Travels in the Somme with my father’s father

An unexpected detour during a six month stay in France links three generations of my family to a village in the Somme.

A version of this post first appeared on RMIT’s creativehiveblog in May 2017.

On Anzac Day 2015, I left Australian shores for six months travelling solo in France. Unlike my grandfather a century before, I wasn’t destined for the muddy fields of the Somme. My destination was another part of rural France altogether – Cinais in the Loire – the first of a series of housesits courtesy of a housesitting website called MindMyHouse.

First World War Australian soldiers bound for the Somme | more on diywoman.net
Syd Barker (second from left) and his brothers

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Food and philosophy the French way

Confiture aux abricots is apricot jam in FrenchDearest Darlings,

How goes it in cold wet old Melbourne? Truth be told it’s a bit like that in my French hideaway today. I had plans of dusting off the bike and riding into Chinon for the English conversation and afternoon tea but it’s not looking likely at the moment. Maybe I’ll just stay inside and eat. I’m waiting for our bakery van to pull in so I can buy a baguette and a croissant – a very rare treat but it will taste delicious with my HOME MADE apricot jam. No your eyes do not deceive you – my cooking mojo has returned. It went walkabout after 25 years of doing it for a living. Now I can cook for the sheer joy of it – another reason to love my new French home.

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Bilingualism and the language of love

Bilingualism on a blackboard | More on www.diywoman.netPanos Athanasopoulos wrote beautifully about bilingualism in April 2015 in The Guardian Weekly, a piece that moved me to write my first public love-letter and reflect on the language of love.

I spent six months in France to immerse myself in a culture I have loved forever and a language I haven’t spoken for 35 years. The mental workout your brain derives from travelling back and forth between two languages can be likened to the beneficial physical effects of regular visits to the gym: increased flexibility, stamina and occasionally the overwhelming desire to have a lie down and a sleep afterwards.

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