Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Joyeux Noël et une très bonne année 2015. 

Que cette année vous apporte, à vous et à votre famille, bonheur et prospérité.

Royal Arcade, Melbourne

Merry Christmas 


best wishes for a peaceful, prosperous and happy 2015.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Message of Peace and Hope

The message of peace and hope can be found in unexpected places.

This week, 17 of my fellow countrymen have been held hostage in the Lindt cafe in Sydney, with 2 of them being killed during the final minutes of the siege. Unimaginable. Sickening. 
The gamut of emotions across the faces of those who have laid flowers at a make shift memorial outside the cafe is heart-wrenching - especially those of the family members of the deceased. An act like this tears at the heart of a community and can catalyse irrational responses. Concerns were expressed of the possibility of racial riots like those experienced in Cronulla, 2005; the first, and hopefully the last in beautiful, multicultural Australia.

Instead of this week's tragic event fuelling fear and hatred within the community, it has galvanised people of all faiths, backgrounds and heritages to come together to support each other, pray and offer the family of the victims their condolences and blessings. Truly heart-warming signs of peace, understanding and hope for the future............a reflection of the Christmas message.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Holding On When You Want to Let Go.

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. Lao Tzu

There has been a prolonged silence from Eiffel tells – nothing said since  mid September.
Dreaming of more of this and ...............

Pourqui you ask? A lot of self-reflection and soul searching has been going on here.

Too many years of multi-tasking and angst have taken their toll...... Then there is my newly acquired tinnitus as well as a few other body parts that no longer function properly, creating daily tests for my patience; nothing life threatening, but niggling enough to make me review where I am and where I would like to be at this stage of my life. 

Definitely time for a change of direction. 

After much thought, and unsolicited advice from friends who have already trodden similar paths, I've decided the best course of action would be to change from full time employment to part time, and further develop the skills I need in order to “follow my passions” .

......... and this 
As a mother and wife who has had a career, I’ve put the interests and needs of those whom I love, my friends and my employer first, leaving very little time or emotional energy for myself. Now it’s time for me – in theory, but alas not in practice.

Last month, my employer refused my request to work part time next year– an unusual response as many of my colleagues already have part-time status and most of those who applied concurrently with me to reduce their hours of work, were granted their requests. There has been no explanation for my application being refused. A compromise appears to be feasible, but it’s not to be an option – for me. I have been with my current employer for 25 years.

I haven’t the courage to resign, and to be honest, I’m not sure if it’s feasible and will not know for quite some months. What would you do if you were me – cautious, and nearing the end of your professional life with a burning desire to change direction, but lacking the knowledge or confidence to do so?

Yes, I know I am fortunate to have such a dilemma, but I am no ‘spring chicken’ and the other hens of my age have already flown the coop. It’s lonely being the oldest chicken on my perch and I’m being sapped of energy just by trying to hold on to the damn thing.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Une Célébration

Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories. Miller Williams

The faint sound of car horns constantly tooting is unfamiliar. Perhaps the gendarmes or pompiers alerting the traffic to make way? The cacophony grows louder before its source is revealed.  

Unexpectedly, a Citroen 2CV cabriolet, festooned in bows, appears around the 
corner of la grande rue. Its windows open and roof folded down, defying the intermittent rain. The female passenger is frantically waving to the empty street, while her male driver has his right hand simultaneously on the steering wheel and horn while making large circular motions with his left arm. Following closely behind the Citroen is a long procession of horn blowing vehicles, each with a bow and occupants who are whooping, cheering or waving. Obviously a celebration.  

The motorcade winds through the village, past the church then down Rue Jean Brugnon while, from our vantage point in the boulangerie, Mr R estimates its length - at least 1.5 kilometres. The noise trails off into the distance long after the last car disappears, leaving us to guess the reason for ces festivités. "C'est une célébration de mariage, bien sûr," explains our neighbour a few days later.

This is the France we want to experience - away from the tourist hot-spots, hotels and charms of Paris. The reason for buying My French Folly. It's the people and rhythm of daily life in les petites villages and countryside that we find truly enchanting.

Marriage brings one into fatal connection with custom and tradition, and traditions and customs are like the wind and the weather, altogether incalculable. Soren Kierkegaard

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Truffle Hunter

The corner of Guillaume's workshop
Guillaume is the quintessential Frenchman. Charming with a commitment to la bonne vie and a quick sense of humour.  He is well versed in many and varied topics and quite handsome.

Guillaume is also a stonemason par excellence: an old school artisan with skills that are sadly disappearing in France. His work can be found in all manner of ancient buildings across the country, including a few famous cathedrals and chateaux ……….and now in My French Folly.

An invitation to his meticulously restored maison revealed an enormous hand-built wood-fired oven in the kitchen, a productive orchard and potager and a decent sized cellar systematically packed to the ceiling with wonderful French wines, (all reds) according to their origin. 

The subterranean cellar air was noticeably crisp and held a faint aroma of ripened fruits. Standing in the centre of this vast cave was a refectory table on which sat enormous, old glass and earthenware bottles of home made brandy and jars of preserved Tuber uncinatums –  truffles………. the size of tennis balls! 

Conversation quickly turned to cooking and truffle hunting.
Courtesy of

Yes Guillaume truffle hunts in the surrounding forests. No, he doesn’t forage with others, nor does he use a truffle pig or hound. And no, the truffles aren’t always located in the same area. The obvious question had to be asked, “How do you find them?’
Courtesy of

His eyes glinted as he gently tapped his nose and replied “mon nez”! A joke? Apparently not, according to his wife. Guillaume is so attuned to le terroir that he has no need for aids to root out his prized culinary gems.……..l'art de vivre à la français.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Weekend Reflections - Paris

Paris is always a good idea.  Audrey Hepburn
Establishments showcasing the understated elegance of contemporary French design can be found scattered amongst the superb antique shops of the 7th arrondissement. The artisans in the shop (above) specialise in the gilding of all types of objects - from ancient to modern. A stroll through this area of Paris offers a feast for the eyes and food for the imagination……… well as luscious temptations for your taste buds when you your feet need a rest. 

 Visit Weekend Reflections for some interesting reflections from other bloggers.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Realise Your French Dream- House for sale NOW SOLD

In the heart of France, midway between Paris and Zurich, within easy access to the rest of Europe is a "ready to move into holiday home in a glorious, rural location".  

If you are a lover of fine food, wine, sking, other outdoor pursuits, history or architecture, this region of 
France has it all on its door step. 

As well as the tiny asking price, 60 000 euros the current owners/ residents  are happy to act as your personal,  multi lingual (French, English and German) caretakers to watch over your French dream if required, and manage holiday lets if you want to make some money when it's not in use. 

On a personal note, during the last 12 months the vendors of this house have helped us turn our French nightmare back into our French dream. My French Folly is getting a new lease on life and starting to look loved.
Visit this website for further pictures and details. 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

French + Vintage….yes please

The bleak skies, strong winds and intermittent rain had me perplexed when Mr. R, ensuring that I was warmly clothed with a brolly in hand, unexpectedly bundled me into the car one Saturday morning. Destination unknown.
As we navigated our way past beachside cafes and through the vibrant inner city precincts, the favourite haunts of this weekend flâneur were being rapidly eliminated as possible places for our journey’s end.
My mental guessing game stopped abruptly while crossing the Westgate bridge. I was flummoxed. The mystery further deepened when the car halted at the water's edge in Williamstown and Mr. R produced my camera, which he had carefully hidden.

A short walk and le voilà - a vintage French car show staged in a shipping yard. .…. shear ecstasy for a husband who loves tinkering with motors and bliss for this lover of French vintage - well almost bliss. The crowds proved to be a definite challenge for taking 'that perfect shot'! Despite this test of my patience, I was one very happy francofilly.

For more black and white photography please top by The Weekend in Black and White,  and if you appreciate images of reflections  reflections you may wish to visit Weekend Reflections. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Making Connections & Harleys

Not only does blogging enable connections to be made between similar spirited people from around the globe, it also enables established friends to connect in new and different ways. 

Debbie is a close friend whom I often see during the week. She is a botanical artist who shares my passion for photography and the creative arts. Despite the hours spent together and our many conversations, Debbie was unaware of my love for taking pictures of bikes, (people powered, or motorised, but especially Harleys), until she read one of my recent blog posts.

Apparently her brother-in-law, a privately educated fellow who works in the
business end of town, swaps his suit for his Harley leathers to ride to and from work (Harley fanatic meets Clark Kent mode) and lives to go cruising on his beast in the weekends. 

Uncannily, I've snapped one of his Harleys when I spotted a closet of bikers parked outside a pub … was parked nearby this very mean machine.   

Life is full of co-incidences ………..

Bon week-end.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Man on the Ground = A Rat up a Drain Pipe

Before local friends came to our rescue.
Thank you to those of you who have contacted me for an update about the situation with our house in France. 

The renovations to My French Folly have been a farce. My Man on the Ground, an Englishman, and his "company" resemble something from a slap stick Laurel and Hardy movie, instead of the slick professional crew that they claim to be. Unfortunately I'm not laughing.

It appears that this husband and wife team exploit the fact that many overseas buyers of property in France aren't on site, can't effectively speak the language or don't understand the French building rules and regulations. Their ability to look clients in the eye and repeatedly lie without flinching, is deserving of an Academy Award. 

Embarrassingly, I am one of many people who have been taken for a ride.  After the damage was done to My French Folly at the hands of this charlatan and his wife, I read that he was taken to court, but suffered no loss for his wrong doings, as the rogue had arranged his finances so he was penniless.  Despite the court proceedings, inexplicably in a country renowned for its officialdom, this English couple are still running the same business,  flouting the law and managing to scramble up the proverbial drainpipe with well orchestrated, emotive excuses when their clients become suspicious. 
Work is now in progress. Mr R is making our 
shutters and a French stonemason (one of our 
local guardian angels) has commenced 
repairing the stone work. The new external 
stairs were a welcomed surprise when we 
arrived last summer. 
Since our renovation debacle, I have learnt a lot about siret numbers, the French building system and French law -   and my language skills relating to renovation and legal matters have improved quickly.
Stairs being rebuilt last year by one of our friends - a true French artisan.

With generous support  from the local community, we are now working with talented French artisans to rectify the myriad of problems à ma maison,  albeit slowly. 
There has been a temporary lull in my quest to make this couple of scoundrels accountable for their actions due to the unfortunate events of 2013, but the chase is not over………..

Friday, 21 March 2014

Weekend Reflections - Lac de Charmes, France

I always say that the times in my life when I've been happiest are the times when I've seen, like, a sunset. Chris Evans
SUNSET, LAC DE CHARMES, Haute Marne, France
When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. Mahatma Gandhi
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky. Rabindranath Tagore 
Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, 2 golden hours, each with 60 diamond minutes. No reward is offered because they are gone forever. Horace Mann

Another weekend when I'm joining  Weekend Reflections. Drop by Jame's blog  for some visual treats.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Reflections: Chateau d'Azay - le - Rideau

Do not worry if you have built castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. David Henry Thoreau
Once again, I am joining Weekend Reflections. Click here to see the reflections of others.

CHATEAU D’AZAY-LE-RIDEAU - Loire Valley, France

While meandering through the grounds of Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, absorbing the tranquil beauty of its gardens, a reflection of this charming renaissance castle framed by foliage, came into view. 

Built between 1521 and 1523, during the reign of Francoise 1, Chateau Azay-le-Rideau is considered to be the "jewel of the French Renaissance". Its interior  is dominated by the ornately  embellished grand staircase on which the influence of Italian architecture is clearly evident. Chateau Azay-le-Rideau may be a comparatively small chateau on the Loire valley landscape, but it is definitely worth a visit.

                         Click here to view all participants of Weekend Reflections. 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Panama-mania in Provence …….Weekend Reflections

Panama-mania at my favourite provençal market.
Our Panama hats, purchased at this market hat stall in Provence, have finally gone into hibernation until our winter solstice, when they will be retrieved and whisked off to France to enjoy the summer sun. 

Although renown for creating and exporting distinctive, refined fashion since the the seventeenth century, the French also have "an eye" for spotting items of elegance, style and superb craftsmanship  from other cultures.  Fashion that is now entrenched in the French culture, such as Panama hats and bright provençal fabrics, have their origins far from the azure seas of France. 

The exhibition of the toquilla hat at the 1855 World Fair in Paris by the Frenchman Philippe Raimond, a resident of Panama, is credited for making this finely woven Ecuadorian hat - "the Panama", a chic, obligatory fashion accessory of the rich and famous. 

P.S. This is not my elbows in the mirror, but that of a person trying on a hat.  I have used a zoom and I am way off to the left of this image.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Harley-Davidson……..Weekend Reflections.

This week I'm again joining Weekend Reflections.

Weekends often see the bad-boy bikies being out numbered on our roads by the man-next-door, indulging in his Harley fantasy. Shy executives, compliant partners, responsible fathers and conservative neighbours will carefully preen then mount their dream-machines to zip along the highways and bank down winding roads, accompanied by the distinctive roar of the Harley's engine: a sound that screams "freedom", evokes envy and causes the inner rebel to surface.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Lazy Sunday afternoon on the Loire river, France

Strolling along the Loire river are some of my most treasured memories of France ….… a highly recommended past time.

Currently I'm finding it difficult to put "pen to paper"  and fingers to the keyboard. The inspiration for my post this week came from Virginia - thank you Virginia.  Please visit Virginia's addictive Paris Through My Lens  and also James' beautiful Weekend Reflections for some visual treats.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Happy Valentine's

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.     
Oscar Wilde

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
Blaise Pascal
Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting 2 bodies.
My florist's thought for the week

Happy Valentine's

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

It's Time

A view from the terrace at My French Folly
My mind is swimming. Celebrating a significant birthday, returning to work from the summer vacation and enduring a week of searing temperatures in the early to mid forties has taken its toll. I resemble the limp, heat scorched, and now rather tatty, plants in my beloved garden. No matter the nourishment and care I self-administer to rectify the situation, my body doesn't respond.

Mr R and Sue sitting on our terrace in France
after having just arrived for our 2013 sojourn.
In spirit, I am sipping rosé on our terrace in France.

In reality I'm half a world away at my desk, swamped by paper work and daunted by my rapidly growing "must do or else" list. In 2013 my daily routine was broken and I'm finding it jolly hard to re establish - the aftermath of a difficult year.

My head is struggling to rein in my heart. My heart is urging me to change my employment profile - more time to rekindle my neglected passions. I have yet to resolve the conflict between my financial security and emotional wellbeing; however, regardless of my state flux, it has become obvious that it is time to prioritise and simplify my life ………… and improve my French. 

Looking across the village roof tops from the terrace. Absolute peace descends over the village each evening at sunset.