September started with a whimper, bringing damp conditions and cool temperatures to our area, a bonus for our parched garden but not appealing to the last of the visitors still enjoying the scenery. It seemed that the conditions had set in for good and we heard mutterings about the arrival of an early cold autumn until one fine morning we woke to bright sunlight and the sound of a garden full of sunbathing birds; our Indian Summer had arrived! Summer itself may be over but we’re not quite ready to give up the sun loungers, bikinis, suncream and sand just yet, so read on because today, for a spot of fun, I am taking a humorous look at French beach etiquette! Read more
Oh Sun it is so nice to see you once more, and also to welcome your twin, warmth; I am so happy to make your acquaintance again. For I can no longer kid myself that we are in the last few days of summer. There is no hiding behind whichever theory one chooses to believe, for whether we follow the meteorological calendar or the astrological one, either way it is now autumn and the signs of the new season are all around, in the garden, on the streets and at the market.
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
Some seventeen years ago, when we were starting out on the journey of schools with our children, meeting mothers and parents at the school gates for the first time and starting a completely new phase in our lives, I remember one mother who I had quite recently met bringing her daughter over to spend an afternoon with Izzi. It was a beautiful summer’s day and the girls played in the garden for hours. When the girl’s mother came to collect her in the evening she gave us a huge bowl of raspberries; they were from her garden and she had just picked them and I remember thinking, how I would love to be able to do that some day. And I still think of that moment quite often – it’s what has inspired me to always grow an excess amount of everything. 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
My vision for our garden was always to create somewhere enchanting; somewhere that had a romantic feel, I imagined a place where one could float around while wearing a swirling skirt with a glass of champagne in hand. I didn’t want anywhere that would be taken too seriously, instead I wanted somewhere that would delight the senses, fuel the imagination and be easy to maintain. But above all else there had to be somewhere that provided edible treats. If you have ever eaten a warm sun-ripened tomato straight from the vine, you will know that the taste far outweighs anything bought in the chilled section of the grocery store.
They are a world apart, complete opposites, like chalk and cheese and yet they go together so well, existing side by side in perfect harmony. Where one might add a little glamour, put on her sparkling jewels, high heels and strike a pose, the other will stick to her tweeds, her sensible shoes, twinsets and pearls. Yet they are still the best of friends and neighbours, living contentedly side by side as the days turn into nights, the weeks into months and the years into millenia. Read more