Here for the duration

During the course of many conversations with friends its apparent that many have no intention of stopping in France for more than on average 12 years and most have decided that they will return to the uk at the end of their time in France so they are on an extended holiday so to speak, if you are here working and have been transferred by your company as I almost was many years ago that I can understand you could be asked to return to the fold so to speak, why do people want to return to the uk why did they come here in the first place

de nada!

Run out of 'replies' - thank you Brian. Have written out your and John's recipes and will do a little experimentation so I get it down pat before winter arrives (yes, it will take me that long before I can do it on autopilot and the birds will be too heavy to fly with all the leaden versions they'll be eating). Thank you. x

Try buckwheat (saracen), mixed with maize (maizena will do, but there are good maize flours). To make a roughly 1 kilo loaf, ideally two loaves at that weight, use 600gr maize flour and 400gr buckwheat. Use the whole block of yeast (levure de boulangerie), 42 gr. First fill a mug two-third with warm water, put in a tip of a teaspoon's worth of sugar and a teaspoon of live, plain yoghourt and leave until it is all dissolved, has bubbles and smells fermented. In fact prepare the yeast before the flour mix. Blend the flours, add half a teaspoon of sea saltthen add some warm water, just enough to make some of the flour into clumps. Then add the yeast. begin to work together adding warm water slowly and perhaps a little bit of milk (I prefer that to oil because it feeds the yeast whereas oil inhibits it). Once you have a sticky goo that sticks to your fingers a bit, add some more flour until it does not stick. Leave to proof in a bowl under a dry cloth, when it has risen to double its size, spread flour on your work surface then knead again by getting flat, rolling it into itself and doing that several times until it feels spongy because of the amount of air you have worked in. Leave to proof again, when risen for half an hours or so, cut it in half, make the shapes of loaf you want, score them and put in a pre-heated oven at 250 degrees. Baking time should be around 40 minutes. Leave in oven to get back down to a temperature that allows, say 5 to 10 minutes, then cool off on a rack, stone window ledge or wherever. tasy, nice bread. My daughters love it. Don't give up white bread but reduce it, coeliacs disease and diabetes 2 are on the increase massively and bread is imlicated, well gluten in the first and strong wheat flour in the second.

Thanks guys - gosh you're all so knowledgeable! I'm no domestic goddess as you may have guessed. Give me a drill or a screwdriver or tell me to fix the petrol mower and I'll muddle through - kitchen I'm verging on pathetic.

For health reasons, I like Shaun to eat wholegrain/meal but of course both of us love a white crunchy version too, especially as an accompaniment to soup etc. So anything I can make that stays light instead of heavy housebrick.

Val, to both (and no put down guys) white flour with high gluten is bad for us in the long term. Strong white is very bad. Google wheat flour, gluten or whatever and see. Also powdered yeast is only a fraction as good as fresh. We've had this one before but it is not at all difficult to find and once you have got the bread you like sorted, then you can make a 'mother' and keep your own yeast culture. Otherwise the method John uses is about it although we all develop our own ways, beleive it or not, of kneading and working in flour until ready proof. For fermentation, I only ever cover the bowl with a cloth so that it can breathe, other people prefer the film bit but no baker would ever do that.

No real need for kit bread, in the time it would take to go out, find it and so on you would have nice fresh loaves on your table!

Physio calls, say what your preference for type of bread is and I'll chuck more at you later.

If you want an easy start to bread making, look for bags of Soesie all-in-one bread mixes in your local garden centre, I use them all the time. Once you've got the taste for making your own bread you can experiment with proper ingredients.

  • 750g white strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 250g whole meal flour
  • 10g powdered dried yeast
  • 10g fine salt
  • 600ml warm water
  • A little sunflower oil


Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and, with one hand, mix to a rough dough. Adjust the consistency if you need to, with a little more flour or water, to make a soft, easily kneadable, sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and clean your hands.

Knead until the dough is smooth, stretchy and no longer sticky – about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a tight round. Oil the surface of the dough, put it in the wiped-out mixing bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to ferment and rise until doubled in size, which should take about an hour.

Pre-heat the oven get the dial up to very hot. Deflate the dough by tipping it onto the work surface and pressing all over with your hands.

Divide the dough into 2 or 3 equal pieces. Shape into nice even rounds, coat with whole meal flour and Leave to prove for a further 30 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.

Use a bread knife the gently score the loaves across their tops, this will help them to rise in the oven. Make sure your oven floor is clean and free of racks. Carefully lift each loaf and place on the floor of the oven, being careful not to burn yourself as you go.

Cook for 40 to 50 minutes, until well coloured. Remove the loaves and cool on a wire rack.

I use this recipe all the time with a variation on the type of flour, have used bread flour from the uk and from the local supermarket, amount of salt varies to your taste

Depends on what kind of bread you want; white, brown, dark brown, black, light, heavy or one of several hundred different ways. Say and I shall give you one of my handful, been doing it for many years and make different ones to suit my mood.

I need a foolproof (fool being the operative word) bread recipe if there is such a thing - last time I tried I got a 'Sorry, mum, but I don't really like it' and even the birds turned their beaks away in disgust.


Our summer last year went on until the middle of November winter brings its own charm snowed in, baking my own bread, working in the house, sitting in front of a real fire a good book i have had more than enough excitment in my life,happy now to sit and chill life is what you make it

Agree about the weather...nightmarishly hot! went to bed in 36 degrees of heat the other night...horrible! funny...we have found friends in the Brits part because of the very active anglo french join it for around 20 euros a year and take as many classes as you like...sadly its 98% Brits! I think I am perverse...I am a Londoner who has lived in the home counties for 30 years..but I miss the buzz...I feel life is passing me by here.. I miss a concert...or an exhibition...or I am constantly whizzing back and forth...I dont have the right mentality for not laid all...enjoy the quiet and relaxation for holidays...not for everyday life...but guess it takes all sorts!


Dont get me wrong...we have a good social life here...all ex pat....have invited the French...polite refusals...busy...whatever...except one couple who came for drinks... but that doesnt bother me unduly. I just found when we got here we missed the culture and dont know till you try. In the summer its busy as anything here...but boy what a change with the weather....I think you sometimes dont know yourself as well as you experience like this clarifies what is important in life...

Of course, and I understood from previous posts that you are not happy for various reasons. I grew up in south Dublin with all the facilities but to be honest, when we came here, it was for a change of lifestyle. My job had ended, art sales for Henry had virtually dried up, and we decided to make the change but we did it in stages. First a month in the smallest apartement I have ever seen - you couldn't go to the loo if one of us was in the "kitchen" - that was in Aix en Provence, then 3 months here in Lagrasse and then back for good in September. Everyone here is friendly except for the ex-pats, who (with a couple of exceptions) don't really talk to us. None of them has ever invited us to their house for a drink, never mind a meal. We have extended the invitation which has never been taken up, again with one exception. The French on the other hand, have invited us for meals, New Year's party, petanque, etc., etc. Just goes to show that everyone's experiences are different.

I do think you're right to a certain degree Carol, the cultural offer in the home counties and London is far more abundant than in rural France. When I say there is always something kicking off it usually has somethjing to do with the viticulteurs or the carnaval - but at least it's not dead as a dodo

thats pretty good going. In our Dordogne village...there is the regular pub nights...curry night, music night....and one of the restaurants is open most nights in the winter...and a couple of other places for snacks are open. In St Cyp where we first lived and have our holiday flat...two restaurants stay open for the winter....they take it in turns. The odd thing happens...but I guess I am used to being 50 minutes from London and enjoying all that offers, also half an hour from Reading...half an hour from Basingstoke...theatres, cinemas, etc...silly to expect anything to come close. But its true that you dont know what you miss till you dont have it anymore....

You're right Sheila, I escape to Limoux as often as possible - there is something kicking off there just about every weekend - I feel a move south coming on!!!!

smiling here eldest, a daughter teaches in Repton School....and my youngest is in charge of accountancy at Randstad Dubai...we are due to visit them in not wild about it...but daughter has managed to organise some good trips (not the mall)...actually found a bit of culture! but I can sympathise....when you bring your children up in a certain pains to see them extolling the virtues of a lesser world...or worse still...their OH doing the same...I think the French do have a reputation for being difficult. My middle son works in London and has worked alongside French people from the French office. When they rotate to London and New York...they will not consider working the same hours as the other employees...they stick firmly to their lunch time and will walk away from a telephone call near home time...doesnt go down well with the Brits or the Yanks...