“Huh?” I hear you saying. You’ve never seen a raw sausage sitting on top of a dinky vintage toy cleaning set? Well perhaps you might want to settle in so I can explain a little. More than a decade ago, arriving in France completely green, clutching a sheaf of less than a dozen words of french, I discovered straight away the existance of a host of linguistic minefields. There were and still are words that I like to take a detour far, far around to avoid accidentally saying something that will make me sound an utter fool. But because I like you, and I am a tad more toughened up by embarrassing language slip ups under my belt, I can share with you at least an absolute doozy of a confusion that beseiged me at the very beginning of my french life. Read More
Situated slightly north of the southern french city of Valence, in the department of the Drome is the commune of Tain l’Hermitage. This small township is home to one of this country’s most revered food products – the factory for Valrhona chocolate. Read More
From time to time we find someone who goes against the flow and it stands out pretty sharply. But when that little black sheep, or in this case, red coat, black spotted ladybird is the stand out, well it isn’t quite so obvious. When I linger in the pool, I have a lot of time to do nothing, to stare at the mountain ranges both east and west, to look at the grass that needs cutting, to skim the water or like yesterday, to spy a ladybird actually sitting on a rose for once (see A cultural misunderstanding). ‘Well I’ll be darned’, I thought, scooping myself out of the swimming pool and puddling along the pathway to the house for my camera. Sitting beautifully in contrast upon a lovely creamy rose petal, the scene was positively adorable and I felt rather victorious! And then I was rewarded with an extra special treat. It was a ladybird with less ‘exotic’ tastes and was fast approaching, like a little dodge em car careening towards a green aphid! Finally a ladybird that was practising clean eating, choosing his aphid nature, plain flavoured, without a hint of hallucinogens! But my joy for his lifestyle choice was short lived, as immediately a violent clash was on right before my eyes. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I felt quite disgusting to be witness to such a nasty battle in front of my lens. Up close to this tiny, yet somewhere now enormous, silent world that had lain at my feet every day, I witnessed an attack that truly made me queasy. I had, in theory wished for so long that the ladybirds would come along and eat my nasty, pesky little aphids but actually seeing it being done, well that seemed really heartless! The green semi transparent bug with very long fine legs thrashing, it fought very hard and the ladybird chomped away with that mandible looked positively menacing up close. Clutching with hooked claws, it was relishing gorging upon the aphid whilst it was still alive! My little cutie was a killing machine, I felt like intervening! Later on, with my photo magnified even closer upon my screen, my husband, in awe, remarked ‘Ah ça pique! oh that stings’ his eyes alarmingly wide. A rather awful little peek into their world, I can’t believe it; first feeling sorry for my once nemesis and then photographing the ingestion of him!‘Looks like he’s using it’s leg as a toothpick!’ my husband laughed horrified and I sank back in my chair feeling utterly terrible. What have I become? I thought to myself, having gaped at the eating of an insect whilst alive. And now here I am, trying to assuage my guilty feelings and dragging you all into this too. My little friend is there on screen with aphid ‘juice’ smeared all over his face! I couldn’t possibly imagine having such a heartless fighter tootling along my hand right now.The little spotty ladybird hadn’t stopped at one, but happily scooted over for a slightly smaller aphid. I imagined it’s reasoning, ‘oh I couldn’t possibly, no I shouldn’t, ok, just a small one then’. The little aphid, a more ferocious fighter than the last, he started scrambling over the face of the ladybird. When he flung himself in vain across it’s eye, it was at that moment that I decided to replaced my lens cap, and abandon my thoughts of returning to the pool and go inside. I am starting to feel a lot like becoming a vegetarian. But even the expression, ‘eat your greens’ is having an unsettling effect upon me now.
Why shouldn’t I name my daughter after a cake? Why would association to a flower or a saint be a better choice? In my world there is no higher honor! Read More
I have found myself in the garden roseraie many times this week. Just looking and thinking. I began growing roses only two years ago but I really went at the task a fond, to the maximum, by ordering 60 roses to start, with no idea what I was doing. Since, I have taken cuttings and then cuttings from those cuttings and now have absolutely no space for any others in the garden, well maybe just one or two. The same principle I use for my vintage kitchenalia collection really, as somehow there always seems to be space that can be made for the irresistibles. All the photos within today’s post are from my own rose garden, I hope you enjoy them. Read More
When my husband was very small and their family still lived in an apartment, his mother extended an invitation to an elderly gentleman neighbour to get to know him over a cherry clafoutis. A rich egg, crepe-like batter poured over fresh cherries and baked in the oven until golden; the man was dead the next day. Read More
Retracing our route away from Yenne that late winter afternoon the car hugged close again to the river Rhone. Only one day earlier, having admired this spectacular river amidst the man-made beauty of Geneva, Switzerland, that Saturday we saw instead a breathtaking natural tableau. Read More