I hope you had a good Christmas.
Here in my house Christmas Day was a quiet and peaceful time for the most part. The animals got some treats and I took the dogs for an extra walk late at night. Where I live, the roads are not lit by street lamps and at night it’s pitch black (no Christmas lights here!). I wandered up the little rue de la Chapelle (called that because there is a tiny chapel built long ago by a local man in honour of his departed, much loved wife) with my torch. My three dogs ran off, snuffling under hedges, scaring the grouse and pheasants that hide there, and racing across fields that were already getting a light dusting of frost. The dark sky was clear and filled with diamond-like stars, the air was scented by the wood fires of my neighbours. A few owls hooted softly but otherwise it was truly a silent night – until my dog Ella charged in front of me, disturbing my reverie and knocking me into a pile of mud. The tranquility of the lovely night was broken by the sound of me and my Other Half laughing, I wasn’t hurt, just muddy.
He’s been forgiven for enjoying my tumble, as this week he finished renovating the old pig sty in the garden which we’ve turned into an office for me since my collection of books has now outgrown the house! So here I am sat in what was just an old, broken pig shed but is now my lovely den, writing to you!
I wish you a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.
Bisous from France where in my little corner in the north it reached -12C/10F yesterday… winter is coming!
Janine (and animals):
Dogs: Ella Fitzgerald the spaniel who turned into an Alsatian, Churchill the Doberman Pinscher who was really a German Pinscher (much smaller and very yappy!) and Frank Bruno the growling stray labrador cross who became a gentle giant.
Cats: Winston the biggest cat in the village, Loulou (who’s really a princess), ‘Enry Cooper the boss cat, Hank Marvin He’s Always Starvin’, Shadow the cat who thinks she’s a real girl and No Name Yet who turned up at my back door last week (I think she heard there was a vacancy as poor old deaf cat Ginger Roger sadly lost the last of his 9 lives a few weeks ago).
Geese: Fred, Flo, George and Gertrude.
Ducks: Lucky, Belle and their 37 friends…
Chickens: Gregory Peck, Kendo Nagasaki, Bossy Betty and their 20 friends…
PS: My New Year’s Resolution – no more animals! And I’ll be letting you know how that goes!
On the web site this week:
Wine and vines: There’s just time to enter the draw for a really star prize, a chance to win a row of vines in an iconic vineyard in France. Choose from 10 legendary locations including Saint Emilion, Sancerre, Champagne, Bordeaux, and you’ll also get a bottle of wine made from your grapes. We have two to give away – you’ve got to be in it to win it!
Perfect New Year’s Eve Party snacks: cheesy gougeres, they’re so moreish and delicious you’ll want to make them more than once!
Galette des Rois: 6 January is a special day in France, it’s the day we traditionally eat “the cake of kings” – galette des rois, and pretend to be a king or queen for a day! If you’d like to make one at home, here’s a recipe – but don’t forget to put a crown on top!
The origin of French gargoyles: Margo Lestz uncovers a very strange story that explains how those gorgeous gothic gargyoles got to the roof tops of churches all over France!
Top tips for eating out in Paris: Foodie expert and tour guide in Paris Tom Reeves shares his tips to make the most of your dining experience in Paris…
3 top tips to discover the Paris of locals on a budget: J.Christie reveals her favourite places in Paris that won’t break the bank and where you’ll feel like a Parisian!
Congratulations to Paul Paridiso winner of Beginning French by Les Americains.
The last word of this year from me is to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, for your likes and comments and shares on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for sharing your photos of France with me and for your lovely messages – see you next year!