I hope that all is well with you and yours.
Welcome to the first newsletter of 2023.
It’s been a gusty old start to the year here in my corner of France, and soggy too. A river of rain has been running down the hill outside my house pretty much every day. Ronnie and Reggie the Labrador puppies are fascinated by it. They are pretty much fascinated by everything, the leaves that twirl and whirl in the wind, Madame Jupiler’s chickens which wander about the village as if they own the place and are inspecting it, Madame Bernadette’s pet goose which squawks loudly when we walk past on our daily walks, the deer and wild pigs that streak across the fields, clearly visible now that the trees are stripped of their coverings.
“Your doggies are getting big and they are crazy” said Bread Man as they chased each other around his little van (only the dogs, not Bread Man as well), when he stopped to deliver my baguette and to have a chat. He’s not wrong. We’ve had to re-fence the dog pen twice now as they are escape artists (and are partial to chewing fences) and we need eyes in the back of our heads as, at 8 months old, they eat just about anything – or at least try to, including garden lanterns and cushions (a particular favourite of Ronnie’s).
“Do you think you are a leetle crazy too?” said Bread Man looking at the array of cats sat on the window sills of the house, Tigger and Loulou eyeing each other with dislike on one side of the front door, Shadow at the bedroom window, Mimi the Marmalade Moggy and FatCat, who are inseparable besties, at another window, Winston the biggest cat in the village meowing from the pigsty window sill – he likes to be alone. All the cats want to be in the house in front of the fire (that’s Fat Cat in the photo, in his favourite place!).
“Possibly” I said, “but then on the other hand, they admire everything that I do and say and never disagree with me.”
Just at that point, Bette Davis came hurtling round the side of the house followed closely by a screeching Joan Collins and George Clooney, strutting and tutting and failing miserably to get their attention.
Once Bread Man had stopped laughing, he helped me chase them back to the chicken pen. Meanwhile Madame Bernadette from down the hill arrived – she wanted her baguette and had seen Bread Man’s van outside my house. Then Jean-Claude arrived to ask for his boulot (a round loaf) followed a couple of minutes later by his wife, also called Bernadette.
I appear to have turned into Madame “bread point of collection” in the village. Ah well there are worse things. I am generally known as Madame Merde (from when my septic tank blew up) or Madame who keeps pigs in the house (from when I told Bread Man I work in the pigsty – a misunderstanding I assure you). Madame boulangerie (bakery) doesn’t seem so bad!
Wishing you a very happy new year – we say it every day throughout January in France (as you’ll discover if you tune into my latest podcast How to be French!).
Bisous from a blustery little bit of France,
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream, My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life and Toujours la France: Living the Dream in Rural France all available as ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online.
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