Twelve Year Itch

I have, what I describe as, a tolerant nature.  I can put up with things and situations that others would find intolerable, even abhorrent.  But there you are.  If you buy a French farmhouse, complete with barn, outhouse and cellar, you need to let things be or just turn a blind eye sometimes.  Cobwebs adorning the landing window (so delicate and symmetrical you have to admire it)?  So high up that to reach them involves a plank and ladders?  Well, they’re not hurting anyone and it’s not like we can look out of…Read more …

Pest Patrol – Successes and Failures

Our new Sweet Cherry tree, just a stick in the ground when we planted it back in November, now stood taller and fuller with lots of lush new growth…and was hosting many, many Blackfly. Using the Spray Away technique passed on by his mum – fill plant sprayer with warm soapy water, aim, squirt, bye bye Blackfly – DH worked his way around the tree, diligently turning each leaf, always thorough, some might say obstinate.  Let’s go with persistent. But so were the pesky Blackfly.  Next morning, the Spray Away technique having been…Read more …

Easter en France

It’s Easter.  I'm in France.  What do I give my visiting French friends as a gift?  Eggs?  Chocolate?  Chocolate eggs?  Egg cosies?  Chocolate egg cosies? Of course.  Themed knitted egg cosies for chocolate eggs.  But I’m not just going to hand them to them on a plate; they’ve got to find them first, so following clues in French, English, Franglais or Frenglish, depending on their skills and enthusiasm, voilà...                                                …Read more …

Alchemy – a Study

I love quince.  I'm sure others do too, but I've only ever met one fan of the bulbous fruit in the UK.  In France, however, it's a different story.  On sale in supermarkets, windfalls gathered by the armful, or taken directly from the tree, the quince is a magical fruit.  Hard as a rock, one can smash a pair of glasses from a  drop of a few feet (believe me) and it is sour to the taste. Its grey furry coat will cling to a sweatshirt with the tenacity of a leech, and…Read more …

‘Hey, the fruit looks ready for picking…’

Ah, September. The start of the academic year. The chance of some good weather, or at least better than August. The meteorological start of autumn, my favourite season, which signifies the bringing in of the harvest; for me that’s apples, pears and late-developing peaches. However, the days of hovering under a tree in flip flops, wearing shorts, tee-shirt and sun glasses, with outstretched cupped hands and an over-enthusiastic penchant for apple crumble have long gone. Too many pairs of glasses have been bent or shattered, and too many cuts and wasp stings have…Read more …

All the World’s a Stage

We join the road from a small river-side track and are hit with the most unexpected view.  A former chateau in 16th century France, this fairytale castle, Chateau du Chailly, is now an exclusive hotel for golf enthusiasts, among manicured greens, freshly-swept bunkers and immaculately-groomed hedges. We sit on a bench of the side of rue Caillot Charrière, savouring our baguette and cheese, drinking in the Disney scene. While our knees slowly stiffen after cycling close on 10 miles, we watch in comfortable silence as a golfing party of three vibrantly-dressed men arrive…Read more …

A Nutty Yarn

Oh dear.  The English are getting a bad name.  I gave some knitted Christmas pudding covers for individual chocolates to use as table favours at Christmas to my French friends.  They've since put a walnut in each one to preserve the pudding shape while they're on display.  Their neighbour, recenty spotting them,  is now convinced that the English like to keep their walnuts in little individual woolly covers... she couldn't stop laughing.  She laughed almost as much as she did on hearing that I'd made grape jelly with our grape harvest, rather than…Read more …