Our first house in France. At one and the same time it was exciting and scary.
There was work to be done without doubt. The house needed total decoration and a kitchen! We had a sink but nothing to cook on so it was a girl's dream, retail therapy!
We sat and wrote a list then planned our shopping trip. To start with we bought a kitchen table, a table top cooker, a microwave and fridge freezer.
We needed to investigate the area and get to know our neighbours and the first thing we found was that rural Burgundy was like going back 40 years in England.
I remember neighbours popping in and out of one anothers' houses, shopping for each other and the visiting commerce; and here it is just like that.
The village, being a 25 minute drive from town, is visited by a baker, butcher, greengrocer and a converted single decker bus that is the grocer's shop. These marchands are where the villagers not only buy their provisions but gather to exchange news but also receive messages from friends in other villages!
One neighbour in particular visited daily, she doesn't speak English but I became her confidante. I lived all her problems on the farm and with her children. She was also fascinated by what we ate and how we cooked it.
Surprisingly for a French person she never used garlic or spices and only certain herbs. Whereas we like to experiment with all sorts of cusine; she prefers straight forward, plain cooking. One day, cooking curry, she asked to taste it and she was horrified!
The trickiest days was when we were making casserole. 'What are you making?' she asked. Without thinking I said a casserole; seeing her confused look which said 'strange English people!' I realised casserole in French is the pan whereas in English it is the dish.
Another thing our neighbour enjoys is growing vegetables. Every day she would arrive with tomatoes, carrots, haricots verts, courgettes and salad. We had so much veg we had to buy a freezer to take all the produce!
Sometimes it would feel a little much when she walked into the house unannounced but she was always there to help. She would look after the house when we were away, feed the cat and sort the post.
Since moving to our new village it seems life is the same here but now we know exactly what to expect!
Part 1: You, me and the gatepost!
- by Coral Luke
To see some of Coral's photographs of French life visit her Flickr album.