Yesterday was the first day since we moved to the Charente Maritime that temperatures failed to get above 0 celsius all day. The bitterly cold weather was accompanied by freezing fog which – like the mercury – failed to rise; it silently swirled around us all day long and anyone we saw on the street outside the boulangerie was hurrying along without a sign of dawdling. Bisous on either cheek to say ‘Hello’ and that was it – definitely not a day for outdoor leisurely conversation. Read more
“Daddy look, Geraldine has got so much bigger!” Gigi’s comment hung in the air like a query of birdsong.
“Yes, she’s had a real growth spurt this last week,” Roddy replied from behind me, and I turned around.
“Who are you guys talking about; who is Geraldine?” I demanded, wondering if someone had smuggled in another pet without me knowing. Until that moment I was happily minding my own business weeding the driveway but overhearing this exchange I was suddenly on full alert, as I had no idea what anyone was talking about. Gigi turned and looked at me with that expression, the ‘Mummy you are so silly’ sort of look, as then she proceeded to very matter of factly state that Geraldine was a garden spider who lived in the hibiscus beside the house.
Yes, of course Geraldine was a spider – how could I not have known that. Silly me. I mean everyone names their spiders who just happen to live outside in the garden, right?! Read more
I was born under the hood of a rusty broken Citroën 2CV in a thunderstorm one miserable afternoon, three years ago. My mother was Estelle, the darling of the farm, and my father was the thug from the bakery behind the church, or so I was told. Sixteen of us called the Citroën in the hedge ‘home’ that autumn, until during a rainstorm in November one day a car drew up, containing the humans I live with now. I left home without a suitcase 20 minutes later, bearing nothing more than a handful of fleas and the name I had been born with, Phillipe de Courtois Barthélemy d’Aquitaine. My proper life had begun. Read more
YESTERDAY EVENING, 11.45PM.
It’s dark. Outside it’s still 32ºC/90ºF, but inside it’s comfortable and pleasant without the need for air-conditioning – a good thing as I am not sure anyone in the village has any. Instead, we rely on old technology, whereby the two foot thick stone walls of our house keep us cool. I’m alone in the kitchen, the windows and doors are still wide open and I’m staring out into the stygian blackness. Roddy has fallen asleep in the sitting room; Bentley is with him as always and Evie is with me. She tried to stay awake to keep an eye on Rory the cat, her greatest mate, but she can’t quite manage it; thick eyelashes, black on one side and white on the other, gently close and she too enters the world of dreams. I’m thinking about the wonderful evening we have just enjoyed. I open my laptop, wondering how I can possibly convey this feeling of pure contentment – how I can explain such simple things which make a night so special? Read more
Animals learn by imitation and so it goes for our species – children copy their parents. Roddy and I are never without a camera, and gradually it seems to be that neither are our children, and the way they are documenting their lives is fascinating. Along with iPhones and iPads, they are also using proper cameras, both their own and ours, and as a result I thought today I’d share with you how they see France through their eyes. All of the photos here are theirs, reflecting what they see and think. Here Gigi recently happened to be in Paris, lucky girl! Read more
This blog is becoming quite a prominent feature in my daily routine, whether I’m driving, or in the garden, or out walking; it seems very often I am thinking, “I must take a photo and chat about this or that in a post”. And so I often find myself pulling over in the car, hopping out and taking photos – it’s just as well the roads are quiet and today I need a good distraction. Read more
To admit to a dislike of oysters is a bit like admitting an aversion to cheese in this particular area of France. It’s often met with a frown and genuine surprise, so I set out to discover what all the fuss was about. I have been advised many times to “simply swallow without chewing or even tasting”, but this is what I tell the children on the rare occasion when they might need to take a headache tablet; surely the same rules should not be applied to the world’s most famous seafood (not to mention much talked about aphrodisiac)?
Sometimes I feel a little like this old shutter, a little worn around the edges, but I’m still hanging in there, strong and determined. Do you ever get days and weeks when you feel as if you are being pulled in every direction? Read more
A warm, sunny spring weekend is the perfect excuse to pack up a picnic basket and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you set out on a long hike, find a sheltered spot on the beach, drive to a local park or simply lay out a blanket in your garden, a picnic done well can be pure bliss. Read more
It’s one of those perfect mornings and I thought of you all. I didn’t have time to write a lot or to edit photos, I simply picked up my camera and snapped away. This is a simple Sunday morning in a country farmhouse in a quiet village in rural coastal France. Read more