City Life, Country Life

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It’s hard to believe we are in November; the clocks have gone back an hour and the evenings have that distinctive chill, tinged with the smell of wood fires. Autumn has crept up on us  really, and all around I’m starting to realize that there are little signs that winter is not far behind. Smoke curls from chimneys in the evening light, leaves litter the ground, and coats and scarves are starting to make their annual appearance.Yesterday was a public holiday in France –  La Toussaint (All Saints Day), a celebration created by Pope Boniface IV of the Catholic Church to originally honor all the saints and martyrs who did not have their own holy day. Over the centuries, matters seem to have spilled over into the common realm, too, for now Catholic families all over  France not only celebrate the lives of all the saints, but also visit cemeteries across the country to remember their loved ones – a tradition to which we are intimate witnesses in more ways than one as not only is our local cemetery but a stone’s throw away, but we have local friends for whom the day is tragically important. 

It’s a windfall for florists too, as in the run-up to La Toussaint chrysanthemum-sellers can be found outside many cemeteries with huge displays of perfectly manicured flowers, ranging in size from small posies to enormous tubs of blooms. Garden centres and supermarkets are also stocked to bursting with pots of these flowers in a vast array of opulent hues and the cemeteries themselves become a riot of colour as nearly every grave is blessed with floral offerings. 

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It is also the Vacances de la Toussaint for the children,  which is the mid-autumn two week break from school – always highly anticipated, and perhaps for some a matter not unrelated to the amount of sweets and treats that may or may not be in the offing come Halloween itself!

This year we spent several days of the first week of the holiday in Bordeaux. This is the city that really does have everything, from fabulous architecture and fine dining, to magnificent strolls along the banks of the river Garonne.

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Top-end shops gravitate around the Triangle d’Or and unsurprisingly, and perhaps unerringly, we found ourselves early on Day 1 pushing open the door to Starbucks; I know we shouldn’t have, for the French make fabulous coffee, but the smell of cappuccinos, frappuccinos, mochas and other delights was an olfactory treat to the senses, a warm sensual return to memories of places we have not visited for many years. Indeed, the words on the menu were creations of vowels we had not really uttered for a long time, and even though the spelling of our names on the cups was somewhat hilarious, I cannot deny the taste was good!

It was so good we went back for a second helping on Day 2, when I admit my guilt lasted only as long as the first delicious long sip.

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There is also a vibrant café scene on every street and amongst all of it is the world’s biggest wine museum, a sensuous reminder that the whole city really does ooze  elegance.

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It was the most perfect weather to sit outside and watch the world go by.

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It is difficult to not notice the architecture in most French cities, and Bordeaux is no exception. From its grand train station to the corner apartments at the end of each boulevard, the city states its importance in quiet authoritative grandeur.

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Closer to home, one is reminded of the stark contrasts between city life,  and country life. We could almost be in two different eras, but perhaps this is what the true meaning of the ‘best of both worlds’ is….

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Some parts of the old priest’s house attached to this church, for example, truly reflect the simplicity and devotion to the calling that must be endured. I wonder quietly if a few small panels of plywood might not keep the warmer air inside, where it will shortly be most needed?

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Autumn may be in full swing but in every village there are some flowers which can still be found in abundance, complete with bees making the best of the cooling weather where possible – Roddy’s gentle insistent insect-coaching may be starting to pay off, perhaps….or have I always noticed the bees quite so readily?

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In one small village we unbelievably found some hollyhocks still nodding in the autumn breeze….

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I passed this mass of cosmos, a meadow of colour far too large for an owner to diligently deadhead, and thought, with a tinge of envy, what a fabulous cutting garden; our house would be a riot of colour with vases filled haphazardly in every room if this field was mine – this is the sort of flower I am convinced should be left to spill out of containers in the most natural way possible.IMG_3819

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Inspired, I returned home determined to find something to fill a container from my own turf. A quick scavenge through a darkening garden and I managed to salvage an odd assortment of blooms, including some roses which are in bud, once more! I know I could just as easily buy a bunch in a shop for the kitchen table but it wouldn’t be the same somehow; there is a special feeling when I know the blooms on the table have come from our own garden.

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And getting back to autumn, we have wood lined up in the log-pile, and our chimneys are all swept; even though the days are warm, the nights are drawing in. I understand this for a fact since Roddy now wears a jacket down to the chicken house at night, and although he is still(!) in shorts by day I know the writing is on the wall. It got chilly enough some nights ago that we lit the fire in the kitchen for the first time; perhaps a little later than usual, but then autumn has been a most strange season this year. Sunday morning was also chilly and when the house came down to breakfast I found Roddy had already lit the stove and Evie was quietly back in her winter wood-burning mode.

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In some places leaves are only just starting to turn,

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while in others they have already fallen, leaving trees outlined with bunches of mistletoe, clinging in great clumps to the branches. There seems to have been very little ‘in-between’ time this autumn, and much to our great surprise we have found our persimmon tree is already bald and some of the fruit is almost ripe enough for eating, a good three weeks or so before we usually start to think of it. In complete contrast, Roddy reports dragonflies still mating on the pond, and many spiders still active in the garden, at a time when they should be all tucked away in hibernation, or dead of winter chill.

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Pumpkin and squash, those gourds we talked about before are still freely available in the stores and butter-nut soup has become a twice-weekly feature on our menu….

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…. and to coincidentally complete our little mid-autumn break, we found a fabulous supplier in a nearby village. Obviously blessed with a stock of surplus produce from his potager, this green-fingered grower sells them from his house beside the road, proudly displayed in a wheelbarrow.

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One draws up in a car, and he appears almost instantly like a magician, to dispense advice, offer a recipe or two, or even to comment on the weather, the passing cars, the amount of tourists still driving through the village and his thoughts on winter ahead; it appears we may need more firewood, “it’s going to be a cold one”  so he says.

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Next year we have already vowed to grow our own butternut, an item of golden goodness that has thus far been lacking from our vegetable garden, probably in place of the watermelons. But then if we had already grown them, I’d never have stopped by the wheelbarrow and met yet another of the charming people we have come across in this area we now call home.

We may go back tomorrow for a pumpkin. I have an urge to make pumpkin soup next, or watermelon jam “melon d’eau confiture” as the sign suggests,  I have never heard of it or tried it – thoughts anyone?

123 thoughts on “City Life, Country Life

  • How beautiful! Down here on the south coast there were many people swimming….long may it last. Maybe going to Nice next week….I wonder how long this glorious weather will last?
    Ali xx

    • I live near Nice and couldn’t believe how many people have been sun-bathing over half-term on the beach. It’s a few degrees cooler this week and much longed for rain is forecast for Sunday. Winter feels a long way off.

      • I have heard how desperately you need the rain down there, we need it here too, although it is a little cooler but still plenty of sunbathers on the beaches. It has been a very strange year. I don’t think we will get much autumn colour here, leaves have either fallen or are remaining resolutely green. Climate change has much to answer for. xx

    • It has been quite stunning, last week whilst we were in Bordeaux it was 28C! Today, back at home it was in the low 20’s and just gorgeous, but this is typical November weather, cold nights when we light the fire and lovely warm days when the washing drys in a few hours and the windows are open. I love it because it makes winter so short! Hope you are having lots of fun xx

  • And the birthplace of the butternut squash is …. the town we live in when in Massachusetts. Stow. Bet you didn’t know that! Autumn is my favourite season for so many reasons and having the privilige of living in a French city rather than my default sticksier than the sticks and hicksier than the hicks, I am getting a different perspective. Toussaint is one of my favourite days in the French calendar … I think it a lovely tradition to visit the graveyards as a family and don’t they look so jolly and lively for weeks afterwards? I’m glad you enjoyed Bordeaux and can almost forgive you Starbucks. Almost xx

    • You’re right I didn’t know that!! Bordeaux could actually persuade me to relive my city days and I can quite see why you are so enjoying city living once more. It is totally different but fabulous being able to walk to places, took me back to my London days and yes I thoroughly enjoyed my starbucks without even the merest hint of embarrassment! I don’t follow the French rule that milk is for children and coffee should be short and strong, I don’t actually like milk but I do like a long frothy coffee and I can’t tell you the number of icy cold mornings with early starts when I would give my eye teeth to be able to pull up to a drive-thru and grab a quick take away so that I could wrap my hands around it whilst I stand in the cold and feel it warm me inside. I don’t miss anything else, but I do miss that and I am allowed my one downfall!!! xx

      • I feel you! My guilty pleasure is the biggest creamiest latte possible with (dare I say it) a tonne of sugar for good measure!!!! I think if I was told this was forever, I would struggle but knowing it is finite makes it a really wonderful experience. There is more. I need to add to the email I sent because there is an update …. 😉 xx

      • Well I am glad you actually love creamy latte’s too because I just think they top a tiny espresso shot at all times! But I want to know what the update is, you have got me guessing, I shall wait with baited breath. Please put fingers to keyboard and update me!! xx

      • I scoffed at Starbucks, until this visit to Paris. My friend and I were there for 2 weeks. We found a lovely cafe and friendly service near where we were staying. And, as is our way, we went back daily. But the coffee cups at all Paris bistros have been shrinking over the last few years from large mugs to small cups. And, this trip we couldn’t get by with just one, so we each ordered 2 every morning at 4.50E each. This added up to over $20.00 for just coffee. One day, out walking, I stumbled upon a starbucks about 3 blocks away. But turned up my nose, as it was “American”. Now, only because our cafe was closed the next day did we go to that SB, somewhat sheepishly (as you did). Low and behold we got a grande latte for 4.50E each and it was the equivalent of 2 coffees at the cafe. So for the rest of our time in Paris we would sneak past our cafe and go to SB. I think next year, we’ll swallow our snobbishness and be seen with our grande lattes daily. So Party On, Susan

      • Love this, I think perhaps we all have the odd story to tell like this. The truth is Starbucks makes good coffee at a very good price and yes sitting at a little cafe drinking a small coffee for several euros and then wanting another for several more can get quite pricey! But you don’t need to swallow your snobbishness, just pretend you are french, because drinking a Starbucks is very trendy and cool, certainly amongst the younger set, the newly working 20’s! xx

  • Thanks for the tour. My list is getting longer of places to visit, if I ever get to France. That is funny about the coffee. When we were in Paris many years ago, we found that coffee was expensive and there were no refills at our hotel breakfasts. Someone in the group found a Burger King and we all headed over to drink the American extra large coffee (or two) at a low price (probably not as good) to get our fill.

    • How funny, no no-one offers refills! I never thought of that but you are right, and it is not just coffee, if the children want another soft drink then one pays for another round, there are no free refills! I hope you get back to France again and Bordeaux is fabulous, I highly recommend it, coffee and all, and Starbucks is super popular with the French, there are three in Bordeaux, two in the city and one at the airport and I am told they are always all full to bursting! xx

  • I love Autumn too, the changing leaves & glorious colours. it’s been so mild here in Edinburgh, although forecast to get colder this w/end. Your home looks so cozy & warm, my poor apartment is inches thick in dust from next doors renovation! Loved your tour of Bordeaux, I have been thinking of a few days away & Bordeaux was top of my list along with Lyon, looks like it will be Lyon this time as there is a direct flight there. xx

    • I believe it is going to be much cooler at the beginning of next week here, but this wonderful autumn weather is always a bonus, it makes winter so lovely and short. Hope the neighbours renovation finishes soon, not much fun for you. I cannot recommend Bordeaux enough especially for a long weekend or a few days away, there is so much to see and do and the people are so incredibly friendly. On top of which the surrounding areas are equally fabulous and the airport is nice and close to the city centre. Let me know if I can help with any future plans! xx

  • What a beautiful, cozy post to read this morning with my tea. Your travel adventures in Bordeaux look wonderful. How did you pick it for your family holiday? Thank you for the gorgeous photos of the architecture and the sidewalk cafes! Two of my favorite things in French cities. Love your casual arrangement of the last of the garden flowers-perfect. xo

    • Thanks Anne, actually Bordeaux chose us! We were there for a sporting event with the children and took some extra time whilst we were there to enjoy the city and make it a little vacation at the same time. I love looking up at the architecture, there is so much to see and it has all been so well preserved, the city really is stunning and I get the impression the locals know it, they are all so happy and so friendly and helpful. I am all for casual flower arrangements!! xx

  • Do you celebrate Halloween much where you are? Here tick or treating doesn’t happen, but I’ve noticed in the chocolate shops in town that year on year there are more Halloween inspired candy. My kids bemoan the fact they’ve been deprived of going door to door for sweets for 8 years!!!
    Today I put my thick jacket on for the first time after yesterday being caught shivering with icy hands while touring. Winter is definitely on the way and I suspect your gourd seller may be right, and that it will be a cold one!

    • Halloween is actually pretty big news here! All the kids in all the nearby villages seem to celebrate and there was far too much candy floating around our house! No chocolate though, it seems chocolate is too good for halloween, mostly carambars! Send them here next halloween, they would have a field day and everyone really makes a big effort with their costumes, I am amazed! Today it was a very balmy 22C here, we ate lunch outside and everyone moaned it was too hot!! I believe it is meant to be much cooler at the beginning of next week and then warming up again. November is usually lovely here and hovers in the high teens, which does have the advantage of making winter seem quite short. But I also happen to agree, I think it is going to be a harsh one. xx

  • Susan, a lovely post to enjoy my morning coffee with.
    Fall is my favorite season. Except for “you know who.” 🐭 I believe it always has been. My father owned a necktie company and he travelled a lot. I can always remember the anticipation of his arrival home and the Gorgeous leaves that he brought home. It makes me think how the “simple” things in life make us most happy!
    The picture of your fireplace is so “charming and cozy.”
    I think French cemeteries are so “beautiful.” You did such a wonderful job capturing the very essence of their “beauty.”
    Thank you for once again inviting your readers the chance to experience the “changing” seasons of French living.
    Starbucks ???????????????🤔
    Happy Thursday! ❤️

    • It sounds as if you have such happy memories, I can just imagine how you looked forward to your father coming home. French cemeteries are fascinating and so beautiful at this time of year with all the extra chrysanthemums. And yes I freely, happily admit to loving Starbucks! My one downfall, buy hey, I haven’t had a starbucks for three or more years, so it was quite a treat!! xx

      • Addicted to Caribou’s Coffee (Minnesota’s home brand) Pumpkin White Mocha! My only justification is that the company has a wonderful loyalty program that it is hard not to support them. Right…? 🤔
        BTW your chandelier is lovely!
        Happy Friday! ❤️

      • Ahhh this made me smile, glad you are addicted to a local coffee! I actually do have my favourite place to have a coffee in Rochefort where they have perfected the art of the most excellent cappuccino after lots of friendly conversations!! But absolutely no take aways and throw away cups so it is only when I have the time to sit and watch the world go by for a few minutes!! The chandelier has been a work in progress! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • There are all kinds of recipes for watermelon jam on Google. I have never made it but might try it now as you have tickled my imagination. Here in Colorado we have had snow three times and all of the trees have lost their leaves mostly due to the high winds we have had. We are running the fireplace every day and every night. I love that part of the cold temperatures as we feel safe and cozy sitting by its fire especially after raking up the leaves in the yard.

    • I have to be honest I had never even heard of watermelon jam before, but I am curious too and have since googled it. Where would we be without google? There is something wonderful about a cosy fire isn’t there, it’s somewhat similar to lying in bed, warm and snug and listening to rain lashing against the window, I think it makes us feel very safe as you say. xx

  • I love Bordeaux, my advice to anyone is to forget Paris and head to Bordeaux instead, it has all the history and architecture and museums and shopping but the people are friendly too and it is just so much nicer!

    • I totally agree with you Shari, I have been to many of the big cities in France including Paris of course which does nothing for me at all, it is unfriendly and stuck in a time warp and has made no effort to move into the 21st century in my opinion.

    • I actually tend to agree with you, but I am sure there are a great many people who might read this who would not agree at all. Paris will always hold a great fascination and charm for many. Personally I far prefer Bordeaux, because it is so much easier to get around! The people are incredibly friendly, I think they know how lucky they are to live where they do! xx

  • So enjoyed the contrast between the two, like two different worlds that coexist quite happily each complimenting the other.

    • It was such a great shame that we missed each other. We were back there for the day on Monday but only for a sporting event and not in the city centre that day at all. I am with you all the way, it was my first Starbucks cappuccino for over three years and yes I loved every sip too! Hope you had a lovely time, where did you stay? We also made a beeline for lush, one of my favourite shops! xx

  • Lovely post for a cold day, Susan. I’m slightly jealous of the people in shirtsleeves though. I’ve been to Bordeaux twice, I think, both times long ago, and each time I arrived by train. It is a wonderful city, just as you describe it. You have tickled some old memories, and I think I will have to go back, this time with Mrs C, who I don’t think has been there. Thanks for the gorgeous photos, too.

    • It was a definite shirt sleeves day again today as we were 22C and able to eat lunch outside with moans from the children that it was too hot, how dare they!! You must take Mrs C to Bordeaux, a long weekend perhaps, I am sure there are several flights from Southampton direct which would make it easy, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. xx

  • YOU are in a good spot!LIFE IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!
    Let me know if you have a good Butternut Squash recipe……………..I NEED ONE!
    XX

  • Loving your countryside and bordeaux shots and your garden bouquet. Love seeing the mistletoe in the trees as well, thank you for the wonderful visual!!

    • Thanks so much, I love the contrast between the French villages and the cities, it really is wonderful to be able to enjoy both. Mistletoe used to be quite rare when I was a child in the UK and yet here it seems to be everywhere! xx

  • I like the look of Bordeaux but I still prefer the country and all those pretty little villages, it’s definitely the rural life for me.

    • The beauty of living somewhere like this is that one can enjoy the rural life or a village life and just visit a city when one wants to, when one needs a little sophistication in ones life! xx

  • Looks like Bordeaux was a smashing hit. Alas, I’m afraid more often than not, folks in the states would all have their heads down looking at electronic devices. Pumpkin & butternut soups are favorite around here too. Their flavors compliment the abundance of apples for a lovely combo. Cheers for a splendid November.

    • I know what you mean, but looking down one misses so much, we certainly really did have to look up, the architecture was amazing. I would not have thought of adding apples, now I am going to look into this more, are you talking about a butternut or pumpkin and apple soup? All such autumn staples, we too have lots of apples and persimmon, kaki as the French all them, are just about ripe, there is still plenty of fresh produce to be had, can’t complain! November is a lovely month xx

  • Bordeaux is indeed a beautiful city. I have visited there many times and have always enjoyed it. I love the architecture of France and it is so interesting to see the difference from the cities and the villages.

    Do share your butternut squash and pumpkin soup recipes.

  • Only just got round to reading this but a treat as always, to be taken away to the country and the city in one go. Loved it thanks

    • That’s one of the great things about living here, it is so easy to have a little bit of everything, the rural life, village life, city life and coastal life, we really are very lucky xx

  • I have never heard of a watermelon called a melon d’eau I always thought the French word was pastèque. But I have heard of watermelon jam, I recall it somewhere from my past but have never eaten it.

  • As always,Susan,this post is absolutely lovely and your photos just beautiful.Today they took me back in memory to our youthful days in Paris–sitting in our favorite cafes,so much joy to be had, tomorrow a shining star to be looked forward to. .Observing La Toussiant then was always holy but after entering our Troisieme Age,it seems to have taken on a deeper meaning.
    Particularly in rememberance of our loved ones.
    We have always been partial to Bordeaux(no Starbucks then,though,gasp!!) and so enjoyed this revisit there with you.
    Thank you!

    • It is definitely a day to remember our loved ones Natalia, as is today. I think it is a lovely tradition that the day is a holiday. Bordeaux has spent a vast amount of money revamping it’s image and renovating many parts of the city and they have truly done a wonderful job, they have preserved the architecture and history beautifully. So happy to have brought back good memories for you. xx

  • autumn always remind me how unlasting life is. But all the beautiful colors in that season also show the versatility and
    beauty in life . It seems that people stop for a moment and think about that before the hectic time for xmas start .I love autumn and the pumpkin soup.

    • You are right, everything has a cycle. We don’t seem to have many stunning autumnal colours this year, it has been too warm and the leaves have either fallen or are remaining resolutely green and clinging to the branches. It is still in the mid 20’s and it doesn’t feel much like Novmeber, but then it is always a warm month here, it does make winter delightfully short. xx

  • Oh what wonderful photography and knowledge alongside to match!! And you have made up my mind: want to do one of these lazy, comfortable, unpack-once-only river cruises and the Rhone foodie one has been in sights. But since Bordeaux is a pretty unknown quantity . . . and, besides, there seems more wine on offer [ 🙂 !] and more blogfriends to whom one can possibly come and say ‘hello’ and have a cup of coffee, methinks next year or the year later I hope to sail along the Garonne and snap some photos of the city on my own camera . . .

    • Now that sounds like a fabulous plan and it will certainly be a lot more than a cup of coffee I hope, think of this as a base! Do let me know if I can help at all with planning or gleaning info for you. Sounds like a perfect sort of holiday and the wine is fabulous of course, always a bonus!! xx

  • Wonderful photos and all that gorgeous architecture. We have had very strange weather and the leaves are very late changing. We are finally seeing some fall color here. It was cold last weekend and this weekend it will be 80.

    • What strange weather you are having, it has been a bit like that here too but not to such extremes, but still the leaves don’t know what to do, some have just fallen and others are clinging quite resolutely to their branches and still quite green, refusing to change colour, I don’t think we are going to have wondrous autumn colours here this year but can’t complain because the weather has, on the whole, been wonderful. Hope you have a lovely weekend, it is meant to get cold here next week for a few days! xx

  • I’ve done cantaloupe jam, which is a bit like a creamsicle. I have a recipe for watermelon preserves, which of course, use the rind. Have you had pickled watermelon rinds? Also really lovely and I have a recipe for that, too. If the watermelon confiture on the sign uses the lovely sweet red watermelon parts, I’d love to trade my recipes for that one. Or share mine, if you’re interested. Looks as though you’re having a lovely fall.

    • I would love to have your recipe please, it might persuade me to go down the road and buy some of their watermelons specifically for jam. I had never even heard of preserving the rind but someone else told me about candied watermelon rind, I have learnt so much. If you do get a moment please do share your recipe. I can see some jam making on the horizon! xx

      • I noticed there were quite a few recipes for watermelon jam online that look nice. I may make some next year! Now for the candied and pickled rinds: Both call for peeling the green skin and making sure there is no pink from the part we like to eat left on. For the sweet preserves: one pound of rind cut into 1 inch cubes. Put in bowl and let stand in 1 quart of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of lime juice. (You can use 1 Tablespoon salt if lime juice is unavailable.) It stands overnight. Next day drain and rinse, cover with boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. While that’s going on, combine 2 cups of sugar with a quart of water and boil. Add 1/2 of thinly sliced lemon and 2 Tablespoons of sliced preserved ginger (I’ve used chopped dress and let it boil with the syrup). Then add the watermelon rind and cook until the rind is clear. Add to sterile jars (about two pints) and boil for ten minutes to seal.

        For the pickles: 2 pounds prepared rinds, which can be cubed or in longer strips. Soak in 1/2 cup salt and 2 quarts of water overnight. Rinse and drain next day, then boil until tender. Combine 2 cups water, 2 cups white vinegar, 4 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon whole allspice, 1 stick cinnamon and 1 teaspoon whole cloves and bring to boil for 5 minutes. Add drained rind and boil until the rind is clear. Put in sterile jars and boil for 10 minutes to seal.

        Good luck. If you have any questions, let me know. The pickles can be fabulous. The candied ones are good if you have a sweet tooth or need a sweet garnish.

      • Wow, thank you so much, I too looked at jam recipes online and as I guessed they all need added pectin, I was just wondering if I can even get that here! I am sure I can, it is just a case of knowing where to ask or perhaps it is even sold in the supermarket, at least I know the word is the same just with an e on the end! However I do love the sound of both of your recipes, the candied one will suit the children hands down and the pickled one sounds as if it would be lovely with paté, just as the French love to serve pickled gherkins with paté. Plenty of food for thought here, I might just go and see if he has any of those melon d’eau pour confiture left! Thanks so much again and have a lovely weekend xx

      • The ones I saw needed two packets of pectin. It is in the supermarkets here, and oddly enough, hardware stores, which sell the canning equipment and jars. Not sure if it would be the same in France. Let us know if you make any of the recipes. The jam looked wonderful!

      • I am planning on trying this during the week when I will have a little more time, I am fairly hopeful I am going to find pectin at the local supermarket, they have all sorts of jam making things! I also think I shall try the candied ones for the children! Hope you are having a lovely weekend. xx

  • What a lovely post for my last one of the evening, Susan. The colors of fall are not full on even now, but it’s certainly gotten cooler. We had to turn the heat on when it started being in the mid- to low-thirties (F) at night. 🙂 I do miss the wood-burning stove we had in our house in Cleveland.

    It sounds as though you had the best of both worlds: your big city experience and then going back home. What a perfect balance and I loved tagging along!

    janet

    • The nights have got down to the 40’s here a couple of times and I must admit lighting the fire in the evening does make it very cosy, but we haven’t had to turn any heating on yet. I think you probably have more fall colour than we do, I don’t think we are going to get much at all, leaves are either falling as they are or remaining green and firmly clinging to the branches, it’s been such a warm and sunny autumn I think everything is a little confused! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

    • I certainly will, I am sorely tempted to go and buy some and give it a try this weekend, it seems that I need to find some pectin powder which may or may not be easy here! But I am always up for a challenge! Hope you have a lovely weekend xx

  • Truly the best of both worlds! I have never been to Bordeaux but it looks beautiful! Lovely photos of both the city and countryside. Your home looks so inviting and I could just imagine spending time in front of that fire on a cool winter evening. Thanks for linking up to Take Me Away again this month. Always great to have you!
    Shelley

    • Thanks Shelley, always such a complete pleasure to tag along. Bordeaux is absolutely gorgeous and if you come to France I cannot recommend it enough, it is a stunning city with so much to offer and yet it is really easy to get around and everyone is so friendly. xx

  • Dear Susan,
    I love your post today. I am not a big fan of Starbucks because their coffee is so strong and at times bitter to me, but since I live in the states, I am at their mercy. When I am out shopping, I prefer to bring coffee from home, but no matter what insulated mug I use, the coffee is never hot like Starbucks.
    Once when I was in Paris at Musee d’Orsay, I decide to take a break from the paintings and walk outside. While walking I stopped to get a coffee in a small cafe. Such a little cup did not
    Quench my thirst and when I asked for another, in french, the waiter gave me a strange look.
    And I am sure, under his breath, a comment about Americans. We tend to like our coffee in bigger cups.
    I have to agree that Starbucks in that paper cup does warm up your body on a cold day!
    Such a great treat that we in the states take for granted.
    Enjoy your wonderful autumn weather, Patty.

    • Hi Patty, I feel your pain, I don’t like strong coffee either which is my problem in France, the coffee is much stronger than that which I like! Hence my great glee at enjoying a Starbucks for the first time in many years, the coffee was nowhere near as strong as that in our local cafes, and yes it was long and warming, not a quick tiny espresso in a small cup! Autumn is indeed fabulous this year, warm and sunny, hope you have a wonderful weekend xx

      • Bonsoir Susan.Merci pour ces belles photos de Bordeaux et de la campagne charentaise en cette automne très sec. Qui a dit qu’ il n’ y aura pas d’ été indien en France ??? Juste un mot pour dire que si vous voulez un café plus long dans un bistro ( ou bistroquet de son vrai nom ), il faut demander au serveur/serveuse un ” Grand café ” : il/elle vous apportera une grande tasse ( 20 ml ) de café ( moins fort qu’ un expresso ). La tasse ne sera pas aussi grande que celles de STARBUCK mais ce sera mieux à votre goût. // Good evening Susan. Thanks to share these nice pictures from the city of Bordeaux (almost as beautiful as the city of Lyon but much more than Paris of course like every french people from province know it very well!.. LOL!!! ). Just a word to say that if you want to order a coffee milder into a Bistro ( shortname for BISTROQUET ), you have to ask to the waiter/waitress a ” Grand café/ Big coffee ” / he/she will bring you a big cup ( not a mug…) of coffee ( 20 ml at least and less strong than an expresso ).The cup won’t be as big as ones into STARBUCK but it will fit better to your taste..Have a good next week.

      • Ha ha, yes I prefer Bordeaux to Paris because it is so much more accessible and just so much easier and so very friendly! Next time I am asking for a Grand Café, I have asked for a café Creme many times, in fact I always do but it is still a little too strong for my English liking! No matter how long I live here some things will never change!!! Have a lovely week and thank you so so much, I am sure you know what I am talking about xx

      • Sorry StarbuckS of course… not very much used to go there indeed even though there are three stores downtown Lyon! A little word for Gigi: ALLEZ Gigi ! Come on and keep training hard. You are a very talented player!

      • Hi Philippe, I think it is all those very cold mornings standing on a freezing tennis court that make me wish there was a Starbucks just around the corner!! Gigi says a very huge thank you, she will never give up! xx

  • Hi Susan. Lovely post as usual! With reference to the ‘abundance ‘ of flower fields: I think this must have been under the Jachere scheme – summer fallow.set up by the Councilof Europe in the 1990s. All todo with set-aside. We used to see lots in the Dordogne. Edges of fields, small infills. Very colourful. Big bags of the seeds in various mixes are available in agricultural co-op stores at reasonable prices. Don’t think we’ve seen any over in 17 tho. Pity! Xx

    • As a farmer’s daughter I know all about set aside, and it still pains me to see countries that have starving people when here under European law farmers have to forced to not use some of their acreage for crops, but that is another story! Whatever the reason they are really pretty. We actually have several round abouts here that are planted as wild flower meadows and we all just love them. Where are you in France, it sounds as if you know the Charente Maritime? xx

    • It has been such a mild autumn that things are coming back into bud again, we have a new flush of roses suddenly which I plan to make the most of in a big vase tomorrow! I will keep picking and making the most of every flower I can find in the garden for as long as I can! At least these wonderful mild sunny autumns make the winter short. Hope it is not too cold with you and have a lovely weekend xx

  • Its getting colder here too. I have a new wood burner coming next week which will complete the season. The cosmos are beautiful. I had an old wooden cupboard this year which i turned on its back and filled with soil and cosmos. It was at the end of the garden and i felt like the happy flowers were waving and smiling at me all summer.

  • Susan, I really love how you depict France so beautifully! Every one of your pictures is a feast for the eyes! You have a true talent for words and photography, keep developing it! Much love, Josie xxx

    • Thanks so much Josie, I always says it is easy to take good photos when there are so many great views just asking to be photographed all around. I really don’t do anything except point and press, France does the rest for me! But thank you so much. xx

  • SO beautiful! I love those corner apartments and all that iron scroll work. I have many photos of those types of buildings from my one and only trip to France. I loved the sidewalk cafes too and wish more towns around here adopted that tradition.

    • I would just love to live in one of those apartments if I went back to city living, the balconies are gorgeous and the buildings are stunning. There is nothing better than sitting at one of the pavement cafes and watching the world go by, something I love so much about France. Sounds as if you had a lovely trip here and I hope you get to visit again. xx

  • I enjoyed your pictures of Bordeaux as it made me think of my copine from childhood, my penpal who I had the pleasure of visiting three times as a young teenager (13-15). Such a lovely part of France. Your interior shot are lovely

    • How great that you got to visit your penpal and no doubt she got to visit with you also, what a fun time that must have been full of new discoveries. Bordeaux is gorgeous and the people are so friendly, definitely my favourite city in France xx

  • A lovely post Susan. This Autumn has indeed been a little strange. There are very few ‘reds’ on the trees and bushes this year, the leaves seeming to have gone straight to yellowy orange and/or fallen. And yet there are still flowers blooming in the garden!! I discovered one beautiful apricot rose – Lord Byron (Polka), planted early this year, who had not flowered when he should, but has now got going and this one rose was tucked next to the wood of the archway over which he will eventually climb. A tantalising taste of what will hopefully come next year! My new acer by the pond is turning a beautiful red though and the Alstromeria just will not stop! I enjoyed your post about the chateaux as well, the photos of the marsh very atmospheric and I’m looking forward to seeing pictures of the interiors! One thing – I couldn’t ‘open’ Roddys post. I can open all the ones before and after, but not his, so still do not know what a grumpy old man says about wine!!! Have a lovely weekend.

    • Your autumn foliage is the same as ours, very little colour, either they have fallen or they are clinging resolutely to the branches, a little yellowing in colour but nothing fabulous at all! We still have roses flowering too and other things, just most strange! It sounds has if you still have plenty of colour, it will certainly make winter short and sweet I hope for us all! There was a glitch with the Grumpy old man post which I am still trying to fix! Hope you are having a lovely weekend xx

  • I really think this is the way to live and this is my choice although we are in the UK but we are in a small village and just a few miles from York which is a beautiful city and I do like to try to visit at least once a month and then retreat to the peace of the countryside!

    • Sounds like the perfect lifestyle as well. It is many many years since I visited York, but I have heard that it is a lovely city. There is something so nice about coming home to the country but then there is also fun to be had in the big cities, as we both agree, the best of both worlds! xx

    • Hi Panda. We moved to a village in Wiltshire and like you, we are near enough to the beautiful city of Bath to go in and get our city fix when we need one! But returning home to our country village is bliss, the best of both worlds as you say. I have been to York when my son went for a university interview there, but that was in 1995! it was lovely so I think it’s time for another visit! Have a lovely week.

  • Cosmos is such a colourful flower, and I agree it would be so nice to have a field of your own to cut bunches at whim. Good luck on your pumpkin growing. #AllAboutFrance

    • Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a field or even just a large part of the garden where one could grow nothing but cutting flowers, I would have vases non stop all over the house! xx

  • So lovely to hear about your fall break. We’re having a similar warm fall as you are down there. I so enjoyed your pictures of the All Saints flowers. Here in Sweden we also celebrate All Saints Day, but we differ in that we place long burning candles at the resting place of loved ones.
    Watermelon jam I’ve not tried, but my Grandmother used to make watermelon rind preserves. They were sweet, with ginger and cinnamon. Haven’t had them for many years. Thanks for the memory and post.

    • Hi Ron, I think it is a lovely idea to place a slow burning candle in the resting place of loved ones. I have never tried the preserved watermelon rind in any way, but it really does sound good, I am going to try my hand at it this week. Interesting that you are having such a mild autumn too, the locals here tell me they fear we are going to have a very harsh winter, short but bitterly cold. What do the locals in Sweden forecast because the autumn has certainly been quite unusual so far. xx

  • Bordeaux is somewhere I really need to explore (especially since the opening of the wine museum). I’ve only been to the train station and then whisked off to Cap Ferrat. This autumn has been unusual for us in the Côte d’Azur too. September was colder than usual but October hotter…and not one drop of rain in the whole month. With severe water restrictions in place (and a total fire ban still) our garden is suffering badly. The seasons have gone mad. Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance

    • The seasons have indeed gone mad. Traditionally November is our wettest month here although we have only had a very light shower yesterday so far. It has been very mild, October was about normal but with some really hot days. The leaves have simply not changed colour as they normally do, either they are dropping off still half green or they are clinging on resolutely, but no astounding reds at all, just the odd orange here and there. You really must make a point of visiting Bordeaux, such a stunning city and the wine museum is meant to be the best in the world. xx

  • How pretty to have flowers and fireplaces sprinkled in this post! Our family went to Bordeaux years ago and my husband bought wine from the years our children were born…which he breaks out now and then as a little surprise. Thanks again for this wonderful escape.
    Mary Ann

    • How fabulous to have the wine from the years the children were born from Bordeaux. We have a few bottles for our children too given by their godparents, French but not all form Bordeaux. Roddy had a bottle from the year he was born. On his 50th birthday we opened it with friends, full of excitement, planning to let it breath for a couple of hours, but it was corked, such bitter disappointment! But we still kept the bottle! xx

  • Oh I enjoyed this post with so much “relish”! Watermelon jam, interesting indeed! I being a bit naughty would have taken some cuttings of the plants to try and get them to grow in my own garden. Its weird we are in our Spring time…our days should be warm with the nights and early mornings yet today as I look outside its cold and raining.

    • I think the seasons seem to have gone a little bit off kilter everywhere, November for us is usually mild but wet, this year it started off really hot and is now bitterly cold, but very very little rain! Do try the watermelon jam later in the year when you have access to local ripe watermelons, it sounds delicious although I too have yet to find the time to make it! xx

  • Beautiful and evocative photos – I especially liked your comments on the priest’s house, but all the photos from Bordeaux remind me that it’s time to book another week there as soon as we can! Thanks for an excellent photo essay on the delights of autumn in France!

    • Yes, you really should book some time in Bordeaux again, at the very least a long weekend, it is the most beautiful city with so much to do. I cannot wait to go back and spend a day at the wine museum because it looks so fascinating and is meant to be the best in the world. I also love that the people are so friendly and it is easy to navigate ones way around. xx

  • Being so late is dangerous for readers like me…. I would wish to read (and even comment, sorry my love!!!!) so many of your friends’ postings but I won’t do that – just to say that I’m working my way through your posts!!! I wish I could find any supplier who is selling their cornucopia’s surplus for 1€ / kg…. I paid for all my ‘courges’ at least 2.-/kg, the white (and very difficult to peel patissons are nearly out of my financial reach – but so pretty!!!
    I came back from Switzerland and in 4 days only the summer anemones and Virginia creepers have lost all their flowers, the hydrangeas took a dip in the very cold nights too and only some roses are bravely weathering the November cold!

    • Ahh the November cold, it’s certainly a bit of a shock to the system, we have dipped as low as 1C a couple of night’s ago, no frost yet, but chilly all the same. We have very little flowering now. 1 euro a kilo, and they keep stocking the wheel barrow. I pass it every morning on the way to school with the children and again in the evening when it is empty and then by 8.15am the next day it is stocked again. I shall be back to buy more this week, I am in love with Butternut Squash soup! They must have a huge garden and a plentiful supply, I shall ask him if I see him again! xx

  • forgot to say that I only visited Bordeaux once and that I absolutely LOVED it. THAT’s a place I could easily live in – and of course I love the weather there, and the culture, and the architecture, and the laid-backness of the people….

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