea with you, I enjoyed this so much and I loved the story of how you met your friends.

  • I so enjoy your posts. I really get a feel of how wonderful it must be to live there. Hoping to rent a house for a few weeks next fall ( from Canada ). May check out your area. Thanks so much for letting us peek into your beautiful life.

    • Hi Sue, so happy you are enjoying the blog. Do let me know if I can help at all with your trip next Fall, it is a lovely time to visit, the crowds have gone, but a lot of things are still open and the temperature, certainly here, is still lovely. Susan x

  • A delightful glimpse into a beautiful life, your children are adorable. Thank you for introducing us to Annie and Jean Francois.

    • Thank you Varsha, I will pass your comment onto the children, I am sure their heads will swell a little!!! I so enjoyed introducing Annie and Jean Francois, they have always been so kind and so helpful and are great fun to chat with. Susan x

  • Tea and scones? Yes please! Any clotted cream to go with them? I confess as a child that on my introduction to clotted cream alongside the jam that I put a spoonful in my tea much to the grown-ups’ bemusement. My tastes changed quickly though. Many good places to have tea and scones in Kent, thank goodness – I won’t have to bother you today for some, Susan! Lovely to see you rewarding your pest-controllers with a little jam. Wasps do a grand job if you leave them alone though I have to confess that I’m not fond of them on the beach – maybe because there is too much flesh on offer!

    • Hi Phil, we have not had nearly as many wasps this year as usual and other people have said the same, I have no idea why that is. We see the odd one or two, but that is it. Touch wood, they never bother us. I could have gone the whole way with a traditional British tea, cream included as you say, but I was trying to keep it somewhat simple! Susan x

      • Nadia, I think I agree with you, I hate wasps, but I am sure Phil is right, they must have some uses, I am just not sure I know what they are!!! and I always swipe at them and make them angry, I can’t help it! Susan x

  • Mmmmm……love the look of the chocolate truffle balls!
    Very talented girls!
    Can I order some for 4 weeks time! Lol
    Keep the nice weather going for us!
    X

    • I will make sure there is a supply of truffles in your fridge! We will do our best with the weather, but no promises, it has been utterly fantastic and it is much warmer than last August. After such a chilly Spring, maybe it will go on and on into an Indian Summer, fingers crossed! Looking forward to seeing you. Susan x

  • Thank you for the recipes! I absolutely adore that, and made the marvelous cheese twists that you share with us last fall. Please keep sprinkling the recipes in! For Gigi’s chocolate cake too please!
    What an absolute treat of a way to start my day. The pace of your summer afternoons and tea is splendidly infectious. How nice that we got to meet kind Annie and her husband – how wonderful to have met such lovely and helpful friends.
    Regarding the basil – I have trouble keeping mine alive for more than a month or two as well. Please let me know if you figure this out.
    Thank you again for sharing real life with us – there’s nothing more important in this entire world than what you are doing with your family. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks so much, do make the truffles, I cannot recommend them enough, they really are even more delicious than I describe them and we truly are addicted! We have struggled and struggled with basil, first it got eaten by snails, so we moved it higher, but still it doesn’t thrive, we have tried full sun, we have tried shade, we have tried a mixture of the two, nothing seems to work! Basil just doesn’t like the Charente Maritime in our opinion! Susan x

  • It’s the best of both my worlds here. In the French countryside, then a British tea. What more could I want? The good company of family and friends and furry four-legged pals, what a FUN afternoon!

    • The mixing of two countries that have always been friends, even if they squabble sometimes! It was a great way to spend a couple of hours late in the afternoon on a beautiful summer’s day. The dogs, of course, are always included! Susan x

    • Hi Adam, they are indeed Orangina bottles, they are the perfect size and shape for simple cut flowers straight from the garden. Hope you enjoy the scones and especially the truffles, let me know what you think of them, they are simply delicious, I cannot recommend them highly enough. Susan x

      • So glad, do let me know how you get on and how you like them. You can play around a little with the ingredients. Sometimes if the dates are very dry, we add a little avocado, it makes it a little more moist. If you can get hold of fresh dates it is even nicer! Thanks again, Susan x

  • I love the slices of your life that you share with us Susan. I am going to make the energy balls…I love the idea of using coconut oil….an added taste treat.

    Ali x

    • Hi Ali, thanks so much, looking forward to sharing it with you! Let me know how you like the truffles. We love cooking with coconut oil, it has so many uses, it has become quite a staple in our kitchen and not just for cooking,for hair, hands, nails, you name it! In cooking it adds a distinct delicate flavour which I love. Susan x

  • I love that tea pot! Nothing like Bridgewater to brighten up an afternoon tea, it looks like you all had a wonderful time. I’ll definitely be trying a few of those recipes!

    • I so agree Helen, I love our Bridgewater! It was a lovely relaxing hour with friends, the perfect way to spend a gorgeous summer afternoon. Do try and recipes, I really hope you enjoy them. Susan x

    • Thank you so much Angela, so glad you enjoyed it. It is so lovely to be able to sit down in the afternoon for a short while with friends, one of my favourite times of the day! Susan x

  • Susan, I am quite intrigued by the truffles, can you tell me is it your daughter’s own recipe or one she has found somewhere? I have eaten a lot of the Nak’d bars we get here in England and love them but they are very expensive, I am wondering if these would be a good alternative? As always a really great post, beautiful photos, superbly written, very informative and interesting, lovely all round. Lisa xx

    • Hi Lisa, thank you so much. Izzi started making brownie bites which were very similar, but they included avocado and were not rolled in either coconut or cocoa powder. Over the past few months she has slowly adapted this to her own recipe, the one I posted, this is the way we like them best! She introduced me to the Nak’d bars at Christmas when she brought some over from the UK as a present for me, I love them, but we cannot get them in France, so we basically, made our own! Of course these are even better because they are totally fresh, if you like Nak’d bars, you will love these! Susan x

      • Thanks so much, I am missing dates and the nuts, but I shall go and buy these tomorrow and have a go, I am very excited, as I said I find the Nak’d bars rather expensive and this seems like such a great, even better, alternative. Thank you to Izzi. What a talented young lady she is.

      • Hi Lisa, Izzi says thank you so much. Do let me know after you have made them what you think. If the dates are very dry, sometimes we add a little avocado to the mixture to make it a little more moist. They still keep for several days in the fridge, even with the avocado. x

  • Lovely post as usual. You have just a knack of making an ordinary afternoon tea soundso appealing and charming. The benefits of having young children at school. How I wish we had that as it is not easy to meet people here yet when I moved to Los Angeles many years ago with my then young daughter, I had a group of friends in no time. It is so nice to see your girls enjoying cooking.
    Have a great evening.

    • Oh thank you Nadia, it really was just that, an ordinary tea, with a large family a cake doesn’t last very long! School is probably the main way we have made friends wherever we have been, it is instantly something in common, children. I do wish you lived a little closer, maybe when things are a little quieter, we can arrange a weekend when you can come up here and have a meal and stay the night, it would be lovely to meet you! Susan x

  • How wonderful to share afternoon tea with you & your girls with your lovely neighbors through your blog . Love all the recipes & like so many of your other followers, I’ll certainly be making some of those chocolate,date & chopped nut balls, all my favorite things . We too have just had tea & cakes in the garden, but we treated ourselves this afternoon to ‘ Paris Brest ‘ from the local patisserie. I don’t bake cake very often these days, as it’s usually me that ends up eating it, I’ll have to make cupcakes like your daughter, then I can freeze half for later.

  • How wonderful to share afternoon tea with you & your girls with your lovely neighbors through your blog . Love all the recipes & like so many of your other followers, I’ll certainly be making some of those chocolate,date & chopped nut balls, all my favorite things . We too have just had tea & cakes in the garden, but we treated ourselves this afternoon to ‘ Paris Brest ‘ from the local patisserie. I don’t bake cake very often these days, as it’s usually me that ends up eating it, I’ll have to make cupcakes like your daughter, then I can freeze half for later.

    • Hi Barbara, one of the best things about having a big family, I can bake away and it all gets eaten, plus their friends are often here too, in fact if I don’t make anything for goûter, everyone looks most disappointed! Do try and truffles, they are really delicious. We buy the coconut oil from our local Bio store in Rochefort, they also sell it in Super U, but it is a great deal more expensive there! Have a lovely end to the week, Susan x

  • It sounds just lovely. Though I’d be packing on the kilos fast with all those sweets!
    We went hunting for blackberries this afternoon–the vines are heavy with them, but the only ripe ones were out of reach. They need a couple more days.

    • I cook them, but I never eat them, I do have a scone (they have no sugar) and I adore the truffles, but they are only dried fruits so I don’t feel guilty! I’m lucky to have so many to cook for as I do love baking, plus their friends are often here for goûter too, so there are rarely any leftovers, often there are 5 or 6 children for tea! The same here with the blackberries, we have been eating them for several days, but only enough are ripe to satisfy us whilst we walk, there aren’t enough to bring some home yet! As you say, just a couple more days. Susan x

  • What a gorgeous tea party …. Those girlies and their mummy certainly know how to make mouthwatering goodies and what lovely friends you have …. Drawn lovely to lovely I’d wager xx

    • Thank you so much! with so many mouths to feed around here, nothing lasts for long and so the girls get a lot of practice baking! They have become quite expert, but sadly not yet at the clearing up afterwards!!! I am hoping that will come with time, maybe, one day! Susan x

      • In fairness my eldest daughter and her husband made my mother and I a lovely kitchen picnic last Saturday and cleared everything away afterwards …. They are both 29 rising 30 😂😂😂😂 xx

      • So I have over a decade to wait whilst they learn this simple task! To be fair too our eldest, 20 does a huge amount of clearing up, she’s good, the others, probably best not to even go down that road. But I love them all the same!!! I just have to accept I will Never have a tidy house with five children! Xxx

      • I have a friend with a splendid fridge magnet that says ‘Dull women have immaculate houses’ – I have clung to this truth for nearly 30 years!!! And I’m sure, like mine they are wonderful in others homes and do all manner of chores without a murmur …. X

  • What a terrific, civilized pause tea time provides. When my mother was alive we invariably “stopped for tea” for just about any reason, at just about any time. She said tea was a cure for broken hearts and broken bones, among other ailments.

    Admiration abounds for the girls baking achievements; they do make some lovely treats.

    • Hi Mary, I think it is a British thing, when something bad happens, everyone says “have a cup of tea and you’ll feel better” I wonder is it the tea, or the sitting down and relaxing and a warm drink that supposedly does the trick. My Father always had afternoon tea, a sandwich and a slice of cake with a pot of tea. I love that the children have ta here every afternoon, all their french friends expect it, they all sit down at around 4pm and enjoy their mid afternoon snack. It is very civilised! Susan x

  • What a treat to have some of your recipes, I had fun changing in to cups from Ounces.
    I copied the Scones. A lot like my Buttermilk Biscuits.
    Love your blog. Would love to come and meet your neighbors.
    Carolyn

    • Hi Carolyn, I am sorry, I should have worked it out and put it into cups. I have a complete mixture of recipes, some are in cups, those from America, some are in ounces and lots are in grammes and kgs. Let me know how you get on with the scones and do try the truffles, they are delicious! Any time you ever come to France, you will certainly be invited to tea to come and meet everyone! Susan x

    • Hi Brenda, so happy to have you following along, welcome to the blog and thank you for taking the time to comment, it is much appreciated. Hope you have a lovely end to the week in South Carolina. Susan x

  • Lovely post, Susan. How wonderful to have such good friends who help you out with all sorts of things. I love how your children get stuck in with the baking, and thanks for the recipes. The scones and chocolate truffle balls will definitely get made when my kitchen is in place. Love your wasp photo. He looks in seventh heaven. 🙂

    • Thanks Syliva, we have been so lucky since moving here, I cannot tell you how helpful many of our friends have been, they have not only welcomed us into the country but they have been so happy to help and advise, true friends indeed. The children all love baking, fortunately with so many mouths to feed, and friends frequently here too nothing ever goes to waste. When do you think your kitchen will be finished? I admire your patience, I had to go through the same when we moved here, no kitchen for months! Susan x

  • A very relaxing afternoon read, thank you, I was drooling at the cakes and scones. I have never had any success in baking, but I shall try the scones again, if they really are as easy as you make them sound. I’ll let you know how I get on!

    • Hi Erin, thank you. The scones really are terribly easy. I know many people say scones are difficult, but these are not and they are truly delicious either with savoury things or with jam as a sweet treat. I eat them on their own without anything added, best when they are still warm from the oven! Have fun and good luck, Susan x

  • English tea in France? What a delightful mèlange of good things. Like those truffle balls – I think the girlfriend has already been out shopping for the ingredients!

    • Hi Simon, I know I love it, French and English traditions mixed together and French and English people, just the best. Do hope you love the truffles, let me know what you think. Susan x

    • Thank you so much Sydney. I try and look for the beauty all around us, there is nothing extravagant about our lifestyle, it is very simple, but I do believe in making the most of everything I can. Hope you have a lovely upcoming weekend. Susan x

  • What a great time together having fellowship over some sweet bites and tea. How wonderful that your girls are baking. So glad you shared your recipes.

    • Thanks Kim, I love sitting down with friends and family, there is nothing better. The children love to bake and cook in general, the mess is always horrendous, but it is worth it to see them so at home in the kitchen and having so much fun with food. Susan x

    • Thank you. So glad you are going to make the truffles, they are truly delicious and very healthy and so easy to make. The perfect snack when one wants something sweet. Do let me know if you like them and how you get on. Have a lovely upcoming weekend. Susan X

  • As usual, Susan, you bring a zen-like closeup intensity to show us the beauty of ordinary moments – which makes your life there seem rather more like a film than real life.

    There must be a lot of happy chaos with such a large family, yet you capture these precious seconds within that chaos and hold them up like jewels – which they are. Brava!

    • Thanks so much Ellen. YOu have hit the nail on the head, a LOT of happy chaos! With five children and endless friends of their’s over for gouter and to play the mess is always horrendous, especially when they cook, but so long as I cling to the phrase “a happy house is a messy house” then I am more than happy!!! Have a fabulous weekend, Susan x

    • Hi Catherine, I just love the shape of Orangina bottles! The wisteria is wild! I prune it constantly, far more than the winter and spring pruning recommended in all the gardening books. As soon as a long shoot gets out of hand or in the way I chop it off, otherwise it would be inside Windows, clogging up the shutters and we would scarcely be able to get in the front door! But it has never stopped it flowering prolifically, and this year twice, so I guess it does it no harm! Susan x

  • Lovely post and recipes to boot! Thanks for your blog today but not just for today. I don’t always read it the day it is posted but save it for the day I want to relax and savor my quiet time.

    • Thank you so very much, I really appreciate it and am so happy you enjoy reading the posts so much. I simply had to share the scones because they are so easy and yet for some bizarre reason people have a notion they are hard to make and Izzi’s truffles are just perfection and healthy too! Hope you have a lovely peaceful and happy weekend. We are off to the Pyrenees Atlantique for a couple of days with the children as it is Gigi’s birthday. Susan x

  • What a lovely afternoon! I love the Emma Bridgewater pieces my eye spied….walked the length of Fulham Rd in 2001 trying to find the shop then spent an hour making up my mind what to buy. Blue hens, like your tea pot. Thank you for the truffle balls recipe, am going to make them this weekend! Tea time is the best for chatting with family, friends ….a break in a busy day. I found an Orangina bottle buried in the earth at a Château, it was mother-of-pearly with age and I was so excited about my ancient find, until I saw that the drink was being sold everywhere and the bottle not so special after all. Except to me, and I have it still, and it is usually used for a single rose on the table. Thousands of miles away. ❤

    • Hi Jeanne, I love Bridgewater too, we once inherited some with a house in the mid 1990’s and we have been devoted fans ever since, nothing matches, I prefer it that way, instead we have a complete mixture, so every day everyone eats off a different plate! So happy you bought the Blue Hens! I love the Orangina bottle story, even though it is neither rare nor valuable, I can imagine the memories it brings every time it sits on the table, I think these things are much the best. Let me know how you like the truffles. If the dates you have are too dry, add a little avocado to the mixture, we sometimes do, they will still keep for several days, but it will make it a little more moist if needed. Have a fabulous weekend, Susan x

  • Your teatime looked lovely Susan and brought back lots of childhood memories. There are some great recipes here too which I may have to pinch! None of my French friends drink tea so still an English thing for us and whenever anyone asks what they should bring when they visit, the answer is always TEA! 🙂

    • Hi Amanda, feel free to pinch away! If you make the truffles, as I have mentioned to some others, if the dates are too dry we sometimes add a little avocado, it creates some extra moisture and they keep just as long. Sounds weird, but it works! I don’t drink tea either! Well, to the traditional kind, I only drink green tea. Our French friends tend to drink English tea, very happily, but straight and black, they cannot understand why Roddy puts milk in his! The one thing we always ask for if English friends are bringing a car is Marmite, I still a haven’t found anywhere to buy it here! Susan x

      • They don’t sell it in our Super U! There just aren’t enough English around here to warrant it! I buy it from Amazon, but it is expensive too, the problem is the whole family love it!!! Enjoy the weather, I wish summer could last forever! It’s spiralling far too quickly towards Autumn. Need to press pause! Susan x

    • Hi Lisa, I am sure you will be, here we found we had to take a two step approach. One, not be pushy and just keep quiet, let everyone get used to the idea that there were foreigners in the village first, and just quietly settle in and two, we had to then always make the first move. Once we offered a friendly smile, a hand shake, once we made an effort we have found everyone is so incredibly friendly back. It really makes one feel at home to have local French friends and I know you will be just fine. Susan x

  • LOVELY……………tradition.
    What time to you have dinner there in FRANCE?My guess is 8pm?
    You are still going into mY JUNK FILE!I have decided I will START with the JUNK file then go read my inbox!SO MADDENING……..had the computer WIZARD TWICE to FIX!

    • Thank you. In the summer holidays we tend to eat around 8.30pm, everything sort of slips back a little, we eat outdoors always and as it’s still broad daylight and the sun is still quite high in the sky there is never any rush to eat earlier. Once the children are back at school we try and eat a little earlier, around 7.45pm, which the French still find terribly early, as you say 8pm is the norm! I don’t know why I am going into your junk folder. but I am so glad you have found me!!! Have a great weekend, Susan xx

  • I made your delicious truffles yesterday, big hit with my husband! Perfect little snack to have last night while at our local castle watching Macbeth. I live on a small island in the Bay of St Malo, and love looking out of my window and seeing (on a good day) the lights in the houses in France!

    • I am so glad he liked them, the perfect snack and it sounds as if it was a perfect evening. I was intrigued, then I saw you are from Guernsey. Two of our daughters were born in Guernsey as we are from Alderney! Small world! You might like to go back and have a read of a short story I posted in four parts a couple of months ago. Audrey – A Short Story starts off on the Island of Guernsey! Hope you are enjoying this wonderful weather and having a lovely weekend. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, much appreciated always. Susan x

  • This sounds like the perfect way to spend the afternoon with friends! How wonderful that your kids make the treats! I love to hear about kids who learn to cook/bake at an early age. Your tea looks like the perfect kind for me with lots of sweets!

    I hope that you have a wonderful weekend.

    • Thanks Elizabeth, I love the children cooking and I will encourage them always, even though the mess is quite horrendous! Lots of sweet things indeed, but neither the scones nor the truffles have any sugar in them, so it wasn’t as bad as it looked! It was meant to be just a cake, but everyone wanted to make something which is often the way, at least with five children and endless friends of theirs too, there are plenty of mouths to feed! Hope you are having a lovely weekend, Susan x

  • It’s so lovely where you are, I wonder if you ever need to go away for a holiday! As for basil; mine always died until one day I threw it into our conservatory which gets really hot and discovered that it grew with abandon in the heat with a liberal amount of water, while it always died in my kitchen. I’m guessing that it really hates draughts.
    Bonne continuation!

    • Hi Miranda, we tend to never go away in the summer, although we just went down to the Pyrennes Atlantique for a long weekend. But, for the most part we all far prefer to stay here for the summer, it’s just too nice not to! We thought we were winning with our latest efforts with the basil, but the latest heatwave, a few days at around 39C was just too much for it, even with lots of water! Enjoy the rest of the summer xx

  • Lovely post. If I lived anywhere in Europe I would spent as much time as humanely possible traveling ALL over Europe and just soaking it all in. I’ve traveled over quite a bit of the United States but there is still SO much I want to see and do. While every little pocket in the US is a bit different and there are definitely differences in people and cultures from the south to the west to the east, etc. in the US, it is nowhere near the differences in the cultures and peoples in various countries in Europe. Actually, when you think about it, it makes you wonder how people who can live so close to each other become so different in some ways. But I grew up very lucky. I have a father who inherited special genes from his mother and grandmother that make certain humans want to travel, all the time! I have that gene too but my brother didn’t get it. My poor mom, bless her heart, both of my parents are in their 70s now and still try to go some but my mom, who would have been content never to leave the county let alone the state put up with my dad and I (my brother was too little to have a say) traveling all over the place. Even as early as age 8 I would sit right beside daddy (yes, I STILL call him Daddy) and read the map navigating our way through large cities like St. Louis and so forth. I would read the AAA Campsite guides and pick a campground. (my brother and I usually tried to find the ones with pools). When the folks first married in 1960 my dad was THE first person in our small town to have a “truck camper”, well any camper of ANY sort. Most thought he was nuts, including my mom. But in those truck campers, every few years we upgraded (heck, when we started out we had an ice box and NO bathroom) and we eventually moved up to travel trailers and finally they got their first RV in the 1990s. But boy we sure saw our share of this big country in those things. We still tease my dad that when his foot hits the gas pedal its like trying to pry chewing gum from the dog’s hair to get it off. Over the years the complete strangers we met at times,(often we broke down) who were the KINDEST people. One girl I met as a “tween” (we didn’t have that term then) kept up a pen pal correspondence with me for 10 years or more. We had our share of adventures, that’s for sure but we all grew as people and learned just how wonderful the average ordinary person is in this country. THAT is how I would love to see Europe. That, or be able to go and live in almost every country for a good year each one. If far more people would travel and meet the rest of the world I think so many of the problems we have would never exist. After all, how can you hate or dislike a country or a place when you’ve been there, met lovely people who were gracious and kind to you? How can a person want to harm those they’ve become friends with in the past when you helped them out? I am SO envious of those just like this Hayes family, living in France, enjoying the experience, and just soaking it all in. If I could, I’d be there in a heartbeat. Have fun and enjoy EVERY blessed moment you have in this fantastic adventure you’re living.

    • What a fabulous comment, thank you so much for sharing a glimpse into your traveling experience in the USA. Dont’ worry, I still call my Daddy, “Daddy”! It’s true some people love travelling and others don’t. We have travelled quite extensively as a family and therefore so have our five children. As a result they have a very good grasp of other cultures, they make friends very easily and accept that not everyone is the same, just because someone does something differently does not make them any better or worse, it is just a matter of individual preference. You are lucky to have traveled so much over the States, you have a gorgeous country with so many different aspects, snow, desert, tropical, you name it. Europe is fascinating and each country is very proud of it’s heritage. I feel very privileged to be able to live here in France and to be able to raise our children here, it is certainly a wonderful upbringing for them, they get the best of both worlds, they are bilingual and they can appreciate everything on offer here. Perhaps this is why I am so enjoying sharing this, I want other people to be able to escape a little, even if only in the virtual sense, and experience a little slice of France. Thank you again for taking the time to comment, so very much appreciated. Susan xx

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