Happy New Year


Days turn into nights and before we can blink another year has passed. The holidays seem to have flown by far too fast. I meant to post my Christmas story, I have a list of things all planned out but somehow they never quite came to fruition.

The simple truth is I relished having all five children under the same roof for two weeks, and it’s not quite over yet, Izzi returns to London this evening, then it will be back to work seriously, but until then I have worked strange hours and enjoyed the annual reunification of the family enormously. Our tribe of five are all just a little more grown up now; and even if Gigi is a petite 12, together they’re still a gaggle of giggling kids, and the ten year age-gap between youngest and eldest melts away. Our kitchen table has never seen so much action; card games were the ‘thing’ over Christmas, but New Year saw a new favourite, the simplest of games, ‘Pick Up Sticks’. It’s a good job our walls are thick and our neighbours distant because the noise and screams I am sure could be heard from far away!


I know we have moved on to a New Year; the festivities are over, and today is 12th night so the decorations have come down and a fresh new beginning dawns. But I did want to have one last word before we say au revoir to the holidays. Everything was far from perfect in a ‘designy’, ‘Instagramy’ way in our house but it was beyond perfect in every other way and isn’t that what Christmas should be about? Everyone mucking in, making the best of what we have and loving the time spent together.

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I could paint a picture of two weeks flowing by in a haze of champagne bubbles and fine French cuisine; the French lifestyle that perhaps many perceive to be reality but that would be pure fiction! Ok I admit there were quite a few corks popped but there were also a few dramas along the way and plenty of hard work too, just in case you think we were slacking!


On the evening of the 30th we headed into Rochefort to the ice-skating rink. Magical as always, twinkling fairy lights illuminated the town, the carousel spun its magic,


stars littered the inky blue sky and the streets were busy, the atmosphere was palpable, 2019 was on its way. Kids skated in new hats and scarves, as Santa had obviously been good this year. Those of our group skating made their way towards the ice.



Those who were not skating found some free chairs outside at the café overlooking the activities. Patio heaters placed every few metres warmed the space and we were lucky our table was right next to one; we could have been in a mountainside resort, vin chaud and steaming hot chocolate were the order of the day.

“I’ll just nip over to the rink and check they got onto the ice,” I said to no one in particular as they all sat down. As I got to the rail, Jack sped past then came Gigi. She came to a standstill beside me. “I fell and hurt my wrist” she said. At first I thought she was joking, it’s the sort of thing she loves to do, but another look and I could see she was clearly upset. She said she wanted to continue, but then changed her mind and headed to the exit.

She was clearly in a lot of pain, despite the fact that after her fall she had continued to skate two more circuits. A little inspection had us worried and we headed as quickly as possible to the hospital, leaving the others to enjoy their vin chaud.

Fortunately, Urgences was not busy, and within two hours we were heading home, her left wrist in a cast which went up and above her elbow, making movement impossible. “A simple break”, they said which should heal quickly. Gigi’s been a real trooper about it, and we’re looking on the bright side as it could have been her right wrist; far worse. Or, an ankle, or a knee, or her back, or head. For an injury other than a bump or a bruise she got off relatively lightly.


But hey ho, the festive life continued. There were dinner parties with French friends, which are always wonderfully long and very relaxed. Aperitifs at 8; which means please don’t arrive until fifteen minutes past the hour. Champagne is nearly always served, for here it is drunk far more regularly and not seen as something that must be saved for special occasions – and I am all for that! Dinner follows but often not until 10pm or later. How do the kids survive? Well they just do, animated chatter and full inclusion is the answer I think. They are not hidden away on another table or out of sight, they join in all the time, they hand around canapés, their input into whatever is being discussed is welcomed. They might even sip at a glass of wine and wrinkle their noses in disgust!

The cuisine at home, however, is far more down to earth, featuring lots of hearty  vegetarian dishes, and some involving a long slow cooking in the tajine, a Christmas Le Creuset gift that has already become a big hit!


And there are always one or two faces longing for someone to drop the odd crumb!


The weather has been really quite cold for us but with that comes bright blue skies and clear days, the sort where one can see one’s breath and noses turns red from the chill. Fingers may feel as if they might freeze but the smiles are still warm and infectious.


This morning is officially the last Sunday of the holidays for the children, and tomorrow school resumes. I rounded up anyone interested and headed into Rochefort to the once a month winter brocante, just in case I might find something incredible to kick off the New Year!

So that sums up in a nutshell the last couple of weeks. It leaves just one thing, for me to say a HUGE Thank You to you all. Thank You for reading me, and Thank You for making 2018 so special. We have met quite a few new faces from the blog this year here at our home, new arrivals are always incredibly special. Thank you to all of our guests who have stayed in the gîte, it has been wonderful to welcome you here and we’ve had another fantastic year. Thank You for your fabulous support with the Etsy Shop which I think you know I am terribly passionate about. Thank You for all your comments and encouragement and most of all, Thank You for being you.

Wishing everyone a very Happy and Healthy 2019. Here’s to making dreams come a little closer to reality. xx

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57 thoughts on “Happy New Year

  1. Happy new year from the Stetlers! I has them all at my home this year. A lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. Xoxo

  2. What a “warm, fuzzy, and charming post”!!!! Perfect visual description of a REAL family Christmas outing!!
    Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy and joyful 2019!!

  3. I’m glad all your children were able to spend the holidays with you. I also had mine, but they are young adults and I know I will have to share them with future spouses. Wishing your family a great New Year.

    1. Ah yes, we have all that still to come. I am unsure whether to be excited or not about grand children, lol. I so want to tickle small people again, but not looking forward to being called grandma!!

  4. I so love your postings—so down to earth & real! Love your pups, and miss that life style after living 43 yrs. abroad. Your post made me very home-sick for the slow & intentional way life is lived in Europe. We will be back this summer to Greece & Austria—maybe a few days in Germany in a quiet little hamlet that we love. Thank you so very, very much for keeping me connected to my heart from afar. Blessings & love to you & yours for 2019! Can you email me infor on how I find out more about your gittis rental, etc? Best regards!

    1. Sandi – so pleased we can help with the connection, 🙂 It is indeed a very different way of life here, I understand that fully. I hope you have lovely travels this year. I will send you a link separately for the gite info, just click on it and you’ll see what we have to offer XXX

  5. Susan, I’ve missed your blog during the time I took off from blogging and reading blogs. Your Christmas sounds (with a few exceptions) delightful and just right. We had a houseful, too, although our rental house seems quite small when we have 3 or 4 extra people. But when they’re people we love, it works. We had plenty of champagne also, but my favorite new drink is one my s-i-l and I discovered during my visit there this September–mirabelle liquor and a mirabelle or two in some bubble. Possibly it’s even better then the cherries and kirch in the same. Have to keep testing just to be sure I’m right. 🙂 Poire William (imported at the end of the same trip in a MUCH large size this year) was also delicious.

    Praying for all of you a happy, healthy 2019!


    1. It sounds as though you all had a fine time! Roddy is beside me nodding sagely at the mention of Poire William. Something about a hangover and skiing seems to be in the air – though from a long, long time ago, I hasten to add. Have a wonderful 2019 XX

  6. happy 2019 to you and your family…your christmas times sounded delightful…ours were hectic and i was sick so it made it difficult but still loved all of us being together…thats whats most important…wishing you a happy, healthy and fun new year…i so enjoy reading your blog!

  7. Happy New Year to you too Susan! I love reading your blog posts and look forward to reading about you and your family’s adventures in 2019.

  8. Happy New Year to you too! I love hearing your stories of you and your family. Treasure every moment, mine are all grown up now with families of their own. You lift me up every time I read your blog. Thank you!!!

  9. Glad you were able to have all your kids home. Enjoy this special time!
    Love to read your blog, makes me feel like I’m back in France, if only for a moment.
    We are planning a trip to the south of France and the French Riveria this summer and a stop in Paris, so if you have any “must see” places, please let me know. I would so appreciate it!

  10. Oh Susan – thank you so, so much for bringing us up to date and sharing so much of your just-passed holiday period with us !! The good and the bad! And Gigi: hoping you are right-handed and glad it was ;simple’ and not ‘compound’ !May one say ‘bugger’ ! A wonderful happy, healthy, successful and fun 2019 !!!

    1. One may indeed say that, Eha. And there were plenty more choice additions too! But, it is indeed hopefully just an inconvenience and she’ll be back to full form soon!§!§

  11. Happy New Year to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your family’s life in France. I welcome all the sights. Hope you have one or two stories in the making to share with us readers. You would have received straight A+’s from me in language arts!

    1. Ah, Sandy! I have a couple on the burner, and if we were not rearranging the house this weekend I would have finished one of them. They’re coming, I promise, and thank you for the vote of confidence!!

    2. Ah, Sandy, thank you for the vote of confidence 🙂 . I have a couple of stories on the boil. If we were not rearranging the house this weekend I would have finished one, for sure. I hope you’ll like them when they come out XXX

  12. A very happy new year to you and your family, Susan. And massive gratitude to you and your loving, creative family for continuing to include us around the world in celebrating the beauty and goodness of life. May the new year bring many blessings and delights, and may even its challenges eventually bring fresh strength, resilience, wisdom and joy.

  13. Always enjoy reading what you share about your life experience. Here’s to what happens in the new year which I hope will be full of good things.

  14. Happy New Year from Ohio to your family! Enjoy your blog & pictures & look forward to the new year!

  15. although the first week in 2019 has passed I wish you …a year full of health and happiness….a year of
    exhilarating encounters and unexpected adventures. May this year be sparkling and if not just spread some glitter on it.

    1. Oh, thank you 🙂 In return I wish you a stunning 2019, too. I hope we all have a wonderful year and the world sorts itself out (is that too big a wish, too greedy?). Happy adventures back to you as well XXX

  16. Sounds like a marvelous holiday. We have only two kids, but they were both visiting with long-time partners so that was as good as four. In our house the thing was board games, rather exotic ones, and lots of cooking and eating.

  17. NOW I see what I missed; it totally went under in the avalanche of blogposts, cards, messages – as I took a break from commenting, this post must have slipped through the net, sometimes a note is shown as ‘seen’ when it isn’t because at one moment it was on top and got marked…. ANYWAY, Gigi’s misfortune is hopefully no (or not for long) a hindrance to her sportive activities and I’m sure ‘poor’ doggies didn’t have to suffer too badly either!
    We both wish you and the family, plus pets and other ‘locateurs’ the BEST(est….) of 2019 – we look very much forward to visiting you rather sooner than later! Love you tons 🙂

    1. Oh Kiki – never a problem if you miss something, I know you’ll always find it in the end! By the time you come to visit, we should be all good and back to normal! Can’t wait to see you in March XXX

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