The Wrath of the Gods

p4960465The weather gods have certainly been playing with us this winter and I daresay they’re not done yet. They’ve been tossing us around like a bunch of wet socks inside a washing machine, and we’re never sure quite what they will throw at us next.

We’ve had rain, lots of it. We’ve also had the coldest weather for many years with ice six inches thick on the pond.  Days later we had almost record temperatures at 17C. And now, we’ve had the wind, with the worst storms to hit the coast for a long time. The only thing left to come is snow; perhaps we’ll see a few flurries of the white stuff this month, or perhaps we won’t – who knows?!

This has turned out to be a ‘real’ winter and although I look forward to spring I’m still rather enjoying these harsh days; this time last year everything was already in blossom as spring arrived a month early. The garden was totally confused, I think we all were. The bees definitely were! This year though, weather matters are definitely keeping us on our toes. After the drama of the gales over the weekend, we awoke this morning to thick freezing fog; the roof-tops of the village houses were dusted in white with a generous covering of frost, twinkling in the first rays of sun as it stretched out its warming fingers through the fog.

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Some of you may know that Millie, our second daughter, spent eight days in Madrid in January. Well, her Spanish correspondant is now staying here, enjoying eight days in France. The night she arrived we were under a vigilance rouge, a red alert, typically put in place for extremely dangerous weather. I’m sure it was not quite what she wanted to hear after a long 12 hour coach journey. She must have wondered exactly what she had walked into as we battened down the hatches. The conversation at supper that night was a garbled mixture of Spanish, French and English, with much talk of the forecast wind; impending storms always induce an atmosphere charged with excitement and anticipation amongst our children.

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The worst weather hit us in the early hours, and even with the shutters firmly closed throughout the house the noise awoke us all; apparently the highest winds were recorded at 150 kph. Bentley normally sleeps at the foot of our bed but he is terrified of storms, right on cue as the first dustbin lid banged its way down the street outside he started to pace around the room, panting feverishly in fear. I was wide awake by now, listening to every gust and every noise outside.

I asked Roddy if he had remembered to strap down the trampoline; sleepily he replied, “no”. I worried about the chickens, and imagined them flying in their coop around the garden, like some scene from Peter Pan. The old house creaked a little but I knew we were safe. It had no doubt seen far worse and it’s stood the test of time over the past 220 years. I turned over and eventually went back to sleep.

On Saturday morning, we tentatively opened the shutters, peering out of upstairs windows, before coming down and surveying the scene outside more carefully. The wind had been coming from the west, so on the eastern side of the house plants and tubs remained quite undisturbed.

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The sky to the east was ominously pink, and those wise words uttered so often by my father rattled around my brain, “Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning”.

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Our garden looked a bit like a battlefield, with branches strewn across the lawn where they had fallen, and our trampoline upside down against the neighbours fence! Thankfully the chicken coop had remained firmly in place, and its occupants seemed totally unfazed by their night’s disturbed rest – each in turn hopped out of the small door into the stiff breeze and made happy chicken noises. Fritz, by the way, is very much better; he’s back in the main coop, back with his friends, limping a little but enjoying being part of the flock once again.

Driving about the village after breakfast we could see a few trees down, but there seemed nothing too serious otherwise. We listened to the news and talked to a friend who lives right by the sea who reported back that the coast was completely paralysed, all power was down and trees blocked several roads. Friends inland repeated a similar tale of woe, and we realised we’d been very lucky.

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We remained on an orange alert the entire weekend and on Sunday the winds picked up strength once more, but it was nothing compared to the previous night. For some exercise we decided to head to the beach and battle the weather. Our Spanish visitor had never seen the coast in the winter; she was only familiar with the Mediterranean in the summer months as she has travelled quite a bit but she had never experienced the wrath of the sea in stormy conditions.

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Down on the coast, the water rolled in roaring tables across the shallow sands and raced up the beach, scattering the dogs and the children as they squealed with delight; the weak light gleamed on a surface studded with hissing, bubbling suds.

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It was hard to walk with the wind, and at times it pushed us forwards so we banged into each other; alternatively it also held us back, making each step an effort requiring concentration.

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The sand whipped along the beach, blowing grains around in the air, and our foot-prints disappeared within seconds as we trudged into the gale.

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The vista was a monochromatic scene of greys and browns. The sea was a churning mass of froth and foam, stretching out to the horizon until it merged with the sky. Anyone would think this image is in black and white rather than full colour!

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Leaving the sand, which was stinging our eyes (and Bentley and Evie’s too) we turned in the opposite direction and walked along the rocky shoreline towards Royan. As the clouds raced along above us we briefly caught a glimpse of blue sky.

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The local wooden fishing huts built on stilts, known as carrelets, can be found all along our coastline. At first glance they look rather flimsy, as if they would blow down with the slightest puff of wind; but looks can be deceiving, they are actually built to stringent standards and are very much more solid than they appear.

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The carrelets are particular to this region and are used by local fisherman to catch small smelts, shrimps and eels. Their main implement is a square shaped net (a filet carré which has given the shacks their name carrelets) which is winched up and down by a simple hand  pulley. Their bright blue paintwork was pretty much the only dash of colour on this particular day.

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And when it’s pouring with rain, in the depths of winter, when the skin on our faces is frozen stiff and we’re almost unable to move from the bitter driving wind, our thoughts turn to food for comfort.

When in Spain, Millie ate Paella, so as we’re in the the oyster capital of France, we thought we should serve shellfish to our Spanish teenager as part of her first experience of the Charente Maritime. However, she explained she was not a great fan of fruits de mer, so instead we cooked traditional french galettes, turning our kitchen into a crêperie for a couple of hours!

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Traditional Galettes are easy to make and for a batch of 10 or so you will need:

500g Buckwheat flour
150g plain white flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1.5 litres water

Whisk everything very well together and leave to rest in the fridge for half an hour. When you are ready to cook the galettes, wipe a little olive oil around a large flat pancake pan or frying pan and place on a high heat, pour in about half a cup of the galette mixture and swirl it around to coat the entire base of the pan in a thinnish pancake sort of way. Cook on a high heat for two or three minutes before flipping over.

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Now comes a difficult choice – to either cook it completely and then add any fillings you want, or instead sprinkle some grated cheese and an egg on top now to let it all cook and melt together. Happily, I can say this difficult choice is actually also the best part, because you can do what you want! If you do decide to cook an egg from raw fold over the edges of the galette to make a parcel that you can flip over several times to make sure the egg is cooked and the cheese melted – it’s a delicious combination!

For our special treat, we’d cooked some bacon on the side and also made a creamy mushroom sauce. Along with a couple of other additions that the children brought to the table, it became a real ‘pick ‘n mix’ session, with everyone building their own galette.

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Frankly, there is nothing like an overdose of salt-laden fresh air and physical activity to entice a hearty appetite. Not a lot remained by the time we had finished!

129 thoughts on “The Wrath of the Gods

  • I have eaten galettes many times in France but have never thought to make them myself, and I have to be honest and admit I didn’t know they were made with buckwheat flour!

    • The buckwheat flour really does give them the most delicious flavour, there are recipes that use 100% buckwheat but we prefer this one. It is also very high in fibre, a healthy fun meal. xx

    • Me too Lisa, I love the beach in the winter, there are only ever a handful of other people and the walking is always really exhilarating, we go to the beach just as much in the winter as we do in the summer! xx

    • They are yum! Some of the best I remember were in Brittany and we also have a wonderful Crêperie here but it’s closed in the winter! So at this time of year we have to improvise, which is a lot of fun and truly quite delicious and it’s also rather fun to cook only French dishes for a week for our Spanish guest. Needless to say breakfasts have included a lot of croissants and pain au chocolat! xx

  • Your pictures are honestly akin to paintings today …. those skies and seas caught for posterity with all the artfulness of an old master. And my mouth waters at those galettes. Some of our best friends in Cantal are a couple he from Normandy she Breton (you can imagine the banter) and both are fantastic cooks … you remind me that we should drop in at pancake o’clock when next we are home!

    • Sounds as if you definitely should, the best galettes I have ever eaten were in Brittany. We don’t have them that often so it always makes rather a fun meal for the children, our dear Spanish visitor has coped brilliantly with a large household of noisy children and dogs and three languages flying around in all directions, I have to admit it’s been an absolute hoot! xx

      • Well they are a Breton delight so I guess it stands to reason that you found some pretty special one’s there! All hail your Spanish visitor … I’ll bet she is absolutely LOVING it! Xx

      • Exactly, fabulous quick and easy meals with lots of children in tow, we frequented them quite a lot in Brittany as there was always something to please everyone! Our Spanish friend seems really happy, I hope she is, she calls home every night and giggles away on the phone, but to be honest she could be saying anything, I can’t understand a word!!! For all I know, she could be explaining just how barking mad we all are, come to think of it she probably is and she wouldn’t be far wrong!! xx

  • Wonderfully evocative! Our weather in the eastern US has been mildly psychotic all year, not so much with bad storms as with wind and temperatures that are up one day and down the next.

    • I often think we get the weather you get just a few days later. But normally we don’t get such extremes, cold nights usually mean cold clear days, rain means milder warmer weather, but this winter we have yo-yoed all over the place! Oh well, we will all be in spring and loving every minute of it soon! xx

  • What a lucky girl your Spanish visitor is to be a part of your special family for a week. I am sure many many of us would like to take her place, storms or not, what a wonderful place to stay.

    • It is fabulous having her to stay and being able to reciprocate a little as they gave Millie such a wonderful time in Madrid. I think it is fantastic that teenagers are able to do this and experience so many different cultures. xx

    • I am in total agreement with you, I cannot stand oysters! Yet here we are in the oyster capital of France, the roadside is littered with huts selling oysters, they are like the McDonalds of the area, inexpensive and to be found everywhere, people just stop on their way home from work and buy a dozen, some take them home, others we see eating them in their cars! xx

  • Reading Bev’s comment made me wonder. Is this a school thing or a privately arranged exchange trip? It sounds like such a brilliant opportunity, how old are Millie and her Spanish friend?

    • It is a school arranged exchange Amanda. They are both 16 and the school arranged for 25 of them to go to Madrid, they had to complete forms so that they would be placed with families and girls who shared similar interests. A couple of days they have spent actually at school, experiencing the day as a local and taking regular classes, other days trips have been arranged, either for part of the day or the entire day, it has all been incredibly well organised both here and in Spain, apparently they have been doing it for years. Those that study German do the same thing but in Germany and of course there is always an English/French one every year as English lessons are obligatory. xx

  • Like Nadia, I never managed to learn to tolerate oysters, though I’m an unfussy eater. Galettes though … yum. I love the idea of incorporating the egg and cheese within. Glad you survived the storm!

    • Me neither, which is a shame, as living in the oyster capital of France, as I said to Nadia, we pass the huts on the side of the road selling oysters every day, they are the local fast food, cheap and quick and easy! xx

  • Glad you were all unscathed in the storm. My dogs are normally unfazed but they wouldn’t venture out into it! The greenhouse is damaged and there were lots of trees in the road. I do miss not being near the beach as it was probably the safest place to be! Have to say that we love galettes for a lunchtime treat and normally slip a slice of ham under the egg.

    • What level of winds did you get, it seemed to go in patches, some places were so much worse hit than others, we went to La Rochelle on Saturday afternoon and there was no sign of anything amiss at all! We had galettes for lunch today! Made with buckwheat flour they are remarkably healthy and so good! xx

      • Not sure but it was enough to blow pots over that were full of earth! We are on a hill and a bit exposed and it was way too dangerous in the forest. I love buckwheat too so I’m looking for suggestions of new ways to use it too.

      • Wow, we were in Angouleme today and on the drive there we saw lots of trees down and broken electricity poles beside the road on high ground, it seems we escaped very lightly here, but as you say it’s just where there was high ground and a gust came through. If you find some good buckwheat recipes do let me know, or post them on your blog because it is really such a healthy grain that I would love to cook more with it. Xx

  • Susan, so much to ‘go on about’…. I have been thinking of you guys every day over this strange period of storms…. we had terrible winds but, apart from a few (actually quite heavy) pots have flown away and couldn’t be found later on, we were ‘good’. After temperatures of up to 13°C we dived down to 3C this week, we had in the whole time just a few snowflakes running each other but no permanent snow. We did however have fog, mist, mizzle and drizzle…. and I hate it!
    I also CANNOT eat oysters – and I never will… I have learned to love eating all things fish, for a Swiss gal who has never seen the sea before I went myself to see and find it, I’m pretty happy to have discovered the goodness of simple fish recipes, just don’t tempt me with oysters.
    I adore crêpes, galettes, whatever, I love them. I eat them any way they come, make them, break them, so easy and good. You have the additional bonus of having organic eggs – I sometimes only find them with difficulties, as in our area we seem to have more and more lovers of ‘real food’, up to the point where one store is having notes up in the egg department, saying that due to highly increased demand for organic produce, they can’t get ever enough…. tough! The question whether eggs must be organic or not never posed itself in Switzerland, as caged hens and -eggs are forbidden since ‘forever’. I have had several fruit less discussions with other shoppers at the beginning of my stay in France but I’ve given up – if they are happy to offer their families and friends products with eggs from hens in cages let them be – or eat poultry from poor caged in animals, so be it.
    Just also found your ‘cabbage’ article which I ‘quickly’ marked with a like at some time and then forgot about because I haven’t had the time for it – but I’ll come back to it…. promise!

    • Strange strange weather indeed, we ate lunch outside on Tuesday because it was so lovely and warm and sunny but today we awoke to frost and fog, the fog cleared and the sun came out but them the fog rolled back in again and it’s cold, 6C! Oh well, soon it will be spring, we can’t complain, because really we have little to nothing to complain about! I cannot and will not eat pork unless it is organic because I cannot stand the way the pigs are kept, it is totally inhumane, likewise any animal and eggs, thank goodness we have our own. I loathe oysters which is a great shame as they are the local fast food here, little huts selling them litter the sides of the roads, people stop off for a dozen on their way home from work and some people literally eat them as a take-away, then and there in their cars! But I do love fish, I could happily live on fish, delicious, my absolute favourite! xx

  • Oh my what a storm!
    When we are here and read about oversea storms, it puts the world in perspective…
    Your photography is sublime, love the shot of the sky peeking through…if you were a painter…paint that picture….
    Oh that I could…
    thank you for sharing…
    Nancy
    wildoakdesigns.blogspot.com

    • Thanks Nancy, sadly I am not a painter at all, it is a gene that totally bypassed me. I have ancestors who were relatively well known in their field, and the children have all inherited great artistic talents, but I am beyond useless! So I stick to my camera and words instead, it’s the best I can do! xx

  • Oh yes, the poor dogs….. when we used to ‘celebrate’ Switzerland’s birthday (August 1st), we had to wrap our poor Tigi’s (a very small ‘normal’ long-haired dachsie) head and body in a thick towel, hold our hands over her ears and cover her under our bedspread (duvet) or else she would just really freak out totally…. She also felt when things went badly wrong in our lives – it was wonderful and totally scary! I can’t wait to have another companion.

    • Oh yes they know for sure. Bentley knows when a storm is coming long before we do. I don’t think it was the noise that was worrying him so much as the lights. We always leave a landing light on upstairs outside the bathroom, a habit from when the children were tiny and the power kept going out for a second or two and then would come back on and so the lights went on and off non stop, poor boy, like you we hold him close on the bed and eventually the storm passes and his panting stops and we can go back to sleep! He hates fireworks with a passion too, the slightest bang and he’s a quivering wreck, you can imagine what July 14th is like! xx

  • Great shot of the ocean. You can tell I’m from California. My first thought was ooh, storms, how was the surfing? Though from your photos, it doesn’t look to have been that great. Glad you came through it okay.

    • This is a huge surfing area, surfers abound whenever the weather allows and there are surfing schools and shops everywhere, but this was not surfing weather, there were no nice big rollers, just short choppy messy seas. xx

  • I guess my feeble complaints of wind make me sound ridiculously silly. Can’t imagine rocky coasts with wind and sea like that but then I live in a high mountain dessert. Glad you all came through it fairly well (so sorry about the broken branch/trunk on the tree-those are always heartbreaking). Your breakfast galettes look yummy and I could almost smell the delicious combinations from your photos. I fix mine with lingonberry jam on top, Swedish style. 🙂

    • Ooh delicious! I often make pancakes for breakfast and the children love them American style with maple syrup, their French friends also seem to find these delicious! Our storms were nothing too major, we’ve been through much worse and your American friends in hurricane regions certainly have too, but it made for an interesting weekend! xx

  • It sounds as if your weather is a up and down as it has been here. Yesterday it was 65 today it is 39 and so windy I can hear the eves creaking.

    I too love to visit the ocean when it is stormy, I love the waves, wind and the completely different look and feel from warmer days.

    Have a great weekend.

    • I often think our weather mirrors yours, just a few days later. However, we don’t normally get the big fluctuations in temperature, but this year has been quite unpredictable. I love the beach every bit as much in the winter as in the summer, and I always love walking along the sand, listening to the waves and the sea, it is a great place to think and reflect and just to clear the mind. Hope you too have a lovely weekend xx

  • The wind shrieked up the shingle here too, Susan, though I think there was rather more of it down your way. Happy you all came through it unscathed. I hope that’s your lot for the winter, as I wouldn’t wish mushy snow on anyone in an area that doesn’t get it normally. I would imagine it causes chaos!

    Looking forward to seeing some spring photos of your garden soon! Another year rolling by!

    Regards from the shed, now smelling strongly off too much red cabbage, sausage and beans 🙂 Can’t wait for the first of the summer mackerel on the grill……

    • Hmmm grilled mackerel, one of my absolute favourites, sitting outside with warm tomatoes freshly picked, you’re making me long for summer! I am however, still just a tiny bit hopeful we might see a little snow, I do adore it and so do the children, I am always hopeful! I heard that the south coast didn’t have too much wind at all, Izzi told us, they had nothing, I think she was almost quite disappointed! xx

  • Breathtaking pictures. I live on the open prairies in the middle of Canada. So to see a raging ,magnificent shore took my breath away.The world is definetly a beautiful oyster waiting to be discovered.Our winter is still grunting along with today”s wind chill of -39 degrees.. Brrrr!
    Keep warm… Love your blog! The simple life in France, thanks for sharing..

    • Oh my goodness, -39 is so so cold, I cannot even imagine it as I don’t think I have ever been in such conditions, I hope for your sake that spring comes early. I have to admit I love the beach in the winter when it is stormy and the sea is a raging mass of angry foam, it is breathtaking and scary all at the same time. The fog has returned here and I am moaning that it is cold when it is really 6C! But having read your comment I realise it’s not even remotely cold and the girls and I are off to play tennis! Hope you have a lovely weekend and stay warm! xx

  • I love reading everyone’s comments and although it’s been said several times, i am going to say it again, what fabulous photos, they have quite taken my breath away. I very rarely see the sea, perhaps once every few years, normally we see sunny pictures of beaches and ice creams and sand castles but this is the other side of the coin, the winter view and I love it just as much, brilliant post as always.

    • Thank you so much Panda, it was actually really hard to take any photos at all, I can only thank my camera that they turned out even half decent, as it was wobbling with the wind, I literally had to snap away and then quickly bury it back inside my coat to protect it from the salt and damp air! I love the beach in the winter every bit as much as the beach in the summer, they are indeed complete opposites, but each has it’s own uniqueness that I love. xx

  • I love reading your blog ……everything you write about. I feel as if I have a second life and next door neighbor that I adore, although I am here in Texas. Your beautiful photography is a joy to ones eyes. Thank you for sharing your days and stormy nights with us.

    • Thank you so much Collette, I have to admit I have never been to Texas, although Roddy has, in fact he had my engagement ring made there, but that’s another long story!! The sun peeked through today and then the fog rolled back in again, a typical February day! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Good Morning from Ottawa, Canada..Enjoyed reading your post and could almost envision myself on the beach..The little fishing huts are interesting and they remind me of the little huts that line the Ottawa River each winter from which the fishermen cut a hole inside through the thick ice and drop their line..Thank you for another lovely post.

    Elizabeth Eastman

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Hi Elizabeth, our weather here probably seems very tame compared with yours and to think I consider it really cold when we get down to freezing! I would love to see the fishing huts, they sound fascinating, I have watched several different versions of ice fishing on tv, it’s quite amazing. Hope you have a lovely weekend and stay warm xx

  • Susan, what a weather adventure, especially for your Spanish guest! We have had driving rains here in California, right now we have a hole in our wood floor due to damage. The weather is letting itself have a wild party, that’s for sure. Beautiful photos. Xo

    • The weather is having quite a party, and it seems as if it is not just here, with you also on the west coast and also I hear on the east coast as well! How did the wooden floor get damaged inside? I hope it is nothing too serious and can be easily repaired. After the drought in California I would imagine that the rain is welcome though. Soon we will all be enjoying Spring. Xx

  • Beautiful photos of the sea and the fog.
    We caught the tail end of it as it moved toward the Mediterranean and Spain. The “winter” patio table and chairs were overturned and piled up by the wind against a wall. The howling of the wind kept me up at night, and I was glad our roof tiles are cemented on. Today, however, has not a cloud in the sky and temps around 10.

    • Thanks so much, I hadn’t realised the storm had continued on that far. Our roof tiles are just laid traditionally with no cement but we didn’t lose a single one, I guess we were lucky, our neighbour lost several off their wall which is topped with tiles, they lay broken all over the pavement. Our temps are much the same as yours, but the sun came out and then the fog rolled back in again and we didn’t see the sun again until late afternoon! Xx

  • i loved this post and all the photos…i love mother nature when she is raging free…the wild ocean pix…your children having a wonderful time through it all…keep up the wonderful writings and gorgeous photos…we are currently on the french side of st. martin on vacation…someday, i will visit where you are…have a blessed day ❤

    • Thanks so much Mary, I love going to the beach in the winter, it is just as much fun as the summer. I also know St Martin very well, a long time ago when we just had one baby we lived in Anguilla and used to take the ferry over to St Martin, Marigot, to load up on fresh meats and vegetables, the French had so much more in the way of fresh provisions than we were able to buy on Anguilla. I also used to love wandering around the market there. Hope you have a truly wonderful holiday and when you visit here I will show you around. Xx

  • Can’t seem to keep my head together, as I wanted to comment on the storm pics…. they made me think so fondly of the storms in the very protected bay of Torquay – and yet, one day, the whole stair-rails were pulled up from their cemented place – and the water often not only splashes over the high wall protecting the street and the large park beyond – but literally wrecked it all so that the park was under water and the street closed for longer times…. We often walked down along the strand, jumping back when we saw large waves ‘approaching’ – the sea always is a beautiful place, be it in shine or rain – and it never is twice the same. I do miss ‘my water’ so – and if I can’t have the sea, I want at least a lake (but oh, no such luck here…. – we have 2, 3 tiny puddles called lakes, ha ha, here and plenty of small rivers which can swell up that’s true, but never to a point like a sea)

    • I remember so well walking along the sea wall in England, as you say, we would leap back when a big wave approached as it washed over the pavement and soaked anyone in its path. I am not sure I could live too far from the sea and I know Roddy certainly couldn’t, there is something very powerful about it, both in the summer and the winter, I find it the most fantastic place just to clear the mind, to walk along a beach, in the winter with the wind whipping around us and waves pounding up the beach and in the summer with bare toes in the sand, either way is just perfect! Xx

  • Climate change??? Our weather has also been a roller coaster. We had about 25cm of snow dumped on us over the last week….this is not our usual. This is supposed to be a rain forest.
    It certainly has been an interesting winter around the world. I keep wondering about the bulbs and flowers that are under the snow…they must be very surprised. Next week back to….normal weather and all green.

    Wonderful photos. I love stormy seas…..

    Ali xx

    • It is a rain forest that has now become a snow field! The weather is certainly strange, certainly a part of it has to be due to climate change, I am quite sure. I am sure the bulbs are probably fine under the snow, probably warmer than if it were just a hard frost, our daffodils are now all coming into bloom and I have spotted the first bright yellow of mimosa, Spring is so so nearly here, but I do love walking along the beach in winter and stormy rough seas. Xx

  • So, I’ll leave oysters off the list when we finally get together (does Roddy like them). I can’t eat oysters here in California since discovering the ones from Marennes. Our neighbor had us over the night before we left for home and he put our four trays (yes four!) of fresh oysters. OMG. Talk about heaven. All your weather sounds wonderful, having a bit of fog and drizzle here in San Diego, but we whine when it gets under 65 here. I do miss weather . . . Well, allows me to work on the rose garden where I’m planting aloes and restoring the rose garden.

    • No Roddy is not a huge fan either! Which really is rather sad, oysters are everywhere here, we are after all in the oyster capital of France, the small huts selling them line the roads, they are the popular fast food take-away around here! Your neighbour sounds fantastic! The weather is interesting and is certainly keeping us on our toes, 65 would be heaven right now, but I know those warmer days are just around the corner, and then the garden will require constant attention as everything will come back to life with renewed force! Xx

  • Once again I have seen an absolutely wonderful side of France. Thank you for sharing the wonderful pics and recipe. Here in southern Ontario,Canada we have been having freezing ice storms, such that you do not go out for fo walks on the beach of Georgian Bay (at least I don,t). It is just too cold. They say it will warm up for the weekend , sure hope so. I love and envy your wonderful life and enjoy your blog so much. Regards from Betty.

    • Thanks so much Betty, freezing ice storms sound really really cold, I enjoy a chilly blustery walk, but I think the temperatures you have would also keep me firmly inside, I sincerely hope it does warm up for as forecast, and then Spring will be just around the corner. I will keep my fingers crossed that you manage to get outside without freezing completely! Have a lovely weekend xx

  • Hello, nice to hear that everybody and everything is well in your home. But isn’t it a must-experience? I think it is thrilling listen to the storm in a warm bed as well as fighting outside against it. Coming home safe and have such
    a jummy and healthy dinner is the best. The galette filled with the egg is so tempting that I will definitely try it. In Austria we call it “Palatschinken” (only made from white flour) which is more like your pancake and is filled with marmelade than coiled and garnished with icing sugar.

    • I love lieing in a warm bed listening to the weather raging outside, there is something incredibly cosy about it. Then taking a long walk in freezing weather and as you say coming home and eating delicious warming food, it just makes us realise how lucky we are. I adore galettes with eggs and a little melted cheese, the children would love your Palatschinken, I often make them regular pancakes at the weekend which they eat with maple syrup or the French way with Nutella! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • The beach photos are lovely! You seemed to have braved the weather very well, nothing like a delicious meal after a storm to warm everyone up though!

    • Thanks so much Helen, there is something quite fabulous about coming home to the warmth and all cooking a meal together, chatting non stop about the wind and the waves and the cold. It makes us realise how lucky we are xx

  • Brrr is”the the weather turning up extreme conditions all over the world! At our end it’s 40 degree heat and persistent strong winds. Crazy stuff we are guilty of creating! Love the crêpes and galettes. This is one thing we always cook on board and it always delights friends!

    • I am quite sure that climate change has a lot to do with the weather, we are indeed all responsible. Amazingly today we have a typical winter’s day, light frost overnight, clear and sunny and chilly but not freezing this morning, just how I like it!! I can imagine galettes and crepes would be fabulous on the boat, easy, fun and healthy and very filling! Hope the wind eases to perfect sailing weather for you xx

  • Just love that pic of all the white froth on the waves. Thanks for sharing the galette recipe, I’ve been meaning to try these for some while, they look delicious.

    • Thanks Fiona, I love the beach in the depths of winter during stormy conditions, the smell of the salt and the sound of the waves, it totally clears the mind and is a wonderful place to walk. You must try the galettes, they are delicious and made with buckwheat flour very healthy too, if you google buckwheat you will be surprised at how full of fibre and protein it is, I know I was! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

    • We were starving and also quite exhausted! There is nothing quite like a walk on the beach, the combination of salt air, exercise and being buffeted by the wind really works up an appetite and induces an incredible night’s sleep too! It’s a win win all round!! Xx

  • I love your writing ,photos , home and lifestyle. You and your family are a good example of a life being well lived . Thank you for sharing it with we your readers. Your “stories ” are very good.

    • Thank you so much, it is a fairly simple life, but there is so much fun to be had just by looking around and making the most of things. I so enjoy sharing this all with you and everyone and then chatting afterwards, this is what makes it all so special. I hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • What a wonderful photo gallery making me feel a tad cooler 🙂 ! Great to see the ‘kids’ making the best of these very atmospheric days. Oh, but oysters: love them , love them, love them again and could eat all the fruits de mer every day 🙂 ! Now we don’t have a colour-coded weather alert – if we had we would be showing the deepest red today [Sydney Basin; say a few hundred kms by the same] It is 39C at 11am – during the next three days we are meant to experience the hottest temps ever since the white population arrived and records began to be kept . . . yes, well, the centre of Australia may have such heat, but we are being threatened with up to 47C and many like me do not have AC. Electricity is thought to give up by late afternoon . . . hmm, Susan, today methinks I would rather be where you are 🙂 !!!

    • Oh my goodness, what incredible heat, we have had it here at 40 a couple of times and I remember when I was travelling in India, before the days of children, New Delhi was 46 to 48 every day, it was quite impossible to do anything and so I really do sympathise. I hope it cools down soon and also I hope everyone copes and there are no fatalities, that is a brutal heat. If ever you come to visit this area you will be in your element, little huts beside the road selling all sorts of shellfish, not just oysters, are everywhere, they really are the region’s equivalent of a take away! Stay safe and try and stay cool xx

  • I’m happy to read that all’s well with you and your place. If there’s no damage, there’s something invigorating about a storm and its aftermath and it appears you enjoyed both. I also know about lying awake wondering whether all will be well in the morning. 🙂 Quite the experience for your guest, though. The crepes look delicious.

    janet

    • I agree Janet, if there is no damage it is all rather fun, of course now I have a lot of clearing up to do in the garden and every day it looks back at me as if to say “come on, it’s time to get to work”! Our Spanish guest has really seen it all this week, wind, rain, frost and brilliant sunshine, she is the most delightful cheerful girl and has seemed totally unfazed by it all. Xx

  • Thank you for your vivid post and glorious photographs. We live in an area that seems to share many topological features of the Charente Maritime. I love living 60-90 minutes from the beach (the Pacific Ocean, to the west) and the mountains (the Coast Range, to the west on the way to the beach, and the Cascade Range to the east). Playing on the beach between storms is so much fun (as long as one never turns his/her back on the huge Pacific rollers). Like virtually everywhere on earth, we are seeing the effects of climate change in increasingly volatile weather, swinging from one extreme for another. Here in the Willamette Valley this winter, we have had several unusually cold spells and several multi-day periods with snow and/or ice, which has become quite rare here. I’m glad that your family and your animals weathered your storm (and that Bentley had you to cuddle with). Can the trampoline still be used?

    I noticed that Bentley and Evie were on leash when they were exploring the beach with your family. Is that required by local or national law? Dogs have such a joyful time running wide open on beaches that I hate to see them on leash (unless there is some behavioral issue involved). No criticism intended–I know that your pets have wonderful lives with your family!

    • Hi Leslie, no criticism taken, don’t worry, both of the dogs ran free most of the time, I just happened to take these photos, firstly when we were just arriving on the cliff path and then at one stage on the beach when there was a particularly nasty large dog that kept trying to fight with Evie. I didn’t take many photos as it was difficult in the wind and most of the time I kept my camera firmly inside my coat for protection, I never even thought about the fact that in those ones they were on their leads! They ran wild, in fact even Bentley seemed to be like a puppy again in the wind, they went round and round running everywhere, having a completely crazy fit in the wind, once the unpleasant dog had moved on! The effects of climate change are certainly coming to the surface with far more volatile weather here too, as a race we have a lot to answer for. The trampolene by the way is fine, no damage at all, it literally just turned upside down and settled against the fence! Hope you have some signs of Spring with you too, our daffodils are now all coming into flower and I saw the first mimosa in full bloom the other day. Xx

  • I am a huge fan of walking the beach in winter. Living in north Cornwall we get our fair share of rough weather. I prefer the peace and solitude at this time of year, before the tourists arrive. Your photos are fantastic, I particularly love the first one and the one all in grey which is incredible as it really does look like a black and white photo.

    • Thanks Heather, I was amazed that the photo shows just how little colour there was and that there are so many varying shades of grey! The beach in summer is a complete opposite to the beach in winter I agree, I love both, in the summer the smell of sun cream, the cheerful laughter of children and families, the sand between our toes and in the winter the solitude, the sound of crashing waves, the wind stinging our faces. Both are fabulous for me! The north Cornish coastline is quite stunning, what a beautiful place to live xx

  • What vivid photographs you’ve put up this week, Susan. Love the greys and browns with that splash of blue from the carrelets. It’s been breezy here but nothing like that!

    Also thoroughly approve of the galettes. As a child in the 70’s I remember visits to a ‘galleterie’ along the lower end of the Kings Road called ‘Asterix’. That was my introduction to the taste of buckwheat pancakes and eating one now always brings back memories of that small restaurant, a delicious place to eat especially if you were a classical music fan too – they would play all the great composers (especially Vivaldi) at high volume. There were savoury galettes for the main course, and then there were galettes filled with sweet stuff for dessert, including mint chocolate ice-cream, a novelty to many then. Fond memories indeed. The ice-cream chain Dayvilles had just come to London, I seem to remember, and we’d often forgo dessert in Asterix and stop, en famille, at a Dayvilles along Fulham Broadway for a cone to eat in the car on the way home.

    I need to go and find some buckwheat flour (farine de sarrasin) now, you’ve made me way too reminiscent. The last one I ate in Pampol some years ago had a large dose of tarteflette inside it, coincidentally!

    • What fabulous memories Simon, I don’t think I ever ate a galette or a crepe in London, the first ones I recall were indeed in Britanny and we too have eaten them in Pampol, the best we have ever had, I can even picture the restaurant, on a corner of a street which was on a very steep hill, no idea what it was called or any other details! I seem to think it was the first time the children, we had just three back then, had eaten them. What a coincidence! But then I suppose a huge amount of us Brits visit Brittany, it is so easy to get to and so beautiful. Hope you enjoy making the galettes this weekend, I am sure Amy will love them too xx

  • It sounds a bit like the Wizard of Oz storm! I can just see the henhouse flying around the garden! We haven’t had the winds here in Wiltshire -yet – but today suddenly the fog has come down thick and muddy looking and it’s a raw wet cold. Not nice atall and those Gallettes are definitely just the ticket for a day battening down the hatches, lighting the logburner and staying home!
    Hope your weekend weather is better and the hens stay on terra firma!

    • I know I imagined all sorts of scenarios! I heard it was very cold with you today, chilly here but brilliant sunshine all day, but frosts at night again! Galettes really do make a fabulous lunch and made with the buckwheat flour they are remarkably healthy too. I highly recommend them! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

    • Thanks so much Angela, it was quite a storm and we are still seeing the after effects now, but on the whole I think everyone was fairly lucky, it could have been much worse. Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • Incredible photos of the sea and the fishing huts and your children having such fun, looks like you really know how to make the most out of all weathers, hope spring comes soon for you!

    • Thanks so much Erin, I think it really is a case of making the most of every day. I fully admit that I am a spring and summer person but I cannot go around being unhappy for six months of the year, much better to really enjoy everything the winter throws at us and then to immensely look forward to the arrival of spring! It’s how I look at it and it seems to work!! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • Oh goodness, you have had some weather. I love the idea of closing the shutters, being safe and cosy within and sitting it out. But like you I’m always thinking about what could be flying around the garden! Great shots from the coast. Seas in a storm can be so dramatic.. watched from the safety of the shore!

    • I absolutely love walking along the beach in the winter when the sea is angry and the waves are pounding up the sand, it is such a complete contrast to summer! There is also something so snug about being tucked up inside a warm house when a storm is raging outside, it is so cosy and comforting somehow and it does make us realise how lucky we are. The garden suffered no harm at all, there are just hundreds to thousands of branches, big and small, lying scattered everywhere on the property, I started the clean up today, but it is going to take quite a while! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • I have to tell you I made the pancakes for lunch for me and my husband today, we added ham, cheese and eggs and oh were they delicious, I found the buckwheat flour in our local specialist grocery store. Thank you so much for this, we even treated ourselves to a glass of red wine each, it was as if we were in France!

  • A fascinating world-wide conversation! I’m sitting on our balcony enjoying the tiniest of breezes that is helping to keep our mind off the predicted 39 degrees celsius. The ballet of shutters down, windows opened, windows closed in order to maximise the circulation of air has finished and we now wait a couple of days for it to cool down. There is something compelling about watching the wild seas…and nothing beats physical exertion followed by a good feed! Stay safe.

    • I love the rotation of shutters in the summer, keeping one side cool and the other open so that the breeze on the shady side can come in. Winter is fun, but I am also looking forward to warm temperatures and eating outside again, that’s the fun of seasons, we get to look forward to the next all the time. Xx

  • GOOD GRIEF!
    NOT FUN…………..I was on my honeymoon and the winds HIT 160……..we were in a SAILBOAT!I thought WE were going to DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    XX

    • Well at least you will never forget your honeymoon! Were you out at sea or on a mooring or better still in a marina. All of them would have still be super scary on a boat, listening to the rigging slapping against the mast, been there, done that! No it’s not fun! But it’s all part of life’s stories that we then get to tell and it never seems quite so bad when we recount it years later! Xx

  • Here in Perth Western Australia we have also had heaps of (very unseasonal) rain with the monsoons of the north coming waaaay south. In the past 2 days we have had 140ml/ 5 1/2 inches and much of of our vast State is waterlogged. I love it as we can be such amhorribly dry country – rain is always exciting, even when it’s also destructive.

    • Wow I had no idea you had had so much rain, I haven’t seen anything about it on the news. I am sure it is always welcome in the dry season just so long as there have been no disastrous floods. Climate change certainly is coming into effect worldwide it seems. Hope you have had a lovely weekend xx

    • Our Spanish girl was truly delightful, we were so sorry to see her leave. We’ve had every type of weather here this winter, it’s certainly kept us on our toes! Hope you enjoy the galettes xx

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  • Great write up about the weather but I enjoyed the exchange student stuff as it reminded me of when my son had a French boy to stay. It can be quite hard work but if the person is willing to get stuck in the memories will stay for life. I stayed with my copine and her family when I was a young teenager and those days were such a great experience I remember them still. Let’s hope the weather settles into Spring soon

    • Thanks so much, I totally agree I think these exchange trips are entirely down to the students, they can have a truly wonderful time and make the most of every second, or they can be bored and wishing they weren’t there. Fortunately Millie and her exchange student were both in the former category and they both had a wonderful time. So many fabulous experiences. Our weather has gone down hill a little, still mild but damp, still we had the fabulous weather to recharge our batteries a little! Xx

      • If it’s any consolation it’s mild and rainy here and now the wind is getting up but not as severe as you experienced. I suppose it is only February so what can we expect!

      • I totally agree, February after all is mid-winter, although with so many signs of spring around us it is easy to overlook this fact. After the storms we were treated to a week of gorgeous spring like warm weather, now a little grey and rainy but the warmth remains! xx

      • I couldn’t agree more about exchange student experiences. I was an exchange student twice, once for a year in high school and once for a year in college, and both were peak experiences which shaped my future. When I was an adult with my own family in the mid-1990’s, we hosted a Russian exchange student who was from a privileged family and wanted to do nothing but shop and go to Disneyland (1100 miles to the south of us). She was clearly bored with everything we had planned for her. I wholeheartedly support student exchanges if the students are carefully chosen and prepared for the experience. Wet in Oregon, Leslie P.S. It’s amazing how just one sunny day can make the rainy, grey days brighter, isn’t it?

      • One sunny day can certainly make up for a whole host of wet ones! We had a week of really warm spring like weather last week, it was like a beam for the soul and totally recharged the batteries. We are very fortunate in that the Lycée here were quite meticulous about placing the students. They had to fill in a lengthy and detailed questionnaire so that the students could be placed with like minded students, done this way I really do think it is a fabulous idea and great opportunity for everyone involved. xx

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