Thursday, 31 December 2009

Lots of catching up to do!

I have not been blogging for ages. I miss it. I have had my head down work work working and now got a bath installed and sleeping in a bed upstairs or should I say, up the ladder!
Troublesome boiler but underfloor heating and rads are working. Hooray!
Making apple and walnut chutney from our trees for gifts for the family at Christmas. I am very excited as sis in law who is a cookery writer has given me 2 more of her new books!
Dragging myself back out into the garden after the wet weather and attacking yet more brambles.
Painting windows and more walls!
I don't know where the days go to!
I promise to do a better update soon!

Happy New Year to everyone!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

What weather!

Rain wind, rain, wind rain. That about sums up the weather at the moment here in Brittany. I got off lightly when I moved here last year. Everyone telling me the weather would be wet and the wellies hardly got much of an outing but this year is different. I am very bored of it and hibernation is the key. The animals are sensible. Or if I was a cat I could cuddle up on the sofa like these two of my 3 contented moggies! That is after they have done the morning hunt routine and brought in a mouse or shrew and munched and crunched through it. Yuk!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Happy families

I love this photo of our friends from the Languedoc taken at Larmor Plage. They came to visit early September and we certainly packed alot in very few days.
Oyster purchase and eating, little Mathilda loves them! Breton teeshirts are being sported down South, Lorient U pens visited, paddling as the photo shows and lots more besides.
Juliet is a Master of Wines and they brought a wonderful Languedoc supply for us. Ooooh.
It was far too quiet once Mathilda and ma and pa had left. She loves Abba songs and the sound of her 4 yr old little voice singing was much missed when they left. She was an utter delight. Come back soon Mathilda and sing "Dont go wasting your e- otions". Dont you just love it when children mix up the words. I do!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

What have I been up to...

Goodness me, I have had NO time to do this blog and I miss it.

Where have I been,,, working working working working on the renovation! I am pooped!

A couple of weeks in Guernsey, went for my sisters birthday for 5 days and stayed nearly 2 weeks!

Had some friends make a flying visit for a weekend.

Much has progressed in that time chez nous.

A recyled boiler, ( see picture) now gives us our underfloor heating. Bliss and the mogs love it

Radiators in the boudoir, wow, first time in 6 yrs I have had heating proper

A completed dressing room.

2 new floors laid upstairs, one to go, bed removed from the downstairs camp and dining table in.

Microwave and toaster located from storage and tumble dryer ( much needed) brought inside.
Painted bedroom , hallway and bathrooom
Some insulation has been laid in the loft space
Window installed in the loft.
Ceilings painted.
Enough of that for now. I am off to brave the gusty Morbihan to get some much needed shopping and makes lots of soup to keep up the energy for the week to come!

This week we hope to have an upstairs loo, very exciting. Hubby has rescued a toilet from the barn left by the previous owners. He loves the shape, hmmmmm! Is Swiss according to a search on the net and the boiler is German. It is fun to recycle. Which reminds me I must turn the compost!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Where have I been??

I have been off the map with my blog as just been mad mad busy with renovations, yep yours truly jet washing the front of the house ( been inundated with offers of photo shoots from the glossies, ha ha!) guests to stay, taking visits to check up on my family.
A proper update will come up soon. My brain is a little tired as I type this at 01.15 a.m! A bientot!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Les Vieux Metiers

Each year in a village not far from here a one day fete is put together to help the modern world understand how things were done in days gone by.

It was fascinating!

Watching logs being cut without modern machinery

Butter being churned in a box

Wool being spun on wheels

Cider being made through the old pressing system. Delicious free tasters!

Mattress fillings being.. well not sure what he was doing really.

Breton Cob horses showing their strength.

Numerous items of machinery being used for numerous tasks.
Oxen pulling carts and so much more.
The weather was perfect. So much effort for just one day. It was great so see so many children there too seeing that life existed quite efficiently without all the gizmos of today and it certainly made me appreciate modern facilities too!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Sunflowers - Tournesol

Planted in April and this is the result. Yes the sun does shine in Brittany so hence these cheery flowers are almost double my height and I am 5ft 3"!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Abbaye de Bon Repos

As night fell on the borders of Morbihan and Cotes d'Amor, a scene was set, an audience waited patiently for an annual performance for which I believe they were not to be disappointed with.

Each year there is an open air illuminated production in the wonderful Abbey grounds. This year told of how the Abbey came to be built and the historical events surrounding its life from 4000 BC and how it fell into ruin.
What a fabulous production and the moon just happened to rise moon above the setting which added to the ambience. Some of us even thought this was too much of a coincidence and in light of the fact the technical side of things was so spot on, we thought it may have been a projection!

400 cast/1200 costumes/40 horses/30 or so hunting hounds

Light projections onto the Abbaye were perfectly positioned to fit the Abbaye outline

Fire eaters - rather them than me.

I was quite amazed at how this produced. So much so it really is hard to explain. I suggest you look at the website to get a better idea of what it entails. The producer must be one of the best as how to co ordinate adults, children and animals with safety issues of fire and rehearse this slick production bearing in mind it is all done in the dark with only limited floodlight and natural fire light for the cast to see their way. The music was wonderful and I am looking to see where I can get a disc of the eerie, calming, inspiring, emotive and stimulating sounds.

I was fascinated how it all came together. Hats off to the team, it was truly brilliant and my husband felt it one of the best pieces of theatre he has ever seen. I tend to agree and I have seen plenty.

If you are ever this way in August, and this appeals to all ages, I recommend this as a total MUST SEE but take a blanket. It starts at 1030 at night or thereabouts and at 1 a.m it can get a bit chilly on the extremities!
The proceeds of this production go into the funds for restoration. And very rightly so!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Brittany Birthday

Some dear friends and ex neighbours from the village where we lived in the Minervois came to visit to see the 'project' and happened to be here for my birthday. A great present indeed.

They decided to camp in the hangar. Offers to stay indoors were kindly refused incase visits to the salle de bain were required in the night via the ladder and after much vino this may have proved a little dangerous!

We whizzed them around Lorient, Larmor Plage, Auray, Carnac and Vannes. The weather stayed dry thankfully and we had a couple of bbqs, attempted hula hooping and swing ball, volleyball over the washing line and attempted to catch fish in the Blavet with wine in hand of course and, played 'their version' of rummy into the early hours. A full on couple of days.

My birthday gift was this 5 litre vrac of wine from Pouzols cave, the neighouring village to where we were. They thought I maybe missing the local hooch. 95 cents a litre.!! The white disc you can see was a gift from the bar owner of the village. Alka Seltzer!

I did make sure they tasted wine from this region but realise we did not even have a drop of cider!

It was too short a visit really and was so sorry to see them leave but they will be back for longer next time. Maybe more than 5 litres will be required!!

Leave of absence

Life has been mad mad busy so le blog has gone by the wayside for a while.....

Roof repairs

I had a ??? birthday with visitors from the South camping in the hangar

Family visits - installed in gites near Pontivy.

Back repairs... too much work on the garden!
Sun deprivation,, the weather has been just dire. This rainbow was a welcomed colourful sight though one day! Somewhere over it there maybe sun?????!!!!!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Monsieur Hugo - looks a bit strained!

Recently spending 6 days in my island of beauty, Sarnia Cherie I thought about Victor Hugo and his connections with the island. Here is a bit of info about him. Did you know...................

Guernsey’s living history book begins with Neolithic Man and a burial mound called the Les Fouillages possibly the oldest manmade structure in Europe.
The islands formed part of Normandy from 933, forging a link between Britain and France that survives locally in Norman Law, surnames and Guernesaise, the local language. Guernsey sided with England in 1204 when King John lost Normandy to Phillippe Augustus of France. There was a castle built called Castle Cornet to repel a French invasion. In the summer the midday gun is fired. A cannon but no balls!
In light of he is French, lived in the island of my birth, that a Britains Got Talent contenstant chose a wonderful song from the musical created from his work written in the islands, here is a little info on this talented and interesting man……………………

Victor Hugo left France in 1851 for an exile that would last 19 years. Following a short period of time in Jersey, Victor Hugo went to Guernsey and was instantly captivated by the island. Anyone who has visited will know why!
During his fifteen years on the island he wrote some of his most famous works. Here he completed many of his masterpieces, including La Légende des siècles, Les Misérables, William Shakespeare, Les Chansons des rues et des bois, Les Travailleurs de la mer and L’Homme qui rit.
Victor Hugo's home, for most of his exile in Guernsey, was Hauteville House, which remains today as it was left.
On 16 May 1856, thanks to the success of his Contemplations, Victor Hugo bought Hauteville House in Guernsey, a large white building with a garden overlooking the sea. An enthusiastic collector of secondhand furniture and bric-à-brac, he brought back a profusion of chests, sideboards, carpets, mirrors, crockery, figurines and other objects from his excursions around the island. He put his boundless imagination to work on the house, spending months overseeing a major conversion on a medieval pattern, which gave this unique building an inner force and mystery. Hugo lived in Hauteville House until 1870, when he returned to France after the fall of the Second Empire, but he stayed at Hauteville again for a year in 1872-73, for a week in 1875 and for four months in 1878.

Et voila! A little bit of French history linked to my birth home.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Finally moved in!!!

Yes, we are in the project! First couple of days sans loo and hot water but had the fridge up and running and used a makeshift tap out of the wall and a bowl to function with! . Ham sandwich for dinner and a glass of rose! All rather dusty and make shift but it is home! Shower and loo now working hidden behind what appears to be a salubrious brown curtain!

Work is non stop! Where our bed is located ( note kitchen bathroom bedroom and lounge all in one room!) we wake up to the view of the river and the cows in the field beyond.

We were lucky to have a friend come with all the whizzy equipment to chop down trees down the drive so they were cleared for France Tel coming to install the line. Will be taking us a while to chop them all up but how very lucky and fortunate he helped. Hoorah phone and internet. A climb by 2 ladders to access them and our clothes but no matter.

It is amazing what one takes for granted like turning on a tap and getting hot running water and being able to jump in a shower,

It is wonderful to listen to the bird song and look at the vista and it is really useful actually to be camped out here to get a better idea of where things will eventually be put.

I was very excited to retrieve the furbabes who had to be in a cattery for a couple of weeks. They are yearning to go out and will be doing so once a 2nd gate has been installed. However the male has managed to bag a bird which must have flown in from eaves!.

Aching muscles, hands to be scrubbed til they are sore, a list of jobs goes on and on but it is wonderful to watch progress. A magic wand maybe good sometimes but maybe less satisfying. Friends are planning to visit so looking forward to that.

So, enough of this blog for the day, I must get back to the list. More soon!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Wedding in the Minervois

Well it has been a mad time and I have been without regular internet access or time to update le Blog! 3 days back in Brittany after a trip to Guernsey then 10 hrs on the French railway system to head off for the Minervois to see my husband after 16 days of separation and to attend the wedding that I have watched develope and assisted with along the way.
It was perfect weather and a wonderful day and it went just all according to careful planning for the young and charming couple. Set in the grounds of Chateau Agel it was very romantic indeed. The bride was on red bull towards the end of the meal to maintain stamina for dancing at the fabulous disco!
The last guest was returned to their accommation at 0545 a.m. We have to admit defeat at 4 a.m!
The weather was wonderful and reliable but 120 degrees farenheit is rather exhausting to function in.
Luckily our friends have a lovely pool to cool off in. I caught up with as many people as limited time would allow. A fun but exhausting time that would set to continue on our return.......

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Off to the Minervois

Whilst the timing is not ideal, it is also very good. I am off South on the French railway to a wedding which I have been involved with helping organise with various things throughout the year. Cannot wait to see it all come together and the lovely couple have a wonderful day. So excited for them!
A wedding fit for a Princess indeed it will be!

I plan to get some much needed fun and relaxation with friends, staying in the village of Mailhac where we used to live before dashing back here to move into the Hameau finally within 2 days. We have a deadline that cannot be shifted!
Who says that having no bathroom, stairs, bedroom blah blah blah is necessary to make a comfy home problem?!!

Will have no net access very soon so posts will be scant for a while!

Bon weekend, wish me luck ! I will be wishing the bride and groom luck. Ah, a good wedding is so good for the soul!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Cidre – a plenty in the North

I am occasionally trying the Breton cider which accompanies crepes and is traditionally served in ceramic bowls/cups. There are many local ciders here and they tend to have a smooth creamy taste in my limited tasting experience. Anyway it depends which one you try of course. I have been doing a bit of research on the production. Here is some info………………..

Until the mid-20th century, cider was the second most-consumed drink in France (after wine) but there was an increase in the popularity of beer and this then displaced cider's market share outside traditional cider-producing regions.

We have a cider press in one of our buildings. I think it was built inside as cannot see how they got it in through the tiny front door. This is a shame as would love to have it as a feature in the garden. ( will not be producing own cider yet) Not high on the list of things to do however.

Breton cider making employs the technique of keeving (from the French cuvée). In keeving, calcium chloride and a special enzyme are added to the pressed apple juice, causing protein in the juice to precipitate to the top for removal. This reduces the amount of protein available to the yeast, starving it and therefore causing the cider to finish fermenting while sugar is still available. The result is a sweeter drink at a lower alcohol level but still retaining the full flavour of the apples, without dilution.
I never knew that! Interesting , better informed yet?

Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength. 'Demi-Sec' is 3–5% and Cidre Brut is a strong dry cider of 5% alcohol and above. Most French ciders are sparkling

Here endeth the reading lesson on cidre for the moment. Get out there and try the tastebud test!. Breton and Normandy cider wins hands down over a Strongbow but the West Country, well I am not sure what they would have to say about French cider over their wonderful Scrumpy. There is room for more than one good cider in the world of course!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Lack of comms

So sorry no blog update. Work on the project has taken priority and by the time we drag our bones back it is very late at night. We did have 3 hrs off 2 weekends ago and collapsed at Lamor Plage.
We do now have underfloor heating laid and a concrete floor on top, and found a roofer to come and finish that. Wow, feel like progress is being made. Cannot wait to get in there!
We then have moved temporary accommodation and had no internet access or phone!
I am off to Guernsey next week so will be busy there but will see what I can do with the blog!! So there we are a quick update indeed and I will back with chat very soon!!
A bientôt xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Don't forget to look up..

Sometimes we tend to forget to look upwards instead of straight ahead all the time. I raise my gaze alot more since I have lived in France to see what architecture I can feast my eyes on. I just spotted this modern creation out of the corner of my eye in Nantes.
Loved the fact someone thought of doing it. Am surre it is not the only one in FranceQuirky hey?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

What a difference 3 days makes - an update...

Well, what a difference 3 intense days can make with my newly renamed...
Wow, she is amazing and I have learned so much.

Long days, one was 10 hrs, one forgets the time when on a mission and it does not get dark ‘til late. Lots of tea, lots of work and stiff to our bones each night hobbling out of the van and into a bath was the daily routine!!

She built some fab steps out of tree trunks, ( see pic, does not do the work justice really - trust me they are genius) never expected this wonderful creation would be formed. A shrubbery area was organised and planted, rockery formed, I was taught how to plant properly, a mountain ash tree was relocated, and loads more besides. My confidence is now increased and I feel more able to manage the space and my inspiration has returned.
She even brought across sunflowers and sweetpeas in her hand luggage and this luggage was all that she had and it was the smallest bag I have ever seen anyone travel with. How thoughtful. If only she was here all the time but she has her own garden to attend to back in the UK but she
will be back.
Next time I will sit her down with a cocktail overlooking the river as she so deserves some R and R time rather than working like a Trojan but she said, "Well you know me, I won’t be able to resist getting my fork out and digging,",,, oh well, I may just have to give in to that!! .
Thank you my friend you are a total Star! I owe you big time!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

'Gardening Angel'

I have been very lucky with advice and plant donations by some people I know here who are far more experienced in the Titchmarsh/Dimmock/ Percy Thrower world of Brittany flora and fauna. I have been taking the gardening books to bed though!
Monday looms and I am not wishing the days away but my Guardian Angel of which I believe there now must be one just for this moment, is sending me my own ‘ Gardening Angel’ straight from the skies, arriving at Rennes airport . A dear friend and a demon in her terrain who loves a project ( let’s face it she has got one with our place!) is coming to boost my limited gardening knowledge with hands on help. I will be so relieved to have her angel wings fluttering round the landscape. ( think it will more like a dog with a bone, won't let go until it is finished! I really cannot quite believe she will soon be here!


"Angel therapies are a type of New Age Therapy based on the overwhelming knowledge that communicating with angels is a major key to healing"

Well this Angel from the heavens of Guildford will be assisting me on my way to healing my frustrations and helping me make the ‘broken house’ (as a friends daughter calls it), start to get re-established outside regardless of what is going on inside. Watch this space for before and after shots, maybe just pre and post blistered hands but am sure I can post a pic of my freshly planted cider barrels if nothing else!!!!!!1

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Moulin de Sebrevet - local flour mill

We are so lucky to have a working flour mill 300 metres from our new place. It is run by the grandaughter of the lady who used to live in our house.
In fact hubby has headed south with 2 x 25 kilo bags of a mix of types of flour for some people we know that run a creperie in Beziers.
There is a wonderful choice of flour and it is well known in the area and stocked at the local supermarkets.
I took a bag to a friend who in turn gave it to La Table Bretonne owner who in turned used it at his restaurant and his diners were most impressed hence the delivery in larger quantities!

I am ashamed to say that I have yet to make a single thing from this local supplier. Totally unforgiveable but I have been busy working on making a kitchen so I can cook with the flour eventually! There is an old bread oven in the little house, (chaumiere) nicknamed the pizza oven. I close my eyes and can imagine that wonderful dough cooking and filling the walls with that always comforting aroma!

Here is some flour and bread info........

According to a joke, French law bans walking more than seven paces from a boulangerie without pinching and tasting a just-bought baguette. The joke states that the penalty for this offense is unknown, because it is a law no one has ever been able to break.

During the 19th century Brittany was producing 50 percent of the buckwheat flour but at the end of 19th Century potatoes and new types of cereals were grown instead. In the 80’s and 90’s Brittany had to import flour from Russia or China

French bread is required by law to avoid preservatives, ( get this wrong in translation and oops – preservatives means condoms in French!) and as a result bread goes stale in under 24 hours, thus baking baguettes is a daily routine.

French food 'police' also define that bread as a product should only contain only the following four ingredients: water, flour, yeast, and common salt. The addition of any other ingredient to the basic recipe requires the baker to use a different name for the final product. As a result, the traditional baguette is made from a very lean dough, made from bread flour, with an average protein content of 11.5 percent. I not so sure about that. I bought a baguette from the supermarket the other day and there were 7 ingredients in it. Perhaps those from a supermarket come under different regulations??

Buckwheat, originally brought to France from Asia during the Crusades, began to be cultivated in Brittany in the late XVth century. This type of grain came to be an essential crop The original galettes, made with buckwheat flour, were peasant food, the bread of the people. At this time, regular wheat flour, which did not grow well in Brittany’s soils, was expensive and hard to come by, thus reserved for the nobility! No change there then!

Flour comes in grades. The grades are based on the amount of flour which has been extracted from the grain of wheat. This ranges from 70% of the grain for white flour, type 45, up to 95% for wholegrain flour - type 150. The browner the flour, the more husk is in it, and more husk means more herbicides, insecticides etc are found in the flour, unless you choose organic. Type 45 flour is for pastries, 55 is used for white bread, and types 65, 80, 110 and 150 are for various kinds of brown bread. The higher the type, the browner the bread.

Enough facts for today but I will leave with you this...... the baguette is said to be originally from Austria,, tell that to the French - not!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Spring flora

It is so wonderful to watch the seasons come and go. The blooming of flowers always seems to inspire.

There are bluebells everywhere and this carpet of the delicate flowers greets me each time I enter the drive to my temporary accommodation and sends me on my way with a smile when on my way out.

Friday, 1 May 2009

How to repoint a stone wall- see instructions!

Voila! Yours truly – re-pointing one of the ground floor walls that will have the stairs going up beside it. It is the end wall of the big room where the dining area will be. It is important it gets done before other walls in the property are made pretty so the stairs can go in after the concrete floor is poured and, therefore, we have a very remote chance of moving into the place however basic and believe you me it will be basic!! Many love to put up plaster board walls for a number of reasons. It is a quicker end result, it is convenient for hiding pipe and cables behind, provides insulation. Personally I feel it is sacrilege to cover up these walls made years ago but they do take time and interior walls are better to do than exterior due to heating issues.

It is a slow process, especially for a perfectionist like me (a job worth doing and all that) but worth it in the end. I have never done it before but am enjoying seeing the fruits of my labour and learning something new. I have chosen a particular colour mix to compliment the original wall and am happy with my hunch on that score.

The list of jobs goes on and I hope to keep up my ‘terrier’ type drive to quote my husband whos’ stamina never ceases to amaze me. He is enviably fit ( fitter than me and he is 12 yrs older) and he is the crème de la crème of terriers himself! Woof !

How to repoint a wall the facts!..................
1 part enthusiasm, 2 parts listen to the boss, 3 parts ( very important this one) ensure plenty of tea and coffee is forthcoming, take time to stand back and look at your progress and pat yourself on the back.

Easy! You have a perfect mix for a renovated stone wall!!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Wow look at this ceiling! It is hard to capture the wonderful cute/chic/ stylishness of this shopping arcade in Nantes. Truly delightful and the mouthwatering delights of chocolatiers, shoes and sundries are too much for a girl to take!

I had an appointment later in the day so decided to go early and have a look at what this place had to offer. All of Nantes centre was just fab and anyone interested even only everso slightly in French clothing and shoes, oh the shoes,,,,I would defy them not to be drawn in by the wonderful items on offer

There were fabulous restaurants and cafes to choose from and around one of the main squares with a fabulous fountain and statues is a great setting to have lunch, or just a coffee and people watch. You will be seeing more pics of this great place.

I diverted my gaze and did not go into one shop!! I do intend to go back again sometime very soon with my funds are a bit more inflated!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Family visitors - cookery writer

A bit of a scant effort at the blog recently as we have had visitors. Sis in law came over with her husband for 5 days to view the renovation project. She is a wonderful cookery A bit of a leave of absence from my blog recently. Sis in law came over with her husband for 5 days to view the renovation project. She is a wonderful cookery writer and food stylist and I always get a bit nervous w lhen cooking for her.! My nerves are always unfounded though. Her brother is a trained chef and restaurant/ hotel manager and has managed some very high profile restaurants. Help I am surrounded by cooking talent!

The weather was dire. Such a shame. They were hoping to help in the garden but realised the work was far more labour intensive than just cosmetic chopping and pruning. There is nothing left to prune almost. We did manage to cover some ground in the tourist trail.
Auray,Vannes, Trinite sur Mer ( link here)Carnac all in one afternoon
Lamor Plage, on another raining day for lunch though I meant to get to Erveden Plage. No matter!
Hennebont market 10 mins from the mud bath project was busy. We had a rustic lunch complete with artery clogging rillettes and my brother in law made a fabulous dent in uncovering some stone ready for me to repoint. Not bad for a chap who freely admits he cannot even put up a shelf to be let loose with a stonking great big electric concrete bashing tool.

Prawn curry and dhal was cooked courtesy of my brother in law ( he is a dab hand at making his own sausages and his pork pies, well!) in one night with The Apprentice and 2 other nights we went to local eateries. Crêpes out in one of the many in a local establishment was a little unatmospheric!. Was us 4 and 2 others. Not the best foriestiere but after nearly 3 bottles of vino between 3 of us whilst waiting for the other half anything tasted good.!!

We had some laughs as we always do with them despite the weather and they will be back in August but not able to stay with us as there will be no spare bedroom but they will see progress already a week after their departure and so, I hope to show them alot more by then and maybe they can deadhead some pansies or something more relaxing than bramble hacking!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Evening sounds

Look at me aren't I beautiful?
Yes you are Mr Peacock
This is not the best pic but it is rare to get to see this fella. He lives down the drive, turn right and up the road a bit.
I have only seen him once before but did not have my camera on me then.
I hear him every night 'calling'.

When I was a child I went to a place called Brownsea Island with the Brownies and the place was full of these wonderful birds. I fed one an Opal Fruit, or Starburst to you youngsters. I never forget seeing this square sweet going down his throat whole!
Us naughty Imp patrol chased them to get them to put their tails up. They did. Cruel children!
Peacock feathers someone once told me are bad luck!

I did not forfeit any brownie badges for my act of naughtiness and I continue to be amazed and appreciate the wonderful colours that nature bestows on us.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Le Creuset

A gorgeous mini Le Creuset that sis in law bought me on her visit from a fab kitchen shop in Vannes. She understood how frustrated I am getting at not having all my tools and utensils to hand. We need to start adding to the collection to make numbers of these little darlings at least up to 6. They are not the cheapest cooking pot in the shop but wonderfully adaptable. Paté, mini bourguignon, cassoulets etc. I love them. Cannot wait to use it.!!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Eating at the Mole place

I am thinking there are so many crepes one can try. I have a few more on the menu to experience.

However I spotted this sign for one in Vannes. I must try it seeing as it is my nickname!!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Nothing in particular

Been a bit busy to write and still a.m. A new posting has gone into wrong date order so I have indeed done one since last Sundays post box pic. It is underneath the post box.

Just a quick line for today. Have got sis and bro in law staying and been busy. Not much fun in this awful rain for them but we have had some good laughs so far.
My back has gone 'out' and trying to find a miracle worker to help me walk. I don't have time for things like this. Got too mcuh to do and am sure the husband is worrying I won't be fit enough to repoint the upstairs landing to be and would much rather be doing that than waddling like a duck.

This pic is one of the fallow cows in the field opposite the house. A peaceful life. Walking from one end of a field to the other grazing. They all made me laugh as when we called them, all of them lined up in a row at the fence. I failed to have my camera in my pocket at the time!

I am not writing about the Hameau at the moment as it is no longer a hameau but just a pile of stones maurading as a house with a half finished roof no 1 ( the roofer has disappeared) a septic tank and all in a mudbath of terrain minus numerous lovely trees and hedges. I am in mourning and am desperate to find some order and make the land pretty again. We need it to stop bloody raining first.!! Progress is being made but it is just getting a whole lot worse before it can get better and I need to get some plants/shrubs in to get on the case of establishing some flora and fauna.
My friends daughter calls it the 'Broken House'. How very accurately observant of her!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Hand made

Voila, here is my new post box that my husband made. I love it! I did not want a standard metal box on a pole and am determined to keep everything as rustic as possible and, of course important that I have one as I redirect the mail for the 3rd time in 7 months!. He came up trumps indeed.

This is the most finished item in the whole place.!!!!!!! We are experiencing a few delays.

I was rather shocked to return from my trip to see 2 rows of trees have disappeared to make room for the septic tank, there is a better view of the Blavet though and the JCB had churned up lots of land besides. Argh, my lovely terrain! I knew it was going to happen but not quite so prepared for how it would affect the layout of my dreamed for land. Forget the saying 'I cannot see the wood for the trees', I cannot see the land for the lack of them ! I will attempt to take some cuttings from the leylandii and the rest will be used for firewood. I really don't like to demolish living things unless totally necessary but if we want running water to the house it had to be!

Roof no 1 is nearly finished but I am struggling with vision for the overall project!! But in the words of George Michael ' You gotta have faith'

Repointing of a wall is my next job in what will be the landing, very necessary in the process of trying to get us moved in I am told as it is near where the staircase is going to go. The hole in the ceiling is there waiting expectantly for the wooden hill to semi sanity.

The cows in the field opposite are providing an element of tranquility and a Woodpecker tapping away is a charming sound to work along to. Helps to make it all worthwhile! If only he could peck out some stone in the wall to give me a hand!

Watch this space.....................................!

Bon Amis

I thought it most fitting that I looked up and saw this sign in Beziers whilst showing a friend a new eatery to add to her list. She is a lunch Queen! 'La Table Bretonne' restaurant is near the impressive cathedral and is run by two lovely people that I met through a local friend. A bit like coals to Newcastle for me these days eating at the creperie.

After my few days in the UK - staying with a friend and her husband with whom I went along to a wedding party with and met some very talented and fun people, catching up with 2 work colleagues who are friends who cemented their relationship at our wedding and have a gorgeous little boy as a result, and then time spent in between wedding planning with the Languedoc amis, I thought this sign represented how lucky I am to have such lovely friends.
I wish I could see more of the ones spread further afield in lovely places such as Brazil and Bermuda, and some not so lovely ones like war zones but they are always in my thoughts.
I remember this little saying was written in my autograph book when I was younger. However I consider all my friends new or old platinum quality! It is often said us Leos are very loyal to all we meet.
Make new friends but don't forget the old
The new ones are silver and the old ones are Gold

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Poul Fetan - of days gone by

Poul Fetan is about 10 minutes away from the Hameau and is a well known tourist attraction. voici! It is a working museum with a traditional baker, potter and farm. The thatched buildings from the 14th to 16th Centuries and have been lovingly restored. The “villagers” are dressed in traditional costumes and you can watch them dying and spinning wool, butter-making, washing linen in the river Blavet and carrying out other tasks of yesteryear. You can also try the delicious breads and cakes cooked in the traditional community bread oven.

It opens on a more regular basis from April. I will be taking my sister and brother in law there when they come over in a few days time.


Easter looms, I remember in my childhood collecting primroses to decorate the windows at the local church and I always used to get a mug with an egg in it. My husband loves the Easter Bunny in chocolate form though also did used to have 2 real bunnies of his own too. Choccie bunnies are less maintenance except when working the result of too many of them off your tum!

I was doing a bit of research on tradtions here in France. This was a new one to me....

Poisson D'Avril (French Easter Fish)
Everyone knows of chocolate rabbits, but did you know the French delight in chocolate fish? Although not directly related to Easter, poisson d'Avril are enjoyed throughout the entire Easter season. These fishy little friends start appearing in shops on April 1st, when children use paper versions to play an April Fools type trick. The 'trick' is to stick a paper fish onto the back of as many adults as possible, then run away yelling, "Poisson d'Avril!" (April fish!). The tradition is several centuries old. Some say it evolved from a silly 'fish trick' where one would send an unknowing person to market to buy freshwater fish when it was not in season. In French culture, food follows season, and even children know when (and when not!) to buy oysters

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


The beautiful array of flowers sold Friday mornings in Beziers down South.


Brittany and Normandy are known for their cider production. I have tried a few. They certainly have a sophistication that differs from teenage cider tasting days! The taste of the Breton cider is generally quite creamy and I buy the BRUT, trying various producers slowly but surely. I must observe what producer they serve in the local creperies.

I came across this sign advertsing the cider from which regions they stock ( yep another one!) in the old walled town of St Malo.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Alot of my time in the Minervois recently was spent in Narbonne

It is such a pretty place with the Canal de Robine running through it, Les Halles indoor market and wonderful cathedral with a fabulous unfinished organ loft. It is a manageable town to navigate. I don't like sprawling cities or massive malls.

The cobbled side streets are cute and colourful and the beautiful central square displaying an ancient Roman road as one of its attractions is one of my favourite places to take a coffee and people watch. When the sun is shining all the better.
9 day trip, 4 different beds, 5 modes of transport, no internet access so hence posts are behind, watch this space, more to come!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

St Malo Beach

I like this picture and not sure why. I took it whilst waiting at St Malo for hubby to collect me.
There is alot in the picture. The groins, people walking, a kite/sand surfer, an island in the back ground and just a little part of a fortress on the right. It was a glorious day and if I had not had my holdall and supplys of salad cream for a neighbour in tow I would have kicked off my boots and been on the sand. I have a strong desire to always place my feet on the sand when I see it. Maybe because I spent so much time as a child on the beach it is a comfort thing! I cannot imagine a child going through life and not feeling sand between its toes, even if it is only in a sand pit!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Fitness regime

For years I had been a very fit person indeed. Won't bore you as to why I am not so now but that is about to change!!. However during this trip in the UK I have been looking forward to a yoga class ( not on the beach like this piccie but will be at least be at coastal location!)!

I may even be bouncing round my friends huge living room in the South of France inbetween wedding appointments to a dvd to keep up the regime.

Many would think this mad and would be going out for lunch and walking it off along the canal! Expect I will find some time to fit that in too!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Brittany-Brighton- Languedoc

I will have limited access to internet from this weekend for the following 9 days week so my updates maybe scant

I am going to be a student and a confident/translater/chauffeur.

I am heading for the UK and staying with a dear fabulous fellow 'Leo' friend in Hove near Brighton somewhere I have spent alot of time when I lived in England. I used to live down the coast and have friends in the area and many brilliant memories. This weekend will be adding to memory lane.

Together we are continuing our holistic studies and probably will be laughing alot along the way.We are like peas in a pod. We should be twins. We met on a train from East Croydon to Central London one morning years ago, standing room only in 1st class. There were no seats in 2nd class anyway. We got chatting and became firm friends since that chance meeting, though,.... I believe it was not chance, it was MEANT TO BE!

Included over the weekend itinerary is discussing ideas for the future, a yoga class, catching up with 2 ex work colleagues and a wedding party and that all important laughter!

I will then be heading to Hertfordshire before flying south to the Minervois to help a friend who has a daughter getting wed locally in June.

I hope to be able to catch up with friends at some point but the schedule will be full on.

I am sure there will be time to fit in a lunch or two between discussions with caterers, hairdressers, car viewings, florist discussions and maybe some wine tasting just to be sure the correct vintage and cave is finally is decided on with the help of our expert!
I must look for my vitamins to keep up the pace!

Slate less

The first building at the hamlet has now no slate on its roof. The boys have been up there disposing of the old ones and making a big mess as they lob them off onto the land below. Forget seeing the wood for the trees, cannot see the land for the slate!
Anyway, wind and water tight we shall be before too long as far as the roof is concerned anyway.

Next task, putting in the septic tank. Am dreading what a mess they will make of the trees and bushes infront of the place when the JCB gets its claws into the soil but it has to be done and will be worth it in the end.

I am trying to be helpful but realised that I had a hidden fear of being on roofs like my husband. Not much use there then am I? I am happy staying on terra firma getting shredded by brambles. Almost there with the clearing of those but do think I should have got a goat to do it.
I am going to be very busy with other things in the next week or so and they do not include attempts of looking like the Milk Tray man on the roof!

St Malo restaurant

I took this photo inside the old walls of St Malo ( home to the Jacques Cartier who discovered Canada) whilst I took a wander waiting for my lift back to the Morbihan. Such a pretty sign I thought and along with the pretty striped awnings made the restaurant look very inviting. I will let you know how it was if I ever get back to try it!

What people say!!

On my ferry journey back to St Malo I met up with a couple of friendly and chatty travellers. One was en route from Weymouth to Jersey via Guernsey.

I reflected after my first chat with the initial traveller at how amazing it is what people will tell you. I met a lovely lady when I was going off to Guernsey on the evening Friday ferry. She lives 4 hrs away and was from Jersey but lived in France 16 yrs, family back in Jersey, divorced, married a French man, works for a Finnish company....It reminded me of a time I was delayed at a packed Gatwick airport and got chatting to so many people and how friendly people are and how much of their life info they will divulge!. Maybe I have that kind of face (whatever that is) that people spill their life stories too.

This is what I learned from traveller who boarded at Weymouth and was heading for 4 days in Jersey and I still did not catch his name. I am sure he won't mind me sharing this with you as he shared it with a complete stranger, yours truly.

He lives in Oxford in the oldest cottage in his village. He has lived there 38 years. It backs onto a graveyard where 2 monks are buried with chained bibles.!

He used to be in the RAF.
He drove 27 ton trucks at one point after he left RAF.

He trained German Shepherds for the police force.
He worked for the Duke of Malborough at Blenheim Palace.

He charges 16 pounds an hour for his work, painting and decorating.
He has owned 70 greyhounds. It was his hobby. He has no pets now.

He won 10 grand on the lottery and put 4,000 into premium bonds
He has visited Orlando 13 times or maybe 15. ( I was trying to take in all the info!)

He has just come back from a weeks cruise that included a stop at the Bahamas.

His wife left him for someone he knew and he has to pay her a remaining percentage of his asset ( he stated the amount too!) ( already paid her off a lump sum )if he dies, goes into a home or marries again.

He is 72 and looks about 52.

He gave me his lucky stone to hold for 5 mins that a gypsy gave to him years ago and he said he believed it had brought him luck.

Maybe some of it will rub off on me. He had a lovely 'karma'. Goodness knows what I ended up telling him!

Fascinating stuff hey??!!

Baliwick bound

Well life may slow down a bit for a day at least now Papa has gone back to Guernsey and pre my work role recommencing at the Hamlet.

I assisted my Dad on his journey back to Guernsey at the weekend and managed to grab a couple of busy days there before heading back to the Morbihan via St Malo.
I never really forget how beautiful an island it is but my love for the island is deepened when I am on its soil drinking in the flora and fauna and the beautiful clear light. No wonder Renoir came here to paint and Victor Hugo chose this as his place of exile for many years.

I visited my new born great nephew, attended the local Eisteddford with the added bonus of seeing one of the great nieces be part of the performing group that came 1st! I walked on the cliff paths through Bluebell Wood down to one of Guernseys beautiful beaches called Fermain Bay where there is a great restaurant I want to go back and try. The views from the cliff tops in this part of the island are stunning. One can see the sister islands of the Baliwick. To own one of the properties on this cliff elevation with the magnificent views to the islands, I can only dream of affording. I won't give up hope however!

This picture is of Castle Cornet in St Peter Port with the island of Sark in the background. The Castle was build in the 1200s by the Enlgish Crown after King John lost Normandy and then it was taken by the French in 1338 then later occupied by the Germans in 1940.

My sis and myself enjoyed a sundrenched refreshment whilst having the opportunity to feast our eyes on this view complete with water skiers and reaffirming how privileged we are to have this as our birth home. Am I biased? Yes, of course, and with every justifiable reason!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Lorient U Boat Stations

I took Papa to see the U Boat stations at Lorient ' Base de Sous Marines'.
He lived through the 2nd World War but never had reason to seen these buildings thankfully.

Whilst there we witnessed a team of men rebuilding a U Boat. Not sure why. There is one in dry dock and it really makes one think about those who were on board and the life and times of those years.

I met a sub mariner whilst I lived in Brazil. A very jolly fellow. I think indeed that those that had such a life would indeed have to maintain a sense of humour. A claustrophic existence.

I will stick with travel that takes me above or on the sea rather than under. I will be travelling on Friday with my father on a ferry to Guernsey. Hardly the height of luxury but I find it relaxing. I have been on a cruise ship but only one used for school trips many years ago. The SS Uganda that ended up being used in the Gulf War. Maybe one day I may go again on an up to date floating palace but in the mean time I salut those that are brave enough to be stuck leagues under the sea.


My sister in law has just spent a colourful holiday in India

I am in the process of completing an Indian Head Massage course

An ex work colleague and friend is taking part in a gruelling crossing of the Indian Ocean in a rowing boat!

Take a look at his task ahead for charity. Rather him than me. My gosh, what a challenge ahead they have but all in a very good cause.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Pretty as a picture!

I took this picture during the first week of February whilst in the Minervois. What a glorious and cheery sight this tree was.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Papa and sis are here

I have been very excited as my father and sister arrived this weekend from my birth home of gorgeous Guernsey. The day they came was my Dads 85th Birthday. I cheated and bought him a brioche creamy raspberry creation and not much was left. He has a sweet tooth! I am so pleased he can now see where we are and where we will be living! However the weather did not hold in our favour the day they arrived and luckily the pansies I planted the previous day at the hamlet helped cheer up their first viewing of the place.

My father used to go to school in France at Fougeres. I am looking forward to showing him this area and drawing on his knowledge of what bird is singing and what plant is growing and where best to put the veggie plot. I wonder what he will make of the UBoat Station at Lorient? Perhaps will be a bit haunting. He was evacuated to the UK from Guernsey during the 2nd World War. Lots of stories to tell. He was based at an army camp with Hughie Green for those who remember who he was!

He loves nature and animals so my cats are getting more spoilt with love than usual. The Ginger one slept with him on his bed the first night. She deserted us!

I have had the extended pleasure of my sisters company. She was returning the next day on Aurigny Airlines ( or known locally as Joey ) a little 14 seater prop plane that serves inter island of the Baliwick but flyes Dinard to Guernsey. Long story but we saw it taking off without her on it. It left 20 mins early as sis was not at check in by about 2 mins delay so they let the plane go. Grrrrrrr. Anyway we spent Saturday night together. Lucky for me. Not ideal for her as she had places to be but c'est la vie though I still think that the plane should not have left 20 mins before schedule. Mind you that is what makes this successful and safe island airline service initmate and not like production line of travellers.
I am off back up to Dinard again today. This will be the third round trip in as many days to that area of France. I will be doing it again on Friday as am going back with Dad to 'Sarnia Cherie' Gem of the Sea as it is affectionately known. In the mean time I must work out a schedule for Papa and pray the weather picks up!

Sunday, 1 March 2009


I love Vannes. It is sooo pretty and charming and the fortification is just fabulous. Timber framed houses, a port, interesting architecture, winding alleys with chic boutiques. So much character. I think it is my favourite town in the immediate radius.
Founded over 2,000 years ago at the inland edge of the Gulf of Morbihan, the growth of Vannes was based on its harbour.

The Romans provided the basis for the medieval fortified town. Towards the end of the 14th century the town became one of the favourite residences of the Dukes of Brittany. I am not surprised. The battlements were extended towards the port, doubling the area within the town walls. They are most impressive.
Within the town walls many timber-frame houses can be found in the narrow streets and I just love looking at them and imagining life in the 'old' days. They surround the Cathedral, which was rebuilt from the 15th century onwards. This is a very impressive Cathedral with many many confession boxes! This “wooden town” is also complemented by a “stone town” dating from the classical period.

If you get a chance go! Have lunch at one of the cafes near the portal gate to the old town whilst listening to the yachts masts tinkle from the gentle movement of the water.

Fishing on the Blavet

There are many pursuits to partake of on the Blavet River which can be accessed from the Hameau within 2 minutes walk. They include ..kayaking, cycling or walking along the tow path and fishing or sitting having a picnic sipping Breton cider. Yep am sure that is a pursuit!
My husband is quaking with excitement at the thought of getting the fishing gear out (still covered in mud from when we had a flood in our previous home to 2. 5 metres!) and cast his line. When he has time of course.!

The Blavet provides excellent fishing we are told by the locals. The Blavet is famous for its trout, salmon, zander, pike, perch, carp, bream and tench. Well that is as maybe and I can see the appeal of sitting quietly for hours on end away from the renovations but not the appeal of eating any of these.

I don't like much fish which is most unfortunate as there are a wonderful array to choose from fresh water and salt water and fabulous shell fish. If he gets a salmon I will eat it but don't even think of asking me to look the whole thing in its beady eye before prepping it. YUK!!! Present it to me head and tailess and I may just cook his catch!

Flora and Fauna

The brambles have got the better of me!

I have given my muscles and patience a repose and I have decided to take a friend up on his offer of going in with his JCB and getting the from the roots instead. It does not matter that the chicken area will be messed up, the chickens won't know if it is all pretty or not and am sure will appreciate some nice soil to mosey around on

I am keeping my focus on getting the chickens and my friend here took me to view some of these birds located at the home of one of her friends. They are very relaxing and amusing and so many people seem to keep them. They are also a practical asset. I will be baking like mad and eating alot of omelettes!

I am also looking forward to seeing the hydrangea I uncovered from the dreaded brambles which is in bud and I am told will be blue - hopefully like the one in this picture! The land is looking a bit sad and of course after yearning for all this outside space I want it to be lovely toute suite but I must wait and just take solace in what will be and try not to think of the JCB digging up the other parts of land that are necessary for future development of the renovations! Eeek!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

How many brambles? Focus - think of the chickens!

Question...How many brambles do you think can grow in an acre of land during a 10 yr period of an uninhabited or untended land space?
ANSWER... too damn many!!! ARGH

I was at the new abode today via a visit to the helpful secretary at the Mairie trying to sort out electric supply ( EDF say they have no record of the property - don't ask!)

I therefore thought I would make the afternoon worthwhile and bash a few more brambles. It was very satisfying as I totally uncovered the chicken coop and 6 rabbit hutches and a lovely stone wall. I will not be keeping rabbits to eat I may add as this is what these hutches were originally for.
This particular space is crying out for some chooks to peck around in and I look forward to purchasing them from the local market and am taking votes on names!. Even though the space is not a part of the land that can be seen immediately as it is behind the barn, I feel it could be used very wisely for fresh eggs as indeed it was originally so used. I will be back tomorrow to continue my mission which feels endless. I will focus on the end result in order than I can justify the aching limbs and numerous scratches and the evil attack of the brambles.

Watching Mr Robin hop about and hearing those cows moo again makes it all worth it, plus the sun was warm warm warm. I feel sooo lucky and hopefully the chickens will feel the same.

A dedication.. Footprints in the Sand

I took this photo at Lamor Plage on New Years Day. It reminded me of the poem that follows. I am dedicating this posting to a wonderful woman who lives in the Languedoc and has had more than her fair share of grief in the last two months and this week is experiencing much emotional pain. Religious believers or not it does not hurt to think that maybe we can call on some higher force whatever it maybe to draw some strength from now and again.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,“You promised me Lord,that if I followed you,you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,is when I carried you.”