Olive Picking in France

At this time of year I keep seeing references to olive picking (in warmer climes than the north of England, granted) and it always brings back happy memories of the time we spent living in the South of France, when one of our last tasks before heading back to England was harvesting the olive trees in the grounds of where we were living!


We set about the task on a late October weekend in 2011, which started bitterly cold but we were soon in shorts and t-shirts as the sun burned through.

We used various methods of removing the olives from the trees, little rake type things, a good old shake, and then climbing up the branches like ten year old boys when we couldn’t reach the best crops!

All, well most, of the olives would land on to giant nets that we’d spread around the trunk of the tree, which we’d then gather together when the tree had been harvested.

The nets were then emptied into a homemade contraption borrowed from the next door neighbour, to remove any leaves and stalks from the olives as they were loaded into crates.

The crates were then emptied out on to cloths in the garage for the olives to dry out a bit, before being crated up again and taken to the local olive press!

Of course it would be rude not to indulge in the french way of life whilst we were undertaking this quite laborious task, so a good Provencal lunch was laid on every day, and we celebrated our achievements at a local restaurant which is a converted olive mill!

Unfortunately we returned to the UK before the local olive press opened for the season so we weren’t able to see our harvest being processed, however the other members of our team sent us photos of the occasion!

To see more photos from our adventures in France, check out this post

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Happy Days

As you’ve probably guessed by now if you’re friends with either of us on Facebook or Twitter, we’re now back in the North of England after a wonderful summer living in the South of France. Here’s a little photo gallery selected from the 1,657 photos we took over the last 5 months!

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During the summer we came across the Zac Brown Band, and this song seems to sum up our time in France. Listen to it while you’re browsing through the slideshow 🙂

We’ve had a wonderful summer in France and we’re now back in England with family and friends, looking forward to Christmas.

As for next year, who knows! Our house is still up for sale and we’re hopeful that it will sell in the new year, which will signal the start of a whole new adventure!

But we know one thing for sure, wherever we are, we’ll be living Happily Ever After.

Helen & Rich xxx

Power Cut, Part 2


So we’re still in the dark, and Rich has been dispatched to find pizza, as it doesn’t look like we’ll be cooking tonight and quite frankly I’m starving. I have opted to stay here for reasons of a health and safety nature, as the fire is lit and I wouldn’t want to leave it unattended. Nothing to do with the open bottle of red wine. Whatsoever.

Before he left Rich said ‘will you be ok on your own?’ Kind, thoughtful husband. ‘Of course!’ I replied, thinking of the cosy fire and aforementioned vino. After helping him manually wrestle open the electric gates (we’re not posh, everyone round here has them, probably French law or something) I strode back up the drive quite enjoying the adventure. It’s only about 50 yards but for that short time I felt like a member of the Famous Five, wellies on, torch in hand.

So here I am back in the house, by the fire.

It’s very black outside those windows

In the five months we’ve been here, I have never heard that owl before.

That sudden flash of light was just the reflection of my torch as I moved. Of course it was.

I’ll put some music on…. Oh wait, we took the batteries from the radio to use in the torches. Well I’ll just enjoy the sound of the fire crackling instead.

That scratching noise is just a twig against the window pane, nothing more sinister than that.

Blimey, every time you open a door in this house, another one bangs shut. It’s just the draft. That always happens.

So glad that the last thing I did before I finished working tonight was write some creative copy for our 6 Mastermix Halloween albums.

Much later…

Electricity, our Constant Companion

I’m writing this blog post by candlelight, as we are in the middle of a power cut. We were just about to start cooking our evening meal when we were plunged into darkness (and coldness, as we have just started using electric heaters)

Of course, I won’t be sharing this post with you until our power is restored. Nor will I be cooking, ringing anyone (mobile’s gone dead, good timing) or checking Facebook or Twitter. We’re going to have a heck of a lot of food to go through when we’re powered back up, in fact a fridge and two freezers full. Not to mention all those plums I’ve frozen for future batches of jam.

I suppose you could say the phrase ‘you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’ is quite apt at the moment, but there’s two sides to every story. We’re now sitting beside a roaring log fire, surrounded by candlelight, in a little cottage in rural France. It’s a ‘school night’ but suddenly red wine seems appropriate… Surely it’s allowed under the circumstances?

As for what we’re going to eat tonight… That’s a whole other issue…

Ce la vie!

One hour later…