mon coeur de campagne

living a simpler, rural French life


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A Gorgeous Glut

It’s harvest time and everyone has a huge amount of courgettes. Last year we hardly had any!  This year if you mention the word courgette, friends and neighbours widen their eyes and step back in horror with a shake of the head and a quick “Non!” Friends have even taken to arriving for aperos clutching a selection of courgettes or courgette apero cakes – even better!

One lovely friend had too many tomatoes and bought a big bag along to a party.  I love tomatoes so it was a great present for me.

The freezer is full of courgettes and runner beans, haricots espagnole and a variety of different soups.

Our vine hasn’t given us so many grapes as usual but they are sweet and juicy.  We have turned them into juice and are eating the rest.

We will just have to get inventive with the courgette recipes.  There’s ratatouille, chutney, soup, braised, grilled, roast, stuffed, pureed, shredded, salad, cakes and bread.

Any other ideas?

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Back to Routine

September brings a change in energy as the days are cooler and shorter, summer is coming to an end.  It is time to get back into routine again.

It’s la rentrée today, back to school and college but here in France, la rentrée is far more than that.  In August it’s not just school that is out but the government, offices, restaurants and businesses are also AWOL. Many French families take a long holiday for much of August too.

For weeks shops and the media have been talking about la rentrée.  The supermarkets have been piled high with exercise books, pens and folders. Harrassed mamans scan the aisles clutching long lists because French pupils are expected to provide all their own stationery and equipment.

This weekend our friends and neighbours have been wishing us and each other bonne rentrée à tous.

For me, la rentrée has a special significance this year as I am returning to normal routine (I hope!) after an operation and long convalescence. Chez moi, je suis le chef du bureau and my desk had ended up being a dumping ground.

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I have been preparing for la rentrée by tidying up, putting my papers in order and organising…ranger mes affaires,  trizer les papiers and organiser.

tidy desk

I wish you a bonne rentrée.  Je souhaite une bonne rentrée.

 

 

 


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Allez hop, au boulot!

Let’s get to work!

We’ve only got to get through this 4 day week and we get ANOTHER day off.

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Monday 08 May commemorates V E Day and then there is another Bank Holiday on Thursday 25 May for Ascension Day.

Not to mention 05 June Pentecost Monday!

Pas mal!


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Bon 1er mai!

Happy May Day!

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May Day started with a friend wishing me a Bon 1er mai and sending a Lily of the Valley posy.

The tradition started on May 1st 1561 when King Charles IX of France offered the ladies of the court a sprig of Lily of the Valley or Muguet as a lucky charm.  Over the years it has evolved into a way of showing friendship.  The florists and markets are full of Lily of the Valley in the lead up to the 01 May.  The local Prefrecture had to issue a warning this year not to pick too many from the woods.

The sunshine, bird song and wild flowers mean that spring is finally here.  The dark nights are over and there is a feeling of celebration in the air.  The long holiday weekend also celebrates the Fete du Travail.

spinning wheel

We spent a sunny afternoon with friends showing us how to spin and weave.  Spinning has been used for thousands of years as a way of producing yarn.  Charlotte enjoyed using a Spinning Wheel using wool from local sheep, a method in use for centuries since the Middle Ages.  She might be taking up spinning as a new hobby and wants to make a rug using wool she has spun herself.  A good start to the month.

 

 

 


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Verre de L’amitié

champagne

 

Last night, the Mayor invited everyone in our commune to toast the New Year with a verre de l’amitié, a glass of friendship.  We made it through the snow thanks to a lift from friends with winter tyres on their car.  The snow was so pretty and the Christmas lights in the centre of the village made it look very festive.

It was nice to see so many people there from our small community.  The Mayor welcomed and thanked everyone who had managed to get there.  He then thanked everyone who works or volunteers for the village, the school, the library and various associations.   He outlined what work had been done around the commune and plans for the coming year.  There was a poignant moment when he asked us to remember everyone who had been touched by terrorism and for those that had passed away.

The champagne was flowing but as we are having a dry January we politely declined.  A first for both of us!  Despite lots of attempts to fill my glass I managed to stick to orange juice until the Mayor handed me a glass of champagne – it would have been rude to say no!  I discreetly passed it to a neighbour who was more than happy to drink it for me.

For a small commune of around 200 people we are an international and friendly bunch made up of mostly French, a couple of Dutch (the numbers of Dutch increases in the summer!!), an English family (us), a German couple, a Texan and a South African.

We thanked the Mayor and asked if he could organise more evenings like this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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A close call

  
Freezing fog, snow, frost and icy roads. We are in the grip of winter.  Our region, La Nievre has been on alert for bad weather this weekend and we’ve been advised not to drive unless you have to.

The snow has been melting and we went to see friends 10 minutes drive away and the roads were clear. On the way back I suggested driving back a different route and on the hill up to our house the road was unbelievably slippery. Our tyres couldn’t get a grip and I had a flash back to my car crash. Very scarey!

A wolf has been spotted not far away! An animal has been attacking sheep and a very wolf-like animal has been caught on camera.  The authorities are taking the threat seriously and are investigating.

So maybe it isn’t so bad staying close to home and hibernating!


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Portes Ouvertes

le-chateau

Art and history – my bliss!  This weekend the privately owned 15th century, Chateau de Thard opened it’s doors as part of Les Journèes Europeènes du Patrimoine.

The heritage weekend takes place the third weekend of September across France.  Each year there is a theme and this year’s was Patrimoine et citoyennetè.   Public offices, monuments, historical sites, churches and chateaux open their doors to the public for a visit behind the scenes.

Chateau de Thard, a joli petit manoir, near Onlay proved to be a hidden treasure.  We drove up a long drive hidden in the woods, which opened out to amazing views high above Onlay.

The Chateau was also a perfect backdrop for an art exhibition featuring a variety of pottery, sculpture, oils, watercolours, prints and collages.

  
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http://www.chateaudethard.com