Thursday, 2 June 2016

What Sarah Jane did in Charente? #RPBP #ASMSG #99c

Hello and welcome

The Featured Book of the Month 

Our Frugal Summer in Charente
An Expat’s Kitchen Garden Journal
Sarah Jane Butfield

Let's set the scene: Summer has arrived in the UK and as the sun shines on our new life in Wales, (that's a new book in progress for those of you who are following our travel story!)
I want to take you on a journey of self-discovery and determination.

Before we begin, for those of you who are first time visitors to my blog:

Who am I?

My name is Sarah Jane Butfield, I am a wife, mother of 4, step-mother of 3 and grandmother to a beautiful baby boy. After 28 years as a Registered General Nurse, in 2013, I became The Accidental Author when I self-published my first book, Glass Half Full: Our Australian Adventure  Book One in what has now become my travel memoir series.
I have always had a love of food, the eating of it not the preparation! I regularly pictured myself as the green fingered goddess, but the reality was that until 2013 I couldn't even keep a spider plant alive in my bathroom let alone grow vegetables. So with this in mind, taking on the task of keeping us fed in rural France with no jobs, little money and a very limited grasp of the French language meant there was going to be some challenges ahead of us.

Let's start at the beginning:

The story starts when we arrived in France with literally Two Dogs and a Suitcase on a bucket list adventure after losing everything in the Brisbane floods of 2011. However, we quickly realised that the challenges we faced were not limited to the renovation of the property that we now lived in.

Here you can see the front and the rear of the property as it was when we arrived. No sign of a vegetable garden - just a meadow!

So let's take a look behind the scenes of Our Frugal Summer in Charente

My friends and family still joke about the fact that I not only managed to cook in a house with no kitchen, but managed to keep Nigel fed. He is always hungry and ideally needs to eat every 3 hours as he trains for trail running events and marathons.
However, I must confess that we had a few close calls in relation to the suitability of the food we ate especially with the wild magic mushrooms, but you need to read the book for that story!

The early days, before we had even started preparing the garden, let alone grow anything, were like an episode of Ready, Steady, Cook where the contestants get a bag of random ingredients and have to make a delicious meal. Our version of that was making a meal from the bag of misshaped vegetables given to us by our elderly French neighbour, Andre, and cooking them in the kitchen, a word I use loosely. As you can see it was an area set up in the corner of our bedroom.

My Kitchen

My Food Store
The process of converting a piece of meadow land, which had been neglected for many years, into an area where we could grow vegetables, keep some chickens and still leave room for our precious Australian Cattle Dogs, Dave and Buster who accompanied us on this journey, was no mean feat.

Dave and Buster
Once the long grass was cut and the remains of a small outbuilding, by the babbling brook, which had been an outside toilet were uncovered, the task of digging down to find and examine the soil began. We worked all day, every day often seeing little visible evidence of the days work we had completed. That was until February 2013 when the garden started to transform.
From this...

To this...

With our French neighbours watching everyday and even bringing their friends to watch us, we slowly started to plant out bulbs and seedlings, which I had started growing in the house, into out newly prepared vegetable garden. But it was February and all gardeners will know - it's too early for such gardening activity with ground frosts still a regular occurrence. However, we needed a head start on the growing season and it was a risk we needed to take, especially as the seedlings were getting out of control in my daughter Jaime's bedroom. Her room, at the back of the house had the morning sun and through the thin glass of the old French windows my seedlings grew happily, but when the chicks arrived and they too had to live in the bedroom until the enclosure was made the pressure was on to get things moving.

See you next week for a previously untold story involving frogs and seaweed!

Book Three: 
Our Frugal Summer in Charente: 
An Expat’s Kitchen Garden Journal

This book is a regular #1 best-seller in it's categories and rarely goes on price promotion! 

Making this is an ideal time to get yourself a copy today for only 99c/99p


This book makes the perfect gift at only £4.99/$6.99

June Special - Post and packaging FREE
Get a Signed, Gift wrapped copy (available in UK only) if you purchase direct from the author here

Our Frugal Summer in Charente
Audio book