Sunday, September 28, 2014


There's lots of this kind of thing to be seen on walls around Rodez just now.
It's more fun than the Soulages Museum that's for sure - more on that later...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


It would be hard to find a country that does doors better than France - from the grandest to the most humble, patched and repaired doors - I love them all.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

tomato fest

About a month ago a violent rain and hail storm devastated our tomato crop.  (It also flooded Warb's studio and reduced the drawings on the floor (lesson learned...!) to slush but that's another story.)

However, as you can see from the photos there is no shortage of tomatoes in my kitchen! A friend of a friend who doesn't know when to stop sowing seed came to the rescue and I was given about 30 kilos of gorgeous tomatoes. I've made jars of passata, tomato sauce, tomato chilli jam and tomato and beetroot soup.

We made this soup for a big Tower do a few weeks ago - enough for 40 people - and someone asked me for the recipe. It was improvised on the day so I made it again yesterday and took note of quantities this time.  There is only a small amount of beetroot but you can taste it and it makes the most beautiful colour.

Tomato and Beetroot soup with Mascarpone cheese

2 kilos of the best, ripest tomatoes you can find.
A large onion
Two tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon stock powder (I use Rapunzel or Marigold, use 2 if using Marigold)
1 apple sized beetroot
125g Mascarpone cheese
3 or 4 sprigs of oregano

Start by cooking your beetroot. I do this in the oven. Loosely wrap the beetroot in foil and pop in the oven at 180º for an hour or so until soft.

Soften the onion in the olive oil in a large soup pot. Don't allow to brown.

Add the chopped up tomatoes and the leaves from a few sprigs of oregano. I sieved the soup at the end but if you don't want to do that you'd better peel the tomatoes by dunking in boiling then cold water and slipping the skins off.

 Add the stock and bring to the boil. My tomatoes were very juicy so I mixed the teaspoon of stock into just 250ml of water. You might need to adjust that if your tomatoes aren't so juicy.

Simmer for about 40 minutes. Slip the skin off the cooked beetroot, chop roughly and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper, add the mascarpone and blend until smooth.

Sieve or not. Check seasoning. Serve with a blob of crème fraiche on top. This foccacia is perfect with it.

Tastes of summer!

ps. At the brocante the other day I came across a cast iron radiator with an integral cupboard. Turns out it's for warming plates!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

flea market horrors

You do see some real stunners at the brocante sometimes.

When I was little I had a bowl with a picture of a teddy bear on it. I ate all my soup and got to see the little bear but...

The mind boggles!

Monday, September 8, 2014

french linens

I was ecstatic to discover a pile of cotton and hemp tea towels at the Brocante yesterday. They have never been used and must have been sitting folded and put to one side for decades.  The cotton ones are monogrammed with the initials MH - probably a Marie-Helène.

Once I iron them and photograph them they will be available in the shop.

Friday, September 5, 2014

shop goodies

New goodies in the shop today and over the next few days.
(The photo reminds me of Kim's Game! Did anyone play that?)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

cahors market

I had a great day out in Cahors yesterday. First stop the weekly market, then coffee and pain aux raisins, the huge flea market on the square (the picture of the dolls and odd figures above is the only one I managed to take I was so distracted by everything), then more market purchases and finally a gorgeous lunch. All beneath a perfectly clear blue sky.

There were fewer people than normal - school is back so any tourists with children have gone - but still enough for a nice bustle. Today we drove along the Lot valley to Cajarc to pick up my car from the garage and I had to pinch myself - I get to live here! - I don't have to leave at the end of the Summer! Something everyday like picking my car up from the garage means a drive through some of the most beautiful countryside in France.

A bit of late Summer  sunshine and I go all hello birds, hello trees...