A Week in Winter

img_0834I’m a little bit all over the place with this post today. Until I started writing I had no organised theme and no pressing subject. I had just snapped away with my camera all week. This would be our life in the Charente Maritime in the depths of winter as seen through my lens.

I had quite a few little stories that I wanted to tell you. I thought there was nothing that really linked one thing to another, but as I started to type it all came together, one thing led to the next and I realised that often things have more in common than we think.

We’ve had really good news on the animal front, both two legged and four legged. Bentley, our dear beloved Jack Russell has now reached senior status. In fact he’s actually a confirmed Old Aged Pensioner, but don’t let him hear me telling you that, he’d never admit it and certainly doesn’t act like he’s anything but a sprightly young thing.

P7820331He can be just a touch stiff when he jumps off the sofa in the sitting room first thing in the morning, but other than that he’s in pretty good shape. These circumstances have been helped immensely by his mammoth diet; it has taken a year to reach our goal, but he has lost a lot of weight and looks incredible. So much so that this week he had a veterinary appointment for plaque-removal. This is very normal for dogs of his age and also sadly it meant it was necessary for him to have a general anaesthetic to make this possible. Because of his age he had to have blood tests in advance to confirm he was healthy enough to be put to sleep for an hour or more. We left him at 9am and picked him up at 6pm last Wednesday. He had to have one wobbly tooth removed and another had an infection so he has 8 days of antibiotics. But the best news, the vet looked at all of his tests and gave him a thorough once over and confirmed that he is in truly incredible condition for an elderly (I’m whispering it) boy. Indeed everything pointed far more to a chap half his age in the prime of his life. I cannot stop grinning, we are all so so happy.


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Next are our two legged friends, there is good news and bad news. The good news is we have won the war of the dreaded red mites – at least for the time being, although we shall certainly be on our guard come spring and the warmer weather. We didn’t lose any chickens and they are all now back in fine health and despite it being cold, wet and wintry, they are laying prolifically. Very happy with our girls! The bad news is that we’re all rather unhappy that we did not get to see Roddy run around the garden half-naked again…..


This leads me onto nature and paint colours. So I suppose there is some sort of link to things after all! Our gîte is about to get a little refurbishment, nothing major but some gentle refreshing before the spring. Part of that involves painting the kitchen cabinets. We had narrowed our choice down to three colours and ordered sample pots. They arrived and I painted a white board so we could view them at length in different lights. We have to take into account the traditional red tiled floor and also the old marble worktops. As I painted my possibilities standing at our kitchen table I noticed our bowl of eggs. It really confirmed how we can take our inspiration from nature. Here was a bowl with blue eggs, the colour we loved the most for the cabinets, the chestnut brown eggs match those of the tiles on the floor and the beige and whites mimic the marble counters. Our colour choices would be working identically alongside what is produced right outside the window.


Continuing with the theme of looking around us, I love this old cottage, calling out for someone to bring it back to life once more.


And I came across this building, also apparently un-occupied. I have never noticed it before, even though it is in the nearby town of Port l’Abbe. It just shows take one turn in the car out of the ordinary and a whole new world opens up in front of us.


Another cute little home has been lovingly restored over several years, we have watched its progress at odd intervals and it now seems to be complete. I love how they have used recycled shutters, although I am wondering if the boarding on the base of the door means that they will be changing this.


Another little find this week, a covered outdoor well with several stone tubs which would undoubtedly have been where the laundry was done in times gone by. A luxury for a private home to have their own facilities rather than having to go to the communal wash house.


I think I would like to live in a small road with this name. An impasse is a little alley or very small road that is a dead end, hence the English word ‘impassable’ comes from this.  Couture means sewing. So this is the Sewing Lane. One would assume this is where the seamstress lived centuries ago.


Another idea, I spied on my travels. These are new and had only just been put in place, I have never seen them before. Local ferns growing in old tree stumps. There were two of them side by side. No need for plant pots, very au naturelle.


Rain or shine, hot or cold, the market in France keeps going. Our small Friday market is smaller in the winter, the stalls are down to the basics, the necessities. Fruit and Veg, Meat, Fish and Cheese. But it’s an essential part of French life and one we have fully embraced. Oh, and Oysters, of course.



Finally, what could possibly sum up images of France more than an avenue of trees with a chateau at the end and an old French door. There is nothing more to say about them because they both speak for themselves. So instead I shall wish you a very happy week ahead. xx


64 thoughts on “A Week in Winter

  1. As always I love your pictures! Those old buildings are so interesting & would come over anytime to go through them! Joking, of course, but would love to see the insides – certainly enjoy the outside & wonder all that went on with them. Thank you! Happy winter to you & yours!

  2. What a lovely post!! You must be feeling introspective and sharing those things, near and dear. Animals, buildings
    and local atmosphere. I felt like part of a charming walk or drive through the villages and countryside with an
    adorable Jack Russell as a companion!

  3. Thank you! How lovely to share your wonderful life. Ours in South Carolina is great, too, but very different.

  4. We miss all of you!! Hopefully this year….I’m already homesick for France….even though it has not been that long since we returned home.

  5. Thanks for the mid-winter update. Glad to hear Bentley is fit as a fiddle. Everyone is growing up and I miss you all!

  6. Great news about Bentley’s health. I really like the photo of the tree avenue with the house at the end. And the one of the eggs in gloved hands.

  7. Look forward to seeing the gite refresh……hopefully we won’t need to get International driving licences before then!
    Bentley looks fantastic, so pleased he’s doing well.
    Would love to ‘do up’ that cottage! Such a lovely area!

  8. Your photo of the laundry reminded me of when I was in Venezuela in the 70’s and our laundry was done outside with a stone washboard. It was then hung up and it rained everyday. It was difficult to have clean and dry clothes.

  9. All I can say is WOW! The last two pictures are exquisite. Is your family’s life really as idyllic as it appears in your posts? I don’t want to be green with envy, but there are times when I can’t help myself 🤭😂 I’m thrilled for Bentley. I have a soft spot for him.
    Wishing you as good a week as you have wished your readers!

    1. I can’t tell you the truth, Liane. No one would believe it. Life is what you make of it though, we all know that. I think in general we do have more good times than bad ones, and for the purposes of entertainment I will leave the bad bits out 🙂 And we do have some VERY good bits too. XX

  10. Such good news about dear little Bentley. He’s a cute OAP. How much would that old cottage in need of a lot of TLC, sell for. Just curious. Your eggs look amazing and a really good size. I need to get hens instead of goldfish. 🤣 What a gorgeous avenue and exceedingly French door. Happy new year to you and your lovely family. 😘

    1. Cute OAP – hmm, I’ll tell him that see what the reaction is, lol. I am sure he thinks he’s still about 5 years old, the things he does sometimes 🙂 I totally agree about hens and goldfish. Goldfish eggs are wayyyy too small to eat (just kidding). Do – you will love chickens – they are always entertaining!

  11. It is definitely that time of year for a “refresh”…we are doing that too. Love the grayer of the colors…but that’s just me….excited to see what you do….
    Our weather is giving us a dose of spring….well, actually I think it is spring…though very very early…as our bluebirds have arrived 6 weeks earlier than usual.
    Next week we are supposed to have quite a bit of rain….
    I love your photos…

  12. If there is a unifying theme in these photos and stories, it’s joie de vivre — in the literal sense! It’s so wonderful to share these little snippets of your life and to see all this beauty through your eyes.

  13. OMG. Your posts are a delight – and such a welcome distraction from the alarming politics of our messed-up world.
    I’ve been dreaming of a European excursion and your posts find fertile ground…
    Here in Perth WA, we lack the magnificent old buildings that have survived in your ancient towns and so appreciate your observations.
    35°C again today – wouldn’t even mind scuffing through snow in boots and gloves!

    1. I know the feeling of wanting COLD only too well. I have spent a fair bit of life in hot places and have dreamed the exact same thing, many many times. I sympathise greatly. Shame about your buildings, perhaps if you do have a holiday you can pass by here and I can show all of the ones I love! Have a great week, Celia XX

  14. I love your posts and so much enjoy ready them here in Melbourne. We too have an elderly schnauzer Monty who has been on a strict diet and looks wonderfully healthy he’s 12 I was wondering how old is Bentley? He looks gorgeous.

  15. I have very much enjoyed your “winter album” and the latest news on Bentley—what kind of diet did he do for a year to lose his weight? Lisi is looking forward to meeting him! I love the French Gray—the name as much as the color! I also loved the ivy growing on the trees in the lane, the handsome door knocker on the large doors and the artstic eggs—much like the ones we get at the farm here each week. Yesterday I made a cheese cake w/duck eggs from the farm in a crockpot for the first time. Have a lovely spring as winter gives way to the changing of the seasons & all that we can enjoy in each one. May can not come soon enough!

    1. Dear Sandi – looking forward to seeing you too, and I am sure Lisi and Bentley will be fine – he gets on with everything and every one, Evie might get jealous, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

  16. Congratulations to your family and Bentley on all you and he have done to maximize his health over the last year. He looks absolutely wonderful and is indeed in the best possible position to have a long life of good health. You are inspiring us to do even more to make sure that Bob, our 13-year-old Long-Haired Dachshund, is and stays as healthy as possible. Since his Golden Retriever brother died in late May of 2017, Bob has not had the same enthusiasm for the long daily walks he and Henry took in the huge forest park that is nearby. Neither, I’m afraid, have we. All of our activities were shared, and much more fun, with Henry. Seeing Bentley and hearing about his great health makes me so happy…and refreshes my resolve to take the best possible care of Bob. Milles mercis, Susan.

    1. Leslie, I so sad to hear of your loss, but hope that this year bring’s more joy for you, and if we have had a part to play in it then all the better. Bentley would happily come and play if he had the chance XX

  17. Good news for Bentley! He seems to be in the same good health as our two Westie sisters, who are approaching their 11th year. No sign that they are any older than 5! As others have said, I really enjoyed your winter album. I love that the markets continue even in the winter, something I am looking forward to when we move.

      1. Oh, yes, planes. They are spectacular. They are common street trees in San Jose, but are not old enough to be spectacular. Our native sycamores (which are the same genus) are big and fat riparian trees with distended trunks. Although they have complaisant roots, their are structurally deficient, and commonly drop big limbs, so are not commonly used in landscaping. However, we have planted quite a few in the more arid climates in the Los Angeles region. They behave better there.

  18. I saw the sign Impasse de la Couture and the first thing that popped into my head was “Hmm…someone else is also having an existential crisis about fashion and style”. Matches my mood today :~).
    Always love to see your photos.

  19. Wow wow wow…. I’m certainly glad to have seen these pics of Bentley, I would have looked straight through him on our upcoming visit if I didn’t know it’s HIM….! 😉
    Your post seems to have fallen through my net (again) but even though it’s a bit late it’s highly welcome – right before your next blog, I guess! You cannot imagine HOW much we look forward to our next adventure at your gîte. Just make sure the paint is dry and doesn’t smell any more – the colour scheme is truly amazing….. any brown toned shades will go perfectly well with the red, as much as I love the pale blue, I’m not sure how that may fit with the red tiles but maybe I’m off my rocker. It’s easily possible, these days I don’t know whether I’m coming or going!
    Your photos are so lovely – and I for one am with Roddy this time, only and just this one time – the fire ants must NOT be repeated! 😉
    Is your G on top of her game again or are there still heavy consequences? Hope she’ll be healing quickly and completely. Luckily she is still young and her body in excellent shape.
    I could go on and tell you our life but I’m simply too tired to do much more. Which, probably, was the reason I didn’t see the post before – I probably fell asleep in front of the laptop 🙂

      1. now I’m REALLY afraid!!! And little me thought to gain some extra Brownie points with Roddy if I’d defend him against his harem…. ;( Shame on you, dear friend – you’d hate to lose me – I’m extremely allergic to all these beasts, the poison and you wouldn’t want to see ANY of my reactions. It’s scary! Even to myself….

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