About Me

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I live in a small French village in the Department of Charente Maritime in France with my husband, our five children, two dogs, two cats and lots of chickens, at the last head count!

Since marrying twenty years ago we have been lucky enough to live in many far flung corners of the world including the Caribbean, New Zealand and America. However, we have now made France and Charente Maritime our permanent home where we raise and educate our children. Why France? Because we love the slightly simpler way of life we experience here and we love the people.

Between us, amongst other things, we love boating, fishing, walking, tennis, nature, gardening, writing, photography, cooking and good food. I also love antiques and design, the juxtaposition of old and new. However, most of all I am passionate about my family.

Bisous, Susan

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107 thoughts on “About Me

  • Dear Susan,

    I read your lovely account of your home life on the Design Mom blog today. I wanted to let you know that you have opened my eyes to a part of France I would not necessarily considered visiting, so thank you. I am travelling to France with my husband and young daughter in September this year and we have been contemplating which rural area to visit. My husband is a keen fisherman and something on the cost would suit him rather well. We may even bump into you in a village!

    I live in Australia, so visiting Europe is a long haul for us (as you would recognise too, having lived in New Zealand). I often lament that Australia is not in Europe so that we could pop off to Paris for the weekend instead of Geelong!

    Regards

    Julie

  • Hi Julie, how exciting that you are coming to France in September, do please let me know if I can help in any way, this is a fabulous are and if your husband wants to fish I would definitely recommend the Atlantic coast as opposed to the Mediterranean. Fishing being my husband’s profession he is the expert not me, but it is one of the reasons we chose this area. Plenty of fishing around here and we have the Islands of Ile de Re and Ile d’Oloron too. It is a stunning area, second sunniest in France after Provence and plenty to do with stunning beaches. Small world my god mother is from Geelong! Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any advice, I am sure you will have a fabulous trip. Susan

  • Hi Susan..I too found your blog through Design Mom. I LOVE your blog! I live in Arizona,partially retired and taking care of family members so I am not able to travel but so enjoy your words and really cool photos. I normally follow quilting blogs when I have a chance but your sight is inviting. Thank you fir sharing with the rest of the world especially me in the dry desert .Mary

    • Hi Mary. thanks for following me all the way from the dessert. Right now I think I would swap some of your dry for our rain! So want to get out in the garden but it’s rather a dismal week! I do hope you enjoy the blog and the photos. I post regular photos three or four times a week on facebook. Very best wishes Susan

  • Hi Susan!
    I followed you back after your kind comment on my blog and have so enjoyed getting a glimpse of your life in France! What a beautiful place you have! I took French for six years in school and have always had a love affair with all things French, so I am loving seeing your life there and your beautiful way of painting pictures with your words. I will be visiting you often and living in France through you! 🙂
    love and blessings~
    Lynda @ Gates of Crystal

    • Hi Lynda thank you so much for following and for your message. So glad you like the blog. I really enjoyed looking at yours, it was something new and different to most others, I shall be referring to it often! maybe we should promote each other? Best wishes Susan

    • Thank you Lynda, would love you to do something about the blog in one of your posts, that would be fantastic. I will post a link to your blog on my Facebook page which has nearly a thousand followers so hope this will be helpful. Have a great week, and a very happy Easter. Susan

  • It’s great to read a blog about another part of France and especially with another large family of children. How long have you been in France, and how old were your children when you came. Could they speak French before you settled here?

    • hi, yes that is what initially brought me to love your blog, another large family! I think your children are now similar ages to ours, except maybe our eldest who is in her first year at Uni. We have been in France since 2005 but took four years out in Florida from 2010 until last summer. No they couldn’t speak French. When we came back last summer, the then 12 and 14 year olds were semi fluent from before and now 8 months later it has all come back to them. The youngest two didn’t have any French bar the simple basics, but have learnt so much thanks to an incredibly helpful little school and amazing teacher and wonderful friends and with no other English in the area everyone has had to speak French!

      • It sounds like you were much more sensible than us! Your eldest must have been about 9 when you came. I think we made an error leaving it until our oldest was 12. It been much more difficult for her, and that it starting to show in the run up to the bac and the applications to uni in the uk. We have no-one else around us that it english either… though sometimes I do wish there were. That’s why my job is so great, I get to speak to 30 americans or anglophones every few days. Are you fluent yourself?

  • Hello, Susan! We live in Texas and enjoy reading your blog! We own a house in St.Jean d’Angely and visit often. The Charentes is one of our favorite parts of France. Reading your blog and seeing your photographs reminds us why we love the southwest of France so much. We follow you on Facebook and love your posts. Thank you! – Harry and Tonya.

    • Hi, great to “meet” you. I have been to St Jean d’Angely several times, beautiful area – when are you next over? It is such a lovely time of year at the moment, everything is so green and the roses are the best they have been for years, everywhere huge red blooms tumbling over walls and climbing the sides of houses, it is quite stunning, I have nearly been late collecting the girls from school every day last week as I stopped whilst walking through the village to admire gardens! Thanks for commenting and hope you are back at your house in France soon!

  • Looking forward to following your adventures in France. We move to the Dordogne in 2 weeks, so it will be fun comparing notes. Exciting!

    • Hi Nadia, have had great fun looking at your blog too, what a fun time you have ahead of you, looking forward to reading more and sharing stories as you say, thanks for following and the very best of luck with the move 🙂

  • Hi Susan,
    your Blog is an inspiring look at a corner of Charente Maritime. I’ve commented on your facebook page and you said you’d be able to offer some suggestions as to areas we should consider on our search for a little corner of France we can retire to. Thanks Robert & Aileen

  • Hi Susan

    Just found your blog via Sharon Santoni’s! I have enjoyed reading your stories of your life and family (and 4 legged friends!) in France. My husband and I moved to Wiltshire, UK, 4 years ago to a country village and a small cottage. The hens are planned for next spring once the garden is finished! Although, having finally reached retirement, we cannot leave our grandchildren to live in France, we are planning to do the next best thing and to have a holiday travelling around France – Normandy, Provence of course, but your area sounds like a new place to investigate!
    I also plan to start a blog myself, similar to yours, about our life in the country and beautiful things. I’m a bit nervous as didn’t even know what a blog was till a year ago! But with my son’s help, I’ll give it a go. Any hints or tips would be much appreciated!!
    Well, enough waffle from me, enjoy the coming Autumn and I look forward to sharing your journey into Winter!
    Marian

  • Hello Susan,
    I think your account of how you settled into Charente-Maritime is great.
    To balance the following statement,
    “By far the most frustrating part they found was the poor customer service they had to deal with, although Sue is quick to point out this has improved a lot since then; things don’t happen overnight, often they don’t happen for several days or weeks, patience is the name of the game in France!”
    I would say, customer’s service is unknown to many in this country, service is based on relationship. It sure helps to use your lady’s cards but the secret undertone would be “you’re the only one who can help me”.
    I’m Franco-American, born and bred in France, I live in Saintes, I have 6 children only because the last ones came in a pair. I have friends in Dampierre, do you think I could call in one day when I’m up in that area?
    Cécile

    • Hi Cécile, congratulations on 6 children, you have one more than me! I totally agree with you regarding customer service, I also believe in looking after our electrician, plumber, roofer, whoever and building a good relationship with them, but it is certainly very different to the USA or even perhaps the UK, when anything and everything can be available/fixed 24/7. Here we have to take a deep breath and relax. Susan x

  • Hi Susan,
    What a small world this is, i also believe that everything happens for a reason, I nominated the funefarm and they in turn have nominated you, One of my best friends live in the Charente Maritime,(she is french) she comes to visit me around 5 times a year, what a coincidence is that, I live in Spain, I look forward to following your blog and hope you have a great day

    Brooke

    • Hi Brooke, what a small world indeed, where in the Charente Maritime does your friend live? Am looking forward to going over to your blog and having a good read later this evening, no doubt it will be in the early hours of the morning! Great to have you following along and enjoy Spain, which part? I have family there and love visiting but sadly my Spanish is severely lacking and I have to rely on the three eldest children to communicate! Susan x

      • Hi Susan, thanks for your reply, my friend is close to Saints and I am here in the mountains of Alicante, your Spanish sounds a little like my French !! Must do something about that one day, hope you enjoy my blog and I look forward to further contact with you take care and enjoy your French Oasis x

      • Hi, she is about half an hour from us! Small world indeed. Yes I have to work on my Spanish – one day! Great to “chat” with you, if you ever come this way do let me know. Susan

    • Hi Catherine, welcome to the blog and fabulous to have you following along. Now you will have to take a detour west via the Charente Maritime when you visit! I too am off to read your blog, thanks for sharing. Thank you also for taking the time to comment, always very much appreciated. Susan x

  • I will be visiting Paris in late august thru sept 8.
    Am going on pilgrimage to Lourdes, Chartres, Notre Dame
    Cathedral and visiting many other sites including Omaha
    Beach and the louvre.
    What kind if clothing would be appropriate for that time of year?
    merci,
    Ann

    • Hi Ann, It sounds as if you are going to have an amazing trip, how terribly exciting. The end of August can be hot and sticky in Paris, but then it could be cool, Northern European weather is quite changeable. I would suggest light summer clothing, but bring a pair of jeans or trousers and a lightweight jacket and a cardigan to throw on in the evening or if there are some cooler days. Hope that helps a little and once again have a fantastic trip, Susan x

  • Thank you so much for flattering me by following my blog. I have followed you right back because once organised enough to actually take a look, unsurprisingly you are right up my street …. and not just vaguely geographically. Anyway, I’m certain you won’t disappoint and I will try my hardest not to let you down. Je vous souhaite un très bonne fête de quatorze juillet au fait 🙂

    • Hi, Vaguely geographically yes we are in the same place, more or less! We have also both lived all over the world it seems, great to have you following along and I am thoroughly looking forward to following yours, I am more than positive you wouldn’t let me down, I’ve loved what I have read so far! Susan x

      • Thank you, Susan …. That’s a lovely thing to say …. And yes, I rather think we have a few things in common. Tonight though, as I sit horrified in front of the TV news my broken heart is with all of France x

  • Thanks for following my small blog, Susan. It is much appreciated.
    Your life in France sounds enviable and enjoyable.
    I send my best wishes from Norfolk to you and your family.
    Pete.

  • Bonjour Susan, thanks for following my blog Le Chic En Rose – much appreciated! Now that I have discovered your blog and signed up to follow you, I will enjoy reading about your life in France. Have found your posts very interesting! Very best wishes Rosemary 🙂

    • Hi Rosemary, thanks so much, love your blog too and thank you for taking the time to comment, as a fellow blogger, you know how much this is appreciated! Very best wishes to you Susan x

  • Hello Susan!

    Thank you so much for the follow! I’m delighted to have found your lovely blog as well and look forward to reading more! 🙂

    ~ Anna

  • Hi Susan, I saw your blog comment on Karen’s ‘Backroad’ blog. I am an American living in Australia, but lived in Paris for 9 months studying cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu. We made a few Basque dishes there, including Basque Chicken (had red bell peppers in it, I remember)! I would like to return to France one day and I find your blog most helpful!

    • Hi Fran, welcome to the blog! Great to have you following along and thank you for taking the time to comment, always much appreciated. Basque cuisine is fabulous especially with the peppers you mentions, the Espelette Pepper, grown in Espelette in the Basque region of France, hence it’s name, you can buy them dried or fresh and they appear in a lot of local dishes. Where are you living in Australia? Hope you are loving it and lucky you having trained in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu. Let me know if you come to France again. Very best wishes Susan x

  • Hi Susan. Have just come across your blog and read it with interest. I am half French half Scottish married to a Kiwi bloke and living in the shakey city of Christchurch New Zealand. My mother was French and I visited France lots as a child with my parents, driving down from Scotland. My husband and I have 2daughters and we visited France a couple of times when they were little. I too have been much saddened by all the horrible events happening in France over the last couple of years although it does feel like the world is becoming a scarier place. Reading about your busy life in such a beautifull place is a cosy piece of escapism, especially as it’s Winter here and the whole family has ‘la grippe’!!! Look forward to more!

    • WElcome to the blog, fabulous to have you following along and I hope you all get better soon. You are fast heading into spring now, so fingers crossed! Our youngest was born in Auckland, we lived in the Bay of Islands for a couple of years and absolutely loved it, but it was just too far from family in the UK and very expensive with a family of five children. We always tease her that she is a kiwi! The world is becoming a scarier place, let’s hope we all learn from our mistakes. I hope we get to ‘chat’ more. Susan x

  • Lovely to meet you, Susan, and thank you for the follow. After reading a few of your posts, I’m hooked! What a beautiful life you’ve created for you and your family. Your pictures make me want to pack everything up, sell our home, and move to the French countryside. My sister-in-law lives in the Fontainebleau area and my husband and I have been talking about visiting her and her family, then traveling the country, forever. Your blog and pictures may be the prompt we need to book our flight.

    • Thank you so much for following and for taking the time to comment. I am so glad you have enjoyed browsing around the blog. This is a beautiful and very varied country, you really should visit, and travel around, there is so much to see, not just Paris. Let me know when you book the flight!!! xx

  • Lovely to stumble upon your blog today.. through Vicki Archer.. I adore this connected world we live in.. I look forward to receiving updated blog posts Susan.. love from Sydney, and me.. #glamgirlsluxtravels x

    • Hi Jean, isn’t it great, we can find out so much and ‘meet’ so many interesting people. Am so happy to have you following along and am so glad you did stumble upon the blog! The eldest of our two Jack Russell’s, Bentley is from Sydney, born and bred! He’s a well travelled little dog! Enjoy your spring. Susan xx

  • I’ve dreamed of living there. I’m sure pictures don’t do it justice! I am looking forward to perusing your blog. I thank you for sharing your experiences with us all! Best wishes, Koko

  • I start my morning with a very large cafe au lait and reading blogs. It was such a joy to receive yours this morning. It has been the most pleasurable part of blogging – this meeting of wonderful people in far flung corners of our world. I am very much a Francophile and I so look forward to following you on your journey. Cheers Virginia

    • Thank you so much Virginia, I totally agree with you, becoming friends with so many fabulous people, chatting with them and also getting to meet them in person is the most fantastic thing about blogging, I had no idea when I started how many friends I would make. I also start my day, once the children are in school, wth a café au lait and a read through of blogs! Small world! Look forward to chatting more. Susan xx

  • How lucky to live in the most beautiful part of Europe, it is my dream to travel to France someday and photograph the architecture and the beautiful countryside. Are you originally from the Untied States? p.s. I’m envious that you already have spring there and so much is in bloom. It’s 22 degrees out today here in Michigan…..

    • Hi Cindy, we are British from England although our youngest daughter was born in New Zealand. Follow your dream and I really hope you do get to come here one day and to travel France. It is such a varied country, there really is something for everyone, of course there is Paris, but there is so much in the country too, the mountains and the coast. We had spring, it was gorgeous for a couple of weeks, but we are back to much chillier weather, cold winds and rain this week, but not as low as 22, brrr that’s cold, stay warm and have a lovely weekend xx

  • Hi Susan, I love following your blogs and get so much pleasure from your beautiful photos; thank you for providing such inspiration and delight! I was even more excited today when I learnt you have lived in NZ and have a little kiwi in your beautiful family! I love France but sadly don’t get there very often from this end of the world! We will be sure to visit your region next time we are over; it sounds and looks amazing! Also, my husband is a passionate fisherman and I am sure he would so enjoy participating in his favourite pastime whilst on holiday! I won’t tell him and it will be a lovely surprise! Love your photos capturing all the new growth and changes that spring offers…it is autumn here, of course, but that too has its own beauty, doesn’t it! Wishing you a very happy week xx

    • Hi Sue, thanks so much for your message, we do indeed have a little Kiwi in the family, and she is very proud of the fact too. We absolutely loved NZ and if it wasn’t so far from our family we would have stayed for sure, but as you say, it’s a very long way and with five children it wasn’t feasible to travel back and forth all the time. Next time you come to France let me know, we have a cottage for rent and also I know Roddy would love to show your husband around the fishing spots! What does your husband fish for in NZ? inshore or offshore and whereabouts are you, north island or south island? We were up in the Bay of Islands. Would love to chat some more, wishing you a very happy week xx

  • Hi Susan, lovely to receive your reply – thanks so much for taking the time to do so! We live in Hawke’s Bay, east coast of the NI – wonderful wine producing region. Mind you, the Bay of Islands is a beautiful place also! Did you ever get down this way when you lived in NZ? Very excited to know you have a cottage for rent – thank you so much – will definitely stay in touch. My husband, Barry, would absolutely love to meet Roddy and share some fishing adventures! In the summer Barry fishes inshore, off a trailer boat, catching gurnard, snapper, kingfish & sometimes hapuka. He also enjoys trout fishing during winter. Unfortunately HB is not the best region for game fishing. Would so love to meet you & your lovely family one day! If you are ever over this way again, you would be very welcome here! Also, if you know of anyone that is coming this way, please tell them they would also be very welcome….we love meeting people and have plenty of room in our home. Happy Tuesday! xx

    • Thanks Sue, Don’t know the Hawkes Bay Area at all, we have a friend who lives near Cambridge and we know the Tauranga coastal area but not further south. I am sure Barry and Roddy would have a great time fishing. We had a trailer boat also when we were there and again mostly fished inshore, but what fun we had. Thanks so much for the offer, if anyone comes to NZ I shall certainly let them know, you are too kind. So looking forward to meeting you both when you come to France again. In the meantime have a great week and hope the Autumn is a good one and not too wet! Xx

  • Thank you, Susan. Will stay in touch and contact you well in advance to check if your cottage is available. Happy days xx

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