The more I read the papers, the more I want to take to my bed, or at least buy a plot of land, build a small eco friendly house and keep the world at bay. But wait, isn’t that what I came to France to do? And the world refused to be kept at bay and the little plot of land in the middle of nowhere proved lonely, so here I am, in town, reading the newspapers, dreaming of a little plot of land…


I listen intermittently as the boys recite a rapid mishmash of Sacha Baron Cohen scripts, Monty Python,Blackadder, various French comedies and the Muppets during supper. I smile occasionally, reassuringly, absentmindedly, fall back into an all too familiar landscape of shopping lists, washing up, chores, rugby training, orthodontical appointments, wondering if I’ll ever finish the book I started last summer…


If you can’t write a word in the morning without having first drunk tea, are you an addict? This is necessarily a very short post as I must go and fill the kettle….


I adore my kids, but as the swiftly passing years carry them towards the baccalaureate, I find myself harbouring guilty thoughts about boarding planes, reading books, being able to afford the occasional holiday, coming home late… whilst at the same time knowing I’ll miss their exuberant silliness and boundless affection.


The opening lines of Leisure, by Newport’s immortal poet and self-styled “supertramp”, W.H. Davies, flicker through my mind as I make mental lists of all the things I’d like or should but don’t have time to do: “What is this life if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare? ”.


Two profound thoughts on a cold, bright day…
1: no two people perceive the external world in the same way
2: a week is a long time in politics – and affairs of the heart.


Later the same wind-blast day, I try cycling into town but get blown off course. Streets are strewn with broken glass and last night’s recycling. Newspapers flap like mad distressed birds. Shutters bang, shops are closed, park gates locked, so no possibility of taking a walk there… I stare through them and watch branches fall in slow motion to the ground…


Mad wind storms blew all night long at speeds of up to 50km. Mid October, yet before dawn the temperature was already 20°C and the dry wind felt desert-hot. A neighbour’s house cordoned off the end of our street: his new roof lies in shards on the tarmac below. All day long fire engines and ambulances will ring their bells…


Here we go again. The Head at my son’s new school says he’s not prepared to “take the risk” of allowing my son to eat his packed lunch in the school canteen. The contents of a vegetarian’s lunch box could feasibly wipe out the local population with a superbug?


A fifteen year old beauty said ‎”C’est avec les gens qu’on aime le plus qu’on se comporte le plus mal.” Out of the mouths of babes…


It’s cold, very very cold, and it won’t be consistently pretty (summer) frock warm again for at least six months…


On Saturday I picked most of the winning numbers – that came up in Monday’s Lotto. The lesson to be learned from that is… ??


Fascinating discussion at supper about misunderstandings that fall in the gap between what women say and what men hear (c.f., I suppose, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus) and the 12 yr old asks, “What about hermaphrodites?”


What bliss to have a child who can still enjoy watching old films with me as I tackle the mountain of ironing: “better drowned than duffers if not duffers won’t drown”.


Parental authority has all but melted away since my sons discovered the power of making Mama laugh. Attempts to appear cross are cut to shreds by razor-sharp wit, stern words twisted into a burlesque of Flying Circus routines, mealtimes degenerate into a farce officiated by food-throwing wayward chimps. Thank goodness.


The last time I gazed across this valley at skittering clouds casting fast-moving shadows on patchwork fields, all was otherwordly green (see 37). Months on, fields ploughed, the farming year a rich ever-changing tapestry but still the buzzard hovers, having spotted his prey.


A life lived in fear is a life half lived.


Two days ago I was moved to poetry in the vineyards above the town and vowed to come back with my camera to capture glorious dusty purples and rich autumn hues. In the interim, the grapes have been harvested and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The lesson, of course, is carpe diem…


“We read to know we are not alone.”


The man next door shouts all day long except at 6am when he sits, in silence, in the dark, on the bench outside our house and watches as I open the shutters. Not unhinged so much as not the full quid, he shares his poky little cave of a house with a cat who luckily is deaf.