The weather gods have thrown everything at us this winter and this week we had the tiniest sprinkling of snow. On Tuesday morning the garden and the rooftops looked as if someone had dusted them with icing sugar, and just for an hour everywhere appeared to be picture-postcard perfect. Unlike much of France which is blanketed in snow our little flurry of charm didn’t last long and has become but a fleeting memory captured on camera. In the meantime the cold has continued, our lemon trees are wrapped in thermal blankets, and the fire is burning constantly. Read more
As the New Year gets underway, motivation tends to be strong, and our goals are often set to the highest levels. Hand in hand with this time of year are New Year resolutions, whether they’re meaningful and well thought out, or overly ambitious ideas dreamt up whilst enjoying the fizz of champagne bubbles. Perhaps you don’t make any resolutions at all but simply embrace la nouvelle année with positive thoughts and a renewed energy?
Whatever your plans for this year, I thought I’d take a look at the things that are often at the top of everyone’s list, and then, somewhat lightheartedly, ponder on the year ahead. Read more
As much as I love Christmas and believe me I really do love it, I think I love it every bit as much now as a grown-up as I did as a child – but probably in a different way. I know that the shops are a necessity, but they are not where I want to spend my December days; instead I want our Christmas celebrations to be more about the joy of the season and less about the shopping. I want to spend any spare time making foods with those distinctive seasonal spicy aromas; I want to take walks in crisp winter air and decorate the house bit by bit, together as a family, taking our time; this is my remedy to the modern seasonal madness. Read more
I 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
Days like these, when it isn’t really summer but it’s not quite autumn either; we’re in that in between-season, the nomansland of the calendar. Did summer really go by in the blink of an eye? Is it really over? There are days when I am quite sure it will go on forever, our doors and windows are still open, the sun is still hot on our backs and the leaves have not yet started to fall. But when the wind picks up it has that slight chill; the mornings and evenings have turned a little cooler and the rain, absent for so many weeks, has made its return. Read more
La Rentrée defines the beginning of September in France. After the frivolities of summer everything gets that little bit more serious once more – and it’s not just for school children that the routine begins again. Almost everyone is back from holiday, it’s a new season and for some a new beginning; offices which have been closed for the entire month of August are suddenly buzzing with life again. The coastal roads which were jam-packed a week ago are miraculously smooth flowing once more. In many restaurants the clientele subtly changes, with flirtatious summer clothing swapped for more serious attire, and tourists replaced by the lunchtime business crowd. No one talks about going back to work, or back to school, or back to a normal routine after the holidays, they simply talk of la rentrée. Read more
I wanted to make a feast. I had an insane urge to cook and create and make everything homely and perfect. Why? Probably because I’ve been away more than I’ve been home this past month, and apart from the Auvergne there haven’t been breaks or holidays, long or short. It’s just been a long litany of hectic days away, tennis, business, children, and anything else you can think of. I just haven’t been home. So often have I left the house at 6.00am or 7.00am and returned around 9.00pm. Roddy has held the fort quite perfectly, obviously, usually accompanied by at least one or more of our children. But I’ve been on the road with the others; I have driven more kilometres than I dare to count and let’s just say I am a dab hand at filling up with diesel, again and again and again! Read more