Gone brocanting

Sunday morning and the monthly brocante market was on in Valbonne. We strolled around pausing to look at gilt mirrors, candlesticks and more. Letad found an ornate brass candlestick for an alcove and I resisted the Planet of the Apes coat, a strange fur and leather hybrid.

After brocanting we drove to Mougins, an incredibly picturesque village perched on top of a hill with incredible views of the surrounding snow capped mountains. After a sweet hot chocolate we set off back to Valbonne to see if my theory about the oven was right (I haven’t been proven wrong yet) and then all too soon, it was time to head back to the airport as weekends are far too short.

This week promises to be interesting as I start my new job on Thursday and I suspect it might be a shock to the system…

To Sea & Earth

It had been a full day and the fun continued as we had dinner reservations at a special restaurant, Lou Cignales. 

We started with an amuse bouche, an olive tapenade and a second amuse bouche of warm couscous. Delicious. 

I had ordered the earth menu, an incredible petit gateau de champignons in a light citrus infused broth with white beans. It was earthy, warming and hearty. The mushroom mousse melted on the tongue and with a hint of orange, the flavour combination was perfect. 

Letad had started with the sea menu, a woody smoked salmon with fennel. Light and delicious but we agreed the mushroom dish was the winner. 

Moving on we both went with earth as we ordered duck with vegetables and a rich, sticky sauce. The duck was perfectly cooked and slivers of caramelised ginger surprised and complemented the palate. 

We moved on to a cheese plate, a small crisp salad combined with a Roquefort mousse. Light, salty, unusual.

We thought we were finished but an amuse bouche après arrived. A miniature tarte tartin. It was the perfect end to the earthy winter menu.

And just when we thought that was it, a plate of petit fours arrived. A sticky French nougat was the end of the meal and we sighed, replete.


Friday morning and after a busy week it was time to head back to France for the weekend.

It was a glorious day in London but arriving in Nice, it was cold, wet and grey. The only thing to do was head home and open a bottle of champagne to finally celebrate my job offer.

Letad had planned a delicious meal but the oven was proving temperamental. Every few minutes, the entire house fused and we were plunged into darkness. Challenging for cooking it must be said.

My theory is that the oven hasn’t been wired properly, the electricians claim the oven is broken and yet when we had plugged the oven into an extension cord and were doing kitchen gymnastics during the Great Halloween Meltdown, all was well. I’m convinced I’m right!

All things considered, Letad was very patient, dinner was delicious and we enjoyed a quiet night in.

The Kitchen Saga…

After four weeks, three trips to IKEA, extra parts, missing parts, no water, moving the sink, the sink leaking, the imitation Breville challenge, a leaking roof, two trips to Italy, a tour of a chateau and of course, five job interviews, the kitchen was finally finished and so, as it turned out, was our patience.

Coming downstairs

However, it was worth it as the finished kitchen was beautiful. It suited the house perfectly, reflecting the character and charm of a house several hundred years old yet adding modern conveniences. 

Work in progress

We were so pleased we’d installed wooden work surfaces rather than the pristine white Carrera marble. It was so pretty and smooth but wouldn’t have lasted a day without staining as a result of enthusiastic cooking. We loved the open pantry shelves painted a soft grey after endless discussions about colour choices.

Open pantry

Of course it wasn’t all us as we owe a massive thank you to the family architect who designed the plan and payment in installations of whisky is underway.

It’s a long way from where we started, the tiles of death, dubious brown marble worktops and an extremely dangerous gas cooktop which came close to winning one night in the battle of ignition. My hair almost lost.
After, now with a dishwasher

 After many discussions we went with an induction hob despite my initial challenges in London turning off the child proof lock. Letad was reluctant but has since become happily converted. 

Even with induction

The end was timed perfectly to coincide with my departure as it was time to return to London and so as I left the house, all the power went out as the oven hadn’t been wired in properly and had to be redone. 

A fitting end to the kitchen saga!

I like kitchens

The kitchen has progressed to the point where the end is in sight. Hard to believe but it might actually be true. 

We decided not to install the pristine white Carrera marble as it became apparent it wouldn’t survive Letad’s cooking and so we’re now waiting for wooden worktops to be installed tomorrow… hopefully. At that point the induction cooktop goes in, the leak under the sink is fixed and hopefully we’re finished. Crack open the champagne!

Four weeks without a kitchen has been a challenge and while we now are the proud owners of the Cuisinart grill, we’re really ready for the kitchen to be finished.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise by posting photos until it’s finished however, this is where we started…

Hmm, work to be done

Sadly what I called “The Tiles of Death” which pictured people hanging themselves couldn’t be salvaged which was a massive shame and so we had to keep things a little less traditional. 

More to come by the end of the week, I hope…

Give peas a chance

After a day lying on the floor, some yoga stretches from YouTube, a topical ointment (hopefully for back pain, it was in French) and a couple of glasses of champagne (of course) it would appear that movement has been restored and all bodes well for the real Venice this weekend! Three enormous cheers!

Letad and I are counting our days left together as I reluctantly return to London next week. We’ve had the luxury of being together constantly for the past couple of months but now with reality looming, we’ll be seeing each other at weekends and long distance dating will be back on. We’re not exactly looking forward to it but luckily Christmas isn’t far off so we already have tickets booked and plans in place.

In the meantime we’re off to look at a chateau as a possible wedding venue on Thursday and even have a date in mind… I have yet another job interview on Thursday afternoon and then on Friday, we’re jumping in the Mini and heading to Venezia for the weekend.

Hurray for frozen peas! 

Remember, remember

The 5th of November. Guy Fawkes day in the UK or Bonfire Night as it’s more commonly known when bonfires are lit to remember Guy Fawkes and his foiled plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. One of my favourite days as a child.

This year, another reason to remember as Letad wished me “Happy Anniversary” this morning as it’s six months since we met on that auspicious day on the top of Primrose Hill. What a six months it’s been! From London to France, to LA and back and now hopefully to Venice (the real one) this weekend. The most wonderful, romantic, happiest six months imaginable and a fantastic future ahead of us.

The only downside is that I’m currently lying flat on my back on the floor with a bag of frozen peas wedged against my spine. Something extremely painful seems to have happened and I’m in agony. 

Too many IKEA trips, too many stairs in the little house above the boulangerie or perhaps it’s just time to do some yoga, either way, it’s not much fun and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it sorts itself out before the weekend because I really, really want to go to Venice…