15 April 2021



With the easing of the lockdown at the beginning of this week the charity shops re-opened.  I did a brief tour of our local ones yesterday and checked that they were accepting donations, which most of them were.  (There are five different ones in our nearest town.)

I took a small box of unwanted items to my favourite shop along with a large bag of plastic carrier bags, acquired during our early days of click and collect grocery shopping when the supermarkets were supplying goods ready packed in bags, presumably to limit the amount of time people spent picking up their groceries.  Charity shops are always very pleased to get carrier bags in my experience.

Me being me, as usual, the net flow of charity shop items was into the house not out of it, (more of that in the next post), two of the things I swooped on being these two cook books.  I have a large collection of cook books already but when they are only £1 or so each it's hard to resist a new one.  Both of these seemed to be completely brand new and unused.  Michelin starred chef Marcus Wareing is a judge on the professionals version of MasterChef and I had hung my nose over his book when it was first published a couple of years ago.  I managed to resist when it cost about £13 but when it was only £1.50 it seemed like a bargain too good to leave on the shelf.  

Which brings me to this year's MasterChef.

There was a bit of a hoo-ha when the broadcasting of the final of this year's amateur MasterChef competition was cancelled in favour of endless tributes to the late Duke of Edinburgh who died last week.  The poor man had been ill for some time which obviously gave all the TV channels plenty of time to prepare numerous tribute programmes including vast numbers of interviews with people who knew a lot about him and were prepared to record their memories and versions of events whilst he was still languishing in hospital then later in Windsor Castle.  I can't imagine being asked to speak in the past tense about the life of one of my friends while they are still with us but that's show business for you!  The MasterChef final was finally broadcast last night.  

We gave up watching the competition during the early rounds (John Torode and Greg Wallace do get on my pip a bit) and had forgotten all about it but decided to catch up just for the last cook-off.  What a pleasant, talented lot this year's young finalists were.  I would happily eat at any restaurant they each cook in and in many ways I suspect it hardly matters which one wins as I'm sure that just getting to the final secures a bright future for anyone hoping for a career as a chef.  

The food they cooked looked amazing and fabulous, considering that all of these people are literally amateurs, and the winner turned out to be Tom Rhodes, the young man on the right.  He currently works as assistant manager at Nando's Mexican style restaurant in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and seems like a really nice guy as well as an incredibly talented cook.

However, the thing that really tickled me was that during the section where viewers are treated to a little insight into their background and home life we saw a brief glimps of Tom's own cook book collection.  It looked like they were all arranged by colour !!  There he was browsing through one of his cook books in front of shelves where all the ones with pink covers were arranged together, next to the ones with blue covers and so on.  What a totally bonkers idea and I love it!  (Apparently Tom's ambition is to write a cook book himself.)

Mine are organised vaguely by author or type of cookery but they don't look anywhere near as appealing as having all the green, pink or yellow ones together!  I feel compelled to reorganise the whole lot rainbow fashion accordingly and I can't wait to make a start !!

12 April 2021


On 12th April 2015 we went to a wine fair.

We bought some Chablis (and a few others).

The shop at the winery sells interesting foods.  We bought some of them.

They also sell soap made from donkey milk.  It was rather pricey so we managed to resist.

On this day today....I'm getting my hair cut.  After eighteen weeks and trimming my own hair, it's going to be a big day!!

10 April 2021



A sunny stroll through the château courtyard at Le Grand-Pressigny.

10th April 2010.

You can park by the château entrance and explore the grounds for free, then admire the view.

The village of Le Grand-Pressigny.

Bon weekend!!

8 April 2021


I was reminded of this when reading Tom Stephenson today.  
Creases me up every time.


 On this day in 2012.
We had just arrived in Le Grand-Pressigny for our Easter holiday.
Lunch on the terrace in the sunshine.
Happy days.

6 April 2021



Here in Derbyshire, this time last week we were basking in warm sunshine, getting ready to light the barbecue.  On Wednesday we reached a heady 22°C. 
This lockdown's not so bad after all, I thought.

Then the schools broke up for the Easter holidays!

Yesterday we had snow, which thankfully disappeared pretty quickly and the sun came out in the afternoon.  We spent a happy couple of hours belatedly celebrating a friend's 70th birthday, socially distanced outdoors, wrapped up in blankets.  (It wasn't that sunny!)

Today the weather looked promising early on but we've had hail storms on and off all afternoon and it's bitterly cold.  Much more like the Easter holidays of my own childhood, spent indoors, in front of the coal fire, doing jigsaw puzzles or playing cards with my cousins.

Now it's snowing again!!

April showers!!

3 April 2021


We are normally in France by Easter every year.  In fact, even when we had the little holiday home in the village we spent every Easter there.   It was the first chance every year for a break away from work.  Even way before that, ever since Nick and I first met in 1993, we have spent every Easter in France on holiday, one way or another.  Last Easter we were stuck, like everyone else, at home, wishing things were different and wondering how it would pan out.  We never dreamed that one year later we would be spending another Easter still in the UK and not in France.   

This means I have to go back two years to find pictures I took in France at Easter time.  These pictures are of a shopping trip we made in 2019, wine shopping to a couple of our favourite producers.  Having just arrived in France for the next few months we needed to stock up and on the way we stopped at St Aignan to give Hugo a walk along by the river.  

We stayed in the Grand Hotel many years ago, in Spring, probably in about 1995.

That year we were on our motorcycles and treated ourselves to a few days in a nice hotel.  The holiday was most memorable for the weather, which was terrible, and the hotel dining room.  It was really old fashioned, serving a very traditional French menu (which we liked) and it was the first place I watched a waitress serve the cheese using two knives.  Balancing the cheese plate on the palm of one hand she deftly cut slices of cheese with the other using two knives.  We were in awe!!  The cheese was delicious (the local goats cheeses are fabulous) and we had the cheese course every evening just so we could watch the two-knife spectacle.

The weather was pretty nippy at Easter in 2019, judging by Nick's thick coat.

Hugo enjoyed his walk by the river, which looks quite full and very grey, reflecting the cold grey sky.  Hugo himself is quite grey now.  I sometimes forget how totally densely black his fur was when he was little more than a puppy.

A double row of tilleuls - pollarded linden trees along the Cher river bank.

They're a frequent sight in France, waiting for the change in the weather that brings them into bud and then magnificently into full leaf providing so much important shade from the sun.

I hope you get a bit of sun wherever you are this Easter.