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Weekly update from rural France

Back from my travels round France for a while – I’ve been to 9 cities and lots of villages in the last couple of months – it’s time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life in the middle of nowhere France.

I love to walk the dogs (Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Bruno and Churchill), and here in the Seven Valleys, autumn is well under way. The colours of the trees and shrubs this year are magnificent after a very long dry spring and summer.

At the top of the rue du Chapelle, where there’s a tiny private chapel built by a local man in honour of his late wife, there is a field with a horse in. We’ve taken to giving her an apple or some grass as we go by, with the approval of the owner. He’s an old farmer who lives close by in the village and every night we see him come by in his tractor with a small box on the back. He stops where the grass is long under the hedgerow and pulls out his old, rusty scythe. Despite his great age, well into his seventies, he swings at the grass, piling up the cuttings in the box.

As he approaches the field, the horse hears the gentle putt putt of the old tractor and races to the gate like a youngster, though she too is very old, a local Boulonnais horse, a very old breed going back to at least the 7th century, pure white. She is a big horse, they are the type that used to pull heavy carts, but she is very gentle as she nuzzles the old farmer, snuffling softly and shaking her head, they clearly adore each other.

This week there was a giant stork in the field, pure white too, it was almost magical. There was a light breeze and golden leaves were falling, the sun was shining – that special mellow light you only get on a sunny day in autumn. There was a scent of apples in barns we passed as many locals made cider from the bumper crop we’ve had this year – something to look forward to in the spring.

There are times when I pinch myself at how beautiful this place is and how very lucky I am to have had the chance to get to know it and to appreciate it for its gentle, authentic and seasonal beauty.

Bisous from France,

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