Saturday, October 21, 2017

Celebrating the Good Times and the Village Bar

French Village Diaries Celebrating the Good Times Ed 17
Happy 17th Ed!

There has been a lot to celebrate in the village recently and most importantly, for us, was Ed’s 17th birthday. On Thursday 19th October 2000 at around 7.20am, Ed made his way into the world. He was late, 11 days late to be precise, and it took around 17 hours and included a full paediatric team, with a Ventouse sucking device for him to arrive, but we got there in the end. His first day at home was on the Friday, a little bit like this year in that with him away at school during the week we had to wait for Friday evening before celebrating.

French Village Diaries Celebrating the Good Times Ed plays the bar
Ed plays the village bar

Happy Birthday Ed and thanks for lots of fun and music - I’m not sure where you get your musical talent from, but it’s certainly not from me, something that was very obvious at the karaoke night in the bar last weekend.

French Village Diaries Celebrating the Good Times village bar
Morning coffee in the sun at the village bar

To celebrate the first three months of the re-opening of the village bar, I’m calling it a bariversary, they held a karaoke night last Saturday. I’m not sure I have been to more than a few karaokes in my life as no one needs the torture of hearing my voice amplified; in fact I only sing alone, in the car, and to my ABBA cd. However, I loved it, had a great night and haven’t laughed or sung so much for ages (those of you who were there, I can only apologise). The bar may only have been open three months and might not look much from the outside, but inside it’s a warm and friendly place to be that has already become a central part of our village community.

French Village Diaries Celebrating the Good Times village bar
Summer evening buffet at the village bar

Jean-Marc and Catherine worked hard to get it opened and in the last three months we have enjoyed morning coffees, impromptu soirees with music, Jean-Marc’s special cocktail aperitifs served with homemade light bites, as well as summer evening buffets where the long trestle tables have stretched from the terrace into the garden and Jean-Marc’s flaming baked Alaska has wowed the crowd at the end of the evening.

French Village Diaries Celebrating the Good Times village bar
Tour de Rêves Day Two leaving from the village bar

The bar was the start point for Day Two of our Tour de Rêves bike ride, where lots of local friends joined us for coffee and croissants before we set off for what was to be a difficult 79km.

French Village Diaries Celebrating the Good Times village bar
Café Linguis'tic at the village bar

It has also become home to our newest venture in the village, Café Linguis’tic. Every Thursday afternoon the bar is alive with chatter in a mixture of French and English with lots of laughter too. The conversation is light and easy, conducted in French for the British and in English for the French, and so far, everyone is having fun learning more about each other and improving their language conversation too. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have the village bar back up and running.

French Village Diaries Celebrating the Good Times Jerusalem artichokes
Jerusalem artichoke season

Slightly less exciting, but worth celebrating in my opinion is the start of the Jerusalem artichoke season. These sweet tasting beauties (with not so sweet (windy) side effects) are ready to dig up now but will also happily stay in the ground for harvesting all winter. I’ve already been busy roasting, puréeing and freezing them as these little blocks of deliciousness will add flavour and thicken any stew, curry or sauce I make.

When the oven door hinge broke mid-roast this morning however, I didn’t feel much like celebrating. Thankfully, I have a fantastic husband who has fixed many a thing around the house – oven door hinges included (when it first went about ten years ago). It didn’t take him long to strip the door down, find the problem and replace the broken nut and bolt. He also helped me undertake a deep clean, as stripped down is really the only time you can get to both sides of each piece of glass to clean them. It now looks shiny and new, and opens and closes with ease. A working oven and a fantastic husband, that’s worth celebrating I’m sure you will agree.

This post has been linked to the All About France blog link at Lou Messugo and Dreaming of France over on my bloggie friend Paulita's blog.

Lou Messugo

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book review of Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands

French Village Diaries book review Drawing Lessons Patricia Sands #FranceBT
Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands

Drawing Lessons by Patricia Sands on Tour October 2-13

(women's fiction) Release date: October 1, 2017 at Lake Union Publishing ISBN: 978-1542045872 352 pages Author's page | Goodreads   


The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself. Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists' workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband's dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas. Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat (as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy) Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.


I am a fan of Patricia's Love in Provence series of books and at first I was a little disappointed this book wasn’t the next in that series. However, it soon became my favourite Patricia Sands novel (so far) although I still want more from the Love in Provence series please Patricia.

Drawing Lessons is a beautifully written book following the emotional journey of Arianna as she attempts to rediscover the artist within and create herself a future, following the devastating dementia that has all but taken her husband from her. Her husband Ben’s diagnosis has been difficult for all the family, but her guilt at leaving him in his care facility to travel to an artists’ retreat in Provence, taking those first steps towards a future without him, is almost too much for Arianna. Moving forward is a slow process, but with each smile she manages and with each lesson she learns from those whose company she finds herself in, progress is made. I loved the mix of characters and personalities we met and enjoyed getting to know them and Arianna better as they settled into their retreat just outside Arles.

The descriptions of Provence, the colours and scents of the markets, the history, the beauty of the wild Camargue, as well as the food, as seen through the artist eyes of her characters was sublime; I could reread this book again and again. I was very surprised to learn (at the end of the book) that Patricia isn’t an artist herself. Reading this book I felt I was there too, especially at the market in Arles, and the descriptions of the Camargue have made me keen to return to an area I know a little, but not enough.

Patricia’s writing has enhanced my own memories of visiting the area and if you are planning a trip here this book needs to be on your ‘must read’ list. In my opinion it is so much better than a guidebook, covering history, culture, places to visit and more. Patricia is writer who certainly knows her locations very well indeed.

This is a sensitively written book and despite her heartache and guilt, I enjoyed Arianna’s journey as she discovered that with time comes acceptance, peace and eventually the ability to move on.


French Village Diaries book review Drawing Lessons Patricia Sands #FranceBT
Patricia Sands
Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, but her heart's other home is the South of France. An avid traveler, she spends part of each year on the Côte d'Azur and occasionally leads groups of women on tours of the Riviera and Provence. Her award-winning 2010 debut novel, The Bridge Club, is a book-group favorite, and The Promise of Provence, which launched her three-part Love in Provence series (followed by Promises to Keep and I Promise You This), was a finalist for a 2013 USA Best Book Award and a 2014 National Indie Excellence Award, was an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013, and was a 2015 nominee for a #RBRT Golden Rose award in the category of romance. Sands also contributes to such Francophile websites as The Good Life France and Perfectly Provence, and she appears as a public speaker for women's groups. Find Patricia on Facebook, on Twitter on Instagram at her Amazon Author Page or her website Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases. Buy the book on



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French Village Diaries book review Drawing Lessons Patricia Sands #FranceBT Save

You can read my France et Moi interview with Patricia here and my reviews for her other novels set in France by clicking the links below.
The Promise of Provence
Promises to Keep
I Promise You This