Spring, why are you being so Shy?

P7370535I am itching to get on with spring, but Mother Nature seems to have other ideas. I’m planning which vegetables we will grow this year, dreaming of picking tomatoes warm and ripe from the sun and peas and beans, peppers and aubergines. I’m quite desperate to get out into the flower borders too and put some new ideas into action –  alas, so far I’ve really been reduced to writing down my thoughts on paper. This typically involves lying in bed while I imagine the end result, which I then realise “won’t work” when I come downstairs in the cold light of dawn to stare out of the window through the sheets of rain; with my plans scuppered, I have to come up with other arrangements, and although I am no artist, I have most definitely now learnt to appreciate the benefits of taking photos and sketching diagrams on paper!

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Dreaming of Chocolate, by Bentley

IMG_0332As you all know our two Jack Russells are very much a part of our family life, so much so that they actually insist on writing their own stories from time to time. Bentley, the elder of the two, is nudging 70 in human years; he’s getting a little grey around the muzzle and he’s not quite as fast as he was, but his mind is still as sharp as any young whipper-snapper and he’s proven himself to be quite an aspiring and somewhat amusing author. So how could I say “No” when he pleaded with me to write another short tale? Read more

Spring Optimism

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Spring is awakening, it is a time of rebirth and growth and surely brings with it a level of optimism in us all. I have learnt to love winter, with its cosy evenings around the fire, steaming bowls of soup and hearty casseroles simmering in the oven. I even like the crisp cold days and the starkness of the garden as it lies in dormant hibernation. But then something happens; the nights start to lengthen out, February rolls into March, and suddenly I am thinking about warmer weather. January may see us making New Year resolutions but spring is when I find myself bursting with energy and making endless plans. It’s that time of the year to banish the winter blues and start afresh, even if the weather seems to have other ideas. Read more

Friendship

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Last week, amidst the current upheaval of countries and people, and sandwiched in between the world’s political circus, melting icebergs and the demands of my media-savvy clutch of children, I paused for thought. In my somewhat chaotic lifestyle two things happened to make me stop and wonder at the meaning of friendship. First, as can often happen, two people we had not seen for nearly a year came to dinner with their infectious smiles – it was as if we had seen each other every week and as is the way with best friends, the intervening months melted away within moments. Read more

What is the Fascination with France ?

IMG_9873I’m starting to think about visitors and spring and holidaymakers and travel, everywhere we go there are little signs that the tourist season will soon be well underway and I have this nagging question that I cannot ignore but I cannot answer it alone and so I thought who better to ask than all of you. Read more

Mountain Life, French Style

P7360143Our children have just enjoyed their two week winter break and as in the past few years we headed to the mountains for a week of skiing. Back to the Pyrénées and even though it is said that familiarity can sometimes breed contempt, it seems, certainly in our case, that it breeds appreciation and liking.

We were back in the same area once more, Barèges/La Mongie, but we were staying in a different village, negotiating new hairpin bends on impossibly narrow roads, never knowing what was around the next corner or whether we would be met by another breath taking view or a local driver in a 4×4 in a very great hurry with no desire to pull over for a tourist! Read more

Islands on the Skyline

For a week we have swapped the gentle flatlands and mild temperate climate of the Charente Maritime for an altogether more rugged terrain, the Pyrénées. This is another side to France, where deep in the mountains slate roofs replace our familiar red terracotta tiles and granite replaces the pale Charentais stone. Standing amidst houses that have hugged these slopes for hundreds of years, there is not a soul in sight; nothing stirs but the village cat, perched incongruously like a small snow-leopard in a tree. When the snow falls, it doesn’t make a sound; it’s a strange anomaly in the vast space stretching out to the valley floor below my feet. This is the closest to silence as one can get, high up close to the sky.

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Today’s post is coming from Roddy, who thanks to a dodgy knee can no longer enjoy the thrill of racing downhill. Instead, he spends his time walking and taking photos. I, of course, am off to the pistes to re-enact various Olympic events with the children, but I know you are in good hands.  Read more