Zero degrees!

Winter is here!

This morning, the car was iced over and the thermometer said 0 degrees for the first time since last winter. This is it. It’s officially here. The fields around were misty and white and the trees were dropping leaves in indignation. The combine harvesters have been busy at work and many of the fields of corn around us have been cut down to stubble. What was a hidden gem of a village, coming into Agris, is now bare and clear. No twisting roads through cornfields. No surprise turnings. No thinking I’m living in a strange horror movie.

We now have an extra metre of sky on each side. Big sky has become even bigger and I found myself worrying if I’d be claustrophobic back in Britain with a thin strip of sky between the terraces.

It’s just quite lovely driving down the lanes at impossible speeds, watching the fields going by, waving to the cows on the way. It’s not like Manchester. I find myself falling more in love with the place, despite the cold. None of this grim autumn here. I might be wearing jumpers in bed and hugging the dog to steal a little warmth, but the bright band of blue through my draughty windowpane is worth the cold.

I found a great fabric shop at Champniers: Cache Muraille (hide the fortification??!) where I’m going to spend lots of pennies buying fabric to make quilts and extra curtains and draught excluders. I really want to get into the creative me this winter. So far, it’s been very limited to food, rather than artistic pursuits.

Yesterday, I made walnut and gorgonzola pasta with foraged walnuts. Steve isn’t a fan of nuts in general, so this was more of a dish for me. I have always liked the idea of walnuts and gorgonzola (and walnuts in salad!) but you don’t get fresh ones in England; they’re more bitter and tough. These were soft and sweet and delicious! Now I want more to keep me going through the winter – like a squirrel!!

Jake has made 42 little fairy cakes this afternoon, in cute little Halloween bun cases, to take into school tomorrow. They’re just as cute as the biscuits. I’m looking forward to next week – all the cooking we’re going to do! He even did a little ‘s’il te plait’ when I asked if he wanted the butter – impressive, since we’re still on very formal terms chez nous. It feels very odd to kiss-kiss my clients – I’m not quite used to it yet! I like it though! I was chatting to one of my clients this morning about English formality – and I really feel it’s very odd to be so reserved when the rest of our European neighbours are a little more physical. Okay, maybe not the Germans, but I get the sense the Belgians are in on it as much as the Spanish and the Italians and Portuguese and Greek. I’m not so sure about the Swiss. I don’t think they do kiss-kissing either. Bizarre! What was nice was the guy in front of Sue and I last week in the supermarket. He lent over the checkout in a way that can only be described as if he were going for the till. Maybe that’s the Northerner in me that thinks that. But no, they kiss-kissed and bon apres-midi’d and then she sat back down, he stood back up, she scanned his shopping and they chatted as per usual. Très mignon!

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