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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

'Paperasserie' - The French Equivalent Of Red Tape

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday October 01, 2014 (15:23:18)   (2348 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)   (3271 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)   (2257 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 ...


Rosemary Border Rabson

Glut Is A Four-Letter Word: Nature's Bounty In The Morvan

Posted by: Carole on Sunday June 29, 2014 (01:09:23)   (2348 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
'I hate plum jam!' the heroine of Calendar Girls announces to the Women's Institute AGM. She had a point. Faced with a surfeit of Nature's Bounty, my generation reached unquestioningly for the jam pan and the Kilner jars. 'Waste not, want not' was the rule; process your fruit and veg and compost the peelings.

Keats wrote in praise of autumn:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...
To bend with apples the mossed cottage trees
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core...    more ...


Rosemary Border Rabson

Yum – And Yuk!

Posted by: Carole on Friday June 13, 2014 (16:19:30)   (2201 Reads)
Rosy Rabson
We eat well here in the Morvan, in Burgundy, central France. Cheeses to die for, top-quality meat and poultry, superb fruit, vegetables and salads, a bewildering choice of pâtés, terrines and other charcuterie, delectable tarts and cakes. All this and wine too!

Lefty propaganda prattles merrily of diversity and cultural enrichment. Well, our visitors leave us culturally enriched by their experience of local food (our cheese boards would be impossible to duplicate in rural England), while our French friends and neighbours embrace our Chinese and Indian dishes, along with toad-in-the-hole, cottage pie and indeed, roast pork with proper crackling.    more ...


Rosemary Border Rabson

Empty Your Attics!

Posted by: Carole on Monday May 19, 2014 (03:06:27)   (4069 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
There are many reasons for visiting the Morvan. There is fishing. There are water sports. Caves for sightseers and serious cavers. Glorious scenery. History and archaeology. Food and wine.

Concerts, organised rambles, guided tours of ancient monuments. Refreshingly few tourists and no shopping malls but a great many markets. Every community has a weekly market featuring, typically, fruit, vegetables, honey and cheap shoes. On the second Tuesday of every month our nearest town, Corbigny, holds a monthly market on the Champ de Foire, with everything from watch batteries through live poultry, bedding plants and sausages to cheap jewellery. The Tout à 1 euro stall is popular with children and with housewives in search of wooden spoons, picnic plates and darning wool.    more ...


Rosemary Border Rabson

Burning Our Boats?

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday May 07, 2014 (01:33:55)   (3765 Reads)
Rosemary Border Rabson
What do expats do about their real estate in the UK? Do they keep a foothold in the old country, or do they – metaphorically - burn their boats? Some say Alexander the Great was the first to burn his boats. Others say it was Cortez: you could spend hours on the web and come up with a dozen different answers. In our case we felt we'd be burning our boats if we sold up when we moved to the Morvan, a beautiful corner of Burgundy, in 2005. I hope our story will prompt other expats to tell theirs.

We decided to keep The Limes, our old farmhouse in Eyke, Suffolk, at least temporarily. Firstly, we wanted to be able to return to Blighty if our move to the Morvan turned out to be a huge mistake.    more ...




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