This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Tell us a little about yourself
Hi from normally sunny south west France but at the moment is suffering from severe flooding and shortly to snow! John, my husband, and I moved here in January 2007 after we had been together for four years, got engaged and decided to change our lives. And what an incredible change. After the pain and loneliness of divorce and scariness of internet dating, I met John, the rock in my life. We married in the tiny village here in Sonac and this year is our 10th wedding anniversary. We run the house (beautiful Quercy stone barn) as a b&b and at the age of 65 I have to admit I am now losing the initial enthusiasm for it. We have five daughters between us and six grandchildren so there is now a slight pull to return to the UK where we might actually retire properly!
How have you have changed since you turned 50. What age you feel right now?
Changed? Ooo la la, difficult – I hope not in personality but physically I am fatter and more lined; mentally I still feel mid twenties and still have the same ridiculous sense of humour. However, I suppose the old adage of, with age comes maturity – and hopefully a bit more wisdom. I find it difficult when people say “I feel so old” as some of my friends haven’t lived to be able to say that. Take each day as it comes! Parts of my body have reminded me of my age over the last couple of years with bits falling off, out or down where they shouldn’t be and that can be a little depressing but I am still here!
Places you have lived and where you would like to live
My father was in the Army and I was lucky enough to travel all over the world as a child, something I do not take for granted. It was always so exciting going to a new country and discovering the culture. My parents were very outgoing and my brother and I were encouraged to learn about our new surroundings. The downside was boarding school, which I hated. So as a brief summary I’ve lived in Hong Kong, Germany (four times), Malaysia, Cyprus, UK and now France. Doing an online survey recently I found out I have visited over 30 countries and still have a passion for new places. My bucket list is endless. However, I would prefer to live in the UK now but with better weather!
What you like to do in your free time?
Free time, what’s that? I have recently discovered upholstery and am beginning to develop a real interest in it. However, it’s quite physical and has kicked off a severe bout of RSI and tennis elbow, so giving it a bit of a rest at the moment. On my last commission of reupholstering a chaise longue it took me four hours to remove all the nails and tacks with a heavy tool! I also really like renovating old furniture in the shabby chic style but sometimes people overdo it and it can look more shabby shite! I’ve learnt that less is more in many areas of my life.
What are your favourite fashion brands and what item could you not do without?
Since living in France I’ve found they don’t cater for bigger sizes, so I tend to continue using online UK shops and I love a new one I’ve found called Lindex. Also Boden, Monsoon and Next are all staples for everyday stuff, although jeans are the norm here. We have friends who love to make an excuse to dress for dinner, so we occasionally have a black tie dinner party to remind ourselves that we can be sophisticated! Probably the only item of clothing I couldn’t do without is my pants!
Have you embraced technology?
I like to think I’m ok with technology and have recently bought John an MP3 player so he can listen while exercising (recent new knee). After being tempted to beat it with a feather duster through frustration because I couldn’t work out how to download the music, I can’t tell you how smug I feel now I’ve achieved it. We are great fans of all Apple products now which was a shock when we changed from Windows, but wouldn’t go back now. I am a little stubborn (!) and will sit for hours to work out how something is meant to be used, usually resorting to YouTube or Google!
Do you have a favourite beauty product?
‘In Extreme Dimension Lash Mascara‘ by MAC cosmetics. I basically have short, straight eyelashes and this seems to make them look a bit more lush. I used to use Yves Saint Laurent Lash Thickening Mascara but the cost of that is now ridiculous and my daughters introduced me to Mac make up, which is great quality. I will not leave the house without my mascara on, a bit like my pants…
How about cooking?
I am passionate about it and frequently try out new recipes on our unsuspecting b&b guests. I think the Countrywives’ ladies and I have similar tastes in food as I frequently use their recipes. My most recent signature dish is orange and beetroot infused salmon as a starter, pan fried duck breast with creamed cabbage, chestnuts & caramelised pear,.
What is your favourite food and/or drink?
My favourite food is food – except kale, tripe or andouillette (a French sausage made from indescribable parts of a pig). My favourite drink? A really good Bloody Mary before Sunday lunch! And a good red wine. We are lucky enough to live in the Cahors wine region, which is a rich, luscious dark red wine made from Malbec. Yum!
Your last good read
The book that has touched me most in recent years is The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak. It stayed with me for ages and I missed the characters when I finished it. Unfortunately they ruined it with the film version! I don’t read much these days and really should get back to it, the problem being I’m an all or nothing person and if I pick up a book I have to keep reading and everything else can just wait!
TV or box sets?
A really good box set. The Crown has to be one of the best recent series and Game of Thrones, which surprised me as I usually really dislike fantasy fiction; but about to start Series 7, which I’m hoping we will defer gratification and try and watch over a week or two. We watched Series 6 over two days! Once, with Breaking Bad we sat up until 4 o’clock in the morning saying “We HAVE to watch the next one”!
How about music?
Huge range in taste! I love KD Laing, John Mayer, Yo Yo Ma, Queen, Paolo Nuttini, blues, tuneful jazz, the list is endless and of course, The Beatles.
What can’t you live without?
Skype and mascara! (and pants…)
Who do you most admire?
Dame Judi Dench – I wanted to be a professional actress and she is the person I would like to have been if I wasn’t me!!
Your top tips for #womenover50
1. Take each day as it comes.
2. Try and find humour in everything, laughing is the best tonic.
3. Treasure every moment with your family.
4. Spoil yourself when you can and don’t feel guilty about it.
5. Drink more red wine, it’s one of your 5 a day!