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Bon weekend | World heritage sites & delish dishes

Plate full of cream cakes covered in chocolate icing


I hope that you and yours are well.

I’ve been working hard here on my third book about life in the middle of nowhere, rural northern France. I’ve been helped by my animals of course. There’s usually a cat on my lap while I write, most often it is Tigger the kitten who is getting bigger and bigger. She has become a total diva. She bosses the other much bigger cats about, terrorises the dogs and stalks the chickens and ducks, though she never goes that close to them – they have mean beaks. I can’t honestly say that she is my muse when I’m writing, she is a pest and attacks my fingers constantly but she does make me laugh (you can see her here on Instagram).

Despite the still rather chilly weather my neighbours are getting gardens ready for the annual plant-aPePePthon. At least that’s what I call it. Everyone is growing-vegetables mad here. My elderly neighbour Claudette doesn’t do any gardening any more, at 90 years old, she’s entitled to a rest. But that doesn’t stop her ordering Jean-Claude her son-in-law about. This week he’s been instructed to prepare the soil but it’s way too frosty to plant anything. The moles meanwhile are having a field day. They love nothing more than to make little piles in his neatly turned veg beds. It drives him mad.

I can hear him through the hedge between our gardens “Merde”, “Zut” “Sacré Bleu” – ok he doesn’t say that last one, but I wish he would, I’ve never actually heard a French person say it!

His head will appear over the top of a just-about-blossoming hawthorn bush “those pesky moles – have they been in your garden too? he asks” Sometimes I say no just for the fun of it. This piques him a great deal, he feels he is being targeted by ninja moles. He asks Bread Man and Fish Man when they do their deliveries “How are the moles this year for you?” If they say not too bad, “Merde” he says. “They are all living in my garden. I will never be able to get my title back at this rate.”

He is referring of course to the annual Valleys pumpkin growing contest. He has been crowned “Biggest pumpkin in the village” several times but the last few years the title has eluded him. I’ve told him whatever happens, he will be a star in my new book anyway!

Bon weekend and bisous from the middle of nowhere, rural northern France

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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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UNESCO World Heritage Site: Carcassonne

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux

Recipe of the week: Slow roasted chicken with garlic and lemon – a taste of summer in Provence

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Ps: Photo “edible happiness” says Bread Man who delivers the bread and pastries each week to our village!

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