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June Is Bustin’ Out In The Morvan

Hands up all those expats who remember June is Bustin’ Out All Over from Carousel. Good old Rodgers and Hammerstein!

They should have added a verse about local happenings. On June 9 St Père’s annual Le Jardin dans la Rue brings in the crowds. Their Troc Vert is a swap shop for keen gardeners. There are exhibitions and entertainments, and a brocante (see my May effusion) with a garden theme.For details of Le Jardin dans la Rue see here.

Watch Carousel on YouTube.

Summer Visitors

As I type the sun is shining and I am thinking about lunch on the patio…after we have welcomed eight Belgian visitors to the house at Marcilly that we are managing for friends in the US until they can emigrate.

In May French Connections sent us our first visitors, a pleasant couple, their son and a cocker spaniel (God bless pet passports!). Our vistors asked to come a day earlier than planned. Fine, I said: send a donation to Combat Stress and fill in this gift aid form so the taxman can add his two penn’orth.

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I like French Connections: you are always sure of talking to a human being (hullo Laura and Izzy, we appreciate you), unlike Trip Advisor, who seem to rely on an army of robots and take a cut from both us and the visitors before passing the remainder to us. The link to our French Connections ad is here.

After several years of running Charity Cottage (details below), where visitors donate to Combat Stress in lieu of rent and everything is very relaxed, running a gîte is a learning experience for me. Visitors pay good money for a well equipped property, and for our first visitors that included a salad spinner. A salad spinner forsooth! Who does serious cooking on holiday? I found one in our basement at Maré, along with other seldom used items. Maybe I ought to offer the next visitors our asparagus steamer and fish kettle…

Joking apart, our visitors noticed a shortage of hot water in the main bathroom. As we were expecting 8 visitors on 30 May for a long weekend, we called our Mr Fixit, Gérard. Expat Focus readers have met him before. He worked wonders in our house and in Charity Cottage. Now we have a magnificent hot water cylinder and a state of the art shower. What’s more, using materials left over from a previous project (Gérard never wastes anything), he built an airing cupboard around the hot water cylinder.


I was taught French at Ilkley Grammar School in the 1950s and Liverpool University in the 1960s. Language evolves, and since then hundreds of English words have found their way into French.

I thought my French was OK until we emigrated to the Morvan in 2005. My first misunderstanding came when a neighbour announced he was pleased with his new baskets. Here was a perfectly good English word in what was to me an unfamiliar context. His baskets were trainers, or what in my day we called plimsolls or gym shoes. The Académie Française has blessed les baskets. My wonderful Harraps Unabridged Pro includes it, adding être bien dans ses baskets, translated as ‘sorted’ or ‘very together’. As Mr Spock might have said, ‘It’s French, Jim, but not as we know it’, but I like it, I really do.

In a search for summer clothes for John, I came across an ad for le boardshort and was baffled. I knew un short, and so did Harraps Unabridged Pro, but HUP rejected boardshort and suggested boxer short and bobard (raconter des bobards is to tell porky-pies).

Then there was le pantalon battle. HUP shudders and offers le battle-dress. In my day battledress came in khaki or camouflage. The trousers on offer were not remotely warlike – there was even a version for babies.

Occasionally, however, they get things right. For many years un muffin has meant a cupcake; but recently Aldi offered proper muffins, the kind you toast at teatime. The label said 4 Muffins Petits Pains à l'Anglaise. Yay!

Nimble Needles?

John wandered in while I was typing and asked why I never write about my own hobbies. Well, I have mentioned Charity Cottage, scrabble (English online and French en personne) and bored for Britain on cookery and jam making, but I also do embroidery. To please John here is a picture of a tablecloth I have embroidered, because thereby hangs a tale.

Many years ago Aldi had a special offer on pure cotton tablecloths with lace. I bought six, and over the years I embroidered them. The last one is in our library at Maré awaiting an appreciative home. I used iron-on motifs from various sources and added a few twiddly bits of my own. And now I appeal to like-minded readers. Embroidery transfers are scarcer than in my young days. Amazon sell books of transfers, but the days when every haberdasher offered them, and women’s magazines gave them for free, are gone. I have not been lucky on ebay either. Any suggestions?

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.

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