The Downside of School Holidays

School holidays again – which means a lot of shopping. Groan. Since my two teens stay at lycée from Monday to Friday during term time (strikes permitting!), and Rors has four-course school dinners so doesn’t want much in the evenings, I only really have to shop for me and Chris (and the dog – the cats self-cater on the whole). So it’s very noticeable when I’m catering for the kids full-time. It’s not that they’re greedy, simply that they eat a lot!

Bulky bulk buys!

This morning’s shop at Intermarché set us back 168€, and if I’m not back there within the week, I’ll be surprised. (Food prices have been escalating lately, together with – and probably largely because of – fuel prices.) A few of the goodies will last a while. Chris came to push the trolley for me today and he likes to bulk-buy so we got a 5kg sack of rice, 5kg sack of pasta, 5l of cooking oil and a value pack of 120 biscottes. That’ll do for the children nicely for a while! We stocked up on red meat too, since we’ve used up the last of the chain-sawed sheep that Edouard the farmer gave us. Our next big project is fencing so that we can get in some sheep and pigs and be self-sufficient there, like we are with eggs and poultry.

Vegetable wise, we have a way to go. We keep ourselves in pumpkins (whether we want to or not), but didn’t do so well with potatoes last year. The onions and leeks were disappointing too, the birds got to my soft fruit bushes before I did, and Ruadhri ate all the peas (raw) and strawberries. But our super-duper polytunnel should arrive any day now, and we’ll be filling it with salad veg and starting off all the other plants before we put them outdoors. We also need to dig a lot more llama poo into the vegetable plot. It is frankly a wonder product for the soil. A lot of people recommend chicken manure, but I find that smells nasty whereas llama poo is odourless and a lot less squishy. (Apologies to readers of a nervous disposition.) Luckily, we glean so many free blackberries, elderberries, apples, plums and pears each autumn that we enjoy budget fruity puds all year round. The only free food we decline are fancy mushrooms – we don’t feel expert enough in that department to pick anything other than blatantly obvious field mushrooms.

To return to the feeding children issue, the cheapest meals we can feed them are pancakes (own eggs) with ham and cheese; chicken (own – usually cost around 2€ to buy at 5 weeks old at the market) or turkey (these are 6-7€ but grow up to 20kg) with baked pumpkin (own) and potatoes (own or shop bought); Chris’s homemade chips and fritters; pumpkin soup (not massively popular with the younger generation) and anything pasta-based. Our most indulgent mealtime is probably breakfast since we all love our cereals and pains au chocolat but they’re relatively expensive, even own-brand varieties which is all we eat. I occasionally knock out Welsh cakes or omelettes if I’m in domestic goddess mode.


A final remark about Intermarché. The carpark of the La Châtre branch is an eventful place. Not long ago a lorry got stuck under the low roof of the petrol station there, and today a car had rolled forward from its parking place and hit the back of another one, which was now firmly sandwiched in with a car in front and a car behind it. Some poor person was in for a nasty shock when they came out.

Daily snippets for April 20th

Today’s Saint: Saint Odette who died around 1156. As a young woman she took a vow of chastity, and so when her father tried to marry her off, she cut off her nose to make herself too ugly for anyone to want as a wife. She then became a nun.

Famous French person born on this day: Charles Plumier in 1646, monk and botanist. He identified the fuschia, one of my favourite flowers

Famous French person who died on this day: Jean Carnet in 1994, actor who appeared in more than 200 films

Today’s word: chariot de supermarché – shopping trolley



Cracking ice-cream

Making vanilla ice-cream

Caiti’s birthday ice-cream maker is proving to be a great success. She’s already on the third batch of ice-cream and she’s only had it 24 hours!

It’s very impressive. It’s a Phillips HR2304 ice-cream maker, to be technical. (What does the HR stand for, one wonders?) It makes 1 litre of ice-cream at a time, perfect for 4-6 people, depending on how greedy you are! The brilliant thing about it is that you only have to freeze the disc, not the whole ice-cream making bowl, which some other types call for. So even if you only have a small freezer, you’ll easily fit this in. (The disc contains a saline, non-toxic solution.) So, you make sure the disc has been frozen for 24 hours, then you slot it into place in the maker, and pour your ingredients into the bowl above it. Turn it on. The machine sets about churning the ice-cream or sorbet very quietly. Between 30 and 50 minutes later, your dessert is ready. Yum.

Here’s the recipe for Caiti’s totally awesome vanilla ice-cream. You can still make it, even if you don’t have an ice-cream maker. (Caiti’s came out a beautiful, rich yellow because of our free-range eggs which are always have vibrant yolks!)


Vanilla ice-cream recipe

2 egg  yolks

1 egg

125g castor sugar

5g vanilla sugar

400 ml whole milk

150ml whipping cream (Caits used fromage blanc which is lower fat)

5g cornflour

Put egg yolks, castor sugar, vanilla sugar and cornflour into bowl. Beat until the mixture is almost white.

Gently heat the milk and add to the egg mixture, beating all the time. Pour into a pan and heat over moderate heat for 1-2 minutes, making sure it doesn’t boil.

Let the ice-cream mixture cool to room temperature then fold the cream in. Pour into the ice-cream maker if you have one. If not, into the freezer in a suitable container, and stir it every hour or so until it freezes.


Caiti insisted on putting 17 candles on!

Caiti is currently making some apple sorbet from apple juice and icing sugar. I’ll tell you how that turned out another time and pass on the recipe if it was good. I’m sure it will be. Talking of good, here’s a photo of the chocolate brownie, meringue and strawberry birthday pudding-cake which Caits invented for us yesterday. I’m trying to get the recipe off her!

I poked fun at the HR in the ice-cream maker’s name. Here’s a link to some unfortunately named products that might make you smile.

Another wonderful recipe from Caitlin is for cherry clafoutis.



Daily snippets for 19 April

Today’s Saint: St Emma. Emma was a Countess who was very generous to the Church in and around Bremen in the tenth century.

Famous French person born on this day: Louis Amédée Eugène Achard (19 April 1814 – 25 March 1875) was a prolific French, cloak-and-dagger novelist

Famous French person who died on this day: Pierre Curie, physicist and Nobel prize winner

Today’s word: sorbetière – ice-cream maker

Autobiographical ABC

This is doing the rounds of blogs at the moment, so I thought I’d join in as it’s rather fun and present my own ABC. (There are another 7 ‘bet you never knew’ facts about me on my 100th blogiversary post!)


Age: 48

Bed Size: king

Chore You Hate: cleaning the oven

Nessie guarding the guinea pigs in our unique pig transporation system

Dog: Nessie (short for Nestlé Moschops, our Border collie/Alsatian cross)

Essential Start of Your Day: muesli and a few sips of coffee

Favourite Colour: turquoise

Gold or silver: either! I’m not fussy …

Height: 152cm

Instruments You Play(ed): recorder, violin

Job Title: chef d’entrerprise (I run a gîte with fishing lakes and a llama farm ably assisted by Chris!)

Kids: 3 – 19, 17 and 9

Live: Nouzerines

Mum and Dad on their wedding day 20.6.53

Mum’s name: Eileen

Nicknames: Tink when I was little (short for Tinkerbell, aah!)

Overnight Hospital Stays: baby deliveries, wisdom teeth removal, other minor surgery

Pet peeve: ignorant people

Quote From a Movie: I feel the need, the need for speed (Top Gun)

Right- or Left-Handed: right

Siblings: older brother and older sister

Time You Wake Up: 5.50am on Mondays ugh, 6.30am ish Tues-Fri, 7.30am ish weekends

Underwear: has to be comfy and colourful

Veggie You Dislike: haven’t come across one yet

What Makes You Run Late: kids or animals, usually both

X-Rays You Have Had: dental, foot, skull

Yummy Food You Make: flapjacks, custard and quiche

Zoo Animal You Like Best: all of them except monkeys!


Daily snippets for April 18th

Today’s saint: St Parfait, a priest who was martyred around 850 AD in Andalusia.

Famous French person born on this day: Paul Émile (François) Lecoq de Boisbaudran (18 April 1838 – 28 May 1912). I have to mention him as he was a chemist (like Chris). He discovered the element gallium.

Famous French person who died on this day: Gustave Moreau (6 April 1826 – 18 April 1898), French symbolist painter

Today’s French word: broyeur – crusher, grinder. Why did I choose this word? Chris is busy trying to fix the grass-cutting broyeur on the back of our tractor today, but it’s not going too well!


Caitlín (and yes that is an accent on the i – it’s called a foda in Irish and makes the letter long) is 17 today, the 17th. Apparently that’s called a champagne birthday, when your age matches your birth date. But Caiti doesn’t like fizzy drinks or alcohol so not much point giving her any to celebrate the occasion! (I was too young for champagne on mine – I was born on the 1st of August.)

Caiti's First Communion in 2002

I got to reminiscing about her arrival. She was pretty much bang on time, unlike her older brother who was a week late and who has remained that laid back ever since, and her younger one who arrived an impatient and drastic six weeks early. He hasn’t changed much either! Caiti was born at the Victoria Infirmary in Cork, a hospital well past its prime. The foetal monitor was attached to me with sellotape, and when the time came, Chris had to lend a hand lugging me down to the delivery room since there weren’t any porters around. But Caits was none the worse for any of this. Like the two boys, she was delivered by emergency section. The thing to be aware of about sections is that when the doctor is about to lift the baby out, he cheerily says ‘you’ll feel a bit of pressure now’. Don’t believe it. It feels like an elephant is sitting on you – luckily not for too long, but long enough!

Anyway, Caiti was a happy, easy little girl. She just slipped up once. She chewed her nails so we put that nasty-tasting clear varnish on, which she was not happy about. She plotted revenge. She poured some into my night-time glass of water. So when I took a swig in the wee small hours one day, I thought I was dying! I coughed, choked and spluttered for about an hour afterwards. Evil child!

I won’t say any more about because she’ll cringe with embarrassment. But she loves animals, cooking (but not cooking animals) and computing. Suffice it to say I love her to bits and am unbearably proud of her. Happy Birthday Caitlín!

Daily snippets for April 17th

Today’s Saint: St Anicet. Not a great deal is known about him, apart from the fact that he was Syrian and he was martyred when he was Pope.

Famous people born on this day: Caiti, and also a clutch of French politicians – Alain Poher in 1909, Maurice Rouvier in 1842 and François de Neufchâteau in 1750

Famous people who died on this day: two French writers, Aimé Césaire in 2008 and Marie de Rabutin-Chantal in 1696

Today’s word: anniversaire – birthday



Scary Fair

There is nowhere to park in Boussac at the moment. An archaeological dig is going on by the church, there seems to be something happening at the exhibition halls, and the Scary Fair has filled the market place and central streets of the town. These are the main car parking areas. The Scary Fair is the yearly funfair which is part of the Boussac’s Quasimodo celebrations. We gave it that name because last year we all came away injured. Rors had had a go on the giant inflatable slide. The thing was practically perpendicular and kids regularly shot right off the end of it. But that didn’t faze our Ruadhri. What got him were the friction burns he got all along his arms. I’d bought him tickets for six go’s at it, but after two he retired injured.

So we went to the dodgems to cheer him up. In mine and Chris’s day back at fairs in the UK, the bumper cars trundled around and bashed against each other robustly on the sides. You did a head-on collision, and you were chucked off. Or so I hear. Anyway, anything goes on French dodgems. And what’s more, they’re jet propelled compared with the ones I knew and loved where you had to floor the pedal to go anything faster than a slow creep. Caits, Chris and I all got bashed knees from being thrown against the steering wheel during high-speed crashes. We limped stiffly away, had an ice-cream and then headed for home to nurse our wounds.  For several days. We’ll be giving it a wide berth this year. And don’t think we’re being wussy. We’re cyclists, farmers and we’ve renovated two houses. We fall off our bikes now and again, we wrestle llamas and manhandle goats, we hit our thumbs with hammers every five minutes and drop large lumps of wood or masonry on our toes. We’re used to getting bashed and bruised. But the Scary Fair was over the top.

Me and Ruadhri on our bikes

On the subject of cycling, it’s taken a couple of weeks but Chris and I are properly cycling fit at last. We’ve been riding for about an hour and a half every day.  Today we did an extra long tour after dropping Rors off at school and didn’t notice it. We went on to have a busy day. Chris sawed branches off overhanging trees round the lakes and I dragged them up the bank into piles, and then I vacuumed the gite from top to bottom all afternoon and battled with tangled duvets and covers, while Chris chopped wood up. And then we cycled off to get Rors. Not bad for two people with 100 years between them! The great thing about our life here is that we are so physically active. OK, so we fall asleep in front of the telly at nine o’clock some nights, but on the whole we’re fighting fit!

Daily snippets for 16 April

Today’s saint: St Joseph-Benoît, who spent his life walking since originally no monastery would take him as he was either too fragile or too young. He is thought to have covered some 30,000 km during his short life.

Born on this day: Anatole France b 1844, writer, who received the Nobel prize for literature, also Louise Elisabeth Vigée le Brun, a painter born 1755.

Died on this day: Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon in 1788. I’m fond of the Comte. It was he, who in 1777 or thereabouts, wrote about llamas, saying what a good thing they would be for France. He was particularly tempted by their meat, which today’s llama farmers aren’t, but he had the perspicacity to see what brilliant animals they are!

Today’s French word: Fête foraine – funfair

Creuse Masons

In days gone by, Creuse, our départemente, was famous for its stonemasons. Every spring (traditionally when the swallows arrived), they headed up to Paris and to other cities in France to work on the buildings and monuments there. They didn’t come home till the end of autumn. So they had a tough time working in the construction industry, and their wives and families had a tough time running the farm or smallholding that they’d left.

I’ll come back to the subject again soon, but for now here’s my translation of a famous poem about the Creuse masons. It was written around 1855 by Jean Petit, known as Jan dau Boueix, a stonecarver. It’s taken me a while! I’ve stayed as true as I can to the original meaning, but sometimes I’ve had to make very slight changes for the sake of the rhyme.

The presentation below isn’t the greatest, I’ll admit, but it was the only way I could think of showing the two versions side by side.


You hear all sorts of songs 

In all sorts of styles

About lovers and warriors,

Triumphs and trials.

I don’t want to be boring

And so I will choose

Something new for my song –

The masons of Creuse.


On a fait des chansons,  

De toutes les manières,

Des filles, des garçons

Des guerriers, des bergères.

Pour ne pas répéter

Une chose ennuyeuse,

Moi je veux vous chanter

Les ouvriers de la Creuse.

When springtime is here 

They say their goodbyes

To their families and friends

With tears in their eyes.

Their wives are upset

As they bid their adeius

To the men that they love –

These masons of Creuse.


Quand revient le printemps, 

Ils quittent leur chaumière:

Adieu amis, parents,

Enfants, pères et mères.

Ah! quel grand désespoir

Pour la femme vertueuse

En disant au revoir

Aux ouvriers de la Creuse.


And so they are gone 

On their working campaign.

They head up to Burgundy,

Paris, Champagne,

Lyons and Bordeaux,

To form building crews.

They’re very hard workers,

The masons of Creuse.


Les voilà donc partis 

Pour faire leur campagne;

Ils s’en vont à Paris

En Bourgogne, en Champagne,

Lyon, Bordeaux, même ailleurs…

Ils ont la main calleuse,

Ce sont des travailleurs

Les maçons de la Creuse.


When they’ve arrived 

And have found jobs to do,

Without hesitation

At once they set to.

They’re never unwilling,

They never refuse.

You have to respect

These masons of Creuse.


Quand ils sont arrivés, 

S’ils trouvent de l’ouvrage,

Se mettent à travailler

Avec un grand courage,

Sans trop s’épouvanter

D’une vie laborieuse.

L’on devrait respecter

Les maçons de la Creuse.


How the railway lines 

That criss-cross the land

Have caused them backache

And blistered their hands.

The bridges and canals

From the Saône to the Meuse

Have cost them great pain,

The masons of Creuse.


Que ces chemins de fer 

Qui traversent la France

Ont coûté de revers,

De maux et de souffrances;

Ces ponts et ces canaux

De la Saône à la Meuse

Ont coûté bien des maux

Aux ouvriers de la Creuse.


They sing as they work, 

Despite their tough role.

They’re happy at heart

And have a glad soul.

Then the season is over.

No more homesick blues,

Because now it’s time

To go back to Creuse.


Malgré leur dur labeur 

En travaillant ils chantent

Ils ont la joie au coeur

Et l’âme bien contente.

La dernière saison

Est pour eux bien flatteuse

Pour revoir leur maison

Au pays de la Creuse.


The work is all finished, 

And so in November

The masons assemble

And go home together.

Look at the joy

Of the children whose

Fathers have come home,

Back home to Creuse.


Les travaux sont finis 

En novembre en décembre,

On les voir réunis

Pour s’en aller ensemble.

Vous voyez ces enfants

La figure joyeuse

Pour revoir leurs parents

Au pays de la Creuse.


Winter brings happiness, 

Long country walks,

Time spent with sweethearts,

Intimate talks.

It’s cold and it’s dark

But the skies are all blue

For the girls who have got back

Their young men of Creuse.


Enfin, pendant l’hiver 

C’est leurs belles journées,

Ils vont se promener

Avec leurs bien-aimées.

Dans ces tristes saisons

Les filles sont heureuses

D’avoir dans leurs maisons

Les garçons de la Creuse.


This poem’s author – 

Well, he’s no famous bard.

Just one of the lads,

Who works and plays hard.

Contentedly living

The life that he’d choose,

And proud to admit he’s

A workman of Creuse.


The beauties of Paris,

Like the great Panthéon,

The fine Tuilieries,

The Louvre and Odéon –

These beautiful buildings

Which make folk enthuse,

We owe them all to

The masons of Creuse.



L’auteur de la chanson 

Ce n’est pas un poète,

C’est un vieux compagnon

Buvant sa chopinette,

Toujours gai, bien content,

Trouvant la vie heureuse,

Et se vante gaiement

D’être ouvrier de la Creuse.


Voyez le Panthéon

Voyez les Tuileries,

Le Louvre et l’Odéon,

Le Palais d’Industrie,

De ces beaux monuments

La France est orgueilleuse,

On doit ces agréments

Aux ouvriers de la Creuse.


Berry Special Things

The Echo du Berry comes out on a Thursday. It’s one of our local weekly papers, and probably the most popular. Everyone seems to read it. The Echo itself reckons it has around 60,000 readers for the 13,300 copies it sells each week (2010 figures). Since it covers an area with a population of 110,000, that’s a pretty impressive readership figure.

The Echo began life in March 1819 as Petites Affiches. It later became L’Echo de l’Indre before taking the name L’Echo du Berry in 1950. These days it covers national issues, all the local news area by area, agriculture and the environment, and it has traditional Berry recipes, a short section on local history, classified ads, Sudoku and a what’s on section. It’s compulsive reading. We feature in quite regularly. I’ve made a point of keeping in contact with the journalist for this area.

The Echo is a slightly unusual local paper in that its readership covers several different départements, and they’re not all in the same région. This is because Berry is a historical region and a former province of central France. The French Crown bought it in 1101, and then in 1360 it became an independent duchy before being taken over by the Crown again in 1601. It remained a province until 1790, when it was replaced by départements following the Revolution. Berry now consists of the départements of Cher, Indre and parts of Vienne and Creuse (including us). So as well as being a Nouzerinoise (female inhabitant of Nouzerines), I am also a Berrichonne (female inhabitant of Berry).

As well as its own successful weekly paper, Berry has other famous products. The Sucrine du Berry is one of these. It’s a very old variety of squash. After reading about it in the Echo du Berry (where else?) I tracked down some seeds to grow this year. The end product should be a lovely big, dark green, pear shaped squash with golden flesh inside.



Berry has produced two black animals – the Poule Noire du Berry (chicken) and the Âne Grand Noir du Berry (donkey). And a also brown and black goat, the Cou Claire du Berry. There’s even an association,  the Union pour la préservation et la valorisation de Ressources Génétiques du Berry, which is actively working to make sure none of these animals, or the sucrine, die out.


It’s rather nice to think such interesting things have originated in our part of France.

Daily snippets for 14 April

Today’s saint: St Maxime (sometimes also commemorated on 22 November). He used to torture and execute Christians, but was converted by Saint Valérien while guarding him and his brother Tiburce in jail. He was martyred some months later with Valérien and Tiburce.

Famous French person born on this day: in 1773 Jean-Baptiste Guillaume Marie Anne Séraphin Joseph, comte de Villèle. He deserves a mention for that name only! He was a politician, very influential between 1821 and 1828.

Famous French person died on this day: Simone de Beauvoir, French feminist writer, in 1986

Today’s French word: hebdomadaire – weekly. (From the Latin ‘hebdomas’ = seven.) Also get bihebdomadaire and trihebdomadaire = twice a week and three times a week respectively

Spring Things

I’ve been out and about with the camera again today as the sunshine was back. I wanted to take some photos of some spring flowers. It’s a pity they’re all so short-lived – I’d love to have them blooming all year round.

First some of my tulips. I’ve planted them everywhere we’ve lived (and that’s a lot of places). However, they never did well in Ireland where the wet, windy springs destroyed them the moment they flowered.

Here is a wild orchid. We have a lot growing on the bank of the small lake.

I think these yellow plants are marsh marigolds. They grow close to our streams and are so bright and cheerful.

We were intrigued by these unusual purple flowers for a long while. But I’ve finally found out what they are. They are purple toothwort, and they’re fascinating. They’re parasitic and live on the roots of other plants, often alder trees which is the case with ours. They don’t have any chlorophyll, so no green leaves. And what’s more, they’re protocarnivorous. They have hairs which, when an insect touches them, send out filaments to trap and digest the unfortunate prey.

Here’s our next big spring job! At last Denis will get his new field, and we’ll build a few ready for the sheep and pigs we want to get in the very near future.

There's 200 here!

Finally we’ve invested in a postslammer to help with the fencing. It was too soul-destroying using the heavy mallet to bash posts in.

One more spring thing. Windy is laying down a lot these days, which means her baby won’t be long now. It’s nice and warm so it’s a good time of year for a baby llama to be born. I’ll keep you up to date.

If you like wildflowers, here’s a great site about French ones.

Easter Sayings – Dictons de Pâques

Flying bells are a French Easter tradition

Here we are! A stupendous seasonal collection of 45 French sayings (dictons) about Easter.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are coming to my site via queries about Easter sayings and traditions. So I thought I’d see how many I could find in order to satisfy my customers.

Old sayings are always fascinating. They’ve been carefully passed down from generation to generation. In the past these ‘dictons’ were very important. Without radio, TV or Internet, they were the best way to pass on information in an easily memorable form. They explained when to sew or harvest crops, for example, or what to expect weather-wise if Christmas was either very mild or very cold.

There are basically three sorts of dictons:

1.       Those based on the weather.

2.       Pure and simple superstitions or religious beliefs.

3.       Forecasts based on observations – such as animal behaviour, wind direction, and so on.


Some are universal, others regionally based, reflecting the local climate and customs.

So here we go. I’ve put them into the following categories: Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Day, Easter generally – and last, but not least – Downright bizarre!

Palm Sunday

1.       Les pommes portées à l’église et bénites le dimanche des rameaux préservent du mal de gorge

Apples taken to church and blessed on Palm Sunday protect you from sore throats.

2.       Le temps qu’il fait le jour de la Sainte-Isabelle dure jusqu’aux Rameaux.

Whatever the weather is on St Isabelle’s day (22 Feb), itwill last till Palm Sunday.


3.       Vent des Rameaux – Ne change pas de sitôt.

If it’s windy on Palm Sunday, then that’s not going to change any time soon.


Holy Week

4.       Sainte semaine mouillée donne terre altérée.

A wet Holy Week will spoil the soil.


5.       Semaine sainte pluvieuse, année ruineuse.

A wet Holy Week means a bad year.


6.       La gelée de la semaine sainte n’est pas néfaste.

Frost during Holy Week isn’t disastrous.


Good Friday

7.       S’il neige le vendredi saint, les autres gelées sont avortées.

If it snows on Good Friday then there won’t be any more frosts.

8.       S’il pleut le vendredi saint, les autres gelées sont sans effet.

If it rains on Good Friday, then any frosts won’t do any harm.


9.       Le vendredi saint, s’il pleut, le boeuf rit et le cochon pleure.

If it rains on Good Friday, then the cow laughs and the pig cries.


10.   Au vendredi saint, semez le cerfeuil et les haricots.

Sew chervil and beans on Good Friday.


11.   S’il pleut le vendredi saint, toute la pluie de l’année ne servira à rien.

If it rains on Good Friday, then all the rain in the rest of the year won’t do any good.


Easter Saturday

12.   Si le vent souffle la veille de Pâques, il soufflera pendant 6 semaines.

If it’s windy on the day before Easter, then it will be windy for the next six weeks.


Easter Day

13.   Quand Mardi Gras est de vert vêtu, Pâques met des habits blancs.

When Mardi Gras is clothed in green, Easter will wear white clothes.

14.   Quand à Noël, on se chauffe au soleil, Le jour de Pâques, on se chauffe à la bûche de Noël.

If you warm yourself in the sun at Christmas then at Easter you’ll be warming yourself by burning the Christmas log. (i.e. If it’s warm at Christmas it will be cold at Easter.)

15.   Celui qui recueille de l’eau le matin de Pâques, avant le lever du soleil et dans le sens contraire du courant, est protégé l’année durant contre toutes les maladies externes et internes” Les vertus de l’eau de Pâques… meilleur marché que bien des prescriptions!!!

Whoever collects water on Easter morning before sunrise, going against the direction of the current, will be protected all year long from all illnesses and injuries. The marvellous qualities of Easter water are better than any medicine.


Easter generally

16.   Un oeuf de Pâques avec 2 jaunes assure chance et fortune à son propriétaire.

If a chicken lays an egg on Easter Day with 2 yolks then that will bring you good luck and wealth.


17.   Un oeuf béni à Pâques éloigne la maladie de son foyer.

An egg blessed at Easter will keep illness away from your household.


18.   Un oeuf de Pâques planté dans un vignoble protège la vigne du tonnerre et de la grêle.

An egg laid at Easter buried in a vineyard will protect the vines from thunder and hail.

19.   Pâques tôt, Pâques tard,

Un bon merle a ses petits à Pâques.

Whether Easter is early or late, a good blackbird lays its eggs at Easter.


20.   Si Pâques marsine, il y aura guerre ou famine.

If Easter falls in March, there will be war or famine.


21.   Les Pâques pluvieuses Sont souvent fromenteuses… Et souvent fort menteuses.

Rainy Easters mean that will be plenty of bread … but they can also be lying.


22.   Pâques pluvieuses, Mains pâteuses.

Rainy Easters means pastry-covered hands (i.e. lots of wheat to make pastry and bread etc).


23.   Noel au balcon, Pâques au tison

Spend Christmas outdoors, then you’ll spend Easter burning wood. (i.e. if Christmas is mild, Easter will be cold.)


24.   Noël grelottant, – Pâques éclatant.

Freezing Christmas, blazing Easter.


25.   A Noël les moucherons, A Pâques les glaçons.

Gnats (sciarids) at Christmas mean ice at Easter.

26.   Pâques haut ou bas – Toujours vignes à tailler.

Whether Easter is high or low, there are still vines to prune. (i.e. However you celebrate Easter, there is still work to do.)


27.   S’il y avait deux Pâques – Et deux vendanges, – Il n’y aurait plus ni famine – Ni pauvreté.

If only there were two Easters and two harvests, there would be no hunger or poverty.


28.   Si février est chaud, – Croyez bien, sans défaut, – Que par cette aventure, – Pâques aura sa froidure.

If February is warm, then know this for sure – Easter will have its cold weather instead.


29.   Pâques doux, épi vide.

A mild Easter will mean empty ears of corn.


30.   Pluie à Pâques, emplit les coffres.

Rain at Easter fills the coffers.


31.   Pluie à Pâques, temps béni.

Rain at Easter, blessed times.


32.   Petits Pâques marine, c’est la peste ou la famine.

A very wet Easter, means disease or famine.


33.   Pâques tard, hiver tard.

Late Easter, late winter.


34.   Carnaval au soleil, Pâques au feu.

A sunny Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) means a hot Easter.


35.   Noël blanc, Pâques vertes.

White Christmas, green Easter.


36.   Noël vert, Pâques blanches.

Green Christmas, white Easter.


37.   Quand on mange le gâteau au chaud (gâteau de Noël), On mange les oeufs derrière le fourneau (oeufs de Pâques).

When you eat Christmas cake in the warmth, then you’ll eat your Easter Eggs next to the stove.


38.   Quand il pleut le jour de Pâques, il pleut pendant quarante jours.

If it rains on Easter day, then it will rain for the next forty days.


39.   Pâques pluvieux, Saint-Jean farineux.

A rainy Easter means that St John’s Day (24 June) will be floury (i.e. plenty of wheat will grow).


40.   Pâques de longtemps désirées, Sont en un jour tôt passées.

A long awaited Easter day passes very quickly.


Downright bizarre!

41.   Quand on a Pâques en mars, C’est les filles qui vont aux gars.

Quand on a Pâques en avril, C’est les gars qui vont aux filles.

When Easter is in March, the girls chase the boys. When Easter is in April, boys chase the girls!

42.   Pâques en mars, Tombes de toutes parts.

Easter in March means tombs everywhere.


43.   Pâques en avril, Mort à femmes et à brebis.

Easter in April, death to women and ewes.


44.   Pâques d’avril, Vaut fumier ou purin de brebis.

Easter in April brings ewe manure or slurry.


45.       Pâques vieilles ou non vieilles,

Ne viennent jamais sans feuilles.

Whether old or new, Easter never comes without leaves. (OK, this one I don’t get at all!)

Chasse d’oeufs – Easter Egg Hunt

Yesterday, Sunday, it was the Chasse d’oeufs (Easter Egg Hunt) that Ruadhri’s school co-operative organises each year. Like the last two, it was another grey day, but it least it was dry.

The venue this year was St Marien. The eggs had been hidden in the field behind the school, but to get there it was a long walk through the village. However, we went off the main road so we got to see parts of St Marien we never knew existed, even after living close by for five years. There’s the old railway and station, a restaurant and a couple of large factory buildings, that were once thriving places. St Marien itself was previously a large, busy village. However, it was totally reliant on the railway for all this business, and once that was closed in the shortsigthed 1960s, the village went into permanent decline. It is the largest geographically and physically of the three villages in the school co-operative (the other two are Nouzerines and Bussiere St Georges), but it is the only one without any enterprise of any kind in it. Bustling Nouzerines has the bakery, the auberge and a garage; Bussiere has a garage, but poor old St Marien has nothing.

But this afternoon it was lively. There was a good turnout, as ever. Three hundred eggs had been prehidden in the field. By the end of the afternoon, 269 of these had been found. What happened to the last 10% I’m not sure. The place had been combed and recombed by the children, and by adults too, drawn into the fun.

Each child has to find five eggs. There’s also the special gold egg, which entitles the finder to a large chocolate Easter egg. All participants get a small packet of little eggs for taking part.

It didn’t take Rors long to find his quota, hidden in hedges, the grass and behind tree stumps.

He was disappointed not to find the golden egg, but I think the ones he found are much prettier! All in all, a nice way to start the countdown to Easter.