Why Castelnaudary ?

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France, over the years, and in lots of different places. My first ever trip was to Paris and I’ve returned countless times since. I spent a year in Tours, as a student and a year in Metz as a teacher. I’ve spent months in Grenoble and Angers, on courses. As a family, we’ve visited Brittany, Limousin. les Landes, Charentes and that’s just for starters!

So, why Castelnaudary to buy our home? Even my husband has asked me this question! It’s quite difficult to put a feeling into words … the Canal du Midi, the location – between Toulouse and Carcassone – a sense of the ‘real’ France and much, much more…

Why did you chose your home in France? Or anywhere else? Was it heart or head that influenced your decision? I’d love to know.

A flying visit…

We returned to the UK in November and hadn’t really intended to visit our house, in France, until March. However, the pull was too strong! We wanted to see how our second home had survived the winter and we’d also  received a message from Manu, who was looking after our house, about a mysterious crack that had appeared in an external wall.

We arrived in Toulouse to beautiful blue skies.

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And, once we’d reassured ourselves that the house was still standing, we hot footed it along the canal towpath, into Castelnaudary.

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The ‘Grand Bassin’ of the Canal du Midi looked particularly striking, on a cold, crisp, January day.

When we’re in France, food is never far from our minds, and having had a 5.00 a.m. start, we were feeling father peckish, to say the least. Our timing wasn’t great, as we arrived at our favourite café, at one minute to two; with the  lunchtime service usually  finishing at two. However, Madame took pity on us and sent one one of the waiters to the nearest boulangerie for a fresh baguette.

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Never had a freshly made cheese and ham sandwich tasted so good! Especially when washed down by two beers.

I have enjoyed watching the Canal du Midi change according to the season. In January it was fascinating to see all the boats that have come into the port at Castelnaudary and moor for the winter.

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Including those that are rented out in the summer for holidays on the Canal du Midi.

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No trip would be complete without dinner at our local and favourite restaurant: Le Clos Fleurie. It was good to be back! Every course was delicious but I particularly enjoyed the café gourmand… Are you a fan?

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The final highlight of our visit was lighting the open fire for the first time. Manu had organised a chimney sweep for us during our absence and it was wonderful to relax in our lounge in front of this:

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Although our visit was only brief, it was brilliant to experience another aspect of our home in Castelnaudary. Above all, it was fantastic to bump into people we knew, as we walked around the town. Having a sense of community is so important and we’re already looking forward to a longer stay in March.

Missing France and A Rant

It’s been a little while since I lasted posted; partly because we’ve been back in the UK for Christmas, New Year, and various family birthdays – and dog sitting!

Also, I’ve been totally poleaxed by what has been happening in the world.  First Brexit and now Trump ! I voted to stay in the E.U. which now, apparently, makes me a Remoaner. Fine, I don’t see why should I keep quiet, surely that’s the point of freedom of speech? And don’t get me started on Trump – no, seriously don’t get me started. There are not enough words to say how much I deplore everything he stands for. Rant over…

I’ve been reflecting over the many aspects of France I have been missing and I have decided to share these in photos.

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What would you miss the most? I’d love to know.

Are you…very superstitious?

As it’s Friday 13th I thought it would be interesting to revisit the subject of superstitions and the differences and similarities between superstitions in France and the UK.

Are you very superstitious? I like to think that I’m not really but, nevertheless, find myself walking around ladders, saluting magpies, and uncrossing knives; much to the amusement of my family! However, this got me thinking again about the differences between superstitions in France and the UK. I am fascinated by cultural similarities and differences, in general. I am already aware of several superstitions from France but my research has helped me to discover even more!

If a bird defecates on you, in the UK, this is considered good luck! However, the French believe that it is stepping in dog poop that will bring you good luck – as long as it is with your left foot! With the amount of dog poop that I see around in France, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get lucky!

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Hanging a horse shoe outside your door can bring you luck in France, if hung in the French way. This means hanging the shoe upside down – well, not as far as the UK is concerned! We believe that all the luck will drain out, if the shoe is inverted.However, for the French the luck will pour down on you!
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Superstitions about black cats vary a lot, depending on what you read and where you happen to be. Black cats are traditionally supposed to be the familiars of witches and if one crosses your path, in France, this brings bad luck. In the UK, it’s good luck when this occurs because the black cat hasn’t noticed you!cat-1387052-640x512

I was very surprised to learn that, in France, if a pregnant woman sees an owl, the child will be a girl.

The number thirteen has always been lucky for me but generally it is perceived as unlucky in the UK. However, the French will stock up on lottery tickets on Friday the 13th but also believe that having thirteen people around a dinner table is very bad luck indeed.

There are many more aspects of superstitions I could write about and I would be very interested to know if you are superstitious and particularly about any other French superstitions that you may know.

Must hurry;  I’ve just knocked over the salt cellar and need to throw some salt, over my left shoulder, into the eye of the devil…and I must remember not to put my new shoes that have just been delivered on the table!

In the meantime, here’s a clip about French superstitions – ironing my husband’s underpants? I don’t think so. I’ve got far more interesting things to be getting on with..!

Bonne Année!

This quote turned up on my Facebook page. I rather like it, although I am a couple of days late in posting. Apparently, it is from Molière. I had to study Molière at school and for my degree. I’m afraid I’m not a fan…and I haven’t been able to verify the source, despite much searching. Perhaps one of my lovely readers might know?!

The second photo is of: The Moulin de Cugarel. This is in the old town in Castelnaudary where we have our house. I haven’t seen Castelnaudary in the snow…yet!

Happy New Year!

Went to bed in Carcassonne, woke up in Narnia…

This is my last post of 2016 ot the first of 2017, depending when you are reading this and it’s not even mine! I’ve been meaning to post this ever since I first read it. Our new house is only thirty minutes from Carcassone and, although, we’ve been there several times, I have never seen Carcassone in the snow – yet!

One of my favourite books is the ‘Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ I’ve read the whole Narnia series; I read them as a child, then to my brother and sister, and eventually to my own sons. So, Narnia, like Carcassone, has a special place in my heart.

Here is the link to the original post: https://differentshoresblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/went-to-bed-in-carcassonne-woke-up-in-narnia/Went to bed in Carcassonne, woke up in Narnia…

Different Shores

I had an amazing winter weekend in Carcassonne, a tiny city that can be overwhelmed by visitors in summer. It’s atmospheric at any time of the year – the citadel apparently inspired Walt Disney’s castle in The Sleeping Beauty – but the gargoyles and flickering lamps are best appreciated after the tourist buses leave.

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It was dull and grey when we arrived on the Friday, with pewter skies.

I had no idea that snow was coming (my Nokia brick had no weather apps – innocent times!). But on the first morning there was that muffled hush in the street outside the shuttered windows, that strange cloak of quiet that tells you there has been a snowfall before you even see it.

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Carcassonne was blanketed in white, with deep virgin drifts everywhere, and the local children were sledging down the slopes that lead up to La Cité.

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Every gargoyle had an icicle beard and the old city seemed frozen…

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Blogging: Next Steps

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We are back in the UK for Christmas and, therefore,  I thought I would take advantage of a course about blogging, taking place relatively locally. Unfortunately, it was cancelled! The course was aimed at those who have been running their own blog for a while and were looking to improve!

I have now been blogging for about two years and I thought it would be interesting to see what my next steps could/would/should be. I love blogging. I like to think it’s an outlet for my creative side. I have always enjoyed writing and, for a long time, kept a diary. I even used to write poetry …

Through blogging, I have discovered so many other fantastic blogs and it’s always brilliant and encouraging when I receive comments from fellow bloggers, as well as other readers, of course.

This blog has also led me to Pinterest and I enjoy uploading images to my many boards and discovering lots of fabulous content from other Pinners!

And, most recently, I have linked up with #AllAboutFrance, a monthly Blog Link Up, that takes place on the first Thursday of each month. The idea is to link up posts about France or with a French theme. This has introduced me to so many new and interesting blogs. To sum up in one word – brilliant! If you want to find out more, have a look at: loumessugo.com

You might be wondering what the photo has to do with the post. Well, nothing directly but it is the Mairie, in Castelnaudary, decorated for Christmas.

Thank you for reading and if you have any suggestions for my ‘next steps’, I would love to hear them!

Joyeux Noël…