A winter’s walk in France….


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Sitting posing for once

As I have encouraged others over the past few days to get out there and enjoy each season  last weekend we decided to do the same, and take the Welshie’s for a walk around our town and get some photographs to share with you all.

As it turned out we picked the best day because it was extremely cold but dry. Yesterday Ambrieres, and especially us high on the hill, was shrouded in thick freezing fog all day which can add to the bleakness when you live in such a remote country setting;


and today we have a hooley blowing! So I am busy writing and Rich is busy sorting out little inside jobs, and as I look out of the window and contemplate winding the blinds down early I notice that even the chickens have took themselves to bed!!

This winter here has been very very wet, not as cold as previous winters but, as I may have said before, so wet we have mold everywhere!! The river Mayenne has burst its banks in the town of Mayenne and the river that runs through Ambrieres ‘The Varenne’ has also overflowed onto the grassy banks.

River Jan 2018


The pretty little weir is now a raging torrent

Wier Jan 2018

And if you look closely you can see the remnants of a tree trunk that has been stuck on it since the ferocious winds just before Christmas.

As always here, nature looks so beautiful whilst reminding us that she can also be so deadly and that, although man generally does not think it, we are really nothing at all!!

I love the river. When we first found Ambrieres, on a rainy day one August whilst we were on holiday, I fell in love with its beauty despite the rain; from the weir and river

to the pretty little stone cottages that cascade down the hill towards the weir with their lovely tiered gardens ………

Cliff houses Jan 2018

You never know I may live in one of these in the future when I get old and downsize!!! What a view, you would never tire of it!


River overflowing January 2018

So on Saturday we found a little road that led down to some stone houses and cottages right by the rivers edge, a small hamlet where the houses had  had pretty walled gardens with the river running up to their edge ..


But for me, it is the colours in France, with the old stone buildings and slate roofs; so many different shades of grey; and our stunning Marie building (The mayor’s) cut into the slate rock imposing looking over the beautiful Varenne is no exception..

Marie's Jan 2018

As we made our way back to our car and the darkness was drawing in we saw a sign of hope for things to come, the pretty little catkins blowing in the cold wind never giving up

It was good to come home after that and snuggle in front of the fire for the evening, small things are the most important of all.


I am blessed.












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‘Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.’




I have chosen this word as my blog today because I have been inspired by many things to write about hope.

Not least of my inspirations is the time of year. I know that a lot of people feel down during the months of January and February. The land seems bleak, every day is grey (although I have to say that is one of my favourite colours so there is a positive there for me.) the winter has been going on for some time, Christmas is over, often people have spent too much and everyone just tends to feel flat. So hence this post – a post to raise spirits.

I have written in the past about this time of year, how we all seem to hibernate and shy away from going outside and looking at some of the beauty that surrounds us. Even poets who have written about winter seem to highlight the doom and gloom as Thomas Hardy said ….

‘I leant upon a coppice gate,
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires…..’

This excerpt is from his poem ‘The Darkling Thrush’ and although notorious for being a bit of a miserable bugger even he had to acknowledge the thrush when it started to sing and admit

‘That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew,
And I was unaware…..’

The Thrush sung of hope, because he knew that Spring would come, that life should be embraced whatever the weather.

We should go out and look at the things around us, the trees that are just waiting for Spring, with their buds at the ready, like my willow tree that I have included in one of the collage of photos at the beginning of this post. They have hope.

And not least the Tao asks you to look at the trees as ‘They stand, and they wait, the power of their growth apparently dormant. But inside, a burgeoning is building imperceptibly …. neither bad fortune nor good fortune will alter what they are. We should be the same way.’ (Deng Ming-Dao from 365 Tao: Daily Meditiations.)

And finally the wonderful Philip Larkin who wrote the following poem called ‘First Sight’

Lambs that learn to walk in snow

When their bleating clouds the air

Meet a vast unwelcome, know

Nothing but a sunless glare.

Newly stumbling to and fro

All they find, outside the fold,

Is a wretched width of cold.


As they wait beside the ewe,

Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies

Hidden round them, waiting too,

Earth’s immeasureable surprise.

They could not grasp it if they knew,

What so soon will wake and grow

Utterly unlike the snow.’

Another inspiration is Harley, my beautiful Welshie. When we were faced with the possibility of losing him in November, faced with that terrible decision to leave him in the hands of the wonderful vet who saved his life we had to have hope. We had to never give up; and here he is with us today, running like the wind again in the garden his ears behind him and his legs stretched out in full pelt. He makes me smile every time I see him I just stop and watch.

Times are hard on this adventure in the winter (not for some I know but for most)  the other day Rich and I were talking in the barn and I told him not to worry about things because you can only deal with what you have today, what is the point of worrying about tomorrow when you don’t actually know what it holds? As if to affirm to me that I was right as I walked away and into our garden a robin redbreast landed on my hydrangea right outside the front door; and it turned and looked at me. I just smiled and said ‘I know, I am right, it will all be okay if we only deal with the here and now and not the future,’ I knew it was someone who loved me coming to give me support … and hope.

Image result for robin pictures

I have since made three sales on Etsy!

Another inspiration is one of my dear friends, who is going through what will be one of the most difficult times of his life; as he works his way through the illness and inevitable goodbye that he will have to make to someone he loves so much. But despite all the difficulties he messaged the mad little group that we have on Messenger to say how he treasures our madness and silly antics at this time, because it gives him strength to carry on. Some would say how can there be hope in this situation but there is. We hope that he stays strong and his family stay strong, and I have no doubt that they all hope that when the time comes the person who leaves will go to a better place, with no pain, young again, in their prime; and that they hope that, sometimes, a robin redbreast will pay them a visit just to let them know that they are still there with them – always.

I have been inspired over the past few weeks by blogs I have been reading as part of the research for my book before I do it’s edit and send it off. My book is a book of heartbreak and hope; and the hope that shines out of some of these blogs is immense. The people (yes all of them) are going through so much pain, but they would not be carrying on if they did not  have hope. Just as Rich and I did. I have messaged some and commented on their blogs and they have all responded to say that ‘we’ give them hope that they will get through it.

So on to what hope has to do with my adventure:

When we moved here our son was very unhappy, I understand he was afraid that we were not going to be there for him anymore. It was, after all, a big life changing event for him, even though he did not live with us. But in the collage of pictures is one of us in our kitchen from this Christmas after he visited for the first time, there we all are with our mould (it has become part of the family now!) and he is happy now that we live here; he has made his way in the world and come so far on his own over the past few years – and this is exactly what I hoped for. I also hoped that he would see our house as home and the best gift at Christmas was when he said “It is good to be home.”

I never gave up hope for that!

And finally a big shout out to all of the other brave people (or lunatics however you look at it) that are renovating old drafty houses over here and in other places in the world. Who are not rich, who have to be innovative in what they do, and who have to change the way they live because of their finances. None of you ever give up hope, and I respect you for that.

So over to you all, at this time of year are you going to be miserable and wait for spring? (Just a little reminder that you don’t actually know if you will be here then! But I hope you will!) Or are you going to go outside and look at the beauty of the world around you? See the hope on every corner, in everything you do?

I found this wonderful poem about hope by an unknown poet – this is an edited version but it can be found at http://www.wow4u.com/poemofhope/ where there are many others to inspire.

….’There might be adventures you never imagined

just waiting around the next bend

and wishes and dreams about to come true

in ways you yet can’t comprehend…..


So keep putting one foot in front of the other,
And taking your life day by day…
There’s a brighter tomorrow that’s just down the road –
Don’t look back! You’re not going that way!’


As always folks please share, and please comment I love to hear what you think – I really hope you will. Here is to a hopeful 2018

Oh and why the picture of the Welshie puppy Dylan dylly dyl dyls? Puppies are always full of hope and wonder; and she has filled my friends life with joy and hope!




Visit my Etsy shop petitefrenchfancies for more inspiration.












And so the New Year is here with premonitions, omen’s and belief.


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I always love this time of year. It is something New, in fact the biggest new thing we will get this year, a New Year!!!  A time to reflect, and consider a way forward, perhaps a new way forward, an opportunity to change your life in fact. The opportunity is always there if you want it.

I started this post over two days ago, but just got caught up in other things, mainly some research for my book;  because, although it is written, I thought I would read some blogs about the topic I have written about. Other people’s stories that are similar to my own. But you see my book is about ‘our’ story, it is not just ‘my’ story, and as I have researched I can only find blogs on the singular and not the plural perspective; and I realised that there is, still, nothing out there like ‘our story.’

What does this have to do with the New Year? This is the year that I am going to make change, I AM going to publish my work, and I AM going to help others with regard to the topic of my book, and I AM going to make change for Rich and I.

I have had a strong premonition, picture really, in my head of our house with a new front door (sadly I cannot save the one we have, she is too far gone and is now on ‘death row’.)


It will be a double glazed UPVC because, do you know what? I have come to realise that sometimes we just have to be realistic with regard to what we need to live out here; especially when living on the pinnacle of a hill with the wind and the rain lashing our poor house at every turn. (It has been a wet winter, so we have a very mouldy house!)

I also have a strong picture of Rich and I being in a better position by the end of the year, I don’t know why but it really is so strong that I am going to go with it.

For me there have been a few omens:

The New Year literally blew in and blew the other one right out  But the tarp on the roof held firm and despite a small leak over Christmas (it is what it is!) there were no leaks no matter how hard the wind blew.

I took the puppies for a walk in the hooley because I love the way the wind seems to blow all of the cobwebs from your brain, and I looked around at all the shoots and the beautiful green hills, and I thought let it blow, just let it blow because it is all part of nature and I love being surrounded by it at every turn.

I noticed that Spring is  on it’s way, the fields are already green and there are shoots appearing on my clematis, even though I planned to cut them back hard in January; I still need to do that!  There are catkins are on the trees,  and the little fluffy boots on my willow tree are starting to come through. Another reminder that things continue on whether we want them to or not, and we just have to go with the flow.


But it has also reminded me that life is passing so quickly, we are five days into the year now! And I need to stop pontificating and just do it, make some slight changes to my book and send it to some more publishers.

In addition I picked up a couple of other blogs that are about the same topic as my book, it was as if they were sent to me to help me realise that I really do need to get my book out there. My heart goes out to the people who are struggling as I was.

And then, today, a weird thing happened: long ago I signed up to a dictionary site and they had sent me the meaning of my name! It was the word of the day. How weird is that?

Now I always thought that my name, Moira,  was a Celtic name, because my dad was Irish, and I believed that it came from Maire, which means Mary, and also drop of the sea.

But today I learnt that it actually derives from Greece and is, in fact, another name for ‘The Fates’, the white robed figures in Greek mythology that represent Destiny. Most people who read my blog will know that I do believe in fate, that someone else is doing the driving where life is concerned (The mini bus of life) and that Serendipity is my favourite word (Oh Serendipity! My beloved friend.) So to find out that I am actually named after ‘The Fates’, for me is a really strong message, that this year my fate will change – in a positive way. That the New Year is bringing with it  a message – ‘Change your fate girl, and believe in yourself, because that person who is doing the driving is trying to tell you something!’ If I am named after Fate then surely I can now change my own!

So I sit here now, starting a days writing with my blog because it always gets the juices flowing. I am surrounded by  furry writing companions, both of who I am blessed to have with me, Molly Kitten being eighteen this year, and Harley who as you know from my blog almost died in December but who is here with me today; what wonderful companions to have!

I am writing this post because if we had not chosen to have this adventure, to jump of that cliff! And if I still lived my life in England, I would be going to a job I hated today, I would have my heating on even if it was not cold, I would be caught up on the Hamster wheel and probably be stopping at a shop to buy something that I didn’t need on the way home to make myself feel better. I would go home to my beautiful house (surrounded by houses and people) and I would get stressed on the drive home. I would not try to write my book because, although not happy with my life, I would tell myself I was content because I was warm, and had regular income, and forget that I was not free to be me.

Instead I have time to look things up, do research, do my writing, look out at my window at this….


I have my big socks and slippers on and I don’t have the fire alight yet because instead I am wearing my fleece. I don’t have secure income but I do have security in my belief that if I let it go what I need will come my way, and it has not been wrong yet. We only have two months of the winter left and we have survived so far without putting up with crap from people that we should be putting up with crap from. Yes I have mould on my walls, which I wash off!! It doesn’t kill me, but my old life was!

And now I am in a position where my book is written, I know that I have to believe because changing my life and going on this adventure has proved to me that if you believe you CAN make it work. No, it won’t be the same as it was in my old life, but I don’t want it to be; otherwise what would be the point of an adventure?!!

Hope that this year holds good things for you all too, but they may not be what you think they are going to be…..

If you like my blog please share it, I was thrilled to get nearly three hundred views on my last post – wonderful and thank you all….










Memories, the best gift of all……


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So they came (for those new to my blog you may want to read my last post) Karen, our dear friend, and now a member of our family, and Tom our darling son who we have not seen for three years.

Tom was his typical narcolepsy boy (as we used to call him as he always fell on asleep when in transit on anything that moved including the back of his Dad’s motorbike once!!) So he said to Karen “put the heating on full and it will make the puppy go to sleep, guess what?


So Karen entertained herself by shouting “Tom! Tolls” every time they came up to a toll and he had to pay, she had a great time what with that and talking to herself!

I was so excited to see them and when we met them on the bridge in Ambrieres, with the youngest member of the family Dylan the Welshie pup…

Dylly Dyls

we cried. We cried to see each other again, we cried for time lost. Then we went to the pub!!! (We are English after all!!)

As always the French people of out town welcomed us, welcomed Tom wished him bonne anniversaire for his birthday the next day, and made a fuss of the three welshies in their midst – not least the cutie above.

Then we were off home, where frivolity, drinking and eating took place (after unloading Karen’s Citroen with all the goodies they had brought over from England.)

On Christmas Eve it was Tom’s birthday, so we took him off to a little town near us to look at the Christmas lights. Now France is a Catholic country so little is open on a Sunday but we thought that given some of the bars in our town were open the bar in Ceuce would also be open. But no!! The Boulangerie was open (as always in France bread has to be available it is the law!) but no bars. So we decided to look at the lights that the won had made an effort to put up.

Now I love living here, but sometimes things can be weird like the mannequins that were put in in the town (unsure what they had to do with Christmas!) and also all the farm machinery and implements that were displayed with lights around them, mmmmmmmm…… Not sure about those either. Tom thought they were hilarious and weird, and we all thought that they were a little creepy especially the mechanical ones that stopped what they were doing and turned and looked at you. They looked as if some in-breeding had taken place as all the mannequins looked the same apart from the men had beards and the women had breasts!!!


I walked around the displays with the words “worst birthday ever…. where did your mum take you for your birthday Tom? To a weird town with mannequins that stared at you and you couldn’t get a drink!!” ringing in my ears. It became one of the catchphrase of the season “worst birthday ever!” And we think we might make it a tradition if he comes next year!

On Christmas day we were invited to our French friend’s and neighbours house for an aperitif at eleven. As always we were made so welcome, and it made me realise how much French I can speak now as I was the translator for all. I think it made Tom feel reassured about our life out here, he could see that they loved us, especially when they hugged me when I became tearful when I tried to thank them for all their help and support. They really are wonderful lovely people and we are blessed.

After consuming three bottles of champagne and cheese aperitif’s we made our way back home to have the biggest dinner in the world (not until 7pm) and open our presents.

It was a different Christmas to any before, Rich and I did not buy each other gifts, we could not afford it and also realised that it did not matter. We have each other, and after all our hard work over the years we cherish what we have.

So we had small gifts for Karen and Tom and they had small gifts for us. Loved ones from England had sent us thoughtful presents, treats for the cats (so I won’t have to buy them) Baileys, Shortbreads, warm socks, and not least a beautiful opulent hamper from Fortnum and Mason’s. It was the kindness and thought that had gone into those presents that meant so much.

But the best gift I received was when my son (who did not want us to move here, and loved our old house by the sea, as I did) stood in our living room and said “It’s good to be home.”

tom it is good to be home

The time flew too fast with much eating, drinking, giving Tom dirty looks for taking photos of us eating……


To sleeping….


That puppy was pooped a lot of the time

Dylan Pooped

The little dogs had such fun, forming a pack very quickly with Harley being alpha, Wiglet being mummy and the baby being told!!


The last day came round too fast, we went to Mayenne,our nearest large town, and Tom finally got that birthday drink in a bar (well he had a coffee, we had a drink!) On the last evening we all posed for memories (although they will always be with us)


and Tom told me how he loved the house, how it felt warm and cosy despite the mold on the walls and there only being an open fire. I knew why, because our house is full of love, and nothing can buy that.

When the day came for them to leave, Tom off to another adventure in Italy visiting his girlfriend for New Year, Karen and Dilly Dils back to England; I busied myself making them sandwiches for the journey, and we all cried as Karen and the pup left. Then came the time to say farewell to Tom and he hugged me hard and told me how much he missed me, but he knows now that home is still waiting for him, always. It is just in another place.

I sobbed as they went, Rich taking him to Laval for the train and the house seemed empty, as the ghost of Christmas present finally gave his last. I cried my way through the washing up and wiping down, and the dogs sulked on the chairs.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas also, this one made us realise that Christmas should never be about the presents but about the presence of loved ones, and the memories that are left are all the gifts you need.

Happy New Year, lets hope it holds all you desire, even if you don’t know it yet.



Visit my Etsy shop petiteFrenchfancies you may find something special


A special Christmas….


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This year is going to be a very very special Christmas for me; our dear friend Karen is coming to stay with her Welshie puppy (three Welsh Terriers, five cats and seven chickens, mayhem will commence!!) But more than that she is bringing my son Tom with her.

Twenty eight years ago I was in labour ( I know terrible timing!) and Tom eventually came into the world the early hours of Christmas Eve. A bouncing 9lb 3oz baby boy.

After that I spent every Christmas with him, despite my later divorce, Tom always spent Christmas with me (or at least part of it when girlfriends came on the scene.) But since moving here I have not seen Tom, in fact it was three years ago when we celebrated our last Christmas in England that I last saw him.

So today, as I know they have boarded the train, I find my eyes filling with tears because I am going to see my son, and I cannot wait. I don’t need any other present, he should just get out of the car with a big bow around him.

For those who have followed my blog for some time you will know that whilst I love Christmas I also believe that it is also a time of excess and at times crassness. It is as if people are drugged by the hype and hysteria fed to them and have lost site of what Christmas is meant to be about: a time for reflection, kindness and consideration.

I have come to realise, since living a frugal adventure and reading the Tao, that money and things do not buy you happiness, love and the actions of others do. So my Christmas is going to be all about being with people we love, Rich and I have not bought each other presents – we had our hair cut instead – and we will tie bows around our heads on Christmas morning and then untie them and shout surprise!!

We do have handmade gifts, and some of my Etsy shop cherished finds to give as gifts but more than anything the gifts to each other will be good food, for me cooking for others, chicken Kiev tonight, tandoori chicken tomorrow (as requested by Tom), playing on the Wii, watching the television, playing board games, going for walks with all the puppies in the beautiful countryside that surrounds us, drinking and dancing, talking to each other; and looking at Harley and all the others and counting our blessings.

Happy Christmas everyone; please say a prayer for those who are alone at Christmas, and those whose lives are difficult at this time (sadly illness and death still happen at Christmas time) and understand that, sometimes, not everyone is happy at this time.

Have a mellow, reflective Christmas one and all – look around and count your blessings, trust me they will not be material things.

Moisy xx

The beauty and poignancy of Christmas decorations, my favourite part of Christmas


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Ever since I was a child I have loved decorating the Christmas tree. My mum (God bless her soul) would bring out our white artificial tree (so 60’s and 70’s, but back in vogue now) and all our old deco’s accumulated over the years. The vivid green elf with his red hat, grinning maniacally it looked like something from a horror film!! The carefully wrapped long glass baubles with gold inside (probably worth a fortune now, as so vintage).

My favourite, however, was the fairy. My mum had improvised one year, got one of our tiny dolls and dressed her in a dress made of pink loo roll (with the tube from the middle stuffed up her skirt to ‘give it volume!) Then we sprayed her with gold and sprinkled glitter over her and then, just to add to her indignity, stuck her on top of the tree with the tree stuck up her arse!!!

Every year that doll came back out, had different coloured loo roll put on her, depending on the fashionable colour of the time; and each year she was sprayed with glitter paint, silver, gold again, bronze one year, she looked like she had spent the summer holdaying in Bermuda!!! But I was hooked, I loved Christmas decorations.

As the years wore on my decorations have become more subtle, but I have never been one for those sterile trees, where all the baubles are the same, round and all one colour, like the types you see in shopping centres; for me they are soulless. When I first left home I bough some expensive decorations, and this year thirty two years later, I have used them again. They bring back memories of when I first left home and moved to Wolverhampton, or a small village nearby, of the lovely old neighbours I had, of the excitement I had of decorating my own tree.

From then on I bought decorations every year. Anyone who knows me will tell you I love things that glitter and sparkle, that ‘catch the light’ they mesmorize me. So over the years I have accumulated a lot. I progressed to garlands and they became more and more elaborate. I would have frost themed garlands, with colours of the sea when I lived by the seaside in England, or garlands laden with fruit decorations (very Georgian).

So this year my surroundings and circumstances have influenced me again. With the colours of the surrounding countryside, and the cold; the fact that our house is damp and drafty and over 200 years old, I was inspired to make up a Dickensian garland. It has berries, and deep red flowers, cherubs, and iced ivy leaves, with poinsetta running through it. There is a sparkling icicle garland that I picked up somewhere over the years, and the beautiful vintage candleabra that my lovely Mother in Law gave me, covered in crystal droplets. It just makes me think of Miss Haversham, sitting at her Wedding feast, where the ivy has grown i to the room and it is covered in cobwebs.


Since living here Rich has always wanted a real tree (which are inexpensive in France) and a dear friend gave us a gift of money so I finally relented and we bought one. My garland inspired me to carry on the idea and I got out my beautiful red and gold ribbons and threaded them through the tree ..

 then I added all the red and gold baubles that I have not used for years (I tend to be a silver type of girl, it sparkles more!) I added to that some of the hundred or more crystal droplets I had also accumulated and now I love it. (Although I have to confess that the first ginpme I did it I had a few wines and was doung it in the dark! Add to that just as I finished a set of lights right in the middle went out and I added some over the top! Mmmmmmmmmm……..when I got up the next day it looked like someone had thrown things at it!!! So I took it all apart and redid it!)

As I hung the baubles I remembered the lovely purple glass one had been brought from Woolworths, now long gone, in Herne Bay

The gold round glittery ones, bought from Beatties Department Store in Wolverhampton, sadly also now long gone. The ribbons were inspired by my beautiful Edwardian House in Herne Bay, now a holiday home. The sparkling red baubles that glittered on the tree when my son and I snuggled up together as I read him ‘The Hobbit’ by lamplight. I was a single parent then with electric on a meter, so we had a blanket over us as we sat by our red shaded lamp and the lights of the tree twinkled, and it is a memory that will live with me forever.

Even the star is the first star I bought thirty two years ago, again from Woolworths, God I miss that place, and I miss my mum, who was with me at the time.

i look at the garland and remember going late night shopping with my mum when I found the iced ivy garland, now on my fireplace in France; and I think of my mum, who is no longer here. Or the garland on top of my armoir, simple with greenery (good old Woolies again) and silver stars, which were bought in France when Rich and I came over the first Christmas after our wedding. God! Little did we know then what we would endure, only to come out stronger the other side (but you will need to read my book for that story!)

The artificial black tree, smothered in crystals, including a crystal garland, and white decorations, makes me smile because I think of the little kitten that is Diddyman who would climb up into it, because after all she matched it’s theme! She was the kitten that helped to save Rich and I, and she would peek out at us from the foliage, and make us laugh.tDaryl and Tom


Someone said to me this week that I had missed my vocation, i should have been a professinal Christmas Decoration dresser, or window dresser. They are probably right they do inspire me. But what is important to me is that Christmas decorations should inspire memories, and create memeories for the future. So that when people, or a time, or places are gone we remember them and they make us smile.

This year our dear friend and her puppy are coming to stay, and my son, who I have not seen or hugged for three years is also coming with her. It will be especially memory making because his birthday is on Christmas Eve, and because you never know what life holds for you I intend to cherish every moment.

I urge you all to do the same.



Wind, snow and a smart car!!


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Over the past week  we have also been helping ‘Dad’ for a few days, and having a giggle along the way.

But coming home the other night we had the journey from hell… It is normally a two hour drive but we hit traffic at the busy port city of Caen where there had been four accidents, and there were grid locks everywhere.

Picture it ….. I am in a tinky tiny Smart car, following Rich in a huuuuuge van. We only had one sat nav between us (God knows why we did not bring two!) and I have no way of knowing the way home and I don’t have the Sat Nav!! But I had to let people in front of me, such is the etiquette where grid locks are concerned, well for me anyway!

I am sitting in my little car being blown about by the wind and unable to go over sixty kilometers an hour in case the wind picks me up and plonks me down in front of a lorry! There is traffic everywhere and Rich is about ten cars in front of me – I can just about see his tail light – bearing in mind that there are also about another fourty white vans around me I am hoping I am watching ‘his’ tail light!

The wind is blowing, the rain is sheeting down, I have bad eyesight and glaucoma so don’t see well to drive in the dark and add to that I am grizzling because I am lost. How I managed to use my sense and follow the right white van off the motorway I do not know but I did.  Bless Rich he stopped on the slip road (really dangerous) because he was so worried, someone was looking after us that night because how I did not get hit up the arse when I slammed my breaks on is beyond me!

But it did not end there…. we then had to drive through numerous villages and towns and down remote windy roads with lorries up our arse!! And then it started to snow! Add to that the lightening that then started to light up the sky and it was a joy. I did say to myself ‘you are ‘aving a f*****g laugh aren’t you?’ (you have to remember I am an Essex girl so this was said in what my international readers would consider a ‘cockney’ accent!) for others think Danny Dyer.

Bless my husband he pulled over and came running back to me because he was so worried about me – I was worried about me!!! But as we made our journey onwards it did not stop me looking at the Christmas lights and nearly crashing my car. Every little town in France has Christmas lights of some sort and it does lift your heart – although not this night when there seemed no end to the journey.

After four hours (the journey normally only takes just over two) we got home, and I made a mental note to use both of our sat navs in future – what a pair of silly arses we were!!!

Whilst I love it here the French people really are, from my experience, some of the worst drivers in the world. They don’t seem to have any spacial awareness, and take over on bends, brows of hills, in the snow, ice you name it they don’t slow down – they just keep driving! I think it is because the roads are not busy they forget that there may be someone else around that corner!

When we got home I have never been so grateful, the house was freezing (so yes, you guessed it we loaded the log burner!) and when I eventually sat down after feeding cats, dogs, putting the heaters on and getting into my jymbies (pyjamas) with my thick thermal socks and my slippers, glass of wine in hand, I thanked God for all my blessings. Not least my mad husband……

I love my home…… moldy walls an all …..



More posts are on their way – and as always please share.






Time flies when you are having fun!


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For quite some time I have been meaning to write a blog about living simply in the countryside and how busy you are just surviving. But guess what? I haven’t had time because I have been busy surviving!!!

But now I have the moment I thought that I would give you an idea of what it would be like for you if you, too, chose to live in a ‘rural idyll’ with not a lot of funds, or realistically if that is another way to put it!

Firstly since my last post to you all I can confirm that our beautiful boy Harley is doing well and back to tormenting his sister with regard to chews and toys!! Chaos really does reign supreme in this house and we are blessed. So this has added to my routine because he has had to have numerous medications administered, kine (physio) three times a day because his back legs get stiff and lot’s of watching because he is a Welsh Terrier who thinks he is invincible – as most of them do!

Would I change any of this – not for the world and when he snuggles up to me at night and I have a Welsh Terrier under my arm (another on my head!) and a glass of wine the world is good……..


As you may know we have also started up a fledgling business making and selling rustic wooden stars and hearts  via my Etsy Shop so I have been busy, as chief designer and decorator, embellishing them for the people across the world who have bought them. I just hope that they like them….


A wonderful way to work though, and I am loving my Etsy shop petiteFrenchfancies, it is doing well for a fledgling and I continue to promote and build on it everyday – thank God for all the computer skills that I have learnt over the years.

But despite all of this when you live a rural life you really do ‘live’ life; especially if you have five cats, two Welshies, and seven chickens!! Let me give you an example:

I got up the other day and as is often the case, there was a half eaten mouse waiting on the mat, one of my cats does not like to eat the noses so she leaves them for us for breakfast – bless her. So  I went into the kitchen, fed the cats, put the kettle on, let the dogs out, cleaned up the mouse, opened the blinds, and let the dogs back in. Wiglet (ever the hunter) even thought butter wouldn’t melt to look at her..


proceeded to wiggle around the kitchen (remember I have not had a cup of tea yet!) I thought to myself ‘There is a mouse in here’ as I turned around. Then I heart what sounded like a dogs toy and I turned back to find her with a dead (whole) mouse in her mouth! ‘Oh well, I thought, at least it had a quick death!’ (I always try to look at the bright side!) So I cleaned the mouse up and eventually sat down for my first cup of tea.

As I drink my tea I promote petiteFrenchfancies (see link at bottom of page) and put pictures on Instagram, twitter, Facebook.

But work does not end there , our only form of heating is our wood burner so my morning goes like this …..clean out the wood burner, load the wood burner, light the wood burner. Rich cuts logs in the barn and brings them round and we load the log cupboard up with logs – carrying them in in old carrier bags because you have to be able to shut the door behind you or you will just be defeating the object.

Then you load the wood burner again…

Clean the kitchen – living in such a rural area and given the dead mouse every day I wash my kitchen down, every day! Unload the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, make some of my wonderful garlic and parsley mix (which I like to have in the fridge as I add it to so many recipes now!) Put washing in, feed the chickens, feed the dogs, feed the cats (again).

Load the wood burner…..

By now it is mid-day so because electric is cheaper, I run around and put the electric heaters on around the house for two hours.

Then I sit down to paint stars, paint hearts, embellish them.

Load the wood burner…..

Make lunch – I have made up some lovely recipes for soup now so look out for them and made a delicious Tomato soup last week.

Load the wood burner …..

Book postage for items sold on Etsy shop. Pack up items for courier.

Load the wood burner!!!

I think you get the picture! Would I change it? Not in a million years!

I will be blogging all week leading up to Christmas folks – thanks for staying with me there are some good posts to come and some seasonal as well.

As always please share; and if you want to take a look at my shop the link is below or just type in petiteFrenchfancies and up she will come. I have just opened a 40% sale so you may find something vintage you like….




Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole……


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Being a firm believer that life show’s us the way, and that when we don’t listen life pours it over our head in buckets to make us see what we need to see,  that has done that to us over the last three weeks.

As you know from previous posts things had been hard, we worried about money, work, bills all the things that you can overcome, that are not insurmountable but at times you let that little spin doctor in your head think they are!!; So we worried just the same and did not remember life’s lessons, that it will all come good in the end if you believe it and, do you know what, it can be worse, get a perspective!!

Therefore, because we did not listen, just after my last post on the 19th of November Harley our beautiful Welsh Terrier became ill. He became so ill that he was, quite literally, screaming in pain one minute and running around the garden the next. But as the days drew on the running around the garden became less and he just lay in his bed. Then one day he went out in the garden and just started to scream in pain. We had no money, and did not know what to do; but we did have a guardian angel who helped us and loves Harley theytold us to “just take him to the vet and do what needs to be done.”

We saw our vet in Ambrieres, who are really mainly agricultural vets, but they were lovely, gave him a thorough examination and found a bite where the skin had become necrotic and at this point he was not crying in pain at all. In fact he just wanted to get the hell out of there. So we were sent away with anti-inflammatory drugs and had to keep our eye on him. At this point our tinky tiny Tilly cat also went missing; so for four days we had a poorly dog and a missing cat and believe me we did not think about money once!! To say we were stressed to the max and crying in the kitchen without the other knowing was probably an understatement!

Our animals are our furry family,we love them all dearly and now our family was starting to fall apart.

On the Saturday Tilly came home and we rejoiced and thought good things are coming; but Harley got worse; and in the end I was putting a hot compress on his neck where the pain seemed to be. I had also looked up on the internet what the possibilities could be and knew it was likely that it was a ruptured disc or meningitis.

On the Monday we were back at the vets because our boy was in a lot of pain now and his neck was solid and hard. The vet again gave a thorough examination and called another vet to arrange an x ray; at that point, and being able to speak some French, I knew that they were discussing a ‘mass’ and were suggesting that they should refer him to what can only be described as a French supervet over an hours drive away. Being the type of girl who needs to know because if I don’t know I cannot deal with it, I looked at the vet and asked do you think it is cancer? He nodded and said it may be. And so it all came flooding back to me, the memories of when I was faced with losing someone I loved, and the reminder that NOW I was faced with something that was not insurmountable and something that I had no control over and that all the worrying over the last few weeks had been just a complete waste of time.

The vet gave Harley a massive dose of painkiller and I took him out whilst Rich paid the very small bill and got the details of the animal hospital. I did not care that I looked like a mad woman as I walked around the town with this beautiful little dog with his tail up, not looking as if there was a thing wrong with him, bawling my eyes out; praying that he would be okay.

We bought him home in a state of shock, Harley  is only six years old.  We prayed that it was not cancer but the alternatives were equally as scary and that night I lay on the floor with tears falling onto the mat as I told him how much I loved him. We did not want to go to bed, did not want the next day to come because it may mean that we would not have Harley any more. But it is one of the things in life you have to do, face the inevitable, and keep moving forward.

That night as Rich and I lay in bed I just continuously said a mantra “please let Harley get better, I have so much more love to give him.” I just did not stop saying it over and over again.

The next day in the dark of a very cold and damp morning, we left at 7.15am with Harley wrapped in a blanket on my lap and the Wiglet in the back of the Smart car; because she was getting stressed now given her history. I continued with my mantra all the way to Alencon.

When we arrived at this fantastic animal hospital it was a place to behold. The reception was huge and as we waited Wiglet entertained us as she barked at every dog that came in, set them all off barking, tried to get to the cats and got stopped in her tracks by an Airedale – seriously her mouth fell open when this huuuuuuuge dog that looked just like her walked through the door, and if she could have spoken she would have said “What the Fuck!!!” Despite our fear that Little Miss made us all laugh.

When the time came for Harley’s examination the Vet found his problem straight away, and Harley was truly screaming in pain. He had ruptured a disc in his spine near to his skull and needed an MRI and emergency operation to prevent paralysis or death. My poor big husband sobbed after having to hold him while they administered the unaesthetic for the MRI.  After speaking to the vet we knew the best thing would be to leave him there but we were both relieved and terrified as we said our goodbyes to him, be was so vulnerable,  like Bambi with his front legs buckling because of the amount of drugs he was on. The vet explained that despite all the drugs  he was still in an incredible amount of pain and we had no choice, surgery was the only option with a ten per cent risk of death or paralysis.

The next day was so hard and boy did we hit the wine when at 6pm we finally found out the operation had been a success and we could pick him up the next day. I spent over two hours calling and messaging all of the people that were so worried about him.

He is now home with mummy,daddy and Wiglet, has just had his morphine patch removed and is now a frustrated Welshie who wants to chase the cats and doesn’t want to be an invalid any more. Mummy is providing drugs and physio and daddy is carrying him up and down the stairs, much to his disgust.

I always say that I try to live each day and enjoy each day, and that my dogs remind me of this because their lives are so short. Yet I think I had started to forget this and this was a wake up call for us both.



Now people tell us we have been unlucky with what has happened to us since moving here,  but have we? I don’t focus on the negatives because here are the good:

We have a love for each other that some people search for all their lives, and for that we are blessed.

We have friends who will help us in our hour of need without question, because our dog would not be here today if it were not for them.

We have the love of good friends, our mini bus has come around and these people have got back on at a time when they need support also.

We have our beautiful animals and never least our beautiful Harley survived.

We are surrounded by beauty all around us.

Money cannot buy any of that.

We are not worrying about money or work any more, it will come good; and our little fledgling business is starting to expand, and work has come our way. Life has given us a slap around the head and told us to buck up because life can ALWAYS get worse!!!

But if you let it, it can get better too. Life taught us to remember what is important.

I love all my animals but there is nothing like a dog’s love, and boy have I been reminded of that over the last few weeks.

I am back now, sorry for my absence, I know you will understand….




Sweet Chilli Sauce and Mexican Chicken


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Hi to all

As promised here is my recipe for this wonderful sweet chilli sauce – and, yes, I did make the one in the picture! There has been a delay because I made another batch using cider vinegar instead – as recommended on a FB site, to see if that worked as well as Rice Wine Vinegar  which can be more expensive. Sadly it did not and I have tweaked it again today so that I can use it in some of my recipes. Anyhoooo here we go ……..




So let’s Witchy poo….

You will need

At least 5 cloves of garlic chopped finely (I use a food processor and always have a stock in the fridge – I do live in France!!)

1 cup of water

3 teaspoons of cornflour – or cornstarch for those in the USA and Canada

4 tablespoons (perhaps more after tasting) of sugar

1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar

soya sauce

Ginger – again about a teaspoon but you may add more after tasting


Paste of Piment (or red chilli peppers) – the paste you can buy is better because if you chop the chilli’s you do have the skin to contend with but I have made some today doing just that and it is good!!

You may want some garlic powder as well again up to you I add some though.

Put the water and the vinegar in the pan and add the sugar and obviously put the heat on.

Stir until he sugar has dissolved to make sure that it does not burn.

Add the soya sauce, the ginger, the garlic and the chilli paste and stir away……..until it starts to come to the boil.

Then put a small amount of water in to cool slightly and add the cornflour mixed with a small amount of cold water and add to the mix and stir away. Now it should start to clear as it thickens if it doesn’t add some more water and you may need some more sugar. Hey presto you have chilli sauce the Witchy poo way.


Mexican Chicken

One of our favourites – cheap and tasty…

You will need

A to cook bag (although you can cook in a pot or tagine)

Onions – as many as you want to bulk it out with


Chilli sauce – see above

BBQ sauce

Hot pepper sauce (if you like hot stuff like me!)

Put the chicken breasts – or legs or whatever you want – into the bag with some chilli sauce, hot pepper sauce, onions, peppers, bbq sauce – basically everything!!

Then put it it in the oven on about 180 Gas mark 6 and let it cook for at least 45 mins. Serve with rice, chips, whatever and some Doritoes (other tortilla chips are available)


Also folks for those who like Indian Chutneys – which are hard to get or expensive in France – get some rhubarb jam, or some fig jam and add some piment de cayenne to it – *red chilli paste for my other readers not in France* and seriously you have a good chutney man!!!

That is it from the Witchy poo cook today – hope you enjoyed…..

As always please share