Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Summer: thanks, but budge over now.

Good year for the walnuts ...

Look. It`s probably my fault.

I wrote a blog four months ago when we were deluged by daily monsoons. Don`t worry, I said. It`ll pass. And to put a positive spin on things, I offered ten damn good reasons to love the rain. I can`t remember all of them but one definitely had something to do with staying in and baking chocolate brownies.

Maybe I was tempting fate. You know, don`t you, that as soon as you start the early summer ritual of scraping the rust off the barbecue and looking up recipes for spicy chicken wings, it`ll cloud over .

Undeterred, weeks ago, I hit town and tweeted merrily about my four *bargain* pairs of summer shoes. High black strappy wedges. Sky blue ones with cheeky peep toes. Tan leather flats with a sparkly bit on the front that would glint in all that sun. And pumps so gleamingly white, they`d blind me with their brightness. Not for one moment did it occur to me why they`d all been marked down in price. Someone in retail land had clocked the long range weather forecast.

Uncannily accurate, too.

Luckily there were a few cracking sunny days in the mix. So few, really that it`s easy to count them on the fingers of one untanned hand. But now here we are, sharpening our pencils, flogging our frocks and crocs, and eyeing up supermarket stew packs.

So it was timely to wake today to a tweet from chef and food writer Sabrina (@SabrinaGhayour), about  how much she loves September, and the autumn `mists and mellow fruitfulness` so beloved of Keats. She even copied Ode to Autumn in her message,a poem I used to know off by heart.

Yes, it`s beautiful to feel the sun on your face, relax in your garden and run free in bare feet. But in recent days, I`ve started looking longingly at my boots again : high black suede;shiny conker brown.

Out shopping, I found myself stroking a charcoal grey angora jumper and wriggling my fingers into the tips of soft tan leather gloves. I`m longing for those Aberdovey days when I can pretend the beach is mine during a brisk walk or a bracing run against the breeze. Only after a pause for hot chocolate in a cafe overlooking the sea will I start my lazy meander home.

Much as I love throwing open every door and window at home in the summer, months later, I still get a thrill out of battening down the hatches with a gale lashing against the glass, knowing there`s a casserole cooking and a basket of logs for the fire. I was born in December and often wonder if it`s the same for all `winter babies`.

We`re not quite there yet, mind. There`ll be apples, pears and damsons to pick, and a little cottage in Normandy to visit where the branches are already heavy with walnuts. So long summer, and your pasty white face. I`m just about ready to warm up for winter.

ps Thanks for dropping by! Where in the world are you? Love to know a bit about you too! And if you`re on Twitter it would be great if you could RT..thankyou!

Monday 13 August 2012

Food, France and a man called Ron

Poitrines de poulet.

I know NOW, but I forgot the word for breast (as in chicken) while I was at the boucherie in Segrie Fontaine the other day. At the time I had two options: direct the butcher`s attention to my own breasts, by touching them, (would I cup a breast in each hand? Point at them with my finger? Subtly brush my hand against one with a raised eyebrow?) and hope he didn`t get the wrong idea.

Or....I could simply opt for the chicken thighs,completely change the recipe plan for dinner that night, and beat a hasty retreat.

So, blushing profusely and irritated at my forgetfulness; I took the second option; paid, and backed out of the door. My guests were none the wiser, and scoffed the lot.

One of them was Margaret, and, amnesia forgotten, we switched that night to remembering Ron.

He was a great bloke, her late husband. Entertaining, caring, incredibly clever and a joy to be with. He died earlier this year and is so sorely missed--not just by his family and friends in England, but by people in the tiny Normandy village of Breel where he`d been holidaying for more than twenty years.

Ron was fascinated by the tale of three British airmen, who were killed in action on August 8th 1944 when their Wellington crashed at Breel. He spent many, many months painstakingly researching their lives and families so that there could be a lasting memorial to these young men in the village, and to a fourth airman who died later that year.

He managed to trace their relatives and bring them together from all over the world to join a poignant memorial service to them on August 8th 2008. It was a moving, bitter-sweet occasion, with grieving family members supported by villagers and expats. There were readings in French and English, smart uniforms and medals, a few tears, and some smiles too at the French national anthem firing off on the loud speaker at the wrong moment, but that added to the charm of the occasion.

And on every August 8th since then, flowers have been laid at that little memorial in Breel as a mark of respect.

It happened this year too, but without the wonderful man who`d helped bring the memorial, and that special act of remembrance to fruition. So seven of us gathered at 11am on August 8th to support Margaret as she laid flowers at the memorial. Martin Weston, who`d worked so hard alongside Ron during his research, read a poem and then invited us back for coffee.

There were cheese scones, rich tea biscuits, some friendly banter and a chance to check out Martin and Linda`s chickens and sheep. It was a lovely morning.

When it was time to leave, I went off for a wander through the village that Ron Vickers loved so much. I pushed open the creaking door of the tiny,16th century village church and stepped out of the August heat into the cool stillness of this simple, beautiful building. And because it seemed right, I dropped some euros in the box and lit a candle for Ron, and for the fallen airmen .

You can struggle to remember the right word sometimes. But some things...and some people....should never be forgotten.