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Poppies growing alongside rows of lavender in a field in Provence


I truly hope you and yours are well.

Here, a little more normality is being introduced into daily life with most hotels, restaurants and cafés being allowed to open and the 100km travel limit being lifted. It’s going to be challenging. We must wear masks for instance in restaurants (though not when eating) and tables must be placed so that groups are at least 1 metre apart. And there will be much, and constant, cleaning going on.

Here in my little, out-of-the-way village, everyone has been out doing their gardens. We have had glorious sunshine for the last couple of months. In fact I read that this far northern French region, normally dubbed “the north pole of France” has had its warmest spring for 70 years and our local beaches had warmer weather than the south. I do sometimes jest that the north is the new south – who knows, I may be right!

The sunshine has not entirely pleased Jean-Claude, my neighbour.

“Too hot” he said. “This is much too hot for my poor plants” – he in his garden, me in mine next door. We’re separated by a fence and several feet of out of control hedging which we aren’t cutting because there are so many wild birds nesting in it.

“Too hot for me too and Bernadette is making it worse” he added, pushing back a floppy straw hat from his sun-reddened face. “Bernadette’s hat” he mumbled “she bought it in Arles in 1981 when we went on holiday there. I have to wear it now because she cut my hair too short and my head is burning” he snorted with disgust.

I had wondered why every time I saw him he was wearing a hat over the last couple of weeks when before that he’d been roaming the village with a shaggy hairdo that would give Mowgli in Jungle Book a run for his money.

Bernadette, who retired not long ago and is now at home every day with Jean-Claude, is firmly in charge of things. She has apparently instructed her husband to grow sensible vegetables, lettuces and cabbages, onions and carrots. He is to cut back on the pumpkins. Jean-Claude is not happy about this at all. He lavishes love and tender care on his pumpkins. Not because he likes to eat them, he gives most of them away. But because he likes to enter pumpkin growing competitions. For several years running he held the title “Biggest Pumpkin of the Valleys” but has lost out the last two years to a usurper from a village 5 miles away. Jean-Claude was determined to stage a comeback but Bernadette is putting a damper on his grand plans and the hot weather is adding to his angst.

“I’m not a quitter though” said Jean-Claude “It’s not the fin des haricots…” which doesn’t have anything to do with haricot beans but means all is not lost. He has a cunning plan he tells me. At the bottom of the garden where Bernadette rarely ventures as Jean-Claude leaves some nettles to grow to encourage the bees, he has a pumpkin patch quietly thriving. The trophy may yet be his…

I wish you and yours truly well from my little pig sty.
Bisous from France
Editor of The Good Life France

ps Every day on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, I share a daily dose of France in photos like this picture of poppies in Provence, alongside just-about-to-burst-into-bloom lavender – feel free to join me for more inspiring photos…

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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