NEW: The Countryfille guide to South West France

So, after two years living between Devon and France there is so much I want to share with you about this little corner of the Charente region that we now call home. To be honest, my heart has always called France home, ever since I was a small child spending endless summers running wild in the Dordogne. Memories of swimming naked in rivers; going to sleep at dusk listening to crickets and the smell of the sun-baked earth through the bedroom window; early morning trips to the boulangerie with my sister, arguing all the way as to who was going to say ‘deux grands pains s’il vous plaît’ and the never-ending lunches, the table heaving with food and friends… as a country, it just makes me properly happy.

Copyright Countryfille 2017
Copyright Countryfille 2017

I love that we have put down our own roots here and now have a proper home – and what a home she is! Living somewhere, even if it is part-time, is so very different to holidaying there. We have made real friends, not just with other expats but with our neighbours, the stall-holders at the local market, the lady in the pharmacy who is as skincare obsessed as I am…

La Retraite
La Retraite

So, I thought I’d create a dedicated section of Countryfille for all things French. Reviews, recommendations, great places to visit, city guides, interiors inspo and my favourite flea markets to visit… the works. I’ll also be interviewing interesting women who have also made the move across the channel and carved a new life for themselves in the South West of France.

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Stay tuned!

CF x

CF Travels: Bristol and Bath – the mummy minibreak

Eeeekk! I’m off on my tod for a full 48-hour solo minibreak.

This summer we have covered all bases – baby-friendly Cornwall, romantic bolthole in Dorset, sociable city jaunts to London with friends… now it’s ME TIME.

I work in Bristol, so it’s a little bit of a busman’s holiday. That said, I am usually dashing up the M5 at 6.30am, working all day, then straight back home to catch bathtime. I never get to linger in the cafes in Clifton, or exercise my credit card at Cabot Circus (the South West outpost of Harvey Nics! Salvation!). I will be staying at, and reviewing, the Bristol Hotel down on the Harbourside.

Although it will be a work-night, I intend to hole-up at the bar and catch up with friends. Then retire to my room and lounge in the fluffiest of robes with room service, free wifi and a particularly weepy rom-com from Netflix. I CANNOT WAIT.

It’ll be an early night because bright and early the next day I’m off for a full-day foraging course at the recently unveiling Vale House Kitchen cookery school just outside Bath.

Pretty idyllic, huh?

I cannot tell you how much this place excites me. The list of tutors is a ‘who’s who’ of foodies – including their head tutor – chef, food writer and cookery teacher Tim Maddams (locally he was head chef at the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster, often popping up alongside Hugh in the TV series, too).

I love that it is not just about the cooking though, but the art of country pursuits too. I was sorely tempted by the list of field courses available, including fly fishing and shooting; as well as the butchery course with Robin Rea (I wrote about his AMAZING butchers-cum-delicatessen-cum-restaurant, The Rusty Pig in the spring) but in the end plumped for the full-day foraging course with Chris Westgate.

We’ll be off for a 3-hour jaunt through the fields and woodland of the Chew  Valley – learning to identify edible (and in-edible!) plants, ideas for cooking our foraging finds as well as countryside etiquette when it comes to gathering from the hedgerow.

I’ll report back at the end of the month with a full review – in the meantime here is a list of courses this autumn.


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