Weekend Ramblings from a French Village!

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This blog is becoming quite a prominent feature in my daily routine, whether I’m driving, or in the garden, or out walking; it seems very often I am thinking, “I must take a photo and chat about this or that in a post”. And so I often find myself pulling over in the car, hopping out and taking photos – it’s just as well the roads are quiet and today I need a good distraction. 

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Today is election day. The future of France, and also of Europe, hangs in the balance. As foreigners we are unable to vote, so we can do nothing but wait, rather nervously, and see what happens. There is no point in worrying all day today, this is what I keep telling myself, because when I think about it I start to panic. By tomorrow our whole life here could be turned upside down and in jeopardy. But for today I am going to enjoy everything I love about France.

One lady who is totally unfazed by the election is Katya, our Pekin Bantam hen. She is a new, first-time mother, since last night, when she hatched four little chicks and I can tell you she is as proud as punch, and so are we. I know we’ve had chicks for the past two years, every spring, but these are the first ones ever to come from our eggs, laid by our own hens and fertilised by our own rooster. A complete cycle.

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Fritz, our first rooster, who we bought from a supposedly very good breeder about an hour and a half away, appeared to do the business, frequently! But after several failed attempts with eggs and broody hens it became apparent that something was amiss and a chance conversation with an amateur chicken breeder in our neighbouring village, confirmed our worst suspicions; he’d probably been sterilised and would never father any chicks. Apparently there are breeders who don’t want their roosters’ lineage continued and do this far too often, and – as in our case – they don’t mention it, and I assume they hope they will never be found out.

Anyway, last year we bought some fertilised bantam eggs and when one of the pair hatched and one was a male we were delighted. Now it’s a year later and we have three broody hens. As Katya was the first to decide it was time to think about motherhood we installed her in the nursery coop and she became the lucky recipient of some eggs. We moved her from her chosen nest in the main coop at night, when she was sleepy and quiet, and slipping her into the small coop we let her sort the eggs out herself. Like a seasoned veteran she pushed them around, rolled them underneath her and made herself supremely comfortable. Yesterday was day 21 and we heard a familiar cheeping sound when we opened the hatch to check on her; sure enough a tiny little chick emerged from under her right wing. We left her in peace for the rest of the evening and today we took a longer look!

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It’s been quite an extraordinary few days in the garden. We have always had hedgehogs and every now and then we are lucky enough to see one.

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We’ve also found we have a pair of hoopoes nesting in the ancient trunk of the ash tree. I had never even heard one until we came to live here, but now every spring their call is becoming a very familiar sound. I never imagined we would have a pair in the garden though. They don’t seem particularly bothered by us, in fact I can get within a few metres, but they are never close enough together for me to get them both in one shot! Unlike so many birds, the male and the female have very few differences.

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We have copious numbers of butterflies and I’ve eaten my first two cherries off our tree,  and it looks like being a bumper season; okay, so they weren’t completely ripe, but I was impatient to try just one. Of course one is never enough and so a second found it’s way into my mouth without me even thinking about it! We need to get some anti-bird devices in place. Roddy’s project for this involves drilling holes in the top of some old blank CD’s which we will then hang with a piece of string from various branches. They should act as  a series of flashing mirrors and according to a friend, is a great deterrent for birds. We have our fingers crossed it will work!

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I like to think our abundant wildlife in the garden is due to the fact that we don’t use pesticides.

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Some places we leave totally natural, a haven for insects and bees and in other areas we work hard to keep the weeds in check. We’re not the only ones to believe in a more natural organic style of gardening as it appears that much of the area has the same idea. I’ve passed the sign below in several nearby villages now, and then – only yesterday – I saw the exact same one on my way into Rochefort (a good-sized town with a population in excess of 25,000). I was really thrilled to think that even the larger more urban areas are adopting this pesticide-free approach.

IMG_7176Meadows full of spring colour have caught my attention whilst walking the dogs this week and I’ve stopped and just looked, snapping away with my phone because I didn’t have a camera, but also not wanting to miss the opportunity.

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Occasionally I’ll pick wild flowers to pop in a vase on the kitchen table, but only when there is a plentiful supply for self-seeding. I always cut and make sure to leave the roots intact, as well.

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Of course there’s some scenery it’s impossible to pass by, and I’ve stopped a few more times and just taken random photos, because there is beauty in an old shutter

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and an open door always peaks my interest. More than anything I’d like to have gone inside the entranceway below; I could see absolutely no more than the picture shows, if only I could have just pushed the door a little further open and poked my head around, but no, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t and I didn’t, so we’re just going to have to imagine what it is like and dream a little too!

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It’s been a complete mixed bag weather-wise. For the most part it’s been sunny but OH, the wind! “le vent” seems to have been the first word uttered in many recent conversation, because it has been a really cold wind, keeping temperatures well below average for May. It’s fine if one is lucky enough to find a sheltered spot and perhaps even better – like Miss Evie – if one can actually, having found the sheltered spot, have the time to sit (or in her case lie) and enjoy it!

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There is always something positive to be found in everything I find and although we moaned about the wind at the beach it was welcomed by the kitesurfers who were holding their annual spring competition. There were at least thirty entrants skimming across the choppy water with lightning speed.

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And for the first time in ages Roddy and I were lucky enough to enjoy a quick lunch at a newly-found restaurant this week, outdoors and sheltered! There were three ‘suggestions of the day’, and a further tiny menu with just a couple of additional choices. I had the omelette and it was quite delicious! I’ll leave you pondering which you would have chosen.

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Omelette aux Asperges -The Asparagus Omelette with special home made French Fries and a Green Salad.

or Andouillette de Troyes “AAAAA” –  A specialist type of coarse grained pork sausage from Troyes, with a Green Salad and Special home made French Fries and a home-made Mustard Sauce (the five A’s stand for Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique (AAAAA) ‘The Friendly Club of Lovers of Authentic Andouillette.” This club was formed by several food writers in 1970 and it gives certificates to producers of high-quality andouillettes)

or Entrecôte ou Magret – Entrecôte steak or Duck (both from France), a Green Salad, special home made French Fries and Asparagus.

 

As a postscript, Roddy insists I warn you about the Andouillette – it is not a traditional sausage but one made from the colon and other associated parts of pig bowel. For many people this is enough to put them off, but there is also the small matter of what it smells like too. Unwary eaters have been known to liken the smell to an unwashed sewer, so beware! It is however, very French! There is much to find out about it on the internet, most of it amusing!

 

151 thoughts on “Weekend Ramblings from a French Village!

  • Fingers and toes crossed for France today, I hope the French see sense but then I hoped that here in the States too and look what happened.

    • It did see sense. I lived abroad 20 years and I could do or say nothing like she said. God is in control and He is able! Loved the photographs and comments and loved learning about the chicks and the bird, thank you.

      • Hi Karen, this morning we are certainly relieved. We had French friends to dinner last night, two different families and ourselves, and it was quite a happy celebratory evening! xx

  • What a lovely idea to focus on all that is positive today, there are so many fabulous things about life here, let’s hope it continues this way.

    • Let’s hope so indeed, it is a fabulous country to live in, such a wonderful lifestyle and I love the people too, I have only ever found them warm and welcoming. Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

  • How lovely to see the baby chicks and their proud mum! It’s good to try and focus on something else today. Our neighbour came round after voting; he’s definitely worrying about us but we will all be strong…Nice to see the menu seemed very seasonal with the asparagus; I have an asparagus tart coming up soon but I would have picked the duck. I got caught out once and ordered magret with chestnuts and got cod!

    • I know I love looking at the chicks, some positive things about today already. Keeping everything crossed, I can’t think about it, it is just too stressful. I have to admit I am not a huge fan of duck, I know it features very heavily here, but I loved the fact that there was a slightly different type of menu here, it was nice to see something vegetarian for a change, even though I eat meat, but I still like a light lunch. Keep smiling today xx

  • So enjoyed your post. I have been watching news coverage of the election there too, a lot rides on the outcome! Your posts bring back memories of my many travels to France. The menus are always hard, most of the time between my husband and myself we can understand enough of the menu to order, Lovely pics and yes, I would have wanted to peek behind the green doors too but certainly wouldn’t have! Happy Sunday…….

    • Thanks so much, a vast amount depends on the election, not least the entire future of the European Union. I think half of the fun of ordering and eating in foreign countries is not fully knowing quite what one is going to be served! There is always a little bit of a guessing game involved. I remember once in Spain ordering a tomato salad and getting just that, a plate with one sliced tomato on it! Obviously I couldn’t look behind through the door, but the tiny sneak peek that I got was stunning, I imagine it would be gorgeous inside and so private. Hope you too are having a lovely Sunday xx

    • They are utterly adorable. I passed on the sausage too, every time!! Asparagus is my absolute favourite and I eat it whenever I can whilst we can, making the most of the short season. Enjoy yours and the remaineder of your weekend xx

  • Wishing luck to beautiful France, thank goodness in the states the country woke up & tossed crooked Hillary out the door now only if we could see her in prison.

    • We will know the outcome soon enough now, at least before we go to bed. This is a beautiful country indeed, with a great lifestyle, incredibly friendly and welcoming people and I feel very lucky to be able to live here. Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

  • Marvelous post, and I know what you mean about thinking everything needs photographing for a post, LOL!! I do the same thing. Miss Evie looks supremely happy in the sun. Love the wisteria! Love the story about the chickens too. I’d have had the duck. I’ve never heard of hoopoes, what interesting birds!

    • I think we think exactly the same way! Blogging has certainly opened my eyes to so many things all around me, things that I may well have otherwise just taken for granted. I had never heard of hoopoes either until we came here, they are gorgeous and their sound is so distinctive. I love seeing all of this in the garden, in fact one just walked past the window about ten minutes ago, much to the delight of the children! Xx

  • What a beautiful post this morning…loved everything about it but the sausage! Ha!
    Thank you for sharing la belle vie with us
    Prayers for France on this Election Day….

  • Though your bit of France is so different from our former home, this post transported me right back. Particularly the flower-filled meadows which are sadly now so rare with us here. I never saw hoopoes in France, but I remember their being as common as pigeons in a visit to Valencia. Gorgeous birds! Continue to enjoy what sounds like a pastoral idyll xx

    • The flower filled meadows are so so stunning. I am seeing more and more wild flowers like this on verges surrounding villages and even in the middle of roundabouts, it is wonderful to think that local councils are thinking this way and encouraging environmentally friendly landscaping. I love the hoopoes, I had never seen one until we came here either, and we are all so so pleased to see them in our garden. Last year we had a pair of owls nesting which was equally magical, I know they often return to the same nest so I am keeping my fingers crossed that we might have the baby owls here again this year. Making the most of today and enjoying everything about life here! Xx

  • How lovely to see the baby chicks! One of our hens is currently sitting on six eggs—we’ll see what comes of it! Their coloring certainly looks very interesting, I don’t know if your interested in chicken genetics but what color are the parents and what do you reckon they’ll look like? Xxxx

    • Hi Josephine, chicken genetics is something I am learning about, we all find out what we can! The rooster is grey, a frizzle, and the three bantams that the eggs came from are a creamy white, ginger and a speckled black, so I am hoping we might get quite a mixture, but as I said, we are still learning! Xx

  • Lovely post as always! The CD trick should work for the cherry tree. We live on a harbor and people tie them to their sailboat masts to keep the seagulls away. Our local garden store also sells rolls of reflective mylar ribbon to tie in trees and gardens to keep the birds away. Good luck with it!

    • Thanks Julia, fingers crossed it works. The year before last we had a bumper crop, there were so many that the birds took their fair share from the top of the tree that we can’t reach, even with a ladder, and we had the lower half, everyone was happy! Last year was a poor year and cherries were scarce, the birds won! This year is good so hopefully with the addition of the cd’s we will get plenty! Xx

  • What writing does is encourage you to pay attention to all that is around you. So often we overlook the beauty in the ordinary.

    • I 100% agree with you, this is what blogging has done for me, some things that I may have taken for granted I now look at with fresh eyes, there is beauty all around us, we just have to open our eyes and see it. Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

  • You certainly are having a beautiful spring complete with chicks. Those birds have a very interesting look. It is amazing how many different birds there are in the world. We have a popular sausage here called andouille which is New Orleans style sausage and probably inspired by the French one, but I image changed quite a bit from its origins.

    • I too would imagine that the andouille sausage you have is inspired by the French one, the name certainly suggests that. I love having the baby chicks in the spring, we get so excited every year! This afternoon we shall move them to a bigger run where they can go in and out and peck in the grass, they grow so fast, it is incredible. I always too marvel at the different birds in different countries, I had never seen a hoopoe before we came here! Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx

      • The Andouille sausage is perfectly fine to eat – typical French charcuterie fare and a world away from tripe-orientated sausages that go by the similar-sounding Andouillette label . I’ve eaten a great variety of strange things on my travels, but every time I return to the Andouillette I lose my bottle. ‘Once bitten, twice shy’ is a perfect euphemism.

        • I thought for a moment you were telling me you liked it and I was about to say, but you don’t! Ha ha, I couldn’t bare it if you even ordered it at the same table as me, the smell!!! xxxxx

  • I adore those baby chicks, I hope you will take photos and show them to us as they grow. I would love to hatch my own chicks, I cannot think of anything more adorable.

    • I will take lots of photos and I will post them on Facebook and Instagram as they grow! I had never hatched baby chicks before, all of this is new since we came to France, I wouldn’t change this life for anything! Xx

  • The photos are brilliant. We all need a blast of beauty in our daily lives….just keep on, keeping on. Waiting with bated breath your election results…
    Today is sunny, the grass is many inches high. The garden calls, so just keep on, keeping on.

    Ali Xxx

    • Am just keeping on! Our grass is cut, but the borders are a bit of a jungle, today concentrating on the vegetable garden, a huge new project and a very exciting one! Sun is shining bright, the horrid wind has ceased, finally, it’s really warm. All is well today xx

  • I get so excited when I open my email and see your post! Thank you for giving us such a delightful look at your wonderful country.

  • All I could think of when I saw your dear hedgehog was Beatrix Potter. How I love that sweet looking creature and the photo of your daughter holding it is just wonderful. All your wildlife is splendid — it’s easy to tell you live in a beautiful area with much to offer (including a pretty spectacular sounding omelet — give me eggs and asparagus and I am a happy woman!). I love stepping into your French oasis and am so very delighted I discovered your world. ~jeanie from Marmelade Gypsy

    • Thanks so much Jeanie, so happy you found me too! Omelette and asparagus is pretty much me in heaven too! I grew up on a farm and have always been surrounded by animals, but I am still like a child when I spot something like a hedgehog in the garden, it is so exciting, last year we had owls nesting, we never got a photo, but we used to hear them calling at night to their young. I so hope this year they nest here again. Hope you have a wonderful week xx

  • Trusting France will show better judgement than Americans last autumn. I am exhausted and we are but 100 days into this mess. Thank you for the diversion to the simple things as we search for beauty in the every day.

    • All is well this morning! The world is not in a great place at the moment and it is easy to get bogged down and depressed with all that is happening. Sometimes I find just focusing on the simplest of things in nature helps immensely. There is always beauty and good to be found everywhere and in everything. Have a great week xx

  • PS — I forgot to wish you well on the election today. Here in the states we are watching that with great interest and hoping that France is wise enough to avoid the error made by the U.S. in electing a leader that seems to be fostering fear and international racism. ending hope your way.

  • Andouillette is disgusting, and I reckon about 50% of French people would agree with me 🙂

    Congratulations on the chicks.

    The communes are all going pesticide free because it is the law now. They are not allowed to use pesticides anywhere that people congregate.

    • Just the smell of andouillette is enough to put me off and when one looks at the ingredients, that’s it, never, never! I know it’s the law here but I am pleased to see that so many villages and even towns now are pushing this way forward even on main roads, where no one walks, in the middle of roundabouts we have mini wild flower meadows, it’s good and exciting. Hope you have a lovely holiday today! The sun is shining here and that horrid wind has finally gone xx

  • Like you we are awaiting for the outcome of todays vote.
    The other morning as I stood at the kitchen door I could hear a Cuckoo calling from one direction and the Hoopoe from the other! I am used to the sound of the Hoopoe from our last garden, where we also had the Green Wood Hoopoe, but the European Cuckoo does not call whilst over wintering in the southern hemisphere. The Hoopoes here look like faded versions of the southern ones which are a much richer chestnut colour.

    • So glad the blog is foremost in your thoughts – we are definitely the beneficiaries! Lovely post and thanks for the warning about the sausage

      • Thanks Paula, now when you see the sausage on a menu you will know exactly what it is, there are variations, but all, to a non-expert, much the same. Do look it up on line, the ingredients will make you shudder! xx

    • I often here the cuckoo in one direction and the hoopoe in the other, isn’t it a fantastic sound! I knew nothing about hoopoes until we moved here and I heard my first one, I am so excited that they are now here in our garden and we are all able to see them, this is the first year I have ever seen them as opposed to just hearing them. xx

    • Thanks so much, this morning we moved the chicks and Katya into their much larger run where they can go in and out quite safely, they are so adorable and so tiny! I love doorways like this, I always want to go inside but I never would! xx

    • The thing, I find, about French food, is that they do eat everything, nothing goes to waste and one has to praise that. The problem, at least for me, is that some things are not exactly to my taste and the smell, oh the smell is horrific!!! xx

  • A treasure filled post!! Oh, the hedgehogs! chicks! and hoopoes! Love seeing your beautiful photos of the life in your garden. What a treat! It does help keep things in perspective. At the same time, so stressful to think of the election.
    Please tell us what the wild flowers are in the fields that you have photographed. I would love to know their names. Also, please thank Roddy from the bottom of my heart for the warning about the sausage. We will be in France at the end of June (so excited!) and I am now safe from making that selection. Generally, I love sausage so might have ordered them not understanding that they are very different. Thanks for this lovely post! xo

    • I believe the meadow is mostly made up of tall Daisies, Buttercups and Ragged Robin, a flower we used to have a lot in the UK, I always wondered why it was called this but never found an answer, I thought perhaps it was just our family name until I looked it up and found it does have a Latin name Lychnis flos-cuculi!! At least now you know what to avoid on the menu in June!! Not long now, so so exciting xx

  • I was so confident before the Brexit vote, I went to bed feeling secure and happy and I awoke to utter shock. I pray for France today and hope to god people really think before voting, because once they have it is too late to change their minds when things aren’t quite as they hoped!

  • Hoopoes! Never saw this bird before, but now must go to the country in search of some. They are exquisite and African-like in their zebra/lion coloring. How amazing! I will try to find their song on the Internet, and reread a few Beatrix Potter stories too (Mrs. Tiggy Winkle, I believe). That should hold off reality until 8:00 p.m. and the election results. Turnout is down again, so that makes me worried. Thank you for another beautiful post of country French wonders.

    • Turnout was down, but thank goodness we knew the results before we went to bed, a happy evening was had by all! Where are you in France, I don’t think you will find them in the far north east of the country. I had never seen one until we came here, in fact I had never heard one either and this is the first year I have actually seen them, so great excitement this end! xx

      • We are in Paris, but are also renovating a village house in Normandy. We will have to make a trip down your way sometime to try to see those magnificent hoopoes. Saw an amazing nature video on YouTube re: a scatological defense the hoopoes use to deter predators from their nests. ‘Twas an amusing diversion until the happy election news yesterday eve. If you can find it, it might give the children a giggle.

        • Yes do come down here at some stage and let me know, we can have lunch or something. I shall search for that you Tube video, sounds like great fun. Great news all round, everyone very happy here! xx

  • Great post. Daydreaming here in Texas about your lovely place in France and I along with others appreciate you sharing with us.

    • Thanks so much Brenda, it is such fun to be able to share our lifestyle with everyone and for that we have to thank modern technology, it has certainly made friendships around the world so much easier! Hope you have a lovely week xx

  • You’ve sent me off to googleland twice already. I thought the hoopoe might be a woodpecker, but the Wiki says it’s related to kingfisher. And its range covers much of Africa and the East.
    There’s an informative web page on the Terre saine: http://www.terresaine-poitou-charentes.fr/ (It also translates to English.)
    All digits and extremities crossed for France, and the world, and hoping that the French see through the vicious manipulation that skewed the Brexit and US results.

    • Thanks for the link and so happy to have given you some research material!! I think we can all breathe once again, this morning the sun is shining and even the cold wind has disappeared, a wonderful new day, and it’s a holiday here in France, so I imagine the beaches will be full. xx

  • Your post today made me feel as if I were there, in the French countryside enjoying all of the sights and sounds it has to offer. Lovely, lovely post! I could NOT have passed by that green door without at least attempting a peek inside! Thinking about France today and hoping for a positive outcome with the election.

    • I know just what you mean, I see so many doors like this, most often they are closed, but when, on the odd occasion they are open it is such a treat. I too wish I could have seen more but we will just have to dream and imagine, at least that way it can only be perfect! xx

  • Lovely post, merci. We are back in the U.S. until June and very hopeful the French will have chosen wisely. We are after so many years trying to decide where to plant our feet, as the French say. Deciding between the Med area and the Charente. Enjoy both. Your sweet post and gorgeous photos brought many smiles. The adorable hedgehog and sweet chicks…the beautiful magnolias and wild flowers. Merci beaucoup et bon Dimanche.

    • Hi Sandy, I wonder where you will choose, both areas have their own charms, similar in some ways and very different in others. If you are close to the coast in the Charente Maritime and in the true micro climate, which is quite small, you will enjoy a climate not dissimilar to that of the Mediterranean coast, this is the second sunniest area in France, although not quite so hot! Let me know if I can help in any way. xx

  • Wonderful post. Beautiful photos. I hope that all goes well with the election, but I cannot imagine that you or your family would be in any danger at all regardless who wins. You are about as French as they come! by now! Lucky!

    • Bonsoir James ! Vous pouvez être rassuré que Susan et sa famille ne sont pas, ne seront jamais en danger en France. Leur amour de ce pays et leur intégration dans la vie sociale de leur région, comme le montre si merveilleusement ce blog , les ont fait devenir membre de la nation ( peut-être bientôt citoyen français … ). J’ ajouterai que étant d’ origine britannique, ils sont toujours les bienvenus ici, au regard de l’ Histoire ( comme nos amis américains, canadiens, néo-zélandais ou australiens ).Et cela quelque soit le vainqueur de l’ élection présidentielle 2017. Même M. LePen n’ oserait pas expulser des gens qui sont nos plus fidèles alliés.Emmanuel Macron ayant gagné, la question ne se pose pas.// Hello James! You can be reassured that Susan and her family won’ t be, will never be in danger in France. Their love for this country,and their integration in the social life of their county, as it can be seen in this amazing blog, made them member of the Nation ( may be french citizen soon… ). I would add that being british they are always welcome here with regard to the History ( as our americans, canadians, newzealand and australians friends ). Whatever the winner of the Presidential election 2017. Even M. LePen wouldn’t dare expel people who are our most faithful allies.Emmanuel Macron win thus this issue don’ t settle anymore.

      • Shame on me…It would be better ( for the respect of English language ) to read : ” E. Macron wins thus this issue doesn’ t settle anymore.”

        • But your English is so good, no shame whatsoever! I know everyday I make mistakes in French and yet the French never pull me up on it! It’s our children who do that, every slight mispronunciation and certainly every masculine or feminine mistake they correct, which is good, but also makes me smile!! xx

      • Thanks so much Philippe, smiles all round here today and even the wind has finally dropped and the sun is shining, a great holiday today for the French I hope. As you know we think of this very much as home, we may not be French, but all of our friends are French and I like to think that we do our bit to help the village and the local school whenever we can. For me it’s all about give and take, we cannot enjoy everything the country has to offer without giving something back as well. Enjoy today. xx

      • Vive la France…! Congratulations 🇫🇷!
        Susan…I can’t believe it’s Thursday already…A charming blog post with beautiful picture…Loved the story of

    • Thanks James, I am not sure the French would consider us French, the children perhaps but probably not Roddy or myself. However, although I never thought we were in danger, I think life could have been a great deal harder and things quite difficult. Fortunately today we are relieved, we try love living in this country and would never want that to change. xx

  • One of my darling part-time sales girls is headed to France coming Saturday for her second summer study aboard. She’s to write a blog/photos for a lady in Paris area with a travel/tour guide business! Oh, to be 21 again! We’ no idea 40 years ago to do such a thing! Only if your family took the “Grand European Tou” as we call it in the South. I’ll live vicariously through you two! Thrilled to have found your lovely blog!

    • Hi Vicki, or is it Bicki, the name suggests both, so please let me know so I get it right in the future! So happy you found the blog too. What a fabulous opportunity for your young girl, do tell her to read my blog and if she wants to see something of the coast whilst she is in France she can hop over this way. The world is now open to so many things for our youngsters, travel is so important as I truly believe it opens our eyes to so many different cultures and makes us so much more accepting. We all have our different ways of doing things, but it doesn’t make us any different, if that makes sense! xx

  • Susan. Love all the posts, especially those with a bias towards food, local architecture and the French lifestyle. My wife and I are coming to France in June for our annual pilgrimage to the Dordogne so I’m glad you and Roddy warned me about the Andouilette de Troyes !!

    • Thanks so much, hope you have a fabulous trip in June. The Dordogne is so beautiful, I could spend days just walking by the many rivers, sitting at cafes and admiring the local architecture and the countryside there and now you know what not to order! xx

  • How fantastic to have the chicks. Also the hoopoe birds besting, I hope they are nesting high up away from the cats. Just returned to France after a month in Denmark with some sunny days but really cold wind. Jut seen the presidential voting results, thank goodness it was a Good result, now we can breath.

    • They are indeed very high up, it is so exciting to see them wandering around the garden, they are in the Ash right in “your” garden! The wind has been cold here too, away from it in the courtyard garden it’s like the Med, just gorgeous though!! Hope you are going to wander back in this direction now, let us know and we will finally have dinner or lunch!! xx

  • As always, I enjoyed your post with all the nature, and the worries about the election (which you can relax about now! Such fast returns). Love see the quirky shots too.

  • Just heard the news from the election, such good news, I imagine you are all very happy! Perhaps all the animals bought good luck with them

  • What fun to read about your days, new life, and beautiful green gates! (and so much more) Things that would be so easy to take for granted for you, are our delight. Thank you! I hope the election worries are no longer worries. Thinking of you.

    • Thanks Mandy, all smiles here today! One of the things I love most about blogging is that it has opened my eyes to things that perhaps I might otherwise take for granted, a simple door or a shutter, now I see them as things to show everyone else, I am always looking for anything interesting and it is such fun to be able to share our French life. xx

  • A great post! Thank you for a wealth of information about hoopoes, which I’d never heard of before, and the deceptively innocent-sounding andouillette. Glad I was fore-warned.

    • Now you know what not to order off the menu!! Although there are many people who enjoy it too, I am just not one of them! Do google the ingredients, it is enough to turn the stomach, but then again I do think one should try everything!! Have a great week xx

  • Breath easier…M. Macron has prevailed!! Thank goodness the French electorate is wiser than that of the U.S. Now, off for this season’s shakedown cruise of our little boat…after which, I look forward to reading the rest of this post and enjoying your photographs!!

    • We had two different French families here to dinner last night, so we were quite a large number and I can tell you there were certainly some celebrations. It was also lovely to be celebrating with the French, all together. Today the wind has ceased and the sun is shining, today is also a holiday in France so a day to relax and look forward. Enjoy your cruise, hope all goes well and no problems, as you know I always love anything to do with the water! Also thanks for your email, I skimmed through it, and look forward to reading it properly this evening. xx

  • Susan,your posts always are a delight,but Sundays’ stories just never fail to leave us with a sense of beauty and tranquility which lasts throughout the week.(Thank you!)I totally understand how your ideas for stories continually seem to find their way into both mind and imagination;because of your words we can find our own selves in everyday life and all the blessings in them.
    I was a senior staff writer at The Yorkshire Terrier Magazine for 25 years(retired in 2015).A great deal of each issue focused on this beautiful breed,but since we were not breeders, special pride and pleasure in very many times featuring our own dogs,whom we loved dearly,and added such joie de vivre to our days. Like you do,I always tried to focus on the upbeat,happy aspects of our adventures and leave the reader feeling good at the end.
    Now being in my older years,whenever possible I appreciate this pleasant conclusion outlook even more.

    • I so agree with everything you say, I have always tried to be extremely positive about everything in life. There are certainly times when things are not easy, but I always look on the bright side, we are so lucky and I focus on that. I can now understand your love of dogs and Yorkies in particular, do you still have them now? xx

  • Love your posts and look forward to them. I live on a small island off the Queensland coast Australia. Autumn here so the herbs and vegetables are coming on well. I loved my travels in France and the food. Agree it is so important to take note constantly in the beauty of your surroundings.

    • I adore island living, having grown up on the Isle of Wight and later lived in the Channel Islands and also a tiny Caribbean Island. You are certainly in a most beautiful part of the world, when we were in New Zealand we always wanted to go to the Whitsundays, but never made it sadly. Enjoy your herbs and vegetables, we are just starting to plant ours now, love this time of year and like you some of the best things in life come from simply appreciating nature around us. xx

  • Having ‘come on’ during the Australian morning and knowing the outcome of the election, may I just hope I have understood the wishes of the majority of commenters correctly – ’cause I am jumping up and down in delight: an unusual choice certainly but one full of hope and joy for me and mine!! Am a centrist in my own country, deciding option by option, case by case, for me France and hence Europe have made the correct one for France, Europe and the world . . . . oops, barely knew of hoopoes either 🙂 !

    • I don’t like to get into politics, everyone is entitled to their own opinions after all. But, just this once, I have allowed myself to comment a little! Because there is huge relief here and smiles all round! Not for ourselves but for France and also for Europe. We had dinner last night with two other French families, so we were quite a large number in total, it was wonderful to celebrate with the French, everyone was so happy! xx

  • Your posts throughly delight me and I always look for yours in anticipation of what you have been up to. I love the pics too….I would love to wander through fields of wild flowers …wow…My Facebook feed has been all about the election and everyone that is french seems really happy so thats good I think. Have a wonderful week xx

    • Everyone we know here is very happy, we had dinner last night with two French families, so including ourselves it was quite a large number, there was much celebrating! I love sharing this French lifestyle and all the little things that I find so interesting and I am so happy that everyone loves reading it! Have a great week xx

  • Glad to see your election wishes came true this morning, Susan. I think in the long run France has made the right decision in this case. It would have been a tragedy if Le Pen’s Frexit came to fruition! Wonderful photos, as always, love those little chicks – what great colouring they have! Hope they have a happy life in your happy chicken garden…..

    • I hope the chicks have a happy life here, we moved them this morning into their new run, where they can go in and out quite happily but safe from the cats! All smiles around here this morning xx

  • I did make the mistake of ordering Andouillette (i can’t even spell it without shuddering) Never again.
    Great outcome of the election. May life continue to be good and a peaceful routine for you and your family.

    • I can well imagine, the smell is enough to put any unsuspecting person off! May life continue to be good and peaceful here indeed, I am happy for Europe as a whole. Plenty of smiling faces around here xx

  • Another post from Heaven!
    So beautifully written.
    The hedgehog, did not know one could hold a wild hedgehog!!!
    I’ll thrilled. Coming over just to hold one!
    The birds- like something drawn up!
    The sights, flowers, green gates…..

    And the sausage…. really??? Why????
    Yikes…. 😂

    • Thanks so much! It’s easy to hold a hedgehog, but you do need a good thick pair of gardening gloves! Not only for the prickles but also because hedgehogs are always covered in fleas! But isn’t it just the cutest thing, being able to let a child hold a hedgehog, it’s the stuff dreams are made of! Never ever eat the sausage, the smell is enough to put your right off! xx

  • Well now we know the news and I am celebrating and imagine you are too. And sighing bellows of relief. Did you know that birds that show the same markings irrespective of being man or wife raise their chicks together whereas those that are different leave it all up to the wife. I know which bird I would rather be xx

    • Plenty of celebrations around here and huge relief, I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders today! We had dinner last night with two other French families, so there were quite a large number of us and it was certainly a very merry evening! I had no idea about birds and markings and their chicks, how fascinating, I certainly know which I would like to be too!!! Hope all has gone well with the Russians and the toddler! xx

      • It is 05:30 and husband has just stowed them all in the car to whisk them the 1km to the bus for the airport …. we offered to drive them and they refused. They have been the most charming and delightful of guests and I shall genuinely miss them. Particularly Boris who I have been plotting to kidnap! In half an hour I shall go to the gym and begin the arduous task of working off the calories added by guzzling far too many sneaky extra calories over the last few days! Xx

        • Sounds as if you had a gorgeous time. It’s always fabulous when kids, babies, toddlers come to stay and we want to keep them forever. Yesterday the girls had a friend playing for the day. I had to go out with G for a couple of hours and the others decided to bake a cake and make goûter, the friend did all the washing up, I returned to find her at the sink scrubbing pans, I told her it could go in the dishwasher and she was insistent that it could all be washed. I said she could stay here permanently! xx

          • That girlie is a keeper! We did have a lovely time and also a fascinating and fascinated time …. it was their first time in France and their take was delightful (and amusing on many occasions ) I honestly wish they could have stayed longer which must be some sort of acid test for guests of any age ☺xxx

          • I always think of what my grandmother used to say, “guests are like fish, they start to stink after four days” – she quoted it with regularity!!! So glad you had fun with them, wanting them to stay longer is always a good sign. Xx

    • I had never seen or heard one until we moved here. Then I heard them each spring but it wasn’t until this year that I finally saw one and to have them nesting in our garden is incredible. We feel very lucky xx

  • I’m struggling to find anything positive about being struck with a chest infection and conjunctivitis during my much awaited trip to Vendée, although I suppose I learned the French for both! Ha.
    How exciting to have new chicks! Here at the camping there are ducklings and a couple of adorable piglets…apparently there were five but the mother ate three! Haven’t seen any Hoopoes this trip, they have a very distinctive call don’t they? A good result for France yesterday! X

    • Oh no poor you, how horrible and just when you get here, life is so unfair. Hope the French have done their job and dosed you up with plenty of things to get rid of both super quickly so you can enjoy your time here. How long are you here for? Weather has been good here except for the wind and I would imagine you have had the same in the Vendée too. These were the first hoopoes I have ever seen, so fabulous that they are nesting here, we feel very lucky. Great news for France and Europe yesterday, we had dinner with two different French families last night, so it was a very merry evening all round! Get better soon xx

  • Whew! about the French elections. Glad for the turnout.

    Your blog is so amazing! Thanks for sharing. We are getting ready for a trip in August and love seeing what you guys are doing! We hope to be on the countryside for several weeks next spring.

    • Very relieved I have to admit and lots of smiles all round here today. Which part of France are you coming to in August and then next spring? Wherever, I am sure you will have a fabulous trip, it is such a lovely country, we feel so privileged to be able to live here and to share the lifestyle. Have a great week xx

  • Love the fact that pesticides are being phased out…..I think there’s no doubt they adversely affect pollinators etc. and a patch of wild nature in the garden is always enticing to wildlife….kind of a principle of permaculture to leave a portion of wilderness on otherwise managed land. One day when I have a garden I’ll be doing the same thing!! Those chicks are adorable!

    • I love the phasing out of pesticides and the enormous efforts to reduce the use of chemicals, it is certainly all a move in the right direction. We leave our chicken garden in a very natural state and as much of the rest of the garden as we can, and when we see hedgehogs and birds in the garden we know we are doing the right thing, the reward is fantastic. Have a great week xx

  • Andouillettes – AAGH! The Devil’s spawn! Disgusting. Lovely post and piccys as ever and I’m guessing that like many expats you’ve given a little sigh of relief re The Election. I know I did despite living in a village with strong (ie almost total) Le Pen support.

    • Great description! But I am sure there are those that love them too, maybe it is an acquired taste!! We did heave a huge sigh of relief, we know people here who are Le Pen supporters, they are friends and will always be friends, but I am still happy the way things turned out! have a great week. xx

  • I just love your blog and all your posts! It is a vacation for my mind and soul. I love all your subjects, your stories, your photographs, your thoughts. Your blog takes me away….

    • Thanks so much, I really appreciate this and am so happy that you are enjoying the blog. I love to write about, and share, just daily life here and things I find fascinating or interesting. Hope you are having a lovely week xx

  • Vive la France! Congratulations from the States! 🇫🇷🙌🏻🇫🇷
    Charming post, Susan. I can’t tell you how much fun it is for me to tag along with you and the wonderful adventure you are on…
    Each post always has a favorite and this one is no different. Congratulations Kayta on the “hatching” of your “chicks.” A “sweet” tale indeed…And the butterfly picture…lovely and serene all rolled into one. It is just such a Blessing to have Our French Oasis in my life! Happy Friday! ❤️🇫🇷💐🎉

    • Oh my goodness, hail can be so destructive, fortunately we hardly ever get it here and when we do the stones are tiny. Hope it didn’t do too much damage. Spring is well and truly in full flow here, everywhere is looking fabulous, it’s a visual delight wherever we go! Hope you have had a lovely weekend xx

  • Blimey, I missed another one…. incroyable! 😉 But of course, I was in Switzerland, visiting my mother, my sister who just came out of hospital, my in laws AND a pre-birthday celebration with mother in law and her other son’s family – AND then straight back on Monday to France with mum in law on the back-bench, talking non-stop ….. 🙂
    I am exstatic about the chickens – I spoke about you last week when we visited Monet’s Garden and I managed (difficult through the fine meshes of the enclosure) to get two or 3 beautiful and VERY fancy chicks & rooster on my camera 🙂 I couldn’t believe you weren’t told that the cockerel was ‘sterilized’ 😦
    I too have a pesticide-free garden, but I’m paying the prize with forever ailing roses, as well as ‘offering’ quasi la totalité of my fruit/veggie to the birds, worms, insects… Never mind, the birds have never sang more beautifully than this year, although you seem to have REALLY rare birds and hedgehogs, wow! BTW, I’m reading (or trying to….) the Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, incredibly wonderful and beautifully written. I can’t read her books in French, her mastery of language is so excessive that it even nearly kills me in a fabulous English translation! Her other book was the one that started me: The Gourmet – I think I picked it up last year when I visited WHS…. It was so unusual and special that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Hedgehog!
    I can’t bear to have the daisies inside, they ‘stink’…. but are absolutely lovely outside – they grow over stairs, benches, in between stepping stones, they totally take over and the few remaining bluebells are now shyly hiding under those eager growing marguerites! I made a bouquet for mum-in-law who has a less sensitive nose, with ivy, lavender, rosmarin, and some Dianthus barbatus (sweet pinks?) I got on the market for her because she likes them so – now that she has gone back to CH, I had to throw out the daisies….
    And to finish (washing still awaiting their ‘hanging’….) I’d have gone for the omelette too, and most certainly NOT for the Andouillette….. people, say Thank You to Roddy – that is really something you can live without folks! 🙂

    • We simply have to spend a weekend together! We have never suffered with problems with organic gardening, until this year, we have one shrub rose completely covered in powdery mildew. oh well, c’est la vie! It’s the first rose ever to have any problems. We have always had lots of hedgehogs here, I love seeing them, although it is a little rare, just a few each year. The daisies here have no scent at all, I have just given them a good sniff to be sure!! Our bluebells have long since finished, perhaps a month or more ago! Now we are into summer flowers which are starting to flourish with the heat! xx

      • Well well, even the marguerites smell better at your place…. 🙂 Now I’m seriously jealous!!!
        You are right, the bluebells were just putting in a ‘last’ tired performance, soon I shall rip out the yellowed stems to make more space for the next ‘blooming wonder’ to arrive!
        And yet, today I bought 2 bunches of probably the last tulips of this spring, a deep blushing red and a warm coppery orange…. in a big round cylinder vase, puts a smile on my face at every passing!

        • Ha ha, they don’t smell better, they just don’t smell at all!! Flowers always put a smile on my face, I have to have a vase in the middle of the kitchen table all year round, they can be as simple as anything but I just need them there, they make me happy all day long!! Xx

  • Great website. I have to admit we’ve always fancied moving to France but have never built up the bottle. How do you find it over there with children. We have a 13, 8 and 7 year old.

    • The children absolutely love it here and it is the most fabulous life for them, a little like the UK used to be when we were children, they are much freer and able to roam the village on their bikes quite happily with friends. They also pick up the language very quickly, all of ours are completely bilingual, they speak English still with an English accent but they speak French with a French accent and to any Frenchman sound French! I say go for it! By your name does this mean you are in Devon, two of ours were born in Exeter. If I can help you further, do send me an email xx

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