The village has a new bakery. Well, almost. We heard the news back in February, when it was scheduled to open three months later. But Coronavirus put a stop to that, and it’s only in the past month that we’ve seen the trucks of the maçons outside the property again, and the local carpenters working hard, giving the old building a facelift. Like so many in the village, I’m excited that we will be able to walk and buy fresh croissants and a baguette just down the road again. It’s been closed for two years and its reopening is scheduled to be quite a celebration!
What is it that gives a home character? What makes it a place where we feel at ease and want to linger, a space that defines the character of the people who live there?
When I think back to my childhood on a farm in England, I can close my eyes and remember certain things; the ticking of the grandfather clock, a vase of fresh flowers, well-worn rugs on the stone floor, solid furniture and unique ornaments. Woodsmoke in winter and open windows in summer, the scent of the countryside, good and bad. An orphaned lamb in a box by the Aga in the spring, and milk straight from our ‘house cow’ being poured from the heavy metal pail through a muslin cloth into a jug, ready to go into the kitchen. It wasn’t perfect, nor staged in any way, it was just an old farmhouse, that was an integral part of our farm life. Read more
With social gathering restrictions in place around the world, there has never been a better time to have a picnic. But forget the days of old with a packet of chips and soggy sandwiches wrapped in plastic. Picnics have grown up and we should put as much thought and effort into them as we do when entertaining around the dining table. I think this might be the new norm for meals with friends this summer. Read more
Many of you either know or will remember reading posts from our second daughter Millie in the past. During lockdown she’s kept herself really busy and I am proud of how she has spent so many hours with no work and no friends to visit. Not for her the binge watching of Netflix, instead she went back to basics and started gardening. I asked her to write this guest post as I find it fascinating hearing about how she started everything on her own. She has just turned 20 and is taking a couple of years out from Uni, to really discover what she wants to do. I admire her for that. At the beginning of the year she was in Vietnam, a huge adventure, this trip was cut short by corona virus fears. At the beginning of march she went back to the little Island of Alderney, very much my husband’s home. Within days of her returning everything changed, everything shut down. This is her lockdown story. Read more
It’s a bit of a tricky one this deconfinement. In fact in many ways I think I am finding it harder to navigate than when we were in ‘lockdown’. So much is now left to personal choice and the actions of other people, parameters which we cannot to a large extent control. We are no longer in control. France it seems is divided in two – on one side we have those who have little intention of changing anything, who are staying put (we’re in this camp) and I call us the ‘ins’ and on the other we have those who now believe we are free and back to normal; I call these the ‘outs’. For them, life is once again awash with parties (maximum ten people, though), socialising, shopping, and visiting friends. Read more
As we come to the end of eight weeks of confinement, tomorrow we shall walk just a little more freely, perhaps. Although if that is a good thing or a bad thing only time will tell. It will be strange, as the first week took some adaptation. The new classroom was our kitchen table and we couldn’t just nip out to the shops and buy an ingredient we had forgotten. Making daily bread became a ritual and flour became scarce. Our grocery shopping became a once-a-week online event which we collect at a ‘drive’ through. It was – and still is – a very hit and miss affair; we never know quite what we will get and what will be unavailable. But what perhaps frustrated us a little to start with has quickly become the new normal. It’s amazing how quickly one adapts. Read more
A week of non stop rain has finally come to an end. We had started to think about building an ark once more! Yes – we needed the rain as it was incredibly dry, but once it started it just couldn’t stop; day after day, we woke to grey skies and puddles. And it turned much colder; the windows and doors remained closed, and once again we reached for sweaters and scarves. Every now and then the clouds would part and a chink of blue would appear casting a golden glow over the sodden ground and saturated stones. Read more
In these challenging times getting out into the garden or even growing a few herbs on a windowsill can be very rewarding. The perfume from an old fashioned rose, buds forming on a bush you pruned for the first time and were terrified you might have killed, tomatoes grown from a packet of seeds, the birds singing, a frog croaking, the church bills telling us it is midday. Read more
Sometimes, after an afternoon in the garden, within the safety of our guilded cage, the light starts to fade away, the sun dips and the breeze flutters into silence. I stop what I am doing, and in the quiet I can hear a dog bark at the far end of the village, and a child playing at the other. The world grows large about me, spirits uncoil and gather me in their embrace, I’m tempted to take a walk in the empty streets. One can only imagine the tall stories the old walls would tell. I sometimes let my imagination run wild … Read more
It’s Easter weekend. Normally the roads would be crammed with camper vans, tourists heading to the coast and especially this year when the weather is so exceptional. We’d be hand painting eggs and thinking of our Easter egg hunt tomorrow with friends and family. Eggs are hidden throughout the entire garden, the hiding meticulously planned and recorded by Roddy so that no chocolate gets left out for the dogs to find. This year it will just be us. Because don’t you agree, nothing should stop us from continuing with a little Easter celebration in whatever way we choose.