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
Do you ever get those days when you have invited a couple of friends to lunch, but you’ve drawn a complete blank about what to eat? You don’t really have time to cook for hours in advance but you want to make an effort. I can assure you even if you don’t get days like this, I do! But when I’m struggling to find something inspirational to cook, I always consider what is in season and go from there. I’ll see what we have in the garden, and what is available at the local market, because using only what is grown locally makes everything so much easier and the produce is so much fresher. Read more
Blogging for me usually follows one of two forms. Often I think of exactly what I want to say whilst in the car or in the shower (or somewhere else equally inconvenient where I am far from the keyboard!); as soon as I can I quickly write down my thoughts and then head out when I have time to search for photos to illustrate what I have written. At other times though the photos come first and then the story follows. Today’s post is definitely a case of the latter; it was just another regular early morning search for vegetables in the market, and as always I clicked away with my camera, fingers growing numb in the cold. It was only when I got home that I thought the humble winter vegetable might be deserving of a little more attention.
A few days ago I was waxing lyrical about the cold nights and chilly days but that’s all changed. We’ve gone from one end of the spectrum to the other. The frosts are no more and the daytime temperatures are positively balmy, however we’ve kept the blue skies and we’ve even eaten lunch outside. It’s a time of glorious sunsets and equally impressive sunrises. Read more
Some things fit neatly into perfect stereotypes. A vision of France, for example, might include the Eiffel Tower, the gardens of Versailles, or the Arc de Triomphe. For many people it would also include typical scenes from French towns and villages, views of pretty houses, and the quiet streets that those houses are on. France has never been a country to quickly develop, outside of the cities. Perhaps this is the reason so much of this large country is still a little lost in a bygone age, where many lives continue to be spent working the same crafts and métiers as previous generations. Read more
I discovered a little secret the other day about the pâtisseries you see in a typical French boulangerie. All those lovely tarts, the fruity slices and the sensual rum babas, perfectly centred in little paper wrappers – do you know who buys them? Certainly, there are lots of them sold in beautiful cardboard boxes to elegant ladies dressed to within an inch of their lives, and of course, others go out the door in the clutches of small children, but to my surprise I learnt that very few go home with bored housewives. Of course, no French woman touches anything outside of a meal-time; we know that. So where do these pâtisseries go? Read more
Breakfast is perhaps my favourite meal of the day. During the holidays it’s invariably rather late and it’s one of those meals that just sort of happens, somewhat miraculously it all comes together without any planning. The youngest children will usually have been awake for hours, and they will have had an early morning snack, a yoghurt from the fridge or a banana; they know the routine and wait until everyone else stirs before they attempt anything else. Read more
One evening last week we decided to go out for dinner. Hustling all the children into the car in a reasonably timely fashion we headed fifteen minutes down the road to the enchanting village of Mornac Sur Seudre. Listed as one of the prettiest villages in France it is something of a magnet to tourists. We weaved our way in between hundreds of likeminded people, content to stroll and soak up the atmosphere as we wandered through the narrow streets. We passed several restaurants already full and headed straight to the river and the little harbour of sorts at the very end of the village where the buildings meet the marsh. Read more
The Olympics in Rio have started and are now dominating the headlines. Being a very sporty family the games are a big event. My background is in horses and riding, having competed since I was a child, so I will want to watch everything equestrian-related. Then there is the sailing and of course the tennis. But we don’t want to waste these beautiful summer days inside watching television, thank goodness there are highlights every night!
Today I am going round in circles! One train of thought has led to another and then another, but stick with me because it does make sense – sort of! Today is the 14th July; today is La Fête National, the French National holiday, more commonly known as Le quatorze Juillet, the fourteenth of July.