I hope that you and yours are well.
Here in my village, the smell of fermenting apples is filling the air. Cider making is early this year as we had such a long hot spring through summer and the apples are bigger, rosier and juicier than I can ever remember. Claudette, who you would never know is 90 years old the way she zips around the village, has been directing operations at her house next door to us. Jean-Claude, her son-in-law, has been chopping away at sack loads of apples and stuffing them into giant pots to ferment. The scent is quite intoxicating when you walk past the barn… you can almost see bubbles! Cider is the second most consumed drink in France, after wine, and when it’s ready to drink, we’ll all be invited to taste this year’s vintage, socially distanced of course, which isn’t hard in a village with just 142 people.
Talking of bubbles, we have something to celebrate – this week we got fibre optic internet! When we bought this old house 16 years ago we never imagined that it would take so long to join the 21st century. Up until now we had very slow internet, we’re used to downloading a 2-minute video overnight! And my kids are used to me buffering on FaceTime like Princess Leia out of Star Wars. Our internet is now 500 times faster which will make producing the magazine much easier – and the next issue is nearly ready to be sent out (subscribe for free here).
Mind you, we’re not quite there with the 21st century thing. We’re still awaiting a mobile phone signal. Part of me likes that we don’t have one, but when, as happened this week, Twitter won’t let you tweet unless you put in a mobile phone number so they can send you a code to verify – it’s not fun. Off I ran, up the hill, waving my phone about in an attempt to receive the code and be back tweeting! I wasn’t alone up there, two teenagers were also holding up phones trying to get codes.
“Bonjour madame” they said, rolling their eyes and laughing as they pointed to a man further up the hill, cautiously taking a step to the left, to the right, back a bit as if waltzing with an invisible partner whilst glaring at his phone.
The hills are alive to the sound of mobiles here…
Meanwhile, I can tell I won’t make it through to the “Biggest Pumpkin in the Village” finals on account of my pumpkins being smaller than everyone else’s, but I’m very happy with my harvest hoard and am planning to make every kind of pumpkin pie, cupcake, soup, risotto and even waffles! You can see my pumpkins on Instagram along with a whole raft of suggestions from all around the world for things to make with them.
My delayed trip to Normandy (thanks to engineering works on the train line) should take place at a later date and I’ll let you know when the photos are ready!
Wishing you and yours well.
Bisous from an apple-smelling village in the middle of nowhere, rural northern France…
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
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