Sunday, December 23, 2012

The sun is shining this Christmas!

Hello everyone,
I hope you are all enjoying the run up to the festive season and not wearing yourselves out too much!
The wet weather has gone today and we are under some warm sunshine with a temp of 27c in our little hot spot corner of the garden.
I would ask that we all spare a thought this Christmas for people in war zones, in hospital, hospices, those who have no food, drinking water, the lonely, the cold, the homeless, anyone undergoing treatment for serious illness, pour souls tormented in their mind, the frightened, the misunderstood.
We are so lucky to be enjoying a relatively peaceful Christmas and New Year, there are so many in the world who won't be able to do this.
Peace to you all.

Monday, December 3, 2012

No roast turkey this Christmas?

Living in a foreign country can mean difficulties in adjusting to many things. Christmas is just one of them.
The French don't do Christmas day like the Brits. They have a slap up meal with family & friends on Christmas Eve and Christmas day is usually a very quiet affair.
So, the typically British Christmas day turkey feast is not common here.
That doesn't mean they don't enjoy the festive season, far from it, but it's a gourmet affair that usually consists of loads of fresh oysters (huitres), massive cooked hams, chocolate treats, champagne and nougatine. The latter can be found in abundance from mid December onwards.
I noticed this year, there are a few more frozen turkeys in the supermarkets, although the French still prefer their meat fresh, and free range chickens,  local lamb and all kinds of duck are to be found everywhere.
Fois gras is still coveted and handed out on special feast days and the apero reigns supreme at family gatherings.
So, if you are a mad turkey fan living in France, worry not, they are there to be bought, personally, I'll be having lamb and some local Cantal entre deux cheese, but that's just my personal preference.
Bon appetit & Happy Christmas wherever you are.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who are the Chasse in France?

This is a very touchy subject here in the French countryside.
The hunting fraternity, known as the Chasse, are in almost every hamlet, village and town in France. 
 Mostly, this takes place at twilight, early morning, and weekends.

The main requirements for the chasse are ...

Dogs, usually French beagles, but other breeds can be used.
A white van to transport the said animals.
Guns, big ones for killing the animals.
A brass horn.
Glow in the dark jackets so they don't shoot at each other.
Camouflage trousers.

There are probably other handy items the chasse use, but the above are the mainstay of the hunting club.

The chasse can usually be heard before they are seen, a slightly off tune and breathless puff or two on the horn, loads of barking dogs and some distant garbled French swear words.
The lookouts can be seen at the edges of the fields and roadsides, eagerly awaiting even the smallest glimpse of something running through the trees or hedgerows.

These glimpses can be confusing though, as I've heard tales of the local butcher or pardre taking a quiet stroll on a misty autumn morning, suddenly taking off across the field like the proverbial shot rabbit, keen not to be the target of the chasse that day.

It has happened on more than one occasion, that an innocent person, out collecting ceps or mushrooms, has been the unfortunate target of the huntsmen. 

So, if you are new to France and French country ways, I will give you a few tips that may save your life.

Take your walks outside the dusk & dawn hours and preferably at the times of the year when large animals cannot be hunted.
Wear a dayglow jacket or gilet. Not guaranteed to save your life, but at least it will be easier to recover your body.
Learn how to say " I surrender'" in French. I'll help you, it's "Je me rends."
Don't be a fungi collector, far too dangerous in this part of the world.

Do I like the Chasse? 

Well, I tolerate them, after all, it is an age old tradition, and well, 
What harm do they do!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

France for expats in 2012?
France is changing, the government has changed and now we have M.Hollande who originates from Brive in South West France.
He should know all about French country life, he has an eco car, but does he really understand the financial implications if his new fiscal policy towards the rich in France?
I don'r normally get involved in religion or politics, but I do think that France is heading for economic disaster by forcing all the money out to other EEC countries who are welcoming them with open arms.
They may be rich, they may be more able to pay higher taxes, but they also have the spending power and that's what every country needs to survive at the moment.
M.Holland, I implore you, think again about this disastrous policy before France becomes a peasant nation again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mad March weather 2012

Ok, this time last year, we were basking in wonderfully warm Spring sunshine. The birds were singing, garden in bloom, all was lovely.
Today, it's wet, cold, poor plants are struggling to flower, & the hedges are almost devoid of leaves after the minus double figure temperatures we had in February.
I have just heard that it's snowing in central Spain;
The world's gone mad!

Friday, March 9, 2012

French colds & flu!

What can I say about France this week?
Everyone has a cold!
Stinkers one & all, the colds, not the people.
The tissue manufacturers must have set on an extra shift at the factory to meet the demand. The street lights can be dimmed, as the beacons that are red noses are more than sufficient to light the streets at night.
Our cupboards are groaning with all manner of medications, the surgeries are working flat out, as are the pharmacies, and everyone is miserable, including me.
A bientot.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The big thaw is here!

Well, it's thawing well today. The roads are clear & the grass is beginning to appear again.
Limoges today was almost back to normal.
The cold weather is set to return again this weekend, but hopefully the Limousin will escape the horrendously low temperatures of the past two weeks.
Wherever you are, stay warm.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The slow thaw

Well, the temperatures are starting to rise above freezing.
The snow is thinning, the bushes & hedges are appearing once more and more importantly, the blackbirds, robins, starling, woodpeckers and thrushes have been able to set about scratching a meal from under the greenery once more.
We would like to be able to get the car out after two weeks, the freezer needs filling, some fresh fruit & veg will be more than welcome and we're going to have lunch out for a change.
Roll on the Springtime!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Brrrr, the big freeze has arrived in France!

Well, in our part of France anyway, we have night time temperatures of up to -20°c and daytime temperatures no more than -8
Lots of snow & ice on the ground, and nowhere to go in the car as we can't get it down the hill.
So, any shopping has to be got on foot 5 kilometers away & back again.
The little birds are so hungry & the ground is as frozen as I've seen it, so putting food out three or four times a day has been the norm.
The Spring bulbs were just popping their heads up before all this freezing weather descended, so I'm hoping they will survive to see the warmth of the sun again. Whether I will, is another matter!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year in france

Hello and a very Happy New Year everyone.
New Year here in France is not terribly eventful. I'm not complaining about this, as it's one of the reasons we came to live here... for the peace & quiet.
At midnight on the 31st January, a local farmer let off his shotgun six times.
Yes, that was it! And I then went back to sleep.
I have never been a great lover of noise & fireworks and the local farm animals really hate it, so I can cope with one local farmer & his six shots once a year!
The chasse or local hunters have been out and about. When we first arrived here, I thought it terribly cruel to hunt down poor defenceless animals, then I realised that these men were feeding their families over the winter, just as their forefathers and their forefathers.
I have also come to realise, that if they didn't keep the wild deer and boar population down, our countryside and gardens would be decimated mud baths before we could say chasse.
So, I have grown to live cheek by jowl with the local hunting fraternity and also to appreciate that their traditions need to be respected and not frowned upon.
It's all done in a humane way, and they are bot allowed to hunt during the time when the animals are carrying their young or until the young have grown and left their mother, and if you ever experience seven wild boar tearing around your beautifully tended garden and vegetable plot and then seen the devastation that they can cause in such a short time, well ... your sympathies may well change!

Happy New Year