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Newsletter from France | Inspiration & a whimsical tale

Paris street at dusk, Eiffel Tower in the background


I hope that you and yours are well.

This week the weather has been glorious, clear blue skies occasionally filtered through a soft mist, and early in the mornings sparkling frost covers everything.

It’s been perfect weather for renovating and dog walking! We’re building a garage at the moment and we’re almost finished with the roof structure (I’ve been up a ladder most of this week holding up beams and struts) before we can move on to building a bar in what was the former telephone exchange in the village (now a small workshop). The big téléphone sign is still there, we’re aiming to recondition it and light it up again for the first time in more than 50 years! And when we’re finished and can socialise safely, we’ll invite the neighbours in – some of them will definitely remember the room from the 1960’s when locals came here to make calls!

Meanwhile on our dog walk, we came across a curious thing. Walnut shells scattered along the footpath that runs down the side of our house. Like a nutty Hansel and Gretel trail, it led from the walnut tree outside the Parisians house to Jean-Claude’s barn. It was a mystery until one morning, we saw Jean-Claude, sitting in his little white van, parked in the mud in front of the gates to the barn.

“Bonjour” we said as the dogs bounced about excitedly – they like him a lot.

“Mffmmmfff” he said. He was busy munching away on walnuts like a giant squirrel.

It turns out that his wife Bernadette has told him in no uncertain terms that he is to cut back on his calorie intake. Like many of us (well me at least), Jean-Claude has been comfort eating in these difficult days. It isn’t hard to do where we are. Despite it being the middle of nowhere in the 7 Valleys there’s plenty of temptation. Aside from deliveries to the village of bread and cakes, fish and meat, locals towns are not that far away by car and are full of fromageries, boulangeries, patisseries, charcuteries, farm shops, markets, wine caves and chocolateries. But now that Bernadette has issued her edict, Jean-Claude knows that she will ask the people who work in the shops if he has been in.

But foraging, he argues is surely allowed, it’s almost the law in France. And besides, no one can see him eating the walnuts. Except us.

And as Jean-Claude pointed out, we can hardly talk about being moderate in anything since we now have two kittens in the house (you can see them here on Instagram where they look like butter wouldn’t melt) after we got the first one a week ago and then worried she’d be lonely and went back and got her sister!

Wishing you and yours well.
Bisous from a crazy cat lady in France…

ps: The top photo was the most popular Facebook share last week by fabulous photographer Wazim.

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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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