I thought one of the advantages of living in the French countryside would be the more relaxed pace of life here: waking up naturally when the daylight finally managed to penetrate the thickly lined bedroom curtains; leisurely breakfasts as we discussed plans for the day; a saunter across the court yard to the barn (the nerve centre of our operations); long, drawn out lunches; maybe a nap in the early afternoon... you get the picture. Whilst my cats have made a seamless transition to this way of living (as demonstrated by Harry in the accompanying photo), I find with so much going on there is little time for slumping on the sofa, coffe mug in hand. Here there seems to be at least one festival every week, sometimes two or more. Take this coming weekend - I am torn between celebrating chestnuts in Tramayes, leeks in St Christophe en Brionnais or pears in La Clayette. How do you even begin to choose between them? This got me thinking as to whether things like this exist in the UK and I just missed them (the result of tunnel vision) or whether I am truly living in a unique environment. I can remember my mother mentioning a festival to celebrate some fruit or vegetable in the UK (I thought it may have been beetroots as I grow a lot of these) but when I phoned she had no recollection. I searched on google but short of a garlic fair on the Isle of Wight, nothing. Are the Brits reluctant to celebrate the ordinary and the small wonders? Next June celebrated poet (at least we can celebrate our creative stars) Valeria Melchioretto will be running a workshop here 'Inspired by the senses' where reality will be addressed through what can be seen, heard, smelt, tasted, and touched. I have no doubts that this corner of France will afford plenty of raw material for her and her writers.