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IT'S ALL the letter S this month.

Slim, Slow, Sly, Scarface? Shorty, Scratch, Sad? Stan, Smith, Smog, Smoking? I could go on. On and on. There are about 230 of them. Yes, they're names. Dogs' names, to be exact.

I'll explain. We went

RUSTLE, RUSTLE. There's something there, throwing its tiny weight about in the long grass by the steps that lead up to the vegetable garden. A lizard? A mouse? A cricket? A cicada, even?

Presently the grass parts and allows your corresponde


HERE'S SUMMER upon us, like a long-awaited favourite guest. Hooray. We've waited so long for this. We can sleep with the windows open, get the main work done in those delectable hours between dawn and coffee-time, flop out round the

You can always tell when it's going to happen. Notices appear tacked to the trees down the street, lashed to lamp-posts or stuck to the official notice boards scattered about the village.

'By order of the maire' they say, and there's a lot

I'M AFRAID my first thoughts on arriving at the hotel Bleu Marine in St Raphaël weren't very charitable. There was such an incredible noise, like a surreal fairground or railway station music: you couldn't separate out the strands of music be


THINKING OF buying a house in France? A lot of people do and most manage to turn the experience into something pretty exciting. Some even write books about it. The sense of adventure is often enhanced by comparing what your money wil

THE FLAG'S flying outside the Mairie, the village town hall, flopping idly in the soft spring breeze. Sunning himself at the top of the steps is Jean-Claude, looking like a prosperous antiquarian taking a breather in the shop doorway and scanning