Allez les Bleus!

I was sitting quietly on the terrace, chatting to a friend, when suddenly I heard gunshots. And more and more. That’s strange, I said, we are not in the hunting season.

Then we heard cars sounding their horns as they passed. Ahah. Then it must be a wedding. But strange, the gunshots and horns seemed to come from all directions, the sound echoing round the valley.

Then my Apple Watch vibrated . I glanced down and saw the News Flash:”France clinch second title” . Of course, the World Cup! The French are champions du monde and several hours later, the car horns are still calling out

Phew, it’s all over.




On one of the hottest days of July, Sara and I visited Le Jardin des Sambucs, not far from la Corconne, where our family spent 14 summer holidays

It turned out to be a wonderful escape from the blazing sun: most of the walk is through lush greenery – bamboo, tropical like plants, often surrounding green ponds and waterfalls

Amazingly I had never been before  somebody had advised me the walk would be too tricky, but in fact there were handrails at tricky moments.

There is a certain amount of kitsch and whimsy, but much to love and appreciate about this garden, created 25 years ago by its owners, Nicholas, who works with stones, and Agnès, a landscape gardener.

I took home two of their messages, repeated with much passion: the value of wandering slowly through a garden, and the fact that a garden is constantly evolving, with the gardener gently adjusting what nature has determined .

There were frequent places to sit, to drink in the green, smile at the stone columns and structures, listen the sound of water, or catch the odd glimpse of the magnificent Hérault valley, outside this enchanted world .

Was you ever bit by a dead bee?

No, Eddie.  But yesterday I was stung by a live one, hiding on a leaf I plucked out of the pool. And it hurts! So much so that I found it difficult to get out of the pool.

As my thumb swells, itches and throbs, I think of our mum, who became allergic to bee stings and once had to have her wedding ring sawn off by the hospital electrician as her finger swelled alarmingly.

The insect population round the pool has suddenly multiplied. There are bees, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies, beetles … … and all sorts of things I can’t identify.

Last week Sara and I spent hours watching what we think was a relative of the more usual wasps land on the metal table beside the pool, then crawl into a small hole under the table, dragging in its booty – usually a sprig of  grass, presumably making a nest inside my table.

Grass disappearing into hole under table


Sara’s visit

Sara’s much too short week here has whizzed by, and this morning she was off to Levens, near Nice, to her son James.

i was truly pampered – even more than usual – as Sara rose to the challenge of meals without all the yummy things we love. Apart from the odd bit of butter and a daily croissant, she loyally followed my regime. When she arrived I was not really hungry, but I regret that over the past week I have recovered my appetite. I am also much less tired, though the afternoon siesta seems to have become almost routine.

As usual Sara also did sterling stuff in the garden, clearing weeds and filling the flowerbed in front of the house with the plants we bought at the Saturday market.

Given the afternoon temperatures in the mid thirties, we enjoyed the bassin (including spending hours watching a wasp building a nest under the table!). The plant pool is looking lovely with the water lilies doing particularly well this year, and Jacky has replaced the plants around the bassin destroyed by the wild boar in the winter.

Apart from doing lots of lounging around, talking (as usual, at the same time) and playing Scrabble (I let her beat me…), we packed in a lengthy meal at Fatou’s, a good concert (Dvorak and Mendelssohn) in Molières, strolls round the villages of Molieres and Aulas, a couple of markets and cafe sessions, a trip to an amazing garden in the Valleraugue valley, offering apéritifs to my friends Charles, Pierre, Francis and Mireille – and then two tasty meals with each of these couples, who made huge efforts to adjust their cuisine to my requirements.

I’m now sitting beside the water, enjoying the evening sun. But sad my pal is no longer here. We talked much of India, which we both love. Who knows, perhaps my next big adventure might be a trip with Sara to Kerala at the end of 2019 .  Just need to tell my body to behave .


Coconut milk

On Saturday I had my first tasty meal in a month, at my favourite little restaurant in le Vigan, Chez Fatou.

I had asked Fatou if she could possibly serve me a simple dish of boiled rice and vegetables without her usual rich assortment of spices and with no fats or crudités. She came up trumps: beautifully cooked rice with a delicious sauce of crevettes cooked in coconut milk delicately flavoured with turmeric.  Yum!

The turmeric produced no ill effects, and I stopped off on the way home to buy cartons of coconut meal, and managed on Sunday to produce a modest imitation of Fatou’s sauce, this time on a trout fillet I bought from Véro, my friend from the pisciculture, at the first Little Bréau market of the summer. (The fillets were a good idea, as Véro had effectively removed the bones.)

Gastronomically things are looking up, as the next day my two great doctor friends, Christine and Roy, sent me encouraging emails. Christine has endless ideas for meals, enhancing dishes with ginger, lemon juice or a slice of orange, for example. I was hesitating at the addition of acid ingredients – on my dietitan’s verboten list. Then I read the email from Roy, a very senior gastroenterologist.

It will take time to recover, he said, but perhaps I need not be so strict with the diet.  “As long as your digestion feels comfortable and no vomiting or nausea, I suggest you liberalise your diet – one treat at a time, one each day – something to plan with anticipation!”

And now, a new impetus, the arrival of my pal, Sara. I had to go to Montpellier for the postponed examination of my car following the guy who scraped it in May and combined this with picking Sara up from the station. Bad idea. The gare has always been protected by a maze of one way roads. It has got worse since my last visit a few years back (not helped by an outdated gps),  though at least there is now a new parking house. Luckily Sara’s train was late, while I sweated in temperatures above 35, circling the station, trying to find the magic way in.

We have eaten rather well since then, with Sara insisting on joining me on my new regime and as usual, full of ideas, starting with filling her basket with lots of vegetables at yesterday’s little market in Le Vigan.

Just in case people think I have lapsed into my usual state of kitchen inertia, I did at least produce yesterday’s supper – boiled new potatoes ,steamed courgettes and poached eggs.

Today I suspect I might pass the pan to Sara…