27th March 2016

Clocks went forward today.....
As expected, the viewers last week did not make an offer, so our place remains for sale.  And still the whole world tells me You cannot be serious. You want to leave the South of France and return to rainy old England?  My response would be Ask Tom Hanks in Castaway. He found himself in a peaceful, tropical place with constant sunshine and all the fish and coconuts he could eat. The garden of Eden you might say, yet did he want to stay there? Why on earth would he want to return to a place jam-packed with people, elbowing his way through his stressful, daily life?  The important word there is life.  That was where his family were, where he was born, the people who speak his language and understand where he comes from, his humour, his culture and what makes him tick. Also it's where you would want to be remembered by all who follow you in life.  So, the quest continues.  Hopefully it won't take too long.
.....Ask the clocks and Tom Hanks:  time and tide wait for no man.

20th March 2016

The week started well.  Two selling agents, and a surprise phone call saying we had a viewing on Friday at 15.45h.  France has a good system if you're just a seller.  The buyer pays both the hefty Notaire and agent's fees.  All we have to pay is the mandatory survey covering such things as termites, asbestos, energy efficiency etc. So we called in Socobois, a reputable local company.  The man came on Tuesday and agreed to my request to pay him three, separate cheques. My mandatory spending rule: always pay from income, not from savings.  As Friday approached, I read up on how to deal with viewings. Get rid of clutter and dog beds and at the appointed hour, send Him indoors out with both dogs. Never let a barking dog approach arriving car. Friday dawned. It poured. I couldn't open windows and patio doors onto a sunny terrace and I struggled with all the high-end cleaning. 15.00h, the floors still wet from mopping, Bruno out on the lead to prevent muddy paw marks and the agent's car arrives - 45 mins early!!  Bruno barks right on cue.  Disaster.  Will viewers make an offer? I doubt it. And Him indoors says At least he's not an accountant - he wasn't wearing a turban....Mr. Balan Singh......

13th March 2016

Frank Sinatra sang It's so nice to go travelling. Judy Garland sang Over the rainbow....
When I wrote Pensioners in Paradis I told of the joys of moving to France. Oh the sunshine, le bien manger and la qualite de la lumiere. And it was all those things and more. But, 11 years later I'm older and wiser.  In all that time it's been like a wonderful, extended holiday, enjoying all the material things of life.  But, what of the immaterial, the spiritual, the inner contentment, the feeling of home? Gradually, petit a petit, I've felt a growing feeling of loneliness, and a strong feeling that people were visiting for the place rather than to see us. We've met some nice French people over the years but somehow there's been a lack. We've been living in a tiny, English bubble in the middle of a foreign land. But once recognised, how on earth to correct it? UK property prices were all against us, Bruno's still (at 13) fighting fit and certainly couldn't live in a flat. Well, at last I've found somewhere where bungalow prices are low and, a stroke of luck, if we sell our house and large back garden separately - the land price here in Gaillac is much sought after - it's just enough. So, yes we're on the market. Watch this space as the saga unfolds.
.........but it's so much nicer to go home.

6th March 2016

It's Mothers' Day in the UK. Everyone round here is coughing and sneezing, so here's what to do. When, ten days ago, I hosted the launch day for my book Lamplight, many seemed interested in the food Esther Kolinsky gave her son, David Klein - the old recipes she brought back from der Heim. They certainly gave him the strength to withstand all that Hitler could throw at him. So, for mothers everywhere on this Mothers' Day, make a note of these ancient wonders. Pure penicillin.

Goldene Yoich - original chicken soup recipe from E. Europe

Ingredients: 1 boiling fowl, giblets, 2 whole onions, 2 carrots sliced lengthways, piece of parsley root, 1 stick of celery, 1 parsnip, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, water to cover (plus a frozen cube of last week's chicken stock, frozen in an old egg box). Method: Put the fowl in a large saucepan, add prepared vegetables and seasoning (and chicken stock if available), and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Remove the scum. Simmer for 3 hours or until tender. Remove fowl and serve separately. Skim the soup to remove the fat. Serve with kneidlach and lochshen, see below.


Ingredients: 1 onion, 2 tbsp. melted chicken fat, 4 oz matzo meal (Chapelure here in France, extra croustillante; or breadcrumbs), salt and pepper, 1/4 pint chicken soup or boiling water, 1 egg. Method: Melt fat in a saucepan and fry the prepared onion. Add to the matzo meal with the salt and pepper. Add the soup or boiling water, then the beaten egg. Stir well. Chill. With damp hands rolls the mixture into tiny balls and drop in the boiling soup and simmer for 15 mins. Serve in the soup.


Ingredients: 1 egg, 1/4 tsp salt, pinch pepper, 3 oz plain flour. Method: Beat together the egg, salt and pepper. Gradually mix in the flour to form a stiff dough. Roll out very thinly and leave to dry. Roll up tightly and then cut into thin strips. Cook in boiling, salted water, separating the strips as they are put into the water. Cook for 5 mins, strain and serve in soup.

Result. No more colds.  P.S. Have you got your copy of Lamplight yet? Just click on www.authl.it/4q0 from wherever you live. Please leave a review on amazon in due course so that everyone can read about Esther Kolinsky and her son David Klein.  Enjoy.