How 2018 is Shaping Up

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As the New Year gets underway, motivation tends to be strong, and our goals are often set to the highest levels. Hand in hand with this time of year are New Year resolutions, whether they’re meaningful and well thought out, or overly ambitious ideas dreamt up whilst enjoying the fizz of champagne bubbles. Perhaps you don’t make any resolutions at all but simply embrace la nouvelle année with positive thoughts and a renewed energy?

Whatever your plans for this year, I thought I’d take a look at the things that are often at the top of everyone’s list, and then, somewhat lightheartedly, ponder on the year ahead.

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Travel
Isn’t this always in the top ten of New Year’s resolutions? If so, I hope this might be the year that some of you will get to France; I know how many people have said it is one of their dreams, so remember –  if you do – drop me an email and come by and say ‘hello’. If you’re longing to discover foreign lands but unfortunately lack the means or wherewithal to achieve this goal, then opt for the armchair version; it’s free and it’s fun, and I can certainly help with that!

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Culture
I am fascinated by different cultures, there is no right or wrong in a culture for me – it’s just a nation’s or race’s way of life that has existed for however many hundreds or thousands of years in whatever part of the world I happen to find myself in.

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As a result, architecture holds a great fascination for me and plenty of that can be seen right under our noses – and it doesn’t have to mean 12th century churches or ancient chateaux; mid-century design and modern buildings can be just as awe inspiring.

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Do Something For Others
So this is an obvious one. Anything one can do produces a great feel good factor on both sides, and even just a smile or a simply voiced “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”, can make all the difference to a person’s day. Unfortunately, I think it is only as we get older that we appreciate best how the very old feel, and it is for them that I reserve a special piece of my time, for sadly I think that sometimes they can be the loneliest people in the world.

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Try Something New
Make this the year that you take the plunge and try your hand at a new skill, hobby or experience. It doesn’t have to be anything mind-blowingly complicated like mastering a new instrument, but perhaps to just advqnce past playing Chopsticks on the piano or finally learning a few more words of a foreign language – either might be just enough to make you feel wonderful! Perhaps that additional vocabulary might finally enable you to have a wonderful conversation with someone who you’ve been dying to talk to. At the very least it will let you do something beyond being able to order a glass of local plonk!

On a different line of thinking, I am still very tempted to buy a certain French classic and slowly restore it. However, I’ll need a little help with this so I’m working on Roddy quite diligently to get him to agree!

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Read More and Surf Less
I am probably totally shooting myself in the foot with this one, since I’m rather fond of my surfers, and shouldn’t perhaps be really urging you to put away the laptop, the phone, the iPad in favour of a good old fashioned book. But, you don’t have to give it all up, and of course I hope you won’t give up this blog in particular, but I do think we need to encourage our children to read more, there still is nothing quite like a really good book. We also need to remember just how thought-provoking a good book can be.

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Find Time for You
Free time seems to be harder and harder to come by these days, despite the fact that almost every job is technically easier; and even though for many of us there is a mechanical device on hand to help us with virtually everything, we all still seem to have less time to spare. Just half an hour a day, wandering aimlessly, perhaps soaking in a hot bath, or doing something special just for oneself, really is vital, and for me it’s a great way to recharge the batteries.

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Exercise More and Eat Healthily
OK, so this is probably what steals the Number One spot each year. However, I confess to never having been to a gym in my life and I really don’t think I plan to ever change that. For me exercise means gardening, tennis, long challenging bike rides up rather steep hills and anything sporty with the children. If one can include good hearty walks gulping in lungfuls of fresh air and some Yoga (yes, I admit I am a yoga fan) then I’m already onto this particular resolution but more as a way of life rather than a ‘fix’ each January.

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Healthy Eating and sticking to what is ‘in season’ speaks for itself and you all already know that is what our family firmly believes in; it is something that comes up quite regularly on the blog as it is very much a part of daily life for us.

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However I do have a little tip. If you do any sport or you suffer from that mid-afternoon ‘dip’, often you will find yourself reaching for an energy bar or snack bar at some stage. I have developed my own recipe for a protein energy-bar that contains scarcely any artificial sugars and is utterly delicious. This began as a sports bar, when energy mid-game is vital, but it’s ended up as a family favourite. You can play around with the recipe, but the one below is what we have found works well.

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SUPER ENERGY BARS
3 cups of unsalted nuts (you can choose a mixture of the ones you like best)

1/2 cup rolled oats
10 – 12 dates with the stones taken out
1/2 cup of raisins
2 tablespoons of good quality cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
a few squares of dark chocolate (we use at least 70% cocoa)

Combine everything together in a food-processor until it is very finely chopped. At the end is where I like to add the few squares of good quality dark chocolate and then blitz these in the processor for just a few seconds so that they still stay slightly chunky and become more like chocolate chips. In the USA and the UK you can just buy the chocolate chips (and probably in other countries too) but we are in France and they are not so common!

Line a small baking-tin with parchment paper and press the mixture into it, pushing down firmly and packing it very tightly, literally squashing it all together. Put the filled tin in the fridge and once thoroughly cold you can cut the mixture into squares or rectangles, and then store in an airtight tin for up to two weeks. This is a really quick healthy snack that should satisfy event the sweetest tooth, but will most definitely give you a little lift when needed. I should add that when you have a container of just crumbs (or if your first attempt turns into crumbs), they make a delightful topping for ice-cream or yoghurt.

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So, now we have our resolutions in place, let’s see what else 2018 might have in store for us. The New Year blew in with yet another very windy start as Storm Carmen hit our western shores on Monday the 1st, bringing winds of up to 130 km/h. This was swiftly followed by Storm Eleanor, which is battering many departments in the country. They are blowing away any cobwebs we had and have brought us a plethora of puddles for the children to jump in, very muddy walks and endless branches strewn across the garden to pick up – these will be next winter’s kindling for the fire, so that’s a job well done.

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The French sales, les soldes, are due to get underway soon. This year most departments have their winter sales from January 10 to February 20. A Frenchman is credited with the invention of seasonal sales, and they are highly regulated in France and are limited to taking place just twice a year. The summer sales usually start at the end of June, and both sets of events last just six weeks.

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The first wild truffle grown in Paris has been found in a rooftop garden at an hotel near the Eiffel Tower! As the capital aims to have 100 hectares of roof gardens developed in the next two years it makes me wonder if Paris will see a rise in the number of pigs kept in domesticity as a result?

Okay, so that’s a whimsical thought, but it should be noted that as the winter truffle variety found in Paris has a stronger, more peppery, flavour than the black Perigord truffle found in the south, and as the price of truffles is now at around 5,000 euros a kilo, (yes that’s correct, five thousand, I haven’t inadvertently added any zeros!), then perhaps some pigmy porcine additions to peoples’ menagerie’s may not be out of the question!  Whatever happens,  surely these gardens will become a very useful resource for the city – especially for bees? It is said that ‘city honey’ – and there is plenty to be had in London, for example – is deliciously varied in flavour due to the amount of different nectar sources.

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In other news, France has around 400 wolves living naturally in the wild after they were reintroduced into the country in the late 20th Century. But they are becoming a serious problem and in 2017 more than 11,000 farm animals, mostly sheep were attacked and killed by them, costing the government 3,5 million euros in compensation. I’m not sure of the response you will have to this snippet of information if you bring it up across a French dinner table, so use with care.

A French court has allowed a hospital to fire a man for having a beard that was too long and the list of mandatory vaccinations for children has risen from 3 to 11.

Emergency numbers in France can be confusing, with separate numbers for different services, despite the aim of the procedure being to make the service quicker and more efficient. For anyone visiting, below is a list that might be of help to keep on hand. But remember, if in doubt you can always dial 112. This official European Emergency Services number which works from all landline and mobile phones.

18: Emergencies: This number connects to the fire brigade (Sapeurs Pompiers) but they deal with medical emergencies and should be the first port of call in life-threatening situations. If you have a hornet’s nest in your garden, this is the number you should ring if you need to get rid of it. Naturally, if we have a hornet’s nest in our garden, I can expect Roddy to be close by with a camera for most of the summer. Sigh.

15: Samu (for other urgent medical call-outs)

17: Police / Gendarmes (remember that the police cannot shoot you at will, but the Gendarmes can as they are part of the military and don’t have to have a reason to let loose with a bullet)

114: Emergency calls (hearing assisted)

115: Emergency Shelter

119: Reporting child abuse

196: Sea and lake rescue (a good number to have at this time of year when icy ponds and dogs can cause problems)

197: Terror/kidnapping hotline

01 40 05 48 48: Anti-poison centre

09 726 750 + your department number e.g. 17 for the Charente Maritime): Gas & electricity emergencies

3237: (0.35/min) Outside hours GP and pharmacy information (also available on http://www.3237.fr). This number will give you the location of your nearest open pharmacy – there is normally one open every hour, somewhere near you

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And finally  – to end as we mean to go on – an unofficial report states that France’s future economy is looking good. Champagne sales are regarded by some as a good measure of the country’s state of affairs and I am told that this means we are heading for a fabulous 2018!

If only it were that simple!

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Sales of the fizzy stuff have brought in more than 5 billion euros in 2017, a 6% rise from the previous year and half of all of these sales were made in France. So let’s break out the bubbly and raise a toast to 2018. Here’s to all of you, I know many of you are cutting back on social media and blogs in general, but thank you for continuing to read Our French Oasis; thank you for all your comments and emails. Thank you for taking the time to make this blog a reality, for without you it would not exist.

Tell me what your plans are and if you have any resolutions and great ideas. Let’s make this a wonderful year together, because most of all this is not ‘my’ blog, this is ‘our’ blog.

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Wishing you a wonderful, happy and healthy 2018, from all of us, dogs, cats, goldfish and chickens included! xxx

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123 thoughts on “How 2018 is Shaping Up

  • What a woman you are….. I could easily underline all of your suggestions. I’m however obviously quiet about the ‘sporty’ one – there isn’t anything to say about my lack of excercise and every doctor I’ve seen since a looooong time instists that I really, really should take that 30’ hike every day. How so when all I do is running here and there, (not so much any longer, I’ve taken the priviledge of saying NO now..), working in the garden, jogging to help here or there, and when READING in an armchair is so immesurably more agreable? 😉
    Love your statistic facts – I too only ‘learned’ to appreciate modern architecture while living in those places, bridges, buildings (in Paris often ‘stuffed’ into the most improbably small ‘holes’), etc.
    About 10 years ago I realised that I can spare myself the ‘taking resolutions’. I am since then rather going in the direction: Do something every single day. Some days it’s very, very little, others even nothing mentionnable at all, others again I ‘catch several brownie points’ …. it’s all in a day’s work and worth!
    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one overwhelmed with the French urgency numbers. When we returned to the ‘small motorway’ leading to the A5/A6 some time ago because HH left his smartphone on the ROOF of our car and I suddenly cried: What was that noise? And we lost the telephone connection…… THEN HH uttered some swearing and after we stopped our car with flashing distress lights, we walked along the borders of the Nationale and Heaven help us, found the phone AND the cover in the shrubs along the way – which was a wonder in itself. BUT what HH did and which was deeply disturbing (and for me just proved once more his constant state of a pre-occupied lunatic/professor/choose any word you like: I asked him to put on the road-gilet (we had to take a 10’ detour to excite the Nationale and return to our starting point, so we had the time to think about that) and it was me who got out of the car first to ‘graze’ the closer side for the missing phone….. HH was running ahead and LOCKED THE CAR. With the noise of all the passing cars he didn’t hear my cries; I wanted to get my ‘gilet’ AND even more I wanted to phone his phone so that he and I could search per the ringing sound…. only it all was locked inside the car. When we found all parts, I ressembled them and all worked miraculously as before! I THEN told him that IF anything had happened EVER, I would have NO IDEA which number to call, neither for the police, nor ambulance nor assistance – I’d be lost! His reply was: Maybe you should look it up then….. He didn’t know either!…..
    One of my New Year resolutions I’m not taking is writing to you right now re our hols…. Watch your email inbox!
    Tons of love and only the best wishes to you all – see you soon!
    Kiki
    PS: I’m only glad you didn’t include the spiders in your New Year wishes 🙂

  • I also confess not yet having read your Christmas stories. But I did read a lot…. a beautiful L. Moriarty book, I think I’m through with all of her writings…. And I WILL read the story, when the time is right!

    • Kiki – you are a sweetheart, what a wonderful reply. I shall get back to you via email, there is too much to consider and reply to, here. Though I do have to sympathise about the phone on the car roof and have to add that once, in New Zealand, Roddy left a small bag with not just a phone, but also house-keys, wallet and a compact camera on the roof of the car and when we returned an hour later the bag was still lying in the middle of the road, untouched by wheel or human hand. We certainly felt lucky that evening! More later XXX

  • Susan, I’ve decided to move in next door! We have all the same resolutions, and there’s strength in numbers for sticking to them. Gardening, walking and cycling instead of a gym, who could have put it better. I simply get bored in a gym with nothing real about me to look at and keep me inspired! I am also going to try your “no sugar” attitude to diet firstly for a month, and see how that makes me feel. I’ve met someone else recently who extolled the benefits having tried it too!
    Fabulous photos of the turbulent sea!
    Best wishes to all the family, and tell Roddy you’ll never regret a 2cv!! Xxx

    • Hi Miranda, good luck with the sugar-free deal! Perhaps we can celebrate a little success next time you visit?? I’m not sure Normandy is the best place to succeed, perhaps….. 🙂 Have a great 2018, and hopefully see you all again. XXX

    • Miranda, I meant to also add but I was in a dreadful rush, that it’s been over two years now on the no sugar, 2 years and 4 months to be precise and I have never looked back even with all the Christmas chocolate, it just no longer holds that fascination, good thing there is red wine around though!!! xx

  • Great guide! Truffles here in Dordogne are €920 a kilo. My neighbour is a truffle farmer and says they are usually between 650 and 1200 depending on time of season.
    I am praying for 2019 already as I have 2 hand surgeries this year and with the recovery time expected to be minimum 6 months each, I am dreading it. No cooking or blogging or using a keyboard or phone!!!!! Dreading it.

    • Bonjour Nadia ! Perhaps Susan mistaken the Truffes noires du Périgord ( 650 to 1200 €/kg as you noted ) with the Truffes blanches d’ Alba en Italie ( up to 6 000 €/kg ). I watched a documentary on french TV (TF1) about this expensive natural product 10 days ago. I wish you Nadia a good recovery and une Bonne année 2018 !

      • Bonjour Philippe! I was repeating what I had read somewhere so it is quite possible I am either misinformed or misled!! Typical of me, but I did try and check…..and I hold my hands up in acknowledgment of any mistakes I may have made 🙂 I shall have to do a complete post about truffles, I can see. Roddy has a friend in the next village who collects the ones here; the friend says they are small and insignificant perhaps but he loves using them. I’m not sure what type they are. He uses a dog to find them…. I see a little expedition with him this autumn is going to take place…. thank you for your kind comments though, and for not shouting at me too much! Thank you too for your wonderful support with the ‘you-know-what’!! Have a wonderful 2018 XX

        • Bonjour Susan ! Vos posts sont toujours passionnants et si la discussion avec Nadia vous amène à faire un reportage sur la Truffe noire en Charente-Maritime ce sera encore, pour tous vos followers, une magnifique source d’ information. Etant un néophyte au sujet de ce champignon je serai très intéressé de lire votre enquête. // Hello Susan! Your posts are always so exciting and if the discussion with Nadia brings you to make a report about Black truffle in Charente-Maritime it will be , for all your Followers, another great topic to deepen our knowledge. Being a neophyte about this mushroom I would be very much interested to read your next investigation.Continue like that you are the best. Et de nouveau une Bonne année 2018 à vous et à toute votre famille.

          • Now there is another fabulous idea, I shall have to chat with some of the villagers and see if there are truffles around here, thanks for the suggestion! Wishing you too a very happy and healthy 2018 (as we like to say in English!) xx

        • I only had (knowingly) truffle dotted meals twice and all I remember that it wasn’t that impressive…. I might well be an ignoratus and would appreciate a post of you going into the depth of truffle hunting (especially since a dog is involved!!! I talked once to a ‘truffle sniffer’ who used one of his pigs – that was fun! But for the life of me I cannot recall when and where that was – I have such a long and ‘lively’ life 🙂

          • I definitely have to do some work on truffles, for I too am rather ignorant apart from the obvious things. I always remember at a very smart dinner, Izzi, our eldest, who must have been about 15 at the time choosing a pasta dish only to find it was laced with truffles, she hated them! xx

    • @Nadia: I don’t know you personally but my mum had both her hands operated and one of my sister her 2nd – both in November last year, and myself still being a bit ‘handicapped’ from a fall on 21/12 and not able to carry anything heavy, I feel for you. Unless it’s going to be very serious operations, I really hope you won’t have to go through such a long recovery period after each op – that would be truly dreadful! In any case I wish you great courage, a good mental base and the confidence that all will be so much better afterwards, then a lot of patience and I send you good vibes of healing power 🙂 🙂

    • Oh Nadia, that sounds horrendous – you have all my sympathy. If you need help do let me know – if i can do anything I will try and do so. You need to organise a voice-recognition program so you can still blog! I can’t bear the thought if not hearing from you, how awful – I share your angst immensely….. I hope and pray it will all go smoothly for you – please keep in touch as best as you can XXXX

  • I have been following your blog for a few years now & shall continue to make it a priority! We just moved back to the US after 43 wonderful years abroad & I so miss Europe! We plan, hopefully, a short trip back this coming summer & that should also include France, albeit it just a short trip. I love the Provence. Where are you located. I would love to meet you for a coffee.

    • Hello Sandi, thank you so much for your kind comment, and please do come back to visit and meet up. We’re on the west coast near Rochefort, so if you are in the area drop me a line and we’ll see if we can’t have a coffee, I would love to do that! Have a wonderful 2018 in the meantime XX

    • I’m glad I am not the only one to be confused! I only hope Roddy is about when we need to call an emergency number – that way he can get told off for not using the right one! I hope you all have a great 2018 too! XX

  • I am an 80 year old and my only ‘resolution’ is to work harder at my genealogy. It is a very satisfactory (but sometimes very frustrating) pastime.

  • Thank you for all the information Susan, as you say, it’s very confusing with all the different department- I never knew that Gendarmes were part of the military either! That was all very useful for me, as, on 1st April, I am going to Paris for 3 whole months, I am beyond excited, but I will follow your blog from there of course : -) I have rented a tiny studio apartment in the Marais area & hope to improve my French while I’m there, which is so bad. However, having visited friends there this past few years, I find that if you at least try & make an effort, the locals are very forgiving, despite my French friends falling over laughing when I do try!
    Wishing you & all on Our French Oasis a very happy New Year. xxx

    • Oh my goodness how exciting for you, three whole months, and at the best time of year too. I am sure your French will be just fine and as you say, in three months you will learn so much. If you find yourself heading out to the country, do come over to the Charente Maritime for a weekend. Would love to meet up. Wishing you a lovely 2018 xx

  • happy new year, susan…i love your blog and will never give up reading it and dreaming of visiting france…i read everything about france i can get my hands on, but your simple, down-to-earth, beautiful writing makes my day! i love your thoughts on everything, from eating what’s seasonal, to hiking, biking, gardening, and yoga as exercise…please have a wonderful 2018…and i toast you and your family with my favorite, a glass of champagne! oh and i love all the photos, and love roddy’s insect photos…keep ’em coming!

    • Thank you so much Mary, it sounds as if you and I love the same type of lifestyle and toasting that lifestyle with a glass of champagne sounds like a very good idea to me! Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2018 xx

  • Happy New Year to you, Susan, and all on Our French Oasis! What a lovely group you have gathered to celebrate your wonderful writing, photography and family! Your summary of some news and emergency contacts in France was SO interesting. I also loved your review of the usual resolutions and your take on them. Thank you for the inspiration to live a more “Our French Oasis” life! It is a recipe for health and happiness that we try to follow also but don’t always accomplish, especially in times of stress or difficulties. But, we soldier on and know that there are easier days ahead. Looking forward, as always, to your next post and hoping that you will give us more of your delightful fiction in the year ahead! xo

    • Thanks so much Anne. I think we all have good and bad times and we have to soldier on even though it is tough. I think life is far more stressful nowadays that it was, perhaps though in a different way. I like to think that the blog is a little bit of escapism every now and then for some people and hopefully a reminder that we just need to take a deep breath and a good gulp of fresh air every now and then! Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2018 xx

    • I think I have now learn Trish that there are different prices for different types of truffles, which I must admit, not being a truffle expert I had not realised, but it makes sense. However, there are those that are this price and yes, isn’t it incredible. xx

    • Thanks Amanda, the bars are fabulous and a great favourite here and wonderful for anyone doing a lot of sports, but also a great pick me up in the afternoon for anyone not doing sports but needing something sweet without the sugar overload. xx

  • I believe that we humans are hard wireded to make resolutions ….fail a bit and repeat…or am I just describing myself. Looking forward to discovering more hidden corners of France….trying another cheese that I have trouble pronouncing the name and making conversation with strangers that look at me with a baffled expression….

    I guess I will take my curiosity and vivid imagination, and let them guide me forward to a lot of new possibilities.
    Ali xx

    • Sounds like another exciting trip is in the planning stages! There is nothing quite like travel and new discoveries, it keeps us young I believe. Hope you both have the happiest and healthiest 2018 xxx

  • First things first, Susan–happy New Year to you and yours and may it be a year filled with blessings. I think New Year’s goals are much better than resolutions. The latter too often fail too soon, whereas goals can and should have incremental steps and times to evaluate and re-evaluate. I like your goals. I both walk and work outside whenever possible (the sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures and wind chill here right now are making me take a hiatus), but I also love weight-lifting and stretching. I’ve only done a bit of yoga, but I quite like that as well.

    As usual, I like the photos, but I really like the mention of the truffles in the roof gardens. It’s not the truffles so much, but the roof gardens, which is an idea I dearly love. Gardens in the unused lots of cities, garden at schools (along with cooking classes), vertical gardens–I want to see more and more of them!

    As I also agree with you about surfing, I’d best take myself off to get some more work done. I’m just back after a Christmas break and will be taking another break shortly, when I visit my parents in Arizona. It’s easier to be offline there, as they don’t have a computer or internet, making me have to go to the library or a coffee shop to get my online fix. I’ve more than enough to do there with them, so I mostly stay off and enjoy the break. But as busy as I may get with everything else, reading is something I always do and must do. If I’m too busy to read, then life is much, much to crowded!

    Happy 2018!

    janet

    • I do agree with you when it comes to reading, I cannot imagine a life without books. I was thrilled to read about the truffles in Paris, and in inner cities I am convinced rooftop gardens are the way to go. I also cannot imagine a life without being able to enjoy the great outdoors, it does make us realise how lucky we are. I like the idea too of goals rather than resolutions and I have plenty of goals for this year, in fact when we went around the table one evening this week asking everyone what their resolution was everyone had a goal rather than something they had to give up or stop. Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2018 and a wonderful time with your parents in Arizona xx

  • Hi Susan! Wishing you and your menagerie peace and love for 2018, all the rest are bonuses.I live in Canada and we’ve been experiencing -45C wind chills. Needless to say, spirits can become low. But, you lightened them today. Thank you!!!

    • Oh my goodness, that is so cold, I cannot even imagine it, surely you cannot be outside for more than a few minutes in such conditions and I can quite imagine how low spirits must get. We moan when it is just below freezing here. I was only saying this morning to the girls that I feel we have turned the corner now, spring will be on it’s way in a couple of months, I know you still have a long winter ahead but before you know it there will be warmer weather once more. Besides you do live in a beautiful country! Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2018 xx

  • Happy New Year, Susan and family. Reading your blog brings me such joy. Each post is beautifully written and the photographs bring everything to life. Here in historic Yorktown, Virginia, USA, history surrounds me and your excitement about capturing surroundings inspires me to take up photography this year. Thank you for your energy and for sharing your glorious French life with me. Perhaps I’ll start my own blog. xo

    • Thank you so much Carol, I think you should certainly take up photography, it sounds as if you have some fabulous historic buildings around you to give you plenty of subjects and then a blog would be such a fun extension and a way to show off your photos. Let me know if you do. xx

  • Thank you for this sweet, marvelous, INSPIRING post — and for enriching it with your gorgeous photos. I’m going to print it out as a reminder because, if I can follow your advice, 2018 will be a wonderful year indeed. My best to you and yours. Happy new year!

    • Thanks so much Heide, I feel very honoured that you wish to print it out. I think we all have good times and bad times and sometimes when the going gets tough I do find a good old fashioned walk and some fresh air does put things into perspective. Hope you have a lovely, happy and healthy 2018 xx

  • Happy, happy fulfilled New Year Susan, to you and all your family. On the 5th day of January here I did have initial difficulty to keeping to your text: your photos are always beautiful – but these should be printed in a book! Have been ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ for the last ten minutes!! New Year resolutions: yes, I make them and this change-of-year there was a whole pageful . . . well, am taking small steps – none broken yet 🙂 ! Living alone and having had a problematic year, I had not taken as good a care of myself as I knew how and it showed – that had to go to the top of the list 🙂 ! Read more, surf less and take private time out for yourself actually came in second . . . already being accomplished as our soldes began before Yule and the pile of books next to the bed has grown to admirable heights . . . . guess that can go under the heading of ‘culture’ !! Living rurally the High Arts are not easily available but thoroughly enjoy some shows on pay-TV like ‘Grand Designs’, actually from four countries in my case . . . and the concerts from all over the world, even if they arrive a tad late! . . . . I guess my main resolution is to plan my day ‘logically’ and try stay by that plan . . . my father taught me as a small child to stand in front of the mirror each night and add up the plusses and the minuses – methinks 2018 will be one year to do that . . . . . and perchance later in the year one may get on a plane . . .

    • Now starting at the end, what fun if you did get on that plane, keep me posted! Now as to resolutions, sounds as if you have a pretty good list and I am sure you will stick to them, especially when you can throw in a few episodes of Grand Designs, we also get Grand Designs Australia here too. I really hope that 2018 will shape up very well for you, baby steps are always a good idea and I wish you a very happy and healthy 2018 xx

      • Nearly 46 C yesterday, short ‘cool change’ last night and back to 40s for the next few and then to the high ones at end of week! NO AC !!!!!!! Bought a big modern fan at NY sales . . . so do you think I can manage to clip it together? Ha! And all the professionals still on summer holidays . . . oh, Susan, I am a tough cookie but absolutely melting and feeling like a weepie, to tell the truth !!!!! Well! We must have made the news e’where yesterday as my mailbox is full of queries!!! The ‘hottest place on the planet’ at 47.3 was just 25 kms away!!!!!!!

        • I keep hearing about the heat, I truly feel for you, sounds awful. I remember being in New Delhi when it was 46C and thinking I was going to melt quite literally. Once we hit 41C here, two summers ago, but it was for just a couple of days. Stay by your fan, stay cool and stay tough. xxx

  • Lovely post!! I sympathize with your weather. We are having record breaking cold here in South Carolina. Charleston had four inches of snow and ice. Imagine! I do hope to be more careful 2ith our diet after all the holiday indulgences. I absolutely love your photos. They ar3 inspiring. Happy New Year Year to you and your sweet family.

    • Thanks so much Sheran, I cannot believe the cold in the southern states and I read about the snow in Florida! Meanwhile it is incredibly mild here, which in turn means wet and grey and we have had nothing but gale force winds. What strange weather all around the world. I hope all of your New Year wishes come true xx

    • Thanks! I know wouldn’t it be a dream, Roddy and I are trying to work out how good we could possibly be with engines, he is actually very good with them but diesel engines not petrol. But who knows, it certainly would be a bit of a dream! xx

  • Susan, that is a fabulous list. I have not made ‘resolutions’ but rather allowed ‘revelations’ because I think it is the lightbulbs going off in my head on certain things that I need to listen to. Top of my list is keeping fit and getting fitter. I am keeping an eye on my diet to make sure it is just a little of what I fancy, not a lottle and I have formalized my exercise routine to include all the things I love. I have set myself a target of running more 5kms later in the year to ensure I keep on the straight and narrow. I am also formalizing my photography …. Two Brains gave me a new camera for my birthday (already discussed with you) and I have bought a little notebook to log what I did for each set of photos to try and get me out of automatic mode. I don’t need persuading with books but I have resolved to formalise my blogging routine from next week and am spending time on my own novel each day. I have several books on the go and none of them near finished so this is the year to sort that little issue. The issue of the bad fairy of distraction who will insist on flitting around and taking me discursively here there and everywhere! We have big decisions to make this year as we head into the final lap before my husband retires and much of the year will be focused on a big project that has to be done to perfection in order to let us live the life we dream of from sometime next year. You know a little of this privately (actually all of it). Finally, I am sending at least a postcard each to my girls, my mother and my husband whilst they are in different countries to me, every week. Nothing beats that feeling of finding a handwritten note in the letter box, mailbox or on the doormat depending where you live and I want to sprinkle that pixie dust on those I love most. Whatever you do, I know you will do it to perfection but most of all I wish you time for just you. Those precious moments when we are growing our family when we just sit quietly, or drive, or walk with no voices except our own in our head. XX

    • It had to be you! The weekly card writing (a project dear to my heart but neglected lately) will be taken up again. Tks!
      I do fight however with myself and my feelings of not getting ‘feedbacks’ and therefore think that either my ‘efforts of keeping in contact’ are not quite appreciated (BIG exception my mother and one of my sisters) or not even considered desirable…. which means in blunt words that I’m not doing it to spread joy and/or is taken for so granted that I should stop doing it?! I’m often pondering the question – or maybe I just have a particularly lazy/complacent circle of family/friends? 😉

      Also like the ‘just a little vs a ‘lottle’….. is adopted as of now!

      • My mother always replies, my husband doesn’t have to receive a card to send me one and my daughters are all young and their expectation is simply to communicate instantly and virtually. So I have a low bar for expectation therefore negating too much possible disappointment (because we are all human and we do all need demonstrations of appreciation). I’m glad to have rekindled the desire, though. The expression a little vs a lottle comes from my Uncle-in-law, a fantastic eccentric – whenever there was a bottle of ketchup on the table he would seize it up and say ‘shake and shake the ketchup bottle, first a little …. then a lottle’ which anyone who has ever poured the wretched stuff from a glass bottle will know is exactly what happens! Adopt with pleasure …. I am very keen on invented words 🙂

    • They sound like a great list, good luck with the running, I know you will succeed. I have never actually liked running much, but I do plan to cycle a great deal more again, I seem to run around so much after everyone else and then realise that I haven’t done enough exercise, so that is on my list this year, starting with a very long hike with Millie and the dogs today! I think you and I need to synchronise thoughts on the camera, as you know I too was given this fabulous one for my birthday a year and a half ago now and I am still rather pathetic, the automatic mode is so good and I am so lazy about reading manuals. I am afraid I have not got much further yet, which is such a waste. I have one non auto setting which I use and love, but that’s my limited selection to date! Books, we have so much to discuss. But I just love that postcard idea, it is brilliant, because there is nothing quite like receiving something in the mail, I am going to do that, thanks for the idea and reminder of how the hand written note makes such a difference. You know I wish you the very best for 2018 and I really hope that everything in the pipeline comes to fruition, I just know it will. Big hugs and see you SOON!! xxx

    • How exciting, I will keep my fingers firmly crossed for you. If you privately send me some details of your house for sale I might be able to help, I know quite a few people looking for houses at the moment and I am always being asked!! How close to the coast in 85? Sounds like so much fun. Fingers crossed as you say and best wishes for a very happy and healthy 2018 xx

      • Thanks Susan. It’s about an hour to the coast still but our list of requirements have made it so difficult to find something that fits. I’ll send you the details in case it fits anyone. With very best wishes to you too.xx

        • I know just what you are going through, our list really made it so hard. We had a huge area and thought it would be simple but it really wasn’t, I guess we just got lucky. Do send me details and good luck! xxx

  • Cheers right back atcha! Wishing you and yours a ‘fur-bulous’ 2018. With many thanks for sharing the Super Energy Bars recipe. With all that’s been going on lately, I can definitely use some super energy. 😍

  • Happy New Year Susan from cold, snowy Ohio. Schools closed today and yesterday. Love your blog and really enjoy your stories. Hope to read more of your works in 2018.

  • Bonne ann’ee. Susan. merci for all your blog entries. I do enjoy them so. We will be in Paris next week but someday we will share tea with you.

    • Thanks so much and a very happy and healthy 2018 to you too. Have a wonderful time in Paris, I am quite sure you will and sometime when you are in France do come over and visit us, would love to meet xx

  • Happy New Year, Susan, et Bonne Année! I’m still pondering my intentions for the year ahead, even though we’re already 6 days into it. I enjoyed reading the tidbits about France you included, as well as the Christmas story you wrote. I will be looking up the earlier ones, too.

    • Thanks so much Lorrie, I think it takes a while to think about changes in the new year, I am constantly adding to my goals and they still come under the heading “New Year”! Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2018 xx

  • Love the Citroen Dolly (I think that’s what it is!!). I went on my Honeymoon to Austria in a Citroen 2CV, very similar and spent my late teens driving one.. so basic but great fun. I got into one a couple of years ago and it felt like a box on wheels compared to other cars id had since but the character is great and of course typical of France. I now have a Beetle which gives me the same ‘Cute’ factor.

    • I love the 2CV, I owned one once, when I had just finished school and spent a year in France. The crazy thing is at the end of the year I gave it away to some friends, I mean I actually just handed them the keys, happy not to have to deal with what to do with it. It was the best car and it took me from Paris to the South of France and back again several times, I drove it down the Champs Elysee and everywhere, I did thousands of kilometres and it never once let me down! Now if only I had it now. Perhaps one day, but it would definitely be a summer only car I think! xx

  • Another beautiful blog and while I agree that reading more books would be a good thing I will never not read your blog because I enjoy it so much. So don’t fear! Thank you for your thoughtful suggestions and beautiful photos. Best wishes for you and your family in 2018. I look forward to more posts!
    Farm Gal in VA, USA

    • Thanks so much, what a lovely thing to say. It would be hard not to have computers and the internet nowadays, for all of the bad press they get there is also so much fabulous stuff to read online as well. We truly are spoilt, we can have the best of both worlds. Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2018 too xx

  • A LOVELY REVIEW of TOP things to consider upon this NEW YEAR!CAN we add getting RID of the DUMP TRUMP!Honest to God you think it can’t get any worse and there he goes again TWEETING in his VERY BELOW AVERAGE ENGLISH!
    Beautiful Photos Beautiful Thoughts…..I don’t Know what to think about the WOLVES!!!!!
    BIG HUG TO YOU!
    XX

    • Huge hugs to you too, it’s been such a very busy holiday period I am so behind with blogs, emails, everything online, but I think it is also a good thing! I’ll be back on your blog soon.Wishing you a very very happy and healthy 2018 xxx

  • Susan,
    I can’t believe it…another well thought out and cherished post. Thank you not only your wonderful “resolutions” but the “positive” thoughts and “renewed” energy that I will continue to embrace throughout the New Year…and perfect for me as I have decided not to do any resolutions for 2018…Instead I have decided to wake up each morning with a Grateful Heart and end my evening with Gratitude for a day well-lived…And if I am able to spread a little Grace those to I encounter I will consider the day a Big Success.
    Your suggestions are beyond wonderful. Before I sat sat down to write this I did grab that coffee you offered in today’s post and ponder everything you wrote in last weeks post.”Travel, Culture, Do Something For Others, Try Something New, Read More, Surf Less, Find Time For You, Exercise More and Eat Healthy” really sums up for me to “Aim” a little higher in everything I want to experience and live a little better each and every day. I will definitely refer to these meaningful thoughts that you shared as I begin to “chart” my own course for 2018.
    I still can’t get over the “Awe” I feel in each post you write. Thank you one more time for “empowering” me to embrace 2018 with a Joyful heart and a great cup of coffee
    Stephanie ❤

    • Thank you so much Stephanie, you know I just love writing this, life is never perfect for anyone, but I know we are so lucky and I like to share what I can, if I can make someone smile or lift someones spirits then that is all I ask from a post, that makes it worthwhile. I think a grateful heart is a very good replacement for resolutions. Mine, I want to make the very most of everything we have. You are a very special person, I know that and I do hope we get to meet this year xxx

      • Susan, You are on the top of my bucket list! A bucket list is a must! I have one trip for sure at the end of April with my eldest daughter Megan in Italy. But, I am thinking we will end up staying in the Lake Como area. Plus, she’s my one daughter that wanted to be an only child and the oldest! She got one of the wishes but I think she Will wants me ALL TO HERSELF!
        And yes Life isn’t perfect but how boring would it be to be in a constant state of “fun?”
        I can honestly say the “tough” times have allowed me to grow the most as I continue on with “zagged” roads and wrong turns.
        And you Dear Susan are beyond Spectacular…How Wonderful is it to have friends ALL over the world who support and love us? Happy Weekend! 😘

        • How funny, our eldest also would have been more than happy to be an only child! She adores and loves her siblings don’t get me wrong, but I do know just what you mean! A somewhat traumatic weekend here, Jack had emergency surgery for appendicitis, but is home and all is well. Thank goodness for a fabulous healthcare system here. Hope you had a more peaceful weekend xx

          • Oh no! I am so sorry about Jack…so painful…I have only been involved with one appendicitis
            with my BFF at Young Life Camp 50 (I sound old; young at heart) years ago! She was in so much pain and I had to go to the hospital with her. I am hoping that Jack will be up and around in no time.
            Well…my weekend had nothing like that. But, my husband and I went over to one of my daughter’s that lives near and cleaned her condo. She was in Arizona running a half marathon. She will be VERY SURPRISED!
            I will be keeping Jack in my prayers this week, Mom, too!
            ❤️😘❤️

          • Thanks so much, Jack was up and home the next day within less than 24 hours! Incredible, admittedly walking hunched up, but oh so much better today. What a fabulous surprise for your daughter, that is just the sort of thing we would do as well, it is those little surprises that really are so special and it is just as much fun being the giver as opposed to the recipient I always feel. Last year we did a surprise makeover on Hetty’s bedroom, it was so much fun and she was so shocked when she got home from school! Hope you had a lovely weekend xx

  • Hello Susan and a very Happy 2018 to you and your family! ah, resolutions. Well, I’ve just begun two classes – a Gentle Yoga class and a Nia Dance class. Like you I hate the gym and having tried it once years ago, vowed never to go again! Give me a country walk any day. I’m hoping that the yoga will help with flexibility as I get older and the Nia dance, which I’d never heard of before, is great. A cardio workout, but using dance of all kinds to create over 50 different moves and to wonderful rhythmic asian/ethnic type music. I’m really enjoying it. I also so so want to learn to speak passable French. I did have some one to one lessons from a French lady a couple of years ago, but I couldn’t afford to continue and also, it was more like being taught for school exams rather than for conversation which is what I would like. So this year, I really should try and make more effort to find a way. I so loved learning French at secondary school and did well, but it stopped there unfortunately. But never too late they say! Is the French in the Charente the same as Paris and Normandy etc or does it have its own dialect? A friend who lives near Limoges finds her ‘schoolgirl French’ useless there! And finally, my husband and I were discussing our meat purchases recently and have made the decision to buy meat from local farmshops only and preferably organic. We want to know where it comes from and how the animals are husbanded. We may need to eat less to afford it, but that’s ok. And of course I will be following your lovely blog alongside reading as many books as possible!! I’ve just read The President’s Hat by Antoine Lauraine, which I really enjoyed – have you read it? It’s about President Mittterand’s hat that goes missing…! Have a lovely weekend.

    • Hi Marian, I find the yoga really does help with keeping us supple, the Nia Dance sounds fascinating, I shall google it, although I doubt it exists here! I shall also look up The President’s Hat as I have not heard of that either but am always looking for good books to read. The french here is actually very similar to Paris and not with a local dialect at all. Here close to the coast it is quite a cosmopolitan area and a lot of Parisians. I am sure further inland it is probably more heavily accented. We had such a fabulous spring like warm sunny day today that we gardened for hours and hours, feeling quite stiff this evening, but great exercise! xx

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