Sunday, February 18, 2018

Book review of The French Adventure by Lucy Coleman

French Village Diaries book review The French Adventure Lucy Coleman Brook Cottage Books blog tour
The French Adventure Lucy Coleman
Genre: Sweet romance/cosy mystery
Release Date:1 February 2018
Publisher: Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus)

Today I’m taking part in the virtual blog tour for The French Adventure by Lucy Coleman and at the bottom of the page you will find details of a French inspired giveaway.

French Village Diaries book review The French Adventure Lucy Coleman Brook Cottage Books blog tour
The French Adventure Brook Cottage Books Blog Tour

Lucy Coleman always knew that one day she would write, but first life took her on a wonderful journey of self-discovery for which she is very grateful.
French Village Diaries book review The French Adventure Lucy Coleman Brook Cottage Books blog tour
Lucy Coleman
Family life and two very diverse careers later she now spends most days glued to a keyboard, which she refers to as her personal quality time.
‘It’s only when you know who you are that you truly understand what makes you happy – and writing about love, life and relationships makes me leap out of bed every morning!’
If she isn’t online she’s either playing with the kids, whose imaginations seem to know no bounds, or painting something. As a serial house mover together with her lovely husband, there is always a new challenge to keep her occupied!
Lucy also writes under the name Linn B. Halton.

Packed full of French flavour and idyllic settings this is a romantic, heart-warming and unputdownable new novel about life and love, perfect for anyone who loves Milly Johnson, Lucy Diamond and Debbie Johnson.

Suddenly unemployed and single, Anna escapes to her parents' beautiful house in France for a much-needed recharge – and to work out what she wants to do next with her life now her carefully mapped out plan has gone out the window.

Anna gives herself 6 months to recuperate, all the while helping renovate her parents' adjoining gîtes into picturesque B&Bs. But working alongside the ruggedly handsome Sam on the renovation project, she didn't expect for life to take an unexpected, if not unwelcome, twist...

My Review:
This book was quick and easy to get into, but so very difficult to put down and I may have even feigned tiredness so as to continue reading it on Sunday afternoon, instead of going out and walking the dog with my husband.

Sam and Anna are two troubled souls working through their heartache on the same renovation project, but so lost in their inner turmoils that at times they are so very far apart. I found them both to be engaging, with a vulnerable side too, and the setting; a restored manoir in the Loire valley sounded gorgeous, but the reality of the hard work required to run a B&B in rural France wasn’t ignored either.

I bonded with Anna, admired her organisation and determination to create a new future for herself, and felt she was the sort of person who if she turned up in my French village, I could easily have been friends with. Sam was troubled and as much as a mystery to be solved as Anna’s unusual discovery. This discovery led them on a quest which gave them both a much-needed focus, while also providing the perfect opportunity to spend some time together outside of the renovation.

It soon becomes a summer of discoveries, of learning new skills, making new friends and ultimately resolving issues from the past. I could have stayed with them long after the sunflowers had faded.

With a good mix of characters all adding something, be it drama, back story or authentic Frenchness to the plot, this book needs to be on your summer holiday reading list, although be warned, you may not be able to wait for the summer before starting to read it.

The French Adventure is available in ebook and paperback format and links to Amazon can be found below.


You can read more from Lucy and follow her on social media by following the links below.

Goodreads Author Page:

Please do join me back here on Wednesday when I will be sharing an excerpt from The French Adventure.

French Village Diaries book review The French Adventure Lucy Coleman Brook Cottage Books blog tour
Click on the link below to enter the giveaway 

For any UK readers who would like to enter a giveaway to be in with a chance to win a French coffee set, just click on the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

French Village Diaries book review The French Adventure Lucy Coleman Brook Cottage Books blog tour
Brook Cottage Books

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Recycling in the Deux-Sèvres and Charente

Recycling in the Deux-Sèvres and Charente Calitom French Village Diaries
What can we recycle

There has been a lot in the UK press recently about plastic usage, recycling and waste, and the enormous impact it has on the environment. It is now impossible to ignore the fact we all need to rethink our purchasing decisions and move away from plastics where possible.

I always believed I was lucky to live in an area where our recycling is easy and comprehensive. If it’s glass, paper or any type of packaging (plastic, metal or cardboard) it can be recycled. This, alongside having a dog, chickens and a compost heap, for all food wastes, means we throw out very little black sack rubbish; one small bag every two or three weeks. But what happens to all the packaging, especially the plastics, that I recycle here in France? This was a question I wanted answers to as I was shocked to read that the UK has been sending 500,000 tonnes of plastic from it’s recycling centres to China, every year, (think about the fuel costs here) but China is now banning all imports of plastic waste.

A while ago I was lucky enough to join a tour around our local recycling centre situated near Angoulême, in the Charente. My trip was an organised one for a group of local councillors, but Calitom encourage all guided visits, which can be arranged via their website here.

Recycling in the Deux-Sèvres and Charente Calitom French Village Diaries
All these items can be recycled

Calitom takes all the doorstep ‘yellow sack’ recycling from the Charente households, as well as the packaging recycling from our large yellow labelled communal bins here in the south Deux Sèvres. As you can see from the above images, all food containers, cartons and household product packaging; bottles, boxes, bags, tubs, pots, cans etc can be sorted here. Please note, lids should be left on plastic bottles and cartons, as the lids themselves are too small for the system; in fact, any item less than 6cm will be rejected as too small. There is no need to wash items before recycling (although I’m not keen on lingering food smells from yoghurt pots or tins of fish, especially in the summer) and items should not be stacked together but kept loose.

Recycling in the Deux-Sèvres and Charente Calitom French Village Diaries
A model of the sorting process

At the centre, everything is tipped into the arrival area by the collection lorries and is then scooped up and onto a conveyor belt to begin the sorting process. It is one of the most advanced sorting centres in France and was a fascinating process to watch, but sadly no photographs were permitted inside.

The first part of the process ‘tumbles’ the recycling to ensure the items are separated. Here the small bits (less than 6cm) are rejected, the majority of items continue to the next stage and any large boxes are removed to be sorted by hand.

The second stage is the ballistic sorter that separates flat and not flat items, e.g. bottles and cartons go one way and paper heads off in another direction.

The third part is the optic sorting, where light rays sort the different types of plastics and cartons.

The fourth part is the magnetic sorting that removes food and drink cans and metals.

At the end of the process there are a small team of people who monitor the sorted items and remove anything that has found it’s way incorrectly into an area. 

Recycling in the Deux-Sèvres and Charente Calitom French Village Diaries
The sorted bricks waiting to move to the next process

The sorted items are then made into large bricks of card, paper, clear bottles, coloured bottles and plastics, ready to leave the plant for the next stage.

Paper and cardboard are recycled back into paper and cardboard, the paper bricks going to a recycling company in Spain, and the food and drinks cans also become new cans. Interesting fact: did you know that 19,000 cans could be recycled into enough metal to build a car?

However, it was what happened to the plastics that interested me the most. All plastic packaging from the sorting centre is taken by the company SUEZ who forward it to different recycling companies, depending on the type of plastic, but the process of shredding, crushing and melting down the packaging to allow the remanufacture of new objects, is the same. For example, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging from transparent and coloured bottles, also used in fibres for clothing (fleece), goes to Regene, a company in Bayonne, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. HDPE (high density polyethylene) the most common plastic, from opaque laundry bottles, milk bottles and shower gel bottles etc, goes to Mix, a company in Brenouille, in the Oise department in the north of France. PP (polypropylene) packaging (all plastic trays) goes either to Mix or to Environnement, a company in Mende, in the Lozère department in the south, and all plastic films go to Machaon, a company in Châlons-en-Champagne, up in the Marne.

While the word ‘plastic’ has become a household name and seems innocuous enough, I find the chemically sounding polyethylene and polypropylene far more sinister and I know I wouldn’t want to live next door to any of these companies. I am sure a world where our food is not sold wrapped in plastics would be better, but for the minute, I am reassured that in our area at least, these plastics are able to be recycled, and it is done so within France.

Aside from the environmental impact; recycling 1 tonne of glass saves 700kg of sand, recycling one tonne of plastic bottles saves 800 litres of petrol and a tiny cell watch battery if thrown away contaminates 100m3 of soil for 50 years, recycling also reduces our black sack rubbish, which in turn reduces our rubbish collection costs. We were told we would see a 40% increase in refuse collection costs on our local taxes if we didn’t recycle anything.

You can read more (in French) about Calitom on their website here and they also have a Facebook page here.

If you have any top tips for living a zero waste or plastic free life, please do share. You might also like to join the Living in France Without Plastic Facebook Group, see here.