Low life

The beauty of French nurses

6 March 2021 9:00 am

I was supine on the slab and a nurse was rigging me up via wires and tubes to machines and…

Why I need to become a French citizen

27 February 2021 9:00 am

After weeks of living in the 18th century, going everywhere on foot and encountering few other souls, I drove to…

My French lessons with Lord Nelson

20 February 2021 9:00 am

Every Friday afternoon the foreign correspondent and I attend a French lady’s home for our one-hour French lesson. The foreign…

How I got my encyclopedic knowledge of current affairs

13 February 2021 9:00 am

Seven bells. Pitch dark still. I descend the creaking wooden stairs in the darkness, let the dog out, make tea…

In praise of the bacon butty

6 February 2021 9:00 am

I was tipped off to meet a white Hyundai at a French motorway toll rest area at 2.30 p.m. (I…

The joy of my new British passport

30 January 2021 9:00 am

‘Anything you want?’ says Catriona on her way out of the house to go to the shop. I’m standing at…

My message to the log police

23 January 2021 9:00 am

Here, as in Britain, everyone is a log expert. The woodman leaves a heap at the bottom of the drive…

My future hangs on the result of this blood test

16 January 2021 9:00 am

A new year and another round of medical treatments in the French health system. On Saturday morning, needing a blood…

In praise of nuns

9 January 2021 9:00 am

Although I was ten minutes early, Vernon was there ahead of me, framed in the ancient chapel doorway, chatting up…

The magic of Anthony Powell

19 December 2020 9:00 am

Every few years I’ve picked up one or other of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time series…

What French women want

12 December 2020 9:00 am

Considering the subject of compatibility, experienced British expats in France maintain that a French man and an English woman might…

I found a confused elderly man in my bedroom

5 December 2020 9:00 am

There are several cave houses built into the cliff. Ours is the highest and can be reached only by a…

‘Bonjour, monsieur! Douleur?’: My night in a French hospital

28 November 2020 9:00 am

I regained consciousness on a trolley in a recovery ward. A masked porter wheeled me from there back to my…

My neighbour’s dinner party was a near-death experience

21 November 2020 9:00 am

At dawn, starving, I drove to a commercial laboratory in the town centre where five phials of blood were taken…

I was the only Trump supporter among the olive-pickers

14 November 2020 9:00 am

We bums find ourselves sought after at this time of year to lend a hand with the olive harvest. So…

The joy of red wine

7 November 2020 9:00 am

Everything is happening so fast. First we were put under a night curfew. A few days later M. Macron announced…

We’ve gone from summer to winter in the course of an afternoon

31 October 2020 9:00 am

Wearing shorts last week in a mid-October heatwave, having worn shorts continuously since March, Les Murray’s poem ‘The Dream of…

The generosity of French doctors

24 October 2020 9:00 am

My last NHS scan showed a shadow on a rib. The scan report couldn’t decide between a new cancer metastasis…

From half a shelf to a library: my life in books

17 October 2020 9:00 am

‘Yes, I will have a coffee,’ said the van driver. He’d driven down to the south of France from Devon.…

How I won €160 by mistake

10 October 2020 9:00 am

My French friend André speaks perfect English and is the kindest of men. After reading last week about my futile…

French gambling is a mystery to me

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Feeling oddly confident, clairvoyant even, I entered a bar to place a bet on Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.…

Is my phobia of upmarket restaurants misplaced?

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Scotching my bright idea of a stiff gin for Dutch courage in the bar across the road, Catriona bounded straight…

Why French car-boot sales are good for my mental health

19 September 2020 9:00 am

Hairpin bends in a stony forest. Downhill. Steep, then steeper. Smooth frictionless tarmac. I’ve got the car barely under control.…

The pleasures — and pain — of dog-walking

12 September 2020 9:00 am

The old dog was in a companionable frame of mind and she trotted along at my side, glancing up now…

The A272 is a relic of the golden age of motoring

5 September 2020 9:00 am

In France I own a dented old Mercedes and in England a dented old Mitsubishi Carina. The Mercedes is parked…