dimanche 14 juillet 2013

The French Cafe Chair

The French café chair...  simple, good looking and universally recognised..  Here's a set of Tolix chairs for sale in Riberac market..

dimanche 16 juin 2013

Herbs in the Garden

The herb border's looking pretty good...

Bright green chives with their lilac buds which then pop into big blowsy flowers...

Feathery fennel.. This one's still tiny and fresh but it'll soon be towering over everything else in the border...  Later in the summer there'll be the yellow flower heads and in the autumn, lots of aromatic fennel seeds to collect..

Here's a golden sage which gives a real splash of colour..

And just in front of the golden sage, some white chives with their delicate frilly flower spikes..


Here's some thyme.. This one is only just planted so still compact and green. 

Tucked in amongst the herbs are some self seeded pinks which have the most delicious scent..

You can't have a herb garden without parsley...  This Spring has been cooler than usual so the seeds have taken longer to grow but the parsley at least, is now romping away..

Finally, some tarragon..   Not much to look at, but the most lovely aniseed flavour.

samedi 25 mai 2013

Of small shops and supermarkets..

One of the delights of living in France is that town centres still have independent shops - the boulangerie, the boucherie, the charcuterie and so on...  In part this is probably because of France's fine food culture.  But the survival of so many independent retailers is also the result of laws which have curtailed the power of supermarkets to undercut small retailers and specialist shops.  Planning laws introduced in the 1990's also placed restrictions on where and how supermarkets could develop.

But - every town has its out of town supermarkets and its share of shut up shops..

At Aubeterre in the Charente

And at Villebois Lavallete in the Charente..

And this is Riberac in the Dordogne..

But some great independent shops survive.  Here's one in Perigeuex..

lundi 6 mai 2013

Xavier Maffre... Ceramiste - Potier

In the right hands, clay is an incredible material...   Xavier Maffre is a talented ceramist - potter working from his studio in Aubterre sur Dronne. 

The studio, with its traditional potter's wheel and wood fired kiln, is built inside an old stable.

Maffre's pots are simple and utilitatian - strong and simple shapes with luminous, lustrous glazes. Here are some of the pieces that we've bought..

A small, cobalt blue dish..

Three pieces in a rich, wine red glaze

This biscuit coloured bowl with its delicate green edging is a favourite..

And here's an urn in the darkest, matt finish..

A trip to Aubterre - un des plus beau villages de France - is always a great pleasure.  A visit to l'atelier de Xavier Maffre is a real treat!

dimanche 21 avril 2013

Breakfast from the Boulangerie

Buying the daily bread is so much a part of the French way of life and in a world full of ever bigger supermarkets, the French boulangerie is indeed special.  Some are tiny and workaday, others are altogether more sophisticated, selling elaborate and tempting pastries, fruit tarts and chocolates.  Our village boulangerie is of the tiny, workaday kind but on Sunday mornings there are croissants, pains aux chocolats and pains aux raisins on offer... Who could resist...!

dimanche 14 avril 2013


The palest of blossoms..  such delicate shades that last for only a few days.  The weather is really warming up now so everyday sees the garden unfurl before your eyes!



More on the theme of white..  a lovely local soft goats cheese, a just ready Camembert and a homemade white sourdough.  A perfect lunch!

jeudi 11 avril 2013


Spring rain makes everything so green..  Nettles are shooting up..

.. and so are all the herbs which have been in hiding all winter.  Chives are racing ahead and are at their very best just now.. As you can see, we've been snipping them for a while now!

Lovage is just coming through..

As are feathery fennel and lovely lemon verbena.

Seeds are waiting to be sown but just too wet today..

So... here's another kind of green to end a wet day in the Dordogne!


dimanche 7 avril 2013

Sunday Morning Brocante

What is it about brocante...  Always worth a browse because you never know what you might find... Verteillac has a brocante fair on the first Sunday of each month, with stalls set out in the main square.  Even when the skies are grey and the temperatures decidedly cool, there are always lots of people looking for treasures.

Here are the goodies that I found this week..
A set of kitchen storage canisters and a soap dish ..

If you're interested, listings for brocante fairs across south-west France are here.