September Dining

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September is one of those slightly strange months, one never knows quite what to expect in the weather department, one day might be distinctly autumnal when we are reaching for a jacket and lamenting the end of summer and the next we’ll once again be back in shorts and dining al fresco. September throws up the expected and unexpected in equal measures. And true to form the last three weeks have served up a totally mixed bag and kept us on our toes. Rain in the morning has given way to afternoon sunshine, stiff breezes which have sent the leaves scurrying around the garden have abated just as quickly as they came about giving way to a quiet calm. We’ve swum in the sea, sought shade from blistering heat, luxuriated in deliciously warm evenings where we have sat outside staring at the stars and at the other end of the scale we’ve closed the front door and welcomed a heartening soup. Read more

♪ ♫ It’s the Most Wonderful Pie of the Year ♪ ♫

P7830732Seriously, isn’t it really the most wonderful time of the year? We are starting to play plenty of festive songs, music is really the very best way to get one into the spirit of things, I mean when you listen to the words of Andy Williams’ song, can you not just hear yourself telling stories of Christmases past? Even in this hideously mixed up world, spending time with family and friends is where we can all find little peace I hope. France is seriously troubled at the moment as many of you will have seen or read, the riots continue in Paris, Brexit rages in the UK, but whilst we cannot ignore what is happening let’s not get into politics right now, let’s focus instead on good food and good cheer. Read more

The Quality of Life

P7730827 2Life in France is very much determined by the seasons, often by what we eat and where we eat, and if you are feeling a little out of kilter or disconnected with the world around you this is a fabulous place to put things back into some form of perspective. Read more

A Taste of Summer

P7680401I have to start this with an apology. I feel I have been rather distant and remiss of late, but I promise it’s just a start of summer sort of thing. The children are on holiday, everyone has been here, there and everywhere and I have been rather pulled in every possible direction; super busy yes, but absolutely loving it all the same! As you know, last week I was in San Marino with our youngest daughter and wow, what a country! Read more

Winter Greens, Snow and Blue Eggs

P7340830The 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

How 2018 is Shaping Up

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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

Let the Countdown to Christmas Begin (let’s get cooking)

P6800307As 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

Happy Thanksgiving

P6800521I 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

Black Eyed Susan

 

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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

Your Thoughts and a Lot on My Mind

P6780335La 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