Happy New Year

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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!

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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!

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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,

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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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