Tag Archives: life


13 Sep

Jan Livesey (outside the church for my Christening )

Showering you with flowers for your birthday Mum.

Love Me xoxoxoxo




13.09.1937 – 11.07.2016


La Force

4 Sep

If you could register* all the events in life – the good, the bad, the memorable and the ones you are reluctant to remember…  You cherish them, are thankful for them, ignore them, fear them.  They make you what you are and hopefully, influence you to carry yourself forward, strong and determined to keep looking around the next corner.

“Life’s not a straight line,” I still hear Mamy (my French grandmother) saying to me, many years ago when I’d had my first taste of mortality, at a time I would prefer to forget.  I was sitting there at rock-bottom, listening to the words of this discreet and loving 87 year-old woman as she reeled off dark events in her life (nursing my baby for me, far physically stronger than me – my baby the beautiful being in this heavy time).  She spoke with dignity and humility. I’d had no idea of what she’d been through in her life – this petite, elegant woman who I already loved for how she observed people around her (I was doing a hell of a lot of that myself, not understanding or speaking the language of my new home), her conspiratorial grin and her willingness to accept me into the foreign family I’d suddenly landed myself in.  I looked upon her with new eyes.  She told me with certainty I would get through this time.  Mamy’s strength and empathy empowered me.  I thought, if she got through all of that, I can.

Many events have followed this conversation – and amidst the beautiful, there’s bloody well been a steady drum roll of tough ones for our family in the last few years.  But I understand the thread that runs through all of them, the good the bad, that collects me in its force and nurtures me.  It’s love. I sound bloody kitsch.  I don’t want to imply ‘lurve’, the cliched Hallmark cards or tits and arse ideas of lurve. I mean the big love. Love for and from the people in this life with me.  It empowers me, making me cherish today and determined to see tomorrow.

*I’ve been OCD-recording visual images on my Instagram feed, vigneronswife







Happy Eight-Oh Dad

4 Sep

Love you Pop xo

Image 05-09-17 at 13.06

Image 07-09-17 at 13.32

not Zzzzing, Bzzzing

24 Mar


I feel like I’ve emerged from a big sleep.

But I haven’t been sleeping.

I haven’t been nodding off, I’ve been just temporarily out of action.

My mind though, has been in overdrive and whirring and whirring.  It’s been having a huge time, chock full of stuff – crap, weird stuff, joy, confusion, peace, weird stuff – buzzing like the beautiful bumblebees around me in the garden right now.


But as Spring gets into its step, I am starting too as well.  I can get up, get out, bloody well brushing off the dirt from the last scrape.  The mind is buzzing and ready to clear out the crap.

image from 'Old Tom's Holiday', by Leigh Hobbs,  ABC Books, 2002

felt something like this…

Just one of those little chunks of life that reminds you (again) that it’s good to have life (again).

Please don’t chuck.  I’m sorry for the harp music, the chubby little cherubs and the waffle – sounds like I’ve lost it (again), but I mean it.

And stuff it, they’re flying right above me now with the bumblebees.

for my mum

13 Sep

…a few of your favourite things for your birthday!

You are there, we are here, but we wish you a happy day and send you all our love.

peonies for you

peonies for you

some home-picked figs

some home-picked figs

fresh cherries

fresh cherries

wild irises from out the back

wild irises from out the back

some hand-picked lilas

some hand-picked lilas

baked bread

a little baked bread

a beautiful red poppy

a beautiful red poppy

oh boy, some more tins!

…oh boy, some more tins (you are the Queen of tins!)

and a rooster

…and a rooster

why not, a rainbow!

why not, a rainbow!

some snow for you, who's never seen the snow

…and some snow for you, who’s never seen the snow

a sniff of wisteria

a sniff of wisteria…

a little girl in an old dress

a little girl in an old dress

and a hug from me xoxoxoxoxo

and a hug from me

What a crazy year this has been, Mum, but today is the LUCKY 13th!

As Mamy said, life is not a straight line…  And yeah, it’s crooked as hell right now, but there is a beauty and a whole lot of love in all these kinks.



26 Aug

A couple of months ago things went pretty topsy turvy.  Hellishly so.  La vie certainly wasn’t belle and our family took a big hit.

But we’re making our way around it, and at the centre of the storm rides my Mum, bracing the elements up front, and showing everyone her courage and determination.  It is her strength guiding us, with Dad at her side, keeping us afloat.  You are a champion Mum and I love you.

And how’s this, despite all this crap, my family, on both sides of the world, and our friends, are remembering each other and being reminded by each other, that there is love.  Everyone is helping out and expressing their love (geez Mum and Dad are even holding hands).  Yes I know it’s corny, and I should probably cut the trippy talk and be tough, but at times like this I realise that this IS what bloody well makes the world go round – to look after each other and enjoy ‘la vie’.  Really!

jan and pete

How many bloody wake up calls do we need to remember this??!?

La vie est belle.  Every crazy day of it.

lilas off and running


hands 3

* “Adelante” (Spanish) :  1. ahead, in front, forward

p.s. thanks for the push, V


The people in your neighbourhood #1

29 Sep

“Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood. Say who are the people in your neighborhood – the people that you meet each day?

For some reason I found myself singing this song with Lilas in the car yesterday. We’d been cruising, passing 20-odd tractors in full harvest mode, and I’d just filled up with gazole at Madame Marty’s in the village next to ours.  On paying for the ‘gazoil’ I received a very cheery lesson from an old Frenchman on how to say ‘gazole’ instead of ‘gazoil’…  “No, it’s not like how the Anglais say it!” he instructed.  “She’s not exactly Anglais!” piped in Mme Marty with a nod at me.  Oh I love the locals!

madame marty

Mme Marty and Raya in their tabac

Mme Marty and Raya 2

Mme Marty has been running the local ‘tabac’ (tobacco shop) and ‘station service’ (service station -as with a lot of things in French, just say it backwards and you will probably be right.  I laughed so hard the day Benji asked me if I’d ever played with a ‘talkie-walkie’) for about thirty years.  I don’t know a single person who isn’t fond of ‘La Souris’ (The Mouse) – the name the locals have affectionately bestowed upon her.   In rain or shine, she is out there filling the cars, serving out the packs of cigarettes (they still smoke a lot around here), the cold beers from the fridge and the ‘bonbons’ to kids from her vast array at 1c a piece.  Her beautiful dog Raya is either lying on the tiles obstructing your path or mooching around, taking a pause in the middle of the road near the petrol pumps.

Mme Marty has a brother Robert who also lives in the village, whose wife, Lilliane is responsible for what seems like all local children under the age of 10.  She is the super-nanny with little ones constantly around her skirts, moving patiently at their pace with ther first steps, first bicycle ride etc.  She has a play area at the side of Mme Marty’s station and you can see all the toys lined-up and waiting.  This family are incredibly important assets to the village and it just wouldn’t be the same without them.   I asked Mme Marty where she was from and she pointed upstairs.  Born and bred on site, a true-blue local.   And when I asked her how much longer she intended to keep running the tabac she told me in her inimitable husky voice, thick with its Southern accent “as long as this body will let me!”.

Living out here, to be honest, can sometimes do my head in.  Everybody knows everyone’s business.  There is no anonymity and rarely a kept secret.  I’ve driven KILOMETRES from home in search of a pharmacy to buy a pregnancy test so that locals queueing behind me wouldn’t know of our plan.  Haven’t I told you already about being observed at the recycled bottle bin? – ‘How much does that family drink with their ‘etranger’ guests!??’.  Try buying suppositories on the quiet…

But (coming from a childhood in a city) ultimately, I have grown to appreciate living in a small community.   There is a lovely sense of routine and an appreciation of Nature’s cycles in the country – and a wealth of information on offer on all sorts of subjects if you reach out for it.  A smile and quick chat with Mme Marty can make my day, a wink from the butcher and an exchange of recipe ideas…  life in the country can be rich.

And sometimes you have no idea where a conversation might lead you.  As I was speaking with Mme Marty yesterday she mentioned that she’d known the former owner of our house.  Tell me more!…  She said that she knew the house well and had visited it when ‘the’ lady was living in it.  The lady had been living there with her parents and when they died she stayed on but, being handicapped, had a live-in carer (a Spanish man) with her.  After all these years!   Suddenly my carefully-guarded scraps of beautiful purple-inked hand-written text – pages of a letter that Benji had retrieved from the mess of rats’ nests in the ceiling while renovating –  from a young girl away at school to her ‘darling parents’, transformed from fiction into living history and real people!  How many years I had struggled to read the lines (and marvel at how gorgeous the handwriting was) of ‘votre petite fille, Y’, amongst the nibbled pages and adored the little picture of a girl tending her farm animals in what may have been our home.  This information was wonderful!

a letter from 'votre petite fille'

"...I end my letter darling parents in the hope of receiving your news soon. Kiss my little Faustin for me and receive darling parents the most affectionate caresses from: Your little girl who is thinking of you, Y." (It gets me everytime)

little girl with her animals

'votre petite fille' on the farm

I’d so often wondered ‘who is she?’, ‘she must have lived here, as she is asking her parents how the weather in our hamlet is!’.  I’d always felt incredibly moved by her tender words to her parents whom she obviously loved so much and wondered if she had slept in our home.  I even kept pieces of the beautiful wallpaper (it wasn’t in a state to keep on the walls unfortunately) that I had painstakingly removed during work on the house. This might have even been from the little girl’s room…

wallpaper bleuets

beautiful flower wallpaper from the upstairs bedroom

And this little girl was called ‘Yvette’.  The ‘Y’ was fully confirmed when Mme Marty said the lady’s name had been Yvette.  She had existed.  But with this came some sad information.  Yvette had apparently fallen pregnant and her parents, unwilling to have their daughter unmarried and become a mother, forced her to terminate the pregnancy and with that, Mme Marty said, “elle a perdu sa tete” (she lost her mind).  Heartbreaking.  Whether it be village gossip, a myth or whatever, I am still thinking about that darling little girl, writing to her adored parents.  In a way I wish I didn’t know the whole story.

I think I need to finish on a cheerier note…

People in Your Neighbourhood as seen on Sesame Street

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