Amanda on February 11th, 2010

Quercy Black Truffle
It’s a strange phenomenon, but as winter loosens its iron grip and the first spring bulbs begin to feel their way into the exhilarating air of a Quercy February, my mind takes a retrograde step.  I start to think of truffles.
I imagine it happens this way.  November is too early and often still warm. December is the usual frantic stuffed-bird, fat pudding, vast quantities of everything, festive season.  January is devoted to repairing the ravages of the festive season, lean, calm and frugal.  By February my usual buoyancy has returned and I’m ready for a little deep, dark, intensely indulgent deliciousness.  I don’t think I’m alone either, but whilst most do it with chocolates – around about Valentine’s Day – I do it with truffles.
It all started for me this year when I went to visit a couple of friends of mine – a pair of particularly wise old owls.  Their knowledge of botany is a constant source of delight, and I sat in their sunny conservatory sipping my Lapsang Souchong and entering gamely into a profound discussion on a reliable organic cure for Codling Moth.  We chatted about this and that, watched a tree creeper mousing its way up their giant oak and thrashed out the probable chances of success for my maiden apple trees. Read More »

February – The Month Of The Truffle from French Life

Amanda on February 11th, 2010

Moondrop To Gascony

Anne-Marie Walters

The inspiring tale of one woman’s war.

Anne-Marie Walters was a mere twenty years old when she was recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and secretly dropped by parachute into occupied south-west France one freezing, moonlit night in January 1944. Life as a secret agent seemed to suit the indomitable courage of this remarkable young woman. She became a courier on the WHEELRIGHT circuit, carrying messages, arranging escape routes for British airmen and living in daily fear of exposure. Then, just when liberation seemed to be truly on the horizon, she was ordered over the Pyrenees to Spain – on foot. No mean feat even in peacetime. And unlike so many of her SOE colleagues – for so long the unsung heroines of WWII, captured, appallingly tortured and eventually shot by the Nazis – Walters survived to tell the tale. She wrote this vivid, ebullient account of her life as ‘Paulette’, living clandestinely among the gallant French Resistance, immediately after the war. Through these pages she takes you with her on her breath-taking adventure, sharing her joys and her sorrows, and appreciating the nail-biting drama all the more because you know that when the last page has been turned she at least made it safely back over the white cliffs.

First published in 1946, this new edition includes notes by David Hewson, who identifies many of the characters behind the pseudonyms. It also includes a great many photographs. A beautiful book and a thoroughly absorbing read.

Published by Moho Books RRP £13.99

© Amanda Lawrence 2010

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Moondrop To Gascony – Book Review from French Life