The 25th of November is Saint Catherine’s Day. This is an important day, not just because my daughter is an Irish Catherine (Caitlin is the Gaelic version of the name), or solely because Saint Catherine is the patron saint of spinners, amongst other things (and I’m a wannabe spinner of fine alpaca yarn). It’s important because according to various dictons, St Catherine’s day marks the start of winter. Even though this November has been much warmer than average (it’s the warmest since French records began), it’s suddenly got colder this last couple of days and a vast amount of cranes have flown over the house this week. That can only mean one thing. L’hiver.

St Catherine’s day was also important in the past. It was the day when unmarried women aged 25 and older (oh, the shame!!) put on extravagant hats which they’d decorated themselves with predominantly yellow and green materials. They’d go off to the nearest statue of St Catherine and decorate that with green and yellow flowers and cuttings, ribbons and hats. And to cap the day off (forgive the pun) there’d be a ball for these poor spinsters. Their chaperones weren’t allowed to come, presumably in the hope that they’d have a better chance of getting off with someone!

There’s another dicton that goes: A la Sainte Catherine, tout bois prend racine. That doesn’t seem to sit too well with the general acceptance that this day marked the start of winter. What it probably meant was that, if the weather was still fairly kind, it was a good time to take cuttings of trees and shrubs. It didn’t suggest you should start planting them as tender young plants just before the onset of snow!

Well, you’ll be delighted to hear that my kitchen is 100% hygienic! I know I am. Following on from the two days of courses, trainer Françoise visited me today to check out ma cuisine. We completed a Plan de nettoyage et désinfection together and Françoise gave me some tips on the best way to keep records of purchases and meals served etc. She enjoyed meeting the animals and filled her phone with photos of our male turkey and the llamas and alpacas!

And I also got an unexpected prize for taking up fellow blogger Vanessa’s challenge to write a short piece incorporating as many examples of colloquial French that she had just given in her blog as possible. So a rather nice day. If chilly!