mon coeur de campagne

living a simpler, rural French life


Finding my Feet

via Pinterest

The Ultimate Blog Challenge – could I do it?
Write a post EVERY day for 31 days? 
Find and decide on a topic to write about – difficult
Sit down and write – difficult
Keep up with the commitment – impossible?
Well the big news is – I did it!  I found my rhythm, kept up the pace and made it to the finish line
I even managed to post while away from home.  
I found it easier than I imagined to come up with ideas to write about.
And I learnt how to turn them around quickly – thanks to Michelle.
I have put a blog calendar together and have plans in place for February- as demonstrated by Michelle – and now have ideas for several months ahead.
I am so proud that I have stuck with the Challenge.  In the tradition of awards ceremonies everywhere there are people I must thank…namely Michelle Schaeffer… for organising the UBC ..fellow bloggers for their supportive comments ..and my husband for being so understanding while I spent huge chunks of January at my laptop. 
So what’s next?  I am going to carry on blogging regularly and  try to encourage new subscribers to my blog.
The Ultimate Blog Challenge really has proved that Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.




Having more with Less

Le Morvan via Pinterest

Yes, I live in a remote, rural area deep in the French countryside but look at what I have
  • amazing, awe inspiring landscapes
  • forests, lakes, streams, mountains
  • weather with definite seasons
  • the cleanest air in Europe
  • great lifestyle
  • top quality fresh, seasonal food
  • wine…I’m in Burgundy need I say more?
  • enjoying local traditions, fetes, music, dancing
  • good, genuine friends 
I don’t have 24 hour supermarkets, motorways, traffic jams, pollution, vandalism, shootings…I won’t go on!
I was lucky that I could get off the hamster wheel and escape.  I found what was important to me.
If you think that you can’t change your lifestyle… can …from right where you are sitting right now!
Start by thinking about what is important in your life.  What are your must-haves….and they shouldn’t be material things.
Health, happiness, love and time cannot be bought from any shop.
Then begin to simplify by decluttering, your home, your garage, your wardrobe….we all have far too much stuff!
Can you grow your own food?  Even in a window box you can grow tomatoes and herbs.
Think about downsizing – do you really need such a big house or apartment?
Ditch the toxic friends that take and never give, they will only drain and depress you.
Living more simply you slow down and are more mindful of what you are doing and what you have.
Try making a simplified version that fits your life.
Have you simplified your life?  What did you do? Did it make you happier?


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France’s best kept secret?

Life in the Parc naturel regional du Morvan, is rural, unspoilt and completely surrounded by nature and wildlife. A breathtaking landscape of hills, low mountains, forests, lakes and streams with the cleanest air in Europe and untouched by the centuries.

“Our” parc is in the coeur, the heart of Burgundy and one of 48 parc naturel regionals across France. Le parc du Morvan was set up in 1970 and has a strong rural identity that was in danger of being lost. Generations had moved out, abandoing the remote, tough, farming way of life to live in cities and earn a more lucrative living. Many communities were dying, with just a handful of old timers trying to eek out a lonely existence.

A parc is governed by a national federation but it gives power to local communities who understand the beauty of their own environment and also the importance of being able to earn a living from their surroundings.  The basic principles focus on protection, improvement and understanding of the environment.  

The payoff for living in a regional parc is that the beauty of the area will be maintained and improved, there will be no new motorways, nuclear plants or unsightly developments. So, if you want to paint your shutters, restore, make major improvements or build a new house, there are guidelines to follow issued by the maison du parc. 

Sports and leisure activities such as hiking, cycling, canoeing, hunting, shooting and fishing help are promoted.  Cultural heritage is highlighted – musuems, exhibitions, village fetes and musical events – all help build a community spirit and promote the parc. Agriculture, heritage, old traditions, nature, and tourism are also supported by the parc boosting the local economy and bringing life to hundreds of small communities across the Morvan.

The regional parc system proves that a rural area can flourish from its own natural and human resources – that can only be a positive thing for the future of the French countryside.



Don’t Be Shy via Pinterest

My friend Julie grabbed my hand and said “You have changed my world!”  It was a fantastic compliment.

What had I done?   Julie…is a lively, vivacious, woman full of energy and great conversation and holds greats parties.  But appearances aren’t always what they seem.  She explained that all her life she has been painfully shy.  When she lived in the UK she wanted to join a women’s group in and tried for 3 weeks in a row to make herself walk through the door but she was too scared.

Julie even tries to make her husband walk in front of her into bars and restaurants, because she is too shy. When we met in France a year ago, she had been living in France for a few years yet and was feeling lonely and isolated.  Once she had made a big effort to break the ice with her French neighbours she was fine but she wanted to make more friends and was too nervous of making the first move and joining a club or going to yoga because of her shyness,

I invited her and her husband for a meal, we all got on very well.  I then decided to organise a girls day out, and invited my French and English girl friends along.  We visited a Costume Mueum and Handbag Exhibition – a pretty girly outing!!  From there on Julie and her husband got invited by my friends to BBQ’s, parties and all kinds of days out.  Now she has a growing circle of friends ..but I bet those friends have no idea of her shyness.  She masks it so well.

Did you know that Johnny Depp, Nicole Kidman, Roger Moore and Kim Basinger are just a few of the actors who literally put on an act to cover their shyness?  Suffering from shyness didn’t prevent them from being successful and famous.

I used to feel shy but had to overcome it as my work involved networking with strangers…giving a presentation at a conference for 300 people and even talking on live radio and tv….somehow I got through it because I wasn’t talking about ME as such….I was representing the company I worked for…totally different.  During a radio interview I was once asked for my opinion and I froze….I was so used to talking about the company, I even took on a different persona, I couldn’t answer and there was silence for what seemed like ages.

Providing shyness does not make you seem arrogant and offhand…Shyness can be a positive thing…you enjoy your own company and relish solitude.  Do you think shyness is a bad thing?


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Sunday Best

Sunday Best by Willam Wegman

I love perfume…and I save my “best” ones for special occasions…and tonight..I wanted a squirt of my extra extra “best” perfume.  I have been hoarding it because I have only a little drop left….well, what a disappointment… it smelt horrible because it had gone off. 
Why hadn’t I enjoyed wearing it when I could?  Why had I been saving it and saving it?
It reminded me of when we were little we had ordinary biscuits for every day and best biscuits for weekends or when visitors came.  Why not have a little treat when you fancy it? Best tablecloths, best china….why???  I suppose in the old days it was to do with being careful with money and making things last.  The tradition of having a smart suit or outfit and hat that would be worn once a week to church on a Sunday  – your Sunday Best – probably dates back to the Victorians.  The Victorians even had a front parlour where they would only sit on a Sunday.  Now that is extreme!
When my Grandma died, she had drawers  and drawers full of beautiful unused linen, tablecloths and teatowels.  So pretty and yet hidden away in drawers – unappreciated.
We had best clothes that we would wear for special occasions or to visit grandparents. Having nice or extra special clothes can make you feel good and shows that you have made an effort.  
I suppose my favourite Monsoon maxi sequin skirt and my suede skirt with beading only get an airing on very special occasions…living in a tiny French village means that I will probably only wear those for best now.
But…I  am going to change my philosophy…I am going to enjoy using and wearing my things and not save them for some unknown occasion in the future.. unpack those boxes of things that I “might” use one day… and enjoy ….life is for living now.
What do you think?

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via Pinterest

Kissing in France?  La Bise en France…it’s a minefield….when to kiss, who to kiss, where to kiss…and….how many kisses? 

It’s just not polite to greet friends or aquaintances with a casual “hiya” or “alright.” 

Kisses, Bisous are expected.

Kiss at least once on each cheek when you meet colleagues, friends or neighbours for the first time in a day.  You don’t need to kiss your neighbours every time you see them during the day, unless you really want too! 

Men shake hands with their male friends but often kiss them too.

I have had to wait for a shop to open up because the manager and all his colleagues were kissing or shaking hands outside with each other. I think it shows manners and courtesy, a lovely old tradition. .  When a shift on the supermarket till comes to an end, the cashiers kiss hello and goodbye.  Watch the locals when they arrive in their local bar, they probably will kiss everyone hello.

When you visit a French family don’t forget to kiss the children. You will find young children lining up, waiting pateintly for you to kiss them.  Even teenagers will come forward ready to kiss hello.

Kissing aquaintances should not involve hugging or grabbing.  Lean in to kiss right cheek first and keep your arms by your sides.

If it’s someone like your Bank Manager, don’t kiss…simply offer a handshake.

Each region and even each town seems to have a different rule on the number of kisses.  The number of kisses can range from a straightforward 2, a confusing 3 which can leave you hanging, or even a massive 4! 

Watch this funny clip – it might help you to pucker up! .