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.
Our eldest daughter Izzi is in London, and Millie, our number two, is in the Channel Islands. The other three children are here with us, thankfully at home with a large garden. We all video chat regularly, virtual meals with a smart-phone propped up on a mat in the middle of the supper table have become the ‘norm’. Rules have been broken, phones that have always been forbidden during meals are now allowed, but only under these exceptional circumstances. I know we all moan about the internet, how it has changed things and how people are far too hooked on social media, but right now it is a true life-saver for millions of people. Roddy’s sister often ‘goes down’ to her local Yacht Club at 6.00pm for an apéro with friends – not in real life of course, but in our brave new virtual world. So if you live alone, or if you are self isolating or feeling really low, never underestimate the power of a good chat – talk to someone! Read more
Hi guys, I thought it was about time I introduced myself properly, being a well brought up sort of chap. It’s really not my style this sort of casual ‘Hi’ as a greeting, I’d like to shake your hand with a good old fashioned ‘How do you do?’ but of course social distancing and all that means it’s out of the question. So I’ve resorted to paper. If I can’t meet you in person the least I can do is present myself formally! Gosh I sound like a stuck-up old man, I’m not, I promise, but I do like to do things the right way. Actually no, scrub all of that – I like to do things MY WAY! Read more
How are you all doing? The news seems to go from bad to worse, it’s not just scary but outright frightening. To forget about everything, we’ve been losing ourselves in the garden, self contained in our own little world and we’ve only ventured out to the shops just the once, as I wrote on Sunday. Certain supplies are running low though, most notably flour, I’ve been making bread every day and with three hungry teenagers at home it doesn’t go very far! So another trip is going to be called for this weekend, but that’s fine; that is what we planned, one time per week. Read more
Since I wrote here last week, our world has changed. France is now in total lockdown, and everyone has become a recluse within their own small enclave. In so doing we stand together, but safely apart. And yet, strangely, I find relief in this. For despite the fact that it is easy to become so overwhelmed that one feels helpless and at a loss, and despite it being harder to be upbeat and positive, we must do so – not just for ourselves but for everyone else too, and in the collective energy of so many doing the same thing, we can remain strong. Read more
Today, we have sunshine. Spring has arrived, the garden is calling, and new buds offer new hope, and a new season. I am trying to be incredibly positive although I find myself struggling to come to terms with all that is happening in the world. I flick between being very calm to moments of panic where I cannot tear myself away from the computer screen, scanning the news for the latest developments. Read more
Spring is knocking at the door and often with the warmer weather we start thinking about our diets. If winter is a time for comfort food then summer has to be the healthy season. Going sugar free is not as painful as it sounds, or really quite as crazy. Four years ago I put myself to the test to see if I could live without added sugar. The truth is when we look at the list of ingredients of nearly everything that is store bought there is some form of sugar included. Our taste buds have become conditioned to need things sweetened and I find it rather scary.
When we first bought this house, many years ago now, there was a wonderful old building in the garden. I was instantly drawn to the old stone, the terracotta roof tiles partially covered in moss, the magic of the hollyhocks growing wild outside the door and the wisteria over an old pergola. We named it instantly the summer kitchen. Simply because it became just that, our makeshift cooking space for months on end whilst we renovated the house. But behind the pretty exterior it was a mess, if it hadn’t been for the fire and the ability to cook on it I doubt we would have gone near the place. Refurbishment of this particular space was was right at the bottom of our list of priorities. Read more
Spring always knocks on the door relatively early here. Thankfully our winters are traditionally short and mild. Cold enough that we need a good sturdy winter coat and certainly appreciate the warmth of the fire, the crackling of logs and a hearty soup. But normally it does not outstay its welcome. By February the garden starts to take up more and more of my daily thoughts. Read more
I have a deep love of anything vintage, antique and French. I’ll go through hell and high water to try and visit a brocante, or a vide grenier – even a house clearance sale – if I can get up early enough (that’s ‘using a flashlight to find the car’ early enough). And until recently, I’d always prided myself on my efforts, but then I met an accountant at a dinner with friends and as I was chatting about some rather special confit pots that I had just found he thought he would lean over the table and dampen my enthusiasm a little with some old-fashioned advice. Read more