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Columnists > Rosemary Border Rabson

Rosemary Border Rabson
In 2005 Rosemary Border Rabson and husband John Rabson emigrated to the Morvan in rural Burgundy, where few other Brits have ventured. Their chief preoccupation is Charity Cottage, a holiday home-from-home in their garden at Maré le Bas which they run in aid of Combat Stress (money donations) and Help for Heroes (free accommodation). Since 2012, when Charity Cottage won the Daily Telegraph’s Best British Charity award, the total amount raised for Combat Stress, comprising UK royalties and donations from visitors to Charity Cottage, is nudging £10,000.

Rosemary Border Rabson

Murmurs From The Morvan

Posted by: Carole on Sunday May 03, 2015 (17:54:43)   (1570 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
I have almost finished compiling Murmurs from the Morvan, a miscellany of articles about our life in this beautiful corner of Burgundy. I have drawn on my Expat Focus pieces and my articles in the Daily Telegraph Expat section, and added a wealth of new material. I hope to publish this book in aid of Combat Stress, the charity which helps combat veterans whose battle wounds are not visible. My 'regulars' will know all about Charity Cottage, and new readers can read the blurb at the end of this piece. Incidentally, we recently had our first visitors since the Christmas period, when friends and neighbours borrowed Charity Cottage as overflow accommodation for their guests. On 11 April nine young people were in the area for the Rallye de l'Anguison. Five stayed in the cottage, four in the guest suite in the main house, and Combat Stress is £100 richer.    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

Shopping For Expats In France

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday April 08, 2015 (23:48:19)   (2710 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
We emigrated to the Morvan in 2005 from rural Suffolk. By the time we left, shopping in our nearest town, Woodbridge, was no fun at all. The town had for various reasons – rapacious rents, scarce and costly parking, and a retail park a few miles away - lost many retail businesses. Corbigny, 10 minutes' drive from our new home, was a revelation. It still is.

Parking is plentiful and free and browsing is a joy. I have the feeling that this town is 40 years behind the times (thank goodness!). Corbigny bustles, except on Mondays, when almost everything closes to make up for Saturday opening, and lunchtimes – most businesses – apart from eateries, of course - close from noon until 2 pm. The long lunch break has always been observed, but the Monday closing has a lot to do with les trente-cinq heures .    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

La Grippe

Posted by: Carole on Friday March 13, 2015 (01:04:17)   (2824 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
La Grippe is an unassuming village on the road to Nevers. It bears an unfortunate name, la grippe being the French word for influenza, flu or the Dreaded Lurgy.

John and I have to drive through La Grippe on the way to Nevers, the capital of our département and the seat of petty bureaucracy at its most pernicious. Exchanging a British driving licence for a French one is a doddle elsewhere, but the bureaucrats at Nevers have their own perverse way of doing things, as readers of my column will be well aware.    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

February Frolics?

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday January 27, 2015 (05:14:56)   (1484 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
Visitors to the Morvan in winter are mystified by displays of crêpe pans, electric crêpe makers and free crêpe recipes appearing in the supermarkets in January. A little early for Pancake Tuesday, surely? Well, yes. But February 2 is La Chandeleur, Candlemas, and pancakes are obligatory.

I can never resist an excuse for a spot of research. According to the official website of France, , Candlemas commemorates the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus 40 days after His birth. Like Christmas, this is a pagan festival which was adopted by the Christian church.

Clicking on Lupercalia took me to    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

New Year Greetings From The Morvan

Posted by: Carole on Monday January 05, 2015 (16:37:18)   (2056 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
Here in the Morvan the festive season is almost over. First there was Le Réveillon on Christmas Eve, with foie gras and oysters and standing room only in church. Christmas Day came and went, with turkey and bûche de Noël and, for new expats, the baffling absence of Christmas crackers, not to mention mince pies and Christmas pudding. God bless the British Corner Shop, which sends all this and more all over the world. Neighbours borrowed our cottage (, see below) to accommodate their overflow of Christmas visitors.

Boxing Day is rather an anticlimax in France. My trusty online dictionary translates it as le 26 décembre.    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

Christmas In The Morvan

Posted by: Carole on Friday November 28, 2014 (02:42:06)   (2927 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
It's official: Christmas is coming to the Morvan. The Morvan? Think of the Yorkshire Dales, but with better roads and less hype. Nobody comes here for motorways, theatres, discos, shopping malls or even ubiquitous broad band. We are online thanks to a gizmo on our balcony which provides a microwave link to a base station in Corbigny, our nearest town. We are 20 miles from the nearest cinema, although movies are occasionally screened at the Centre Médico-Social in Corbigny, which also offers tap dancing classes, sewing bees, tax advice and the annual flu jabs.

In the UK the Christmas hype seems to start around Michaelmas.    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

A Taste of Home

Posted by: Carole on Saturday October 18, 2014 (19:50:16)   (2791 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
Here in rural Burgundy you know where your food comes from. You see your vegetables and fruit growing, often in your own garden. In the field behind our house white Charolais cows suckle their calves or enjoy the attentions of a self-satisfied-looking bull. Local shops and market stalls offer tempting pâtés, terrines and other charcuterie, a bewildering variety of cheeses, and delectable tarts and cakes without an E number in sight. All this and wine too! It seems perverse, therefore, for expats and their visitors to crave the tastes of home; but some of us do.    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

'Paperasserie' - The French Equivalent Of Red Tape

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday October 01, 2014 (15:23:18)   (2259 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
After nine years living in rural Burgundy, we are philosophical about paperasserie – the French equivalent of red tape. French bureaucracy has an appalling reputation, but some French paperasserie is actually easier to deal with than British red tape. Let's have the good news first.

John makes our joint tax return online here, thanks to our friendly tax inspector, Monsieur Picy. When we first arrived in France, M Picy gave us several hours of his time in the imposingly named Hôtel des Impôts at Clamecy, patiently going through the implications of the double taxation treaty intended to ensure expats did not pay twice: a subject dear to our hearts, although the documentation does not make for riveting reading. While our dog dozed under his desk, M Picy read aloud from his files.    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

Welcome to Charity Cottage

Posted by: Carole on Friday August 29, 2014 (18:39:14)   (3153 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
There was once a French boy who spent his summer holidays in an old cottage in the Morvan region of Burgundy. After a lifetime driving a Paris dustcart, he and his wife bought the cottage and built their dream home on the site. When they downsized in 2005 my husband John and I bought the property: a modern house built along traditional lines, the cottage and an acre of garden and orchard. We let our house in Suffolk and became full time expats.

Word got around. Friends and relations were joyously received, but people we scarcely knew solicited free board and lodging on their way to or from their hols further south.    more ...

Rosemary Border Rabson

The Garbage Police In The Morvan

Posted by: Carole on Friday August 01, 2014 (12:51:01)   (2196 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
Here in the Morvan our local council is in love with recycling. It also shows signs of overzealousness where enforcement is concerned.

Much rubbish of course consists of packaging – bottles, tins, milk cartons and so on. These have to be sorted separately by the householder. The buzzword is triage. I first heard of triage in M*A*S*H, with Hawkeye and Trapper deciding which wounded soldier to treat first. Here, triage means sorting your rubbish into three categories: paper and cardboard, glass, and a mixture of plastic bottles, bricks (juice and milk cartons) and tins. We have three plastic crates in the hall. Once a week we take them to the centre de triage which has a monster bin for each category. Clothes, shoes, etc go in another monster bin outside the salle des fêtes.    more ...

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