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Written by on May 17, 2020 in Newsletter from France

Deckchair in a field of red poppies, perfect for relaxing and dreaming


I truly hope you and yours are well.

I didn’t think my animal life could get much odder until I opened the front door to find a blackbird eating out of the cat food bowl I leave for strays on the doorstep and two very fat hedgehogs rolling about in the cat food bowl I leave out at the back door. I think I have to face facts, I have turned into Doctor Doolittle.

Life here in France is very slowly starting a new normality. Chateaux in the Loire Valley, zoos, museums and beaches are announcing reopening dates – not all but some, a bit at a time. Many restaurants are functioning for take away meals. Shops are reopening.

It is strange to go to the local shops and see everyone wearing a mask. It’s hard to tell if anyone is smiling at me, I’m sure they can’t tell if I’m smiling either – so I wave a lot. I have quite a small face and the mask covers a lot of it and it makes my glasses steam up. Added to my Smurf blue plastic gloves, it’s necessary, but not necessarily a good look as I wave my way through my new life.

Out on walks, now without a form stating my date of birth, address and time I left the house, and able to walk up to 100km (!) I see more of my neighbours emerging from their cocoons/houses, chatting at a socially acceptable distance. Everyone misses human contact, friends and family.

Bread Man is still delivering and attempting to speak English with me, though muffled through his mask it’s sometimes hard to understand him.

“Next week I make happel pee” he announced on Thursday.

It’s strange that he can’t pronounce English words beginning with ‘h’ – horrible is ‘orrible, happiness is ‘appiness’ (let’s not go there) but words beginning with vowels sometimes receive a ‘ha’ to start them off.

“Pommes, pommes” he said when I couldn’t work out what ‘happel pee’ was.

“Ah apple pie… we say pie, not pee”.

He was a bit suspicious about this, I could tell by his eyes narrowed above this mask. Nevertheless he is bringing me a “happel pie” next week as a thank you for the English lessons which are helping his daughter who continues to study from home.

Meanwhile, I have a huge favour to ask, and wish I could send you an apple pie to say thank you. I know that some of you very kindly bought my new book My Four Seasons in France, and if you enjoyed it, I would love a review on Amazon, GoodReads, iBooks, Waterstones, wherever you bought it. Thank you ever so much, I would be enormously grateful for your help and will think of you when I am eating my happel pee.

I wish you and yours truly well from my little pig sty.
Bisous from France,

ps The poppies, coquelicot as the French call them, are out everywhere this month in France – here are fee gorgeous photos on Facebook.

Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print and audio, on Amazon everywhere and all good bookshops online, and just published My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life

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