Friday, January 30, 2015

A New Year begins

La Galette des Rois - King's cake features large in January in France. I tasted it five times this month and very yummy it was too.

An almond based galette

The first time was with friends when we met up to have King's cake and champagne together  - a chance to catch up after the  holiday season when we were all busy with family. We also wanted to talk about a trip to the mountains but more of that later. La galette comes in two forms and people do have their favourites. I love them both. In the galette a fève, favour, is hidden and whoever finds it is king or queen of the occasion and given a paper crown. No luck for me this time.

The second time was with our Kiwanis friends. Good wishes for the New Year exchanged, a delightful meal enjoyed and une galette to finish. This time I was lucky and found a fève  - I hope that means a good 2015 for me.

A fève peeping out from a slice of cake

The third time was with Le Club des Ainés ( the old folk's club). I support their events in my role as councillor and if I can I go to the 'loto' (bingo). The petit loto is held the first Tuesday in every month and at the January event we were served galette and cider at the end of the afternoon. The fève I won at the Kiwanis dinner must have brought me luck as I won a joint of pork and some chicken thighs (the prizes are always food!)

Here in the SW the brioche version is more common

The fourth time was at the annual Voeux du Maire where the mayor and his councillors invite the whole village in order to wish them Happy New Year. The maire makes a speech about what we have been up to as a council, visiting dignitaries say a few words and the we all eat King's cake and drink cider. This year we were honoured to have Miss Lot et Garonne at the event as she lives in the village. I did get a fève in my cake but I gave it to one of the children,Agathe,  as she had also found a fève but the dropped it on the floor and it had broken  - don't want any tears to start the New Year.

The cake is served to mark Epiphany and the fève originally represented the baby Jesus who the king's searched for. Now they come in many forms - my first find this year was an Asterix character and the second was in the form of a chocolate eclair!

Galette number five was eaten in the Pyrenees. Same group of friends as the first galette with a couple of additions and this time in the pyrenees after a day in the snow. No fève for me this time but I didn't need one to feel lucky having such great friends to share a few days away with.

I wasn't able to have the champagne or cider with my cake as it has been a dry month for me.  I signed up to the Cancer Research initiative 'driathlon'.  I find it helps to have an objective and this fit well with our decision to give more to charity in 2015. I know giving up alcohol for a month seems a small thing compared to some of the adventurous, dangerous and brave things that are done for charity but lots of people doing a small thing can add up to a worthwhile contribution to helping others.  I wasn't expecting anyone else to join my fundraising effort but a couple of friends have done so nonetheless so thanks to them. 

The weather has been quite kind to us this January, ending with a cold snap but as yet no snow. We are warm and cosy in side our very well insulated house and Kevin loves cooking on his Esse wood burning stove.  We have had to have some modifications done to our heating system (first time and we have used an English workman - and the last!) and now it is all working as it was meant to - just needed someone who knows what they are doing to regulate it and make sure the pipework meets french regulations.

We are planning for our work in the garden this year and have ordered a new greenhouse and planned out the area to put along with some new raised beds. Our brilliant gardener/odd job man,Christian, has been clearing all the wood from the area and cutting and stacking it ready for next winter!

Not a polytunnel this time

We've also been thinking about holidays and booking trips to the UK to see family. I am going in February to help prepare for a new granddaughter and again in April to meet her. We are both looking forward to seeing two of our grandsons in Birmingham at Easter time. My daughter tells me she us turning 40 this year (I don't know how as I'm not nearly old enough to have a 40 year old child) and we are taking a Norwegian cruise in July to celebrate. I come back to France after that holiday with my daughter in law and three grandchildren for fun in the sun chez nous and then on October we go to New Zealand for a month.

So that's our 2015 so far. What are your plans for the year? Whatever they are we both  wish you all every happiness

A bientôt.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Today we went to our local town to join in the march organised as a response to the tragic deaths in France in the past week. It was very moving. I heard a grandma explaining to her two grandchildren why we there - to be thankful that we can was one of the things she said.  The town we were in has a large Arab community and it was very comforting to see so many on the March, several carrying placards denouncing the violence. It made me think of this image that I had seen earlier in the weekend.

Extreme satirical humour isn't my cup of tea so I dont subscribe to publications for whom it is a raison d'être. However I do believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression and so was proud to wear my 'Je suis Charlie' badge today and take part in the march of solidarity.

I have no photos as this wasn't a day for snapping so I will end with the image that has brought so many people together in protest against violence in the name of religion.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tempus Fugit

So I haven't popped in here to update the blog since August - it only seems a moment ago. Time for a catch up and I'll try not to let so much time go by between posts in the future.

Summer seemed to go on and on this year with glorious weather in September, October and even into November. Kevin was so looking forward to starting to cook again with his wood burning Esse but the weather just stayed too mild.

We celebrated my birthday in September and managed to take a few days away to relax .

In October I visited family in the UK - always a delight. I love this photo of my granddaughter and her friends.

November and  Kevin was the birthday boy. We go to lunch in our friend's palombière ( a very complicated hide in the forest) where we ate snails, foie gras and other yummy stuff each course accompanied by a perfectly chosen wine (our host used to be the director of a local wine co-operative so knows a bit about the stuff. The annual salon de Chocolat was a great success and we were rushed off our feet on the Buffet.

And so to December - busy making final preparations for Christmas - very exciting as this year we had my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren for a whole week. Princess and Captain America dressing up, a cuddly seal, books, games and chocolates. Outdoors we had fun with the dogs, an exciting pony ride through the forest, a horse and cart ride and we even saw santa in St Barthélemy. We turned the fridge into a snowman and made yummy things to eat. So many happy memories;

My favourite was snuggled up reading 'The night before Christmas to two very special little people.

The house seemed very quiet and empty after they left. We brought in the New year with good friends and are having a lazy first day of 2015. 

To all our friends and family we wish a very,very