Glorious Spring

The hillside has exploded in a riot of blossom and colour this week.    I know I’m in danger of repeating myself by offering up another post with blossom as its’ subject but when I went out onto the orchard this afternoon to the glorious sight of the fruit trees abuzz with the industry of…

Romantic Abbey Ruins and Hideous Cement Works

Just across from the ugly out-of-town shopping centre where I reluctantly go for some of my weekly grocery shop, is one of the most hideous concrete constructions I have ever seen in my entire life.  Owned since the 1930’s by the enormous French company Lafarge, a ‘world leader in construction materials’, the monstrous site of…

French Essence # 3 – Macaroons à la Française

I have always thought of macaroons  (macarons)  as a particularly French delicacy, a delightfully diminutive  round cake, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle made from ground almonds, sugar and egg whites.  Endless varieties of flavouring and delicate pastel colours can be found in tempting tower displays in the finest French patisseries.  …

French Essence #2 – Wine

A few years ago  we worked for a while with a French estate agent helping to select properties we thought might appeal to potential English buyers.  Given most people’s romantic notion of the perfect French dreamhouse, it was not difficult to dismiss the ranks of ugly concrete shoe boxes and Spanish style haciendas which sadly…

Sweets to the Sweet – BonBons and Marshmallows

For anyone with a sweet tooth France is probably the closest you can get to confection heaven.   Bonbons, dragées, macaroons, sweet cakes, patisseries, brioche, chocolate truffles, nougat, meringues – the list of sugary delights is long and enticing.  I have personally always had rather more of a weakness for savoury rather than sugary but…

French Essence #1 – Garlic

If asked to sum up the essence of French culture the average Francophile would probably come up with an impressive list, amongst which would undoubtably feature haute couture, Hermès, Coco Chanel, Dior, an array of philosophers, playwrights Voltaire, Molière, great novelists Victor Hugo,  cinema,  Brigitte Bardot, Gerard Dépardieu, Bordeaux wines, cognac, champagne, Paris, Versailles, Marie…

Sunset Colours and Autumn Vines

Every day of September here on the hillside, has been warm, balmy and beautiful; the evenings noticeably cooler as the Autumn approaches but full of astonishing light and colours. I decided the other evening to take a walk down the hill towards the poplar wood where the sheep live, passing en route the tiny vineyard…

Doors Part 3 – Jonzac – Seven Doors and a Window

Now that the summer is over and we return to our normal opening hours here on the hillside (5 days a week instead of 7) we are able, on rare occasions, to indulge in the odd visit to pastures new, to wallow in some slightly different scenery and recharge our batteries. Usually our ‘grand days…