There are many differences between the way we live when we are in France and how we live at home in England. Breakfast is one of them.
When we are in France we usually take breakfast on the terrace, weather permitting, and not too early. We usually go to the boulangerie about 8.30 and are having our breakfast to the sound of the church bells at 9.00 am.
Breakfast usually consists of bread of some sort; sometimes a fresh flute or a ficelle from the boulangerie in the village, or possibly the remains of the previous day's baguette, toasted. Always with butter and jam - our favourite jams are abricot and reine claude. We also have orange juice and coffee. Maybe once or twice in a week we will treat ourselves to croissants from the boulangerie - not every day on the grounds that they are far too delicious therefore cannot possibly be other than extremely fattening and bad for us.
At home our breakfast routine is quite different, but with a French twist to it. We get up at about 7.00am. Nick takes Lulu for a walk while I get the breakfast ready. On weekdays it never varies. It is always orange juice, tea and cereal with apple compote and fruit.
The apple compote came about because one of Nick's colleagues once asked him, many years ago, to bring back from France some cartons of Pomme Pote - little cartons of fruit compote that his children would eat - on their breakfast. We looked at it and thought we would like to try some ourselves. We enjoyed it and it has become a habit for the last 15 years.
We then found that you can buy it in big jars, which we brought home by the dozen. I'm sure the checkout girls thought we were completely mad, filling our trolley with jars and jars of apple compote - most Brits just buy wine and cheese.
We soon noticed that it is more economical to buy in large tins, which we decant into a spare jar and keep in the fridge.
It's interesting that we have never seen it in English supermarkets. In France there are shelves and shelves of it - combined with apricot, banana, rhubarb and other fruits. You can get it in large tins, huge tins and positively industrial sized tins, as well as handy little one-portion-sized pots and cartons.
In the UK you can sometimes find small jars of Bonne Maman compote which is really expensive. Or you can buy large tins of mango compote, which seems slightly bizarre - I don't know of anyone who uses it. For a while Sainsburys had tins of stewed apple which is almost the same but they no longer seem to stock it. So we have to resort to bringing a few large tins of compote home with us each visit.
The question is, what on earth do the French people do with such enormous quantities of apple compote? Putting a spoonful on your cereal each day would only account for a fraction of what is on sale.
Answers on a postcard, please !!