A short break

River at Maintenon

After a ten-day holiday in France, during which we had no internet to speak of, I am writing today to announce another short break. For the next few weeks I am writing up my portfolio to get accreditation as a family mediator and am putting an embargo on blogging until I have broken the back of that writing task.

So I leave you with a couple of the few photos I took on our holiday, from the chateau that is famous for having belonged to Madame de Maintenon, mistress of Louis XIV. I struggle to love French formal gardens, but this is a nice one, not too huge, with lots of water and a beautiful colour scheme in the planting of the beds (we saw even more beautiful plantings in the town of Chartres on another day). It was a nice day out.

The highlight of my visit however – apart from the general niceness of spending time with friends and catching up with family – was on a walk, when we came suddenly close to some deer hiding in a field of oil-seed rape. They turned to check us out, then ran off into the nearby woods, leaping high over the yellow rape so they looked like the model for those roadside signs (seen often in France) telling you there will be leaping deer for the next few miles. I have been as close to very tame deer at Dunham Massey in Cheshire, but these were not tame and they were wonderful.

Almost as wonderful was the cheese shop in the town of Rambouillet, a few miles from where we were staying.

If you are a regular reader you will have noticed that I have been posting less often in the past few months than I did last year. Over time the blog has been many things: a diary to keep friends in touch with our life in the new place; an introduction to rural Lincolnshire for those who don’t know it; a garden, food and cooking journal and a place to muse on connection to place and to people. In recent weeks I have been preoccupied with family issues, which I don’t write about here. And I have been turning over in my mind the question of what the blog is for and where it is going. No answers as yet, but watch this space (though it will just be space for a few weeks!).

p.s. And if you haven’t already visited the Facebook page, please do go and ‘like’ it. There are a few more photos there than appear on the blog posts, if you like that sort of thing.

p.p.s. I have this week been eating and loving the rose and rhubarb jam I wrote about in this post last year. Lovely stuff!

p.p.p.s. So exciting, the beginning of the long, light evenings. We ate out tonight, an unusual treat that was our Christmas present, and driving back after ten saw the last light in the sky – magical.

I shall return. Until then, go well.

Chateau at Maintenon

A big year; a quiet New Year…

For many, many years we have had a big dinner on New Year’s Eve with lots of friends and lots of courses. The largest number of people, in 2004, who sat down to eat was eighteen. Once or twice,  in our last and smallest house, we were only six or seven. Tonight we will be four,  just us and good friends from Essex who have been stalwarts of the Manchester dinners and will now share our first new year dinner in our new home.

This time last year we ate smoked trout and tapenade, chestnut and celeriac soup, rib of beef, mushroom and nut roast, cheese and spiced pears, apple creme caramel.

Tonight we will eat more modestly, though with a few echoes of last year: celeriac and beetroot soup, ham with leek and cream sauce and homemade pasta, cheese and those spiced pears…

It’s been a big year, full of change. Partner had big birthday, our second granddaughter was born, we bought a campervan and biggest of all, we moved to the other side of the country.

Tonight we will think of all of you who have shared new year and other special occasions with us in the past – especially last year’s New Year’s Eve and partner’s birthday in the spring. You know who you are.

Wishing all our friends and anyone else reading this a very happy new year and all the very best for 2013.