Peddling in semolina

Pédaler dans la semoule which is a french saying meaning, having trouble doing something.

And for the past two years we’ve had trouble getting our French house extension completed (something you will be aware of if you’ve been reading my blog). But on the Monday after we arrived it felt like the semolina was being thinned down by water and positively washed out of the bowl and down the sink.

There was some rain on that Monday but this didn’t dampen our spirits. 8.30am the tiler arrived and began work on the sitting room floor. Laying the tiles we had purchased back in October last year. 10am and the joiner arrived to fit the staircase rail (not fitted by our previous and now fired builder). At 11.30am our Maisons du Monde bed was delivered and by 12.10 Paul and Callum had put it together. So now no more sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Yea!By The next day the tiling was complete and only the grout to do on the following day which was Wednesday. And on Wednesday we had a lovely visit from the Mais family and spent an entertaining evening at the Eymet night market. At the end of this first week on the Saturday we ordered a Candy fridge freezer from Pro & Cie. Not keen on the idea of two fridges in the kitchen but there’s just not enough room in the small one for cheese, drinks and vegetables.

So great achievements made by the end of week one and definitely no more peddling in semolina.

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Our 4th summer

Breath taking

Breath taking

We’re now back at our home in the UK.  Our 4th summer at Le Petit Coquelicot is just a balmy summery (very hot) memory.  Due to poor internet access this year it was a real struggle to blog and now that I’m back home I am so busy with all the demands of work, work and more work that I just don’t have the space in my head to write so this a picture blog of our 4th summer.

I have to start with the Atlantic.  It’s spectacular, it’s breath-taking.  A picture could never do it justice.

The Atlantic Coast

The Atlantic Coast

We invested in a beach tent.  Well it had to be done.  Grandma loved it and in its shade we could really enjoy the beach.  I love the sun but I am definitely not a sun worshiper.  I fry.

IMG_4540There was a trip to Mimizan to meet up with the Mais.  I really like Mimizan we’d been there before when our friends had stayed there 3 years ago.

IMG_4460 IMG_4461The boys hired skate boards for about 5 Euros for the afternoon.

The Mais

The Mais

IMG_4505The grape vines were looking fit to bust when we left.  I always imagine I would love to be in France for the vendange (grape harvest).

IMG_4450There were walks with Bella.  This one was when Cal and I were on our own as Paul had returned to the UK to work.  Arrrrrgh!  It was by the side of the Dordogne.  Bella also had lots of attention.

Cal and Bella

Cal and Bella

She also found time to roll in a dead fish.

IMG_4472Then needed to have several baths.

IMG_4480We had a weekend of very heavy rain and didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

IMG_4468We enjoyed another trip to Bordeaux.  Parking in our fav car park where the old Jag hangs out over the road.

I couldn't park the Jag

I couldn’t park the Jag

I didn’t get to visit as many vide greniers as I would have liked to because the weekends were when we had the wet weather😢 found these lovely scarves at one though😊

IMG_4574 (2)All washing dried in no time.  Love the smell of fresh clean sheets.

IMG_4537Had a trip to the far Dordogne/Lot to visit Julia, John and the boys who were holidaying there.  Cal and Van enjoying the pool.

imageThis years wild life, found just as we were leaving.

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imageWe just managed to eat the first of the figs.

imageI managed some yoga.  Here is dog, downward dog and dad😆

imageSo we’re back, having left good friends and neighbours behind.  Jeff will now be back on site to finish our extension.  We plan to fly back at half term to see how things are progressing.  I miss France.  We all miss France.  It is well and truly under our skin.

Christmas dinner was!

To start onion tart.

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Then for the non veggies there was salmon on puy lentils whilst I had a mushroom risotto.

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Then pud was a lemon mouse.

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all finished off with lots and lots of Baileys with Scrabble as entertainment. What’s not to love:)

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À Noël

It’s always a joy to be back en France. It’s only small but the minute we open the door at Le Petit Coquelicot it feels like home. By the time we arrived it was dark so there was not a lot to see. Our little (or rather large) owl has been in residence once again, leaving his/her pellets and poo underneath the front porch.imageThe grass is short but around the house is full of weeds as usual.  Paving around the house would be such a good investment I think!!

And here is is our very own Sapins de Noël at the front of the house.

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 And this is how they are doing Christmas at our local supermarket.

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Joli-laide ou Mignon-moche

What is pretty-ugly or cute-ugly or even oddly beautiful?

I recently came across this wonderful French expression “joli laide” or mignon-moche. Translated joli laide means pretty ugly and mignon moche means cute ugly. It appears that the French derive pleasure in what we English refer to as character.  I love it and the sentiment that you really need to look again at either a person or an object to recognise its true beauty.  Perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be and who doesn’t like things a bit rough around the edges – OK – only me then?

In the UK at the moment everything is vintage this and vintage that. The word vintage is used a lot these days to try to infuse character and charm into an object . If it isn’t vintage, it’s retro and if not retro it’s shabby chic. For me there has always been something special about odd beauty.  My love of tut as my gran would have called it (tut – meaning nonsense or rubbish) was in truth born from necessity due to lack of funds. Purchasing second-hand clothes goes back to my teens when I had no money. Second hand was cheap but it was also unusual, it was unique, it was cool. It set you apart from the mainstream. My friends and I would scour the second-hand clothes shops in Leeds.  These shops had interesting names like Skythrop and Boodlam, goodness knows where they got them from. I remember purchasing an unusual fur skin coat from a shop called The Find in Knaresborough, the idea makes me cringe now and I would never purchase real fur now.  But I wore this coat every day until someone told me what it actually was, how naive was I.  Vintage clothes and vintage jewellery didn’t really have much monetary value in those days and so it was more the emotional value of finding something really unique that no one else had that was important.  It was about a style that no one else could copy.  I mean I was the only one with a black and white stripped original Pac-a-Mac at the time and my friend was the only one wearing her dads 1940s demob suit.  Fotor061464330Pac-a-Mac was a brand from the late 1950s,image it became really popular in the 1960s and was taken up by the style icon of the day Mary Quant in bright colours and stripes as part of the style of the swinging sixties.

And Barbara, a French friend of mine has told me of a lovely expression for that oh so adorable run down dilapidated property that we all would love to own and turn into our dream house.

C’est délabré?

And this one is for sale now in the Lot et Garonne for only 19,000€

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So back to these wonderful “French phrases”!!

Joli-laide ou Mignon-moche

 In an article in the Guardian online I found someone who new of a similar term to `jolie laide’.  The phrase “mignon-moche” which translated means cute ugly, they had come across during a translation for French A-levels. Apparently It means something similar to “jolie-laide”.  This person thought that at some point someone had probably heard about the pretty-ugly phrase and tried to translate it back into French, choosing the wrong words. On the other hand I found another reference where someone else said they had used it for decades, yet their French teacher said it did not exist in France.  Anyway whatever its history I love it. And, what’s more France is full of examples.

la voiture Deux Chevaux par exemple.

Seen at Monflanquin spring faire

Seen at Monflanquin spring faire

Monflanquin Spring Faire

Monflanquin Spring Faire

And then there’s the dreamy Citroen DS

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Or Gérard Depardieu

I suppose if we break this phrase down the subject is required to be both jolie (pretty) and laide (ugly). I read somewhere that the laide comes from the outward appearance and that the jolie stems from what cannot be seen externally and therefore what is within.  Daphne Merkin in the NY Times 2005 suggests that as an idea it represents a triumph of personality over physiognomy.  Perhaps in some instances there is an intent to the incongruity of the jolie and the laide, perhaps the subject is shouting, “look at me!”.  “I deserve your attention!”.  Perhaps those features that are not conventionally regarded as beautiful can be used to attract attention.  It is not unsurprising that the French though have an expression that attempts to describe what is indescribable that which is intangible and unique to the beholder.

In other words:-

“beauté est dans l’œil du spectateur!”

Anyone know if the French do have an expression for the above?

Eh Up – Tour de France comes to Yorkshire!!!

Tour de France After all the anticipation le Tour finally came to Yorkshire.  Stage 1 and Le Grand Depart left Leeds and ended in Harrogate.  So many people we didn’t get to see much but great atmosphere.

Knaresborough was looking good!

Castlegate, Knaresborough

Castlegate, Knaresborough

Castlegate, Knaresborough

Castlegate, Knaresborough

Market Place, Knaresborough

Market Place, Knaresborough

Stage 1 finished in Harrogate.

Decorated bikes everywhere

Decorated bikes everywhere

People everywhere, with the feel of a festival.

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The West Park Stray

The West Park Stray

Opposite Betty’s Tea Rooms by the cenotaph in Harrogate.

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Opposite Betty's Tea Rooms in Harrogate

Opposite Betty’s Tea Rooms in Harrogate

Some people had a really good view from the top of St Peter’s Church.

St Peter's Church Tower

St Peter’s Church Tower

 unfortunately it all ended in tears for Mark Cavendish:(

CYCLING-FRA-GBR-TDF2014 CYCLING-FRA-GBR-TDF2014

Might catch it in France too.  It’s in Bergerac on the day we arrive.