Ticking Off Our Bucket & Spade List

Hello! Autumn is here, it’s official! So, great time to look back at our summer in France. You may have seen that each of us made our own Bucket and Spade Lists for the things we wanted to do this summer. How did we get on?  Did we fill our buckets with fun and adventure? Take a look:

Mum’s Bucket List:

  • Visit French Markets and Brocantes/Vide Grenier – we definitely managed the markets, several times (see our post 6 Things to Love About French Markets), although not the Brocantes/Vide Grenier this time I’m afraid, apart from the ‘Charity Shop’  Hope Foundation barns in Lezay which have lots of exciting treasures.

    Chickens at French Market
    Hugo and the chickens at the market “Please can we buy them?”
  • A trip to the Marais Poitevin – YES my lovely husband actually took us here without telling us where we were going! As it wasn’t an organized visit we didn’t go on a boat as we had the dog with us, but I can tick it off my list anyway, and it was very pretty.  I also shared a ‘My Sunday Photo‘ here.
    Marais Poitevin Bucket List
    Boats on the Marais Poitevin

    Marais Poitevin on my Bucket List
    Beautiful Marais Poitevin
  • Visit the coast (La Rochelle area)- we didn’t get here this time, but we’ve been before so not too disappointed.
  • Do a Cognac distillery tour – we decided against this as we thought the kids would be bored!
  • Take the children to a theme park – We didn’t manage this either. Paul reckoned it would probably kill me, and he’s right, especially considering how hot it was!!
  • Take some photos of sunflowers (I haven’t taken any so far in all the time I’ve been coming here – unbelievable!) – I managed a few, but only on my phone and not the close-ups I was hoping for. I shared some in Sunsets and Sunflowers Abound, and here are a couple more.

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  • Do some crafts and have quiet times with the boys – Yes, I managed to do some crochet, and Toby did a lovely painting on canvas. Hugo started to make an Egyptian Sarcophagus, but didn’t finish. It got so hot that, to be honest, none of us felt like doing very much really.

    Toby's crafts on bucket list
    Toby’s Painting
  • Have dinners outdoors- Yes we did, although not as often as you might think! Extreme heat and extreme flies meant we were often forced indoors.
  • Do some star gazing with the boys – What a brilliant night! We viewed the Perseid Meteor shower by going down to the swimming pool at just before midnight, lying on sun loungers together all cuddled up, and marveling at the wondrous sight that nature provided. Very special!

    Perseid Meteor Shower and Milky Way
    Perseid Meteor Shower and Milky Way
  • Have a lakeside picnic – well, kind of! At the Marais Poitevin we did try, but although there was a lot of water, there were very few places along the way to stop for a picnic. Eventually, we found a place which wasn’t quite ‘lakeside’ or ‘riverside’, but the river wasn’t far away!

Dad’s Bucket List:

  • Go canoeing on the Charente river – sadly not. We all changed our minds about this. I think we got more tired as the days got hotter, and all decided it was too much effort in the heat!
  • Make our garden nicer – yes, I did lots of jobs in the garden when I could. Nothing major, but some lovely flowering plants which I wish we could have brought home, and lots of cutting back as the trees and bushes grow at an alarming rate!

    Garden flowers watering can
    Garden flowers ready for planting
  • Have some family picnics – yes, see Mum’s list above. Maybe not as many as we thought we would, but a few anyway.

    Family Picnic on Bucket List
    Family picnic
  • Visit French Markets eg Lezay – Absolutely, we went to Lezay several times and I bought some lovely breads and my favourite cheeses and olives!
  • Visit a night market eg Villefagnan – Oh no! We didn’t get around to this and I’m really sorry as I’d have loved to. I think we were always too tired by the evenings!

Hugo’s Bucket List:

  • Go to a theme park eg Futuroscope – Nope (see Mum’s list above)
  • Do some crafts – Well, we started but didn’t quite finish (see above again)
  • Make some videos for YouTube – Yes! Hugo did a review of a diving mask he bought, and tried recording some games on the Xbox. We also started a ‘How To’ of the Sarcophagus but didn’t finish it.

    Diving Mask
    Diving Mask
  • Have a family picnic – yes, see above
  • Play on the new inflatables in the pool – oh yes! This is what they did most of as the weather was so hot!
  • Go on a jet ski – sadly you have to be a bit older, so we’ll save this for another year.
  • Try quad biking – we need to be a bit older for this too.
  • Visit the seaside – we didn’t get there this time, but we live by the sea so we’ll do it at home!
  • Read the whole of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – we finished readig this and also started the new book ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

    A Harry Potter and Charity Shop Fan
    A Harry Potter and Charity Shop Fan
  • Go to Lezay Market and the ‘dog charity’ place – yes, we managed this a couple of times, and Hugo got another Harry Potter book and the local version of Monopoly Poitou Charentes and Game of Life.

    Hope Founation
    Hope Foundation Charity Shop Barns

Toby’s Bucket List:

  • Canoeing/Kayaking – we gave up on this idea (see Dad’s list)
  • Go to Zoodyssey (we’ve been before but Toby loves it, especially the foxes and raccoons, and holding the snakes) – yes, we did this again when Nana and Grandad were here (Mummy stayed home with the dog!)
  • Pool activities and games – lots and lots! We had so much fun in the pool, as it was often too hot to do anything else!

    Playing pool games bucket list
    Playing pool games
  • Go to a restaurant – Toby chose the restaurant as he wanted it to be ‘quite posh’! We went to Cafe PorteBleue, a gorgeous English-run restaurant in Vertuille which we love, and had a lovely time. We also went to the Mad Hatter’s Kitchen a few times too, which we always enjoy, and a beautiful place in Brantome.

    Toby in Cafe PortBleue
    Toby in Cafe PortBleue
  • Make a vlog video – Hugo did most of the vlogging this time, but Toby did take part in a Go-Pro bike ride video which we still need to edit (*reminder* Mum, get editing!!)

It feels like we didn’t do too much for 6 whole weeks away, in fact we probably did more in the May holidays in 2 weeks. It was really, really hot though, and quite often we just couldn’t bear the thought of trailing around somewhere in such heat. Plus Mummy’s heart gets quite poorly in the heat so we have to be careful. We didn’t do too bad with our Bucket List though, did we? We’ve certainly made lots more happy memories to treasure from our time in France.

Now, what to do in the Autumn? Have you made an Autumn Bucket List? If you’ve blogged it, leave a link –  we’d love to read it. Or tell us in the comments what you have got planned.

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This Mum's LifeRachelSwirl
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayPetite Pudding

6 Things To Love About French Markets

You don’t have to be a true Francophile to appreciate everything that is wonderful about French Markets. Here are a few words and a lot of pictures to show you why we love them so much:

  1. The sense of community. An entire village, often run down and sleepy, and looking quite ‘closed’, completely comes alive on market day. You see locals congregate and chat, cafes and bars fill up and spill out onto the streets, and everywhere feels more lively and vibrant.
    Artist capturing the French Market scene
    Artist capturing the French Market scene
    French Markets getting busy
    Market getting busy

    Old men people waching at French Market
    Old men ‘people watching’
  2. The colours. Everything about French markets is bright and colourful, from the fruit and veg to the fabrics, hats and flowers.
    Fruit and Veg at French Market
    Fruit and Veg
    Fabric and table linens at French Market
    Fabric and table linens
    Hats and Handbags at French Market
    Hats and handbags

    Plants and flowers at French Market
    Plants and flowers
  3. The sounds. You can hear chattering and gossiping in various languages. People calling out to advertise their wares. Music coming from certain stalls. It’s a real cacophony of sounds.
  4. The smells. Mostly delicious, occasionally not! The meat and fish stalls can be quite pungent! As can some of the cheeses! Not to mention the animals, if there are any. But the fruits, sweets, bread and other produce, many of which can be tasted too, are absolutely delicious.
    Cheese Stall at French Market
    Cheese Stall
    Chickens and Ducks For Sale at French Market
    Chickens and Ducks For Sale
    Beautiful chickens at French Market
    My favourite chickens – I could have bought them all!
    Fresh Garlic for sale at French Market
    Fresh Garlic

    Fresh Langoustines at French Market
    Fresh Langoustines
  5. Fresh local produce has to be one of the main reasons people flock to the markets. Almost all of what you see is locally sourced, and some of it so fresh it is actually being prepared in front of you!
    Making food in front of you at French Markets
    Making food in front of you
    Lovely local flowers and plants
    Lovely local flowers and plants

    garlic local produce at French markets
    Local produce
  6. They are so tourist friendly!
    Locals smiling at market in France
    Always a smile for the tourists from the locals!
    Always a smile for the tourists at the french market from the locals!
    Olives for miles!
    Fresh and dried fruits at Market
    Fresh and dried fruits

    Have you ever visited a French market? Which one is your favourite? Lezay Market is our friendly local market in the Poitou Charentes, where these pictures were taken.

    Would you like to pin this for later?

    6 Things to Love About French Markets
    6 Things to Love About French Markets

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Lou Messugo

Little Loves #3 – Musical


I’ve had a bit of a bleak week as I’ve been unwell, so nothing too exciting, but here’s what I’ve loved this week. Get your dancing shoes on. It’s quite a musical one….


Mr Stink book by David Walliams
Mr Stink book

Despite having a school book to read, and being in the middle of not one, but two Harry Potter books at the moment, my son decided we should also start reading Mr Stink by David Walliams. So that is what we’re reading this week. At least he’s reading, which has been a battle in the past week or two.



Severely in need of a laugh, I watched the James Corden Late Late Show special which was screened on Sky 1 in July (and which I recorded for my Hubby, who I knew would love it). Oh my, I just laughed and laughed and laughed! That clip where he joins a realtor to sell a multi-million dollar property, hahaha I was crying with laughter! Loving the car pool Karaoke too, especially the Adele one.


I love it when my little ones absent-mindedly sing around the house. Such a sign of happiness! There is a great music company who visit their school to run the music lessons, and they often introduce them to different genres and eras of music. My kids are so impressed when I recognise and join in with what they are singing. This week it was ‘Blame It On The Boogie’!


OK I made another crumble, but I don’t want to make you all too jealous…


This week I have mostly been wearing my pyjamas. Feels like an episode of Jesse’s Diets (The Fast Show, for those who remember!). Yes, I’ve been rather poorly so don’t expect any lipstick from me!


My big boy got chosen at school to learn to play the trombone! My mum is laughing at the noisy practice sessions I have ahead of me, but I couldn’t be more delighted. Music gave me so much joy at school and I’m really excited that he might have the same musical opportunities.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you for your delight and delectation, the magnificent trombone of Mr. Trombone Shorty!

Find #LittleLoves at Coffee, Work, Sleep, Repeat:Little Loves

The Reading Residence
What Katy Said

Little Loves #2 – Time

Hello! How are you?

Are you ready for my ‘Little Loves’ from this week?


Reading Doothy Koomson
When I Was Invisible

Following on from my last treat of reading a whole (grown up’s!) book, I managed to find time for another one! A brilliant one, too!

I loved the very sophisticated writing style. The subject matter, although perhaps a little disturbing, made for a very good read. Bravo to Dorothy Koomson for ‘When I Was Invisible’.


A Walk IN The Woods Film
A Walk In The Woods Movie

My Husband and I are big Bill Bryson fans. Huge in fact. I’d list ‘A Walk In The Woods’ as one of my all time favourite books, definitely my favourite Bryson for sure.

We were both excited, therefore, to watch the movie based on the book. We were also both rather disappointed, I’m afraid to say. The adaptation didn’t quite live up to our expectations. We didn’t warm to the characters, and found Nolte’s speech difficult to follow at times.

Still, we found time to spend a pleasant afternoon watching a movie together, while the kids were at school and hubby was off work, which is a rare thing! We also enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the movie at least.


Back to school means back to the 7am alarm, which for me means BBC Radio2 and the lovely Chris Evans waking me up every morning. Oh how I’ve missed the Ginger One gently bringing me to life each day (although another hour in bed would be nice, Chris!)


My youngest went blackberry picking with his Daddy this week, and I picked some apples from our tree in the garden. No prizes for guessing what I  made then – mmmmmmm!! The biggest, scrummiest crumble, which we’ve enjoyed with both custard and vanilla ice cream in various sittings this week.

Time for Apple and Blackberry Crumble
Apple and Blackberry Crumble


Finally, now that the weather is cooling slightly, the time is right to wear the new shoes I bought in the Next sale. Both pairs are so much nicer being worn in the knowledge that they were half price! #Loveabargain.


I’m starting to get the balance back in my life, and find a bit of my mojo again. I’ve always enjoyed crafting and comping, and I’m finally finding time to indulge in both.

Back to school has been bliss for me. My kids need structure and routine or everything just gets too crazy! I’ve also enjoyed the organisation that back to school brings, and that’s probably why I’m managing to fit in a few more of my favourite things!

Now, all I have to do is manage to throw in a few blog posts each week as well, and we’re sorted!!

Time to blog
Time to get my Blog On!

Find #LittleLoves at Coffee, Work, Sleep, Repeat:Little Loves


Petite PuddingThe Reading Residence

Blogs I’ve Admired, Feeling Inspired #2

Here is my second round up of great blogs which have inspired or entertained me in the last few weeks. I’m linking it up to Inspire and Flourish with The Less-Refined Mind.

Inspire & Flourish Linky
Inspire & Flourish Linky

I love visiting the blog Five Little Doves for the beautiful photos and the absolutely gorgeous children, plus Laura’s beautiful and honest style of writing. I really enjoyed this post, filled with the characteristic honesty which makes me feel I’m not alone.

Surviving the six week holidays….

While you’re there, check out Laura’s posts about her summer holiday to Devon. Poor lady had so many disasters, but manages to see the good in absolutely everything. Go Laura!

I was so glad to find this post by Tooting Mama last week. I moved around a lot when my kids were younger, (at one point moving house six times in five years), so reading about moving to a new city and a new country was awe-inspiring for me. Great tips for next time we get itchy feet too!

Midlife making friends: how to make friends in your forties

Now, I love a good list, especially a bucket list, so this post from Mum’s the Law really appealed to me. I also love that Amy has openly shared her blog stats. It has really inspired me and given me hope as mine are not too far behind. I’m also hoping she gives me some tips on improving page views, as hers are excellent! http://mumsthelaw.com/august-round-septmbers-bucket-list/#comment-1155

August Round Up & September’s Bucket List

I just had to read this post from Live Love Blog the minute I saw it – it’s me to a tee! I’m very self-critical and lack confidence, so ‘5 Tips for Finding Your Blogging Confidence’ could have been written for me! Thank you, Katy for the words of wisdom and encouragement. I will read them several times over!

5 Tips For Finding Your Blogging Confidence

My final choice is from Diary of an Imperfect Mum. Catie lets her boys take over once a month and do a ‘Gamer Zone’ post. I love this, as one of the reasons I started our blog was so that my boys can contribute and be introduced to the internet in a ‘safe’ way. My boys love gaming and YouTube too, so I can really relate. Great job telling us about Pokemon Go, boys!

If you like my suggestions, you can pin them here:

Blogs I've Admired, Feeling Inspired - Inspire & Flourish
Blogs Admired Feeling Inspired Inspire & Flourish

Petite PuddingRachelSwirl
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Final Lunch in France

*Sigh* this was our final visit to probably our favourite restaurant for lunch when we were in France. Back home, back to reality now.

The restaurant is totally my style – relaxed and eclectic, a bit bohemian and ‘shabby chic’. Even the arrangement of the barn outside reflects this!

French Barn eclectic
The French barn, as eclectic and bohemian as the rest of the Mad Hatter’s Kitchen in Caunay

Here are my boys, ready for the bike ride back home and a relaxing afternoon before the hard work of packing and cleaning began!

French barn car bike
Toby beside the barn
French Barn bike home
Hugo by the barn, ready for the bike ride home

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