Unfortunately, France has not had a good start to 2015 as has been well documented and broadcast around the world. But, despite the tragedies of recent days, life must go on and if we are ever to defeat terrorism, we must not let these atrocities stop our normal life.
So, with that in mind, let me first tell you about the way in which we saw in this New Year. I think I mentioned last time that we had been invited to a party. Unfortunately for our lovely hostess, most of her invited guests had to cry off for various reasons, leaving just six of us. But, actually, I didn't mind as it turned into an impromptu dinner party instead! Here we are, the table groaning with food (she's a woman after my own heart!) at midnight with our very own firework display - well, our sparklers!
In France, the Christmas festivities don't end with the coming of the New Year because Epiphany is celebrated on 6th January. And we celebrate it by eating a special cake of puff pastry and frangipane, which is a kind of custardy cream made from almonds. The cake is called Galette des Rois. An alternative is a Brioche des fruits confits, which is in fact what I bought for us. Rather than go into details myself, for those who want to know more, click here to see a lovely video explaining it all. If you do, you'll understand when I say, "J'ai trouvé la fève!" And here is a photo of my little fève - I've stood her next to a wine bottle so you can get an idea of the size!
I understand there are whole collections of fèves, ranging from Disney figures to the more serious santons (nativity figures) that can be collected and I guess that's what children do. In the first year we were here and we started going to the vide greniers (boot sales), we wondered why table after table had dozens of these tiny figures for sale. Then the following Christmas we found out about the Epiphany tradition and it all fell into place! But there are some serious collectors (aren't there always!) and even - somewhere - a musée des fèves.
At home, we have had a fairly quiet and slow start to the year. We have started work on the lounge; our friend Les has made a super new door for the cupboard under the stairs and Danny has started to put wood stain on it and on the previously unexposed part of the staircase. I have plans to start stripping the wallpaper this week.
Now the biggest thing I want to tell you about is my new fitness challenge. I mentioned it in my last post and I can now give you more details. If you look above this post on my blog, you will see a new page called "My Peak Challenge 2015". Click on it and you will be able to read all about what I am trying to do. As you will see, my goal is to walk at least 5km on the weekend of 14/15 March and in doing so, raise some money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. (I have also added a diary page which I hope to add to from time to time).
So, pretty much every day, I go out for a walk, along an old disused railway track which has been concreted over and is used by walkers, runners and cyclists. I take one of the dogs with me, and I try to walk a bit further each day. On the first day I walked 1.6km and today, after 8 days, I walked 2.6km. The pace varies depending on which dog I have with me; Bertie (our English setter who will be 12 years old in May) likes to sniff every blade of grass and my arms get as much a workout as my legs as he yanks me from side to side! Also, he doesn't like to move too quickly! The opposite extreme is Finn, our 4.5 year old Irish Setter, who bounces alongside me like a four-legged pogo stick! And I sense that he's itching to just GO! Somewhere between these extremes is Liam, the other Irish setter, who will be 4 years old in April. He is perfect company, trotting along beside me, keeping to heel and at my pace! So far, I am enjoying this new venture; I have been out in the rain, the wind and today, beautiful sunshine and it makes me feel quite invigorated. Eventually I will encourage friends and family to support me by making a donation to the charity but it seems to me that you would not want to do that unless and until I reach my goal! In the meantime, please read the My Peak Challenge 2015 page if you want to know more.
So, that's about it for now.
Stay safe everyone and I'll be back soon! À bientôt!