Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Lockdown diaries day thirty-three, Advent day one, the Charentaise slipper

French Village Lockdown Diaries day thirty-three advent day one
Advent Day One

Day thirty-three, Tuesday 1st December 2020


Welcome to advent

I can honestly say advent this year is not looking like a normal advent chez-nous, in fact we seem to be set for twenty-four days of fun and extravagance with advent calendars containing jams (Ed), teas (Ed), beers (Adrian), wines (me) and dog treats (Mini), plus there is a chocolate one waiting for Pearl. While Ed sampled his with breakfast, Adrian and I were a little bit more restrained and our bottles, a blonde beer and a sparkling dry rosé, are chilling in the fridge. Once I too am suitably chilled after yoga this evening and Adrian is ready for a cold beer after his Zwift cycling session, we will savour them with our lasagne. Just one rattle of her calendar saw Mini arrive in the kitchen at breakneck speed, to give the door a tap for her treat. It might have been eleven months since she was last presented with a magic box of treats like this, but she remembered what to do. We did buy one of Ed’s, but the others were all generously provided by Adrian’s mum who seems to be keen to ensure that in this difficult year we count down to Christmas with smiles on our faces and a bit of Christmas cheer in our glasses.


French Village Lockdown Diaries day thirty-three advent day one
My poor muddy bike

December seems to have brought with it a change in the weather and it was a damp and chilly bike ride into Chef Boutonne for us this morning, although by the time we arrived home, the sun was doing its best to beat the clouds. We have been spoiled with crisp, clear days of sunshine and blue sky for most of November, my perfect winter weather, and so different to the low cloud of today. The worst thing though was the mud. Our route avoids the main road and is normally a lovely ride on small, traffic-free roads with fields either side, often giving us vistas of sunflowers or sunsets. There might not be much traffic, but there are plenty of tractors and a wet night left everything coated in thick, sloppy mud that stuck to every bit of bike. Luckily for me, Adrian treated them to a deep clean and chain wax this afternoon.


French Village Lockdown Diaries day thirty-three advent day one
A la Française ! Larousse guide to everything French

France fact of the day advent calendar

I may not be able to pour you all a glass from my advent calendar, but I can share a little something with you every day during advent. My France fact of the day will be an interesting piece of information that I’ve found in my Larousse guide to everything French; A la Française ! 


This book is a work of beauty that has spent the last year sitting on our coffee table, its three hundred pages packed full of everything about France and the French, from the heroes of French sport, the great designers and inventors, the kings and courtesans, artists and writers, food, regions, sights to visit and more.


French Village Lockdown Diaries day thirty-three advent day one
Adrian's Charentaise slippers

Advent Day One, the Charentaise slipper

I thought I’d start with something local to home and as the temperature has dropped a little here today, the Charentaise slipper seemed the perfect choice. This simple foot covering that we take for granted today, was invented in the Charente department during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King. At the time that Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s first minister, established the royal arsenal in Rochefort, the town of Angouleme became the centre for making the woollen uniforms of the Marine royale. While some of the material offcuts were used by the local paper mills to help absorb the water, some were used to create the Charentaise slipper. To begin with, they were simple woollen liners for the clogs that everyone then wore, but by the eighteenth century they were being worn by themselves indoors, to polish the wooden floors without making a noise. They are now a warm, sturdy, woollen slipper, usually with a tartan design and fleecy lining, perfect for draughty old French houses (like ours). They are still made locally in La Rochefoucauld, near Angouleme, and lots of beautiful examples can be found on the Rondinaud website here. 


  1. What a fun post! And I must say, you have far better advent calendars than we do!

    1. Thanks Jeanie, they really are very extravagant, but a Facebook friend has a Gin one that I think beats wine and beer!


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