Life 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
It’s hard to believe we are in November; the clocks have gone back an hour and the evenings have that distinctive chill, tinged with the smell of wood fires. Autumn has crept up on us really, and all around I’m starting to realize that there are little signs that winter is not far behind. Smoke curls from chimneys in the evening light, leaves litter the ground, and coats and scarves are starting to make their annual appearance. Read more
What secrets lie behind those closed doors? Where do all the tiny passages lead? Why not ditch the car and don some sneakers, forgo the heels (they are a nightmare on the old cobbles) and start exploring. The smallest doors in life sometimes lead to the most interesting of places! Read more
Quietly I watch, I never say a word, for I cannot talk; but I take it all in. The comings and goings and all the changes – I’ve seen them all. For I’m Chuckles, and incredibly I’m the longest-standing two-legged member of the family here, and although I cannot talk, I can tell you a great many stories. I can type though, of course – you may have noticed that! Read more
Do you ever feel like you are being stretched in every direction, without enough hands, with not enough hours in the day, in fact not enough time full stop? It’s the first week of the children’s winter holidays and that means I am juggling balls trying to keep the wheels turning. I need to be here, there, and everywhere else whilst also attempting to keep the house running in a somewhat civilised manner. Some people cope with stress by doing yoga, and others try meditation; I, however, like to take photos! Read more
Mother Nature has us in her icy grip and when we step outside winter smacks us in the face, with the icy chill raw against our cheeks. This week much of France is shivering within a frozen landscape. Driving through our village early in the morning I see little children walking to school, clutching an adult hand in thick gloves, their little bodies bundled up against the cold. All that is visible are bright red noses, rosy cheeks and eyes sparkling with excitement, and even though it’s not snow on the ground the weather is still just a little out of the ordinary, enough to create a frisson of anticipation.
As I set the camera on timer on a carefully balanced tripod in the corner of the kitchen during supper, no one raised an eyebrow; the family are all quite used to me snapping away by now, they automatically assume “it’s for the blog” and ignore me! But Roddy did ask one thing, “What’s this post about?”
“Hygge” I answered.
“What?” exclaimed everyone. Not one person around the table had a clue what I was talking about so I explained a little.
“So are we moving to Denmark now?” was Roddy’s comment afterwards, and from there the conversation moved on to short days, gathering darkness by 3pm, and the fact that Denmark is actually on the same latitude as the north of Britain. This all led to talk of the Scottish Islands and my ancestors, and so on and so forth. ‘Hygge’ was long forgotten, the camera had blinked and taken it’s automatic photo, but no one had even noticed. The candles continued to flicker and faces remained animated with the fast paced chatter around our kitchen table.
We did and we didn’t – eat dog biscuits that is – more on this in a minute as it has in fact been rather a contradictory week. I love the spring and summer but profess to dislike autumn and winter. However, I then actually like winter when it snows because I love the snow, but we don’t get much snow here. As a result I inevitably tell everyone I dislike winter and the autumn. But isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind? Read more
It has long been my opinion that gathering wild food is good for the soul; it’s mentally stimulating, it boosts confidence and it’s intensely satisfying. Above all, it teaches everyone, especially our children, so much. Foraging in the forest, scavenging along hedgerows or digging in the tideline on the coast are all lessons they will certainly never learn in a classroom, and the best part of all, finding wild food is easy. Read more
When we first moved to France, I think we all secretly harboured a desire for a sort of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ existence, for a life that would be one long dreamy ride through quiet backwaters and along sun-dappled valleys until one returned at night to the warmth of a fire in an ancient fireplace set square in the crumbling wall of an old farmhouse. Read more