Thursday, March 15, 2012

'Tempus fugit', as they say, (time flies)!

Hopefully, this marks the beginning of regular posting on here. I hope you are all well and enjoying the beautiful weather we have here today in this little corner of France.  There was ice on the birds' water bowl in the garden first thing, but now the temperature has reached around 24 degrees and it's like summer out there.

I post on a forum here that's dedicated to ex-pats, and the first swallows in the area have apparently been sighted, though not yet here in my garden. Last year they arrived on 27th March, and kept us fully entertained until late September/beginning of October, before they took off for warmer climes. I posted this photo last year, but I love it so much, I'm posting it again!  


After three weeks in February of sub-zero temperatures, we  finally had some signs of spring; the mornings still started out cold and sometimes frosty and foggy but, within a few hours, the sun was out and the sky was blue, and everything looked so much better.

For the first time since we moved here almost three years ago, we had some significant snowfall, which looked lovely in the beginning but it lay for so long that we wondered if we'd ever see the grass again!


Until then it had been really mild, completely different from our last two winters here which started around October time. We spent Christmas and New Year in the UK, and it was mild there, too; so mild, we barely needed to wear coats when we went out. After spending the previous two Christmases here in France, where it is very low-key, I was longing for a good old British Christmas, and I wasn't disappointed.  It was wonderful to catch up with family and friends

Here's me with my lovely mum. She's not too well at the moment, but is always in my thoughts and will be even more so on Mothering Sunday this weekend.

One of the reasons I've not been posting regularly is that I've been busy building a website for the work I do, which is freelance writing, mostly online. I thought it was about time I became a bit more business-minded! So far, I just have a few pages on it, but I will be adding samples of my writing over the next few days, and adding a few more pages. I have always loved words and our wonderful language, and I love reading and writing, so to be able to earn doing something I love is great. I'm hoping the website will bring me some more work!  Here's a link to the site so far

As for the woolly stuff, I have to confess to not having done much of it all lately. We have our house for sale so we've been busy with advertising that. Here's a cheeky link!   and another link to a building plot we also have for sale  There is still a bit of tweaking to do to the house but, hopefully, that won't take long.

Well, that's it for now. I really will try very hard to keep posting on here, now that I am a bit more organised!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Please don't faint! I haven't updated my blog for many months; things have been very hectic here (French red tape, of course, which seems to have taken over my life!).

I promise that I will blog more regularly once we are into the new year but, meanwhile, I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. I will be sharing the holiday with my family back in the UK; it's our first visit there for a long time, so I'm really looking forward to it.

See you soon and thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thermal Clothing will get me through this Winter

All the signs are there that winter is on the way. Autumn gives us a hint of the lower temperatures to come but, generally by the end of October, summer clothes and lightweight strappy sandals have been consigned to the back of the wardrobe, and heavy coats and jackets, along with hats, scarves, gloves, and boots, are the order of the day.

This year I am determined not just to get through the winter but to actually enjoy it, and the best way I can think of to do that is to invest in some insulating thermal clothing.

I came across Damart the other day, and was surprised to see how many items of thermal clothing Damart now have available. Damart is a long-standing name that is tried and trusted having been around for a number of years, so the quality is second to none and, by choosing wisely, I will be able to make sure that I will stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter. The blog shows their current winter collection, and you can see that they have come a long way over the years, in terms of materials used, and they make it easy to keep warm without compromising on style. If you look at the second page of the blog, you can see the latest items on the catwalk, which show just how fashionable thermal clothing has become.

Looking at the winter collection, I can see that there is a lot to choose from, from underwear right up to coats, jackets and boots to wear when out of doors. There are even different grades of warmth now so that clothing can be matched to lifestyle.

Damart will tell you more about the brand.

I thoroughly recommend thermal clothing for winter, and Damart, that well-known expert, has a wonderful collection to choose from.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Very French Wedding!

Way back in March this year, we received a beautiful invitation to a wedding, our first in France! I did a bit of research so that we would know what to expect, but I more or less assumed that a French wedding would not be all that different from a British one. How wrong I was!

A French wedding lasts for around five to seven days!. It starts with a civil ceremony at the local town hall or mairie's office. The mairie is the local mayor, and even the smallest of communes in France has one. The civil ceremony is the officially-binding one; lots of couples choose to follow it with a church ceremony, but it's their choice.

The wedding we attended  was that of our lovely neighbours, Mickael and Sonia. The civil ceremony was the first event, after which the wedding party walked to the local church ready for what we would call the 'blessing'. There was a sort of organised chaos to this; even when they reached the church, the bride and groom just wandered in with the guests, no solemn walking down the aisle with the bride on the arm of her father. The service itself was simple; there were no hymns, just a few responses from the congregation. The bride and groom had to answer three questions individually, then they had to recite something together, then they just ambled back down the aisle accompanied by a Chris Rhea song - no organ music, no 'here comes the bride', no nothing! It all seemed so, well, casual! There didn't seem to be a dress code, either; some people dressed up, others didn't, but it wasn't important at all!

Afterwards, the congregation rushed outside and waited for the bride and groom to emerge, with their gorgeous bridesmaids, Emma and Clara. Sonia's dress was really beautiful - a hooped silk skirt, on which had been sewn layers and layers of net, and a  strapless bodice which suited her lovely figure.

Here is a picture showing the back of the dress

 There was no professional photographer at the wedding itself.. The bride, groom, and bridesmaids had had professional photos taken at a venue on the Wednesday before.

Following the church service was the 'vin d'honneur' - a reception at a  'salle des fetes' (village hall) in a nearby village. We all drove there in a procession of cars with our hazard lights flashing and horns beeping , while passersby waved and cheered.   The vin d'honneur was more or less four hours of wine-drinking, after which everyone piled back into their cars to drive to the next reception, which was held at yet another salle des fetes. This time there was a five course meal and a free bar that was open until 5am the following morning!

This being our first French wedding, we were unprepared for a lot of what happened!  Every so often during the meal and afterwards, and before the tables had been cleared, some strange but manic fiddle music was played, and all the guests suddenly climbed up onto the chairs and tables, did a very strange dance which included a bit of air-guitar, and shouted a lot!  It made us jump the first time it happened, and we could hardly believe our eyes! After four choruses, the music suddenly stopped and everyone sat back down again, until it all happened again about twenty minutes later. By the end of the evening, we knew all the moves and were joining in as if we'd been doing it all our lives. We learned later that this is done to keep the guests awake! After all the food and alcohol, there's a real danger that they will doze off at the table! It certainly kept things lively!

There was a great deal of alcohol consumed throughout the day, and most of the guests had brought their bedding so that they could sleep in their cars in the car park, even those with young children! We kept waiting for the evening to stop but, by 3am, there was no sign of that, so we sneaked out and made our way home - we simply couldn't keep up with the others!

We were the only English couple at the wedding, but all the guests went out of their way to make us feel welcome, and we did have a lovely if exhausting time. The French can certainly put the booze away - I know they say that the Brits binge-drink, but I think the French probably drink even more; it's just that  they drink all day while the Brits usually save it up for the evenings and drink it all in one go!

The actual event of the wedding lasted until the following Thursday morning but, luckily, mainly for the happy couple and their families. The Sunday was spent at the bride and groom's home in boozy contemplation; on the Monday the groom had to be taken to all the local villages, drinking in each one, and the Tuesday and  Wednesday were additional excuses for friends and family to eat and drink all day. I don't see how a newly-married French couple have such a thing as a traditional wedding night to themselves; by Wednesday evening, Mickael and Sonia were completely exhausted!

All in all, it was a fantastic experience, but I am so glad that our traditional British weddings have such a lovely sense of occasion, and I'm certainly glad that they don't last as long!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

For fathers who are no longer with us on Father's Day

To Those I Love
If I should ever leave you whom I love
To go along the Silent Way, grieve not,
Nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk
Of me as if I were beside you there.
(I'd come-- I'd come, could I but find a way!
But would not tears and grief be barriers?)
And when you hear a song or see a bird
I loved, please do not let the thought of me
Be sad... for I am loving you just as
I always have... You were so good to me!
There are so many things I wanted still
To do-- so many things to say to you...
Remember that I did not fear... It was
Just leaving you that was so hard to face...
We cannot see beyond... But this I know:
I loved you so-- 'twas heaven here with you!
~ Isla Paschal Richardson

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm still here!

I can't believe how the time flies these days, and I certainly can't believe how long it's been since my last blog post! If anyone knows how to get hold of thirty-six hour days, or eight day weeks, I'd be really grateful!

Meanwhile, here are just a few photos of life around here at the moment!

This is our building land, currently being used by the neighbouring farmer to graze his cows, so that his own fields can regrow. They've only escaped into the garden once which resulted in a hectic twilight rescue session, but they've got the hint now that the farmer has switched on the electric fence! They're making short work of the grass, and I just love seeing them there!

One of the beautiful swallows that have returned to the barn for the summer. He and his mate have already had four babies, and they are currently entertaining us daily with their Spitfire displays! They are very sociable, and often sit just a foot or two away from us, even joining in our conversations! When we're busy in the garden, they sit and watch.

The Husband found this fossil in the garden of a house he was working on recently, and the owner said he could keep it! I wonder just how old it is?! (The fossil, not The Husband!).

This is where that ugly old barn was. The Husband has tidied up the ground, and laid  around three tons of topsoil, ready for re-seeding when we get round to it.  You can see how the willow tree has flourished since the barn was taken down; now it gets much more light and space in which to grow. It has struggled since it snapped in half in heavy winds last year, but we are so glad we decided to keep it. The tree surgeon said it would soon start to regrow and I really doubted him, but he was right!

Now that the house is at the snagging stage, I will take a definitive set of photos to show what's been done (most of it by The Husband, mainly on his own with a little help from me!).

As for my crochet - well, I am doing some now and again, a mixture of charity items, mainly squares for various appeals, and presents for grandchildren, but it seems to be impossible to get more than half an hour to just 'be' these days, especially now that summer is here and the garden beckons, if only to sit and watch the swallows with a glass or three of what France does best!

I hope it's not too long before I post again. Thanks for reading!