Thé feuille de figue

So this is my take on how to make your own fig leaf tea.

Stage 1. You need to find the ideal tea pot. I found mine at the local vide grenier today. Usually I’m not a tea pot person, favouring the quick bish bash bosh of the tea bag in the mug, but I felt that for fig leaf tea it had to be a tea pot. And not just any tea pot, I wanted a delicate small one, something perhaps a little Oriental. So this little tea pot found me on an animal charity stall. 2. You need to find a fig tree. If you don’t have one, then I would recommend growing your own. There are many varieties and the fruit is delicious. I have planted 8 in our French garden. There are 4 Brown Turkey, an Israeli variety, a Rouge de Bordeau, Panache and an unknown one which has grown from a cutting that I plucked from the local road side and it has really tasty bright green figs.3. Gently pull away several leaves.

4. Give them a rinse in cold water.

5. Hang them on the washing line to dry.

6. Very gently dry them out, either in a very low oven or in the sun.

7. Chop them up ready for infusion.

8. Pop them in the tea pot and pour on the boiling water, leave to infuse.

9. Pour into a tea cup. 

10. Sip and enjoy the flavour and all the health benefits of fig leaf tea. See my previous re: blog, Fig Leaf Tea. 


Cinquième Pâques

So here we are and it’s our fifth Easter in France. It’s four years ago that we acquired Le Petit Coquelicot and we’ve spent every Easter here in France since 2012. There is a part of me that misses being at home at Easter.  The last Easter egg hunt we had when the weather was gorgeous and all our friends were round for a barbecue and the children racing around the garden looking for the eggs. But most of the children are now in their teens and struggle to get out of bed before midday; and I’m sure an Easter egg hunt would no longer inspire them.

So after Breakfast Club at St Peter’s we set off at 11am on Good Friday morning and drove for 18 hours to get here to France. I’m still recovering from an awful virus that I’ve had for the past 4 weeks now. So it was great to get to the French house where I can really relax. Even though the building work is still way off being finished. We do have two sides of a tiled roof😀image
So what have we been up to, well the weather has been up and down. Yesterday it just rained and rained. We were in the garden on Saturday and Sunday and the weather was lovely then. There was much investigation into the roof space of the extension and the boys mowed the grass. I took some more fig cuttings from the fig tree on our boundary and decided to try putting them straight into the ground as every other set of cuttings that I’ve taken have failed and gone mouldy. Fig trees are apparently very easy to propagate but not this variety.
I also purchased three little Bay trees and planted them to break up the grassed area and to hopefully provide a bit of a wind break eventually, as the wind just whips across and tends to blow plants over.
Monday we went to a vide grenier at St Sernin just down the road. I was initially disappointed as I saw someone walking away with a bottle dryer which is just what I am looking for, so I immediately thought I should have been up and out earlier. But then I purchased a lovely set of Bakelite bangles for a euro each and was actually given the maroon one on top by a stall holder.  When I asked how much it was he said je vous donne. How nice is that?
I also bought a lovely little old green glass bottle but it was not to be, as my son accidentally smashed it before the end of the day.
We also met my friend Barbara at the vide grenier and then went over to hers after for coffee and a chat. I ended up helping her put a gîte that she has on Airbnb. This seems to be the go to place if you are looking for accommodation theses days.  And then later on we all went through to Bordeaux to the cinema.
Well today it’s Vendredi and the sun is beginning to shine, hopefully the sign of a good day to come😯

Bonjour jardin français – Marie Marie tout à fait contraire

So how does your garden grow? It always seems such a wait until we are back in France and can take stock of our jardin français en cours.  And even though Callum was reluctant to travel surrounded by plants, I brought these little babies with us.  At the front of the picture are three little cat mint cuttings (Nepeta).  These cuttings were taken at home about three weeks ago but seem to have rooted nicely.  Then to the left and right of these are two small Jerusalem fig trees that I purchased from Holland via the internet.  These are very young and look very delicate.  To the left and at the back is a Brown Turkey fig cutting from a colleague at work who has this tree in her garden in Knaresborough.  When we took this out of the pot it had lots of roots and looked very healthy.  Finally to the right at the back of the shot is a Rouge de Bordeaux fig tree, purchased from Primrose online garden shop.primrose_co_uk_logo


And as for the French garden!  Although it is a work in progress, it certainly has been growing.  Lots of wet weather in May, June and July has helped.  Gorgeous prunes that are so sweet.  I’ll certainly be making a plum crumble this holiday.


And the self seeded prune trees that we transplanted from underneath the conifers are doing really well.  No fruit yet though.


In fact all the plants we have put in are beginning to show promise.  The Viburnum hedging.


The Brown Turkey fig tree.IMG_3669IMG_3670The Phormium that I originally got from Grandmas neighbour, Joan.IMG_3671The Buddleia.IMG_3672This is the new Rouge de Bordeaux, that we’ve planted at the edge of the pebbled seating area.IMG_3673These are the tiny fig cuttings from Zena.IMG_3675This is a Brown Turkey fig tree from Morrison’s.  Only a twig when I bought it last year.IMG_3676And, oh look!, my Buddha has found a new home.



 The Cypress tree in front of the house is now so big it is starting to lean over and we have had to stake it.IMG_3667The pebble garden was full of weeds but Paul spent three hours weeding it.IMG_3668Some beautiful plants were already established like this stunning Trumpet Vine.IMG_3674View across our vines.IMG_3678Sad to say that this tall Cypress has been a casuality.IMG_3677And I found this lovely image on Pinterest of all the tools needed to create the perfect garden.


les mauvaises herbes

Set off at 8am from home and well 26 hours later and we’re back en France.


Callum’s happy, he’s playing with Matthew and Nathan, the neighbours children. I’m happy, Callum’s happy AND my little fig tree survived the winter.


Grandmas happy the internet is working. The only one down in the dumps is Bella.


She’s been off it all week. Took her to the vets on Thursday tea time and he couldn’t find anything obvious so gave her antibiotics. But she’s still not eating properly and was sick in the hotel room during the stopover in Tours. If she’s no better I’m going to have to take her to the vet here in Duras. The vets assistant at home is bilingual, so she wrote out Bella’s symptoms for me to give to the vet here. Just boiled some rice to see if she’ll eat.

A little bit of French “mauvaise herbe” – WEED, and we have a few.  I love the translation “bad grass”.  Here’s a beauty!


Have some not so bad grass too.

IMG_3267Grandma thinks these gorgeous little purple flowers are Common Vetch.

IMG_3268But also lots of Daisies and Dandelions.


Bella now snoozing and seems a little better:)


Bonne Noël

Boxing Day
Arrived midday. Weather is lovely and sunny. House is cold but not damp at all and the garden, although water logged, looks good and there are NO WEEDS. Some of the plants look like they have died, even the large fig tree. This is probably because the land is thick clay and there is no room for roots to grow. I will need to get some vermiculite and dig this it in at Easter.


Toyota Yaris.  Small but perfect for this trip.  Unless the skis wont fit in.  

This is what I have been missing.


Let it burn, gardening galore and Frêne trees

No it’s not the Mull of Kyntire but the mist does roll in!


It’s been all too quick a visit this trip (half term).  It seems as if we have done nothing but garden the whole time apart from welcome socialising with our neighbours and friends. This isn’t entirely true as we did spend an entire morning in Decathlon where we purchased our ski gear for the Christmas adventure.  Next time it will be for a real holiday or else I’m not playing anymore.  Number one son has been glued to his Ipad as his buddies are visiting the UK. Not much fun for him as he could have been trick or treating with his friends back home.


So we have cleared lots of wild brambles and had two bonfires, no guys though.  Or fireworks for that matter.  The first bonfire worried me slightly as it was still raging at 1.30am and I had to get hubby up to pour water on it for fear of it setting fire to the house.  OK I was watching TV at 1.30am but that’s normal isn’t it? The next bonfire was lit much further down the garden away from the house.

Hubby warming his hands

Hubby warming his hands

The ten tonnes of pebbles are now reduced to a very small pile thanks to hubby who has worked tirelessly to move them to make our new informal French pebble garden (what a mouthful).  Turning this!

pebble 1

Into this!IMG_3255

It is a work in progress as the plants are so small at the moment it is difficult to get a real feel for what it will look like eventually.  Watch this space and in 5 years!  In this area are some of the plants that we brought from home.  An Apricot tree, a Fig tree and a small Phormium.

I’ve been busy planting more baby trees from our friend Barbara.  Walnut, Frêne and Oak trees to name but a few are now in my little tree creche, hopefully huddled together they can survive the winter.  Frêne is French for an Ash tree.


We have had problems with little critters eating the new leaves but I’m hoping this new batch will survive the winter and if not at least they will have provided a welcome meal for something furry.  I’ve made a little jacket for one of the Cypress trees that has had all of its bark eaten away at the base.


I’ve also taken cuttings from our local Willow, Chestnut and Fig trees in the vain attempt to have a bunch of these trees in our French garden.  There is a concrete electric pole that was covered in brambles which we have now cleared to reveal three plum trees.  I’ll probably plant one of the fig trees in this area next year.


The inside is becoming much more homely, additions this holiday have been a lovely leather chair that I rescued from my good friend back in the UK who was going to skip it.  Now it has some big elephant cushions from logonear Ikea in Leeds, all very cosy.



The standard lamp base that I painted earlier this year now has a shade curtesy of Ikea.  Not ideal but makes it a useable light which is very useful.


We still haven’t put this picture up. And finally two more interior shots.



Many francophiles like to use Farrow and Ball paints and it is true they have a huge array of different colours.  But our coffee table and standard lamp have been painted in Dulux Colour Mixing Natural Taupe 1 CN3 which is a lovely creamy grey colour and is cheaper than Farrow and Ball and in my opnion blends well with other pale neutral colours that give that French touch to a room. Dulux costs £10.49 for 500ml from B&Q and a similar paint from Farrow and Ball costs £20.99 for .75L from Homebase.  I may try the F&B paint in the future, just to see what all the fuss is about.