My greenhouse here in France was the first designed by my husband and made by my then 16 year old step son. It's design draws on the French glass houses of the nineteenth century and has a metal superstructure,  Ed's bit,  sitting on walls made of stone found around our property made by Guy.

When it was first erected I grew tomatoes, supported by an automatic watering system during our lengthy absence, but since then it has seen only occasional service and some of the glass suffered from stones kicked up by the lawn mowing. This year as permanent residents it needs to earn it's keep! It's  broken glass has been replaced using glass salvaged from my late Dad's greenhouse and his staging has been installed.  Guy has put a socket outlet in so I can finally plug in the propagator Ed and Beth gave me some years ago, it has previously had to be unheated.

Yesterday was a lovely early spring day, so out came the seed box, packets sorted into sowing order and now the propagator is nurturingoing tomatoes-artisan bumblebee  mixed, a nice cherry pink, yellow, orange with stripes, chillies; Joe's long cayenne and hot Portugal,  a sowing of mixed salad leaves, some purple and white aquilegia and sweet peas. Now the wait begins! 

The greenhouse

Marmalade  or marmelade?

January and February have always been months to fill the kitchen with wafts of citrus scent  as oranges bubble away to fill jars with jewel like orange preserves. Of course Seville oranges, eagerly awaited, are the mainstay of marmalade but never having seen them on sale here in our part of France I prepared for our move by making extra in 2016, Seville orange, three fruit, oxford, orange and clementine filled my larder with sufficient to last us a while. 

The arrival of the 'foire des  agrumes' in the supermarkets here with oranges for dessert and jus vying for place on the fruit counter with clementines and mandarins made me start wondering if indeed it might be possible to make marmalade hrre this year. Finding a recipe for Marmelade  de pomelos in my favourite French recipe magazine set me off, Pomelos are a sort of ruby grapefruit and made a very fine deep orange looking preserve. On every visit to the supermarket I still searched among the oranges for the oh so elusive Sevilles. Then up in my face book feed pops a recipe for 'Marmelade d'oranges facile' so searching the ingredients list found it uses a variety called Maltaise.  Adding them to my shopping list I set off in hope and there among this week's display in our local Lidl were the very fruits. 

it would be rude not to at least try the so called easy recipe that led to the discovery of this orange apparently suitable for jamming, so I sliced 2kg of maltaise oranges and left them overnight to soak in water then  cooked them for 30 minutes  leaving them again to soak for another six or seven hours before their final simmering to setting point. Not going through the process of juicing, removing pith and then chopping the peel is certainly easier, but the proof will be in the eating! 

December 8th.

On my way through St Pourcain the other day the Christmas lights were being attached to the lampposts on the bridge over the river, well into December. The reason for such tardiness in lighting up the town lies with the annual launch of 'La Ficelle ' on the first weekend of December and the banners announcing it's coming  have been occupying  the lampposts. La Ficelle is a red wine produced by the Union des Vignerons based on Gamay and very similar in nature to Beaujolais Nouveau which is released a couple of weeks earlier. One of the attractions and the suspense of the launch of  La Ficelle every year is the design on the bottle, always a satirical cartoon.and only  revealed on launch day. La Ficelle itself was the string used by a local hostellerie owner in the days when  the wine was served in  pitchers, with knots representing measures, after you had your fill he charged according to he number of knots the wine had gone down the pitcher, so La Ficelle bottle designs always incorporate in some way the knotted string.  This year's design appears to be a woman in a  wine glass held by a pink elephant. In the interests of research of course I had better buy a bottle to closer examine the cartoon!

Meantime the Christmas scene of snowy trees, polar bears and penguins has taken up residence next to the bandstand, a sure sign that Christmas is coming!

December 2nd 2016

My first experience of a French Mairie today, to certify the address of our house so that EDF will record the actual address they supply electricity to. Only recently have the roads around our commune been given names, before that each little group of houses was a 'lieu dit', or place called. EDF still have us recorded at a place called address. This would not be important if were  not for the apparent primacy of an EDF bill in proving you are resident, even the bank need it, and the address of the bill and the address of the electric meter must be the same, hence my trip to the Mairie for them to certify our address is as it has been for the last 6 or 7 years. The Community administrator could not have been more helpful, and very keen to tell me about forthcoming local social events too, and an evening opportunity to meet the Maire in January with a glass of wine and local delicacy 'pompe  au  grattons ', a sort of cake with pork scrachings! 

Contrast this with,  formerly France Telecom, who had a reputation nearly as bad as BT. As with all transactions you have to prove who you are.... passport is fine, and where you live, the EDF bill with its English delivery address and 'lieu dit" backed up by the local rates bill worked fine and only 4 working days later the telephone cut 16 years ago has been reinstalled, new fixtures and connection to the new live box and Internet  is up and running.

So now to use the  Internet to send the Mairie's certificate to EDF, but perhaps I'll send them a hard copy too as back up!


Little bit of bio coming soon.