Happy Thanksgiving

P6800521I remember once receiving a phone call one late November evening from a friend in America. Izzi was a baby, so it must have been 21 years ago; the friend said it was a tradition, and he always phoned a few friends he particularly wanted to remember each Thanksgiving. We chatted for a while and the conversation drifted onto normal things, the weather, this and that, but the memory of what was essentially a special telephone-call has never left me. Read more

The World Remembers; Never Forget

November 11th…

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You may well have heard of the shortage of butter in France; supermarket shelves are virtually empty and ranks of margarine and other assorted spreading agents have taken their place. Various reasons have led to this set of culinary circumstances but the situation has really made me stop and think about those times of austerity.

We take for granted that our grocery stores will be stocked with provisions, and during a family conversation at supper, I asked the children, “Can you imagine only having half a packet of butter for the week? You take it for granted that when one is finished we take another out of the fridge and we’re not happy if there isn’t a spare to hand.”

I paused to emphasise my next words. “Imagine not having a choice at all” and their eyes bulged at the thought of not having butter, of not having a stocked fridge and being able to eat when they wanted.

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Slow Living French Style

P6790812I’m feeling the pressure of life a little at the moment. Many of us, whether we have high powered careers or are stay-at-home mothers, may feel our lives have become overly frenetic, and I know many of us find ourselves chasing our tails in an attempt to keep up.  Making sure the wheels carry on turning in this merry-go-round of the 21st Century can be difficult, especially when the urge for instant gratification is all the rage. Read more

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. Read more

A Tale of Two Châteaux

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France is a country full of surprises. It is a land of two characters, one a hi-tech modern nation capable of putting satellites into space, a nation that pushes the frontiers of modern medicine and makes the world’s largest passenger plane, and the other an ancient landscape of quiet villages in a countryside where chickens peck at passing car tyres and flowers flow over old crumbling walls, a checkwork pattern of wild and homogenised views, when old women still sell surplus pumpkins and the Sunday roast comes from the hen-house. Studded like fantastical chess-pieces across this glorious melange of a landscape are France’s châteaux, triumphant buildings that echo the fortunes of those who built them, and each has a tale to tell from a chequered past. Read more

My Family and Other Animals

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“Daddy look, Geraldine has got so much bigger!” Gigi’s comment hung in the air like a query of birdsong.

“Yes, she’s had a real growth spurt this last week,” Roddy replied from behind me, and I turned around.

“Who are you guys talking about; who is Geraldine?” I demanded, wondering if someone had smuggled in another pet without me knowing. Until that moment I was happily minding my own business weeding the driveway but overhearing this exchange I was suddenly on full alert, as I had no idea what anyone was talking about. Gigi turned and looked at me with that expression, the ‘Mummy you are so silly’ sort of look, as then she proceeded to very matter of factly state that Geraldine was a garden spider who lived in the hibiscus beside the house.

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Yes, of course Geraldine was a spider – how could I not have known that. Silly me. I mean everyone names their spiders who just happen to live outside in the garden, right?! Read more