Lemon meringue, forest bathing and Happy New Year!

I would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year. We had a pleasant, but reasonably uneventful Christmas, with the exception of a lobster theft, three sick people and several lost presents. As is tradition in France, we have seafood on Christmas Eve and this year it was more a case of ‘now you seafood, now you don’t!’ Luc had bought oysters and lobster which he prepared in advance and stored in a ‘safe’ place outside. The ‘safe’ place turned out to be a deluxe al fresco buffet for the dogs. (Luc has form: The story of the year we misplaced a guinea fowl thigh). They left most of the oysters though because there is definitely something of a knack to oyster slurping. Also there was no lemon to hand (or paw) and they are nothing if not discerning. Maybe next year. After that, we felt badly for the cat who hadn’t been invited to join the impromptu feast, so he got a smoked salmon platter, while we made do with omelettes and green salad. Luckily the lemon meringue had taken refuge in the back of the fridge and, as the dogs haven’t yet worked out how to open the door, it was intact. Every year we make this dessert several times between Christmas and New Year, each time more friends arrive and it always disappears in a flash, even without the dogs’ help. I’ve posted the recipe before, but it definitely bears repeating.

We have nearly two kilometres of sandy track leading to our house. With its tree roots, rocks, potholes and animal traces, our track is not conducive to good car health, and our suspension has given out four times in the past year. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that a new car is in order, but buying it is proving to be a problem. After much procrastination, we made it through the door of a Suzuki showroom today, did a quick recce of the 4x4s (I’m boring myself just writing this) and then legged it before anyone could collar us. The idea of having the ‘horsepower, fuel consumption, and whether or not it does 0 to 60’ conversation makes me want to gnaw my arm off, and Luc is no better. We both glaze over if somebody so much as mentions anything vaguely auto-related. All we want is a reliable metal thing on wheels that goes ‘vroom’ without doing my back in, and has a very good tempered suspension system (or whatever the technical term is). All suggestions gratefully received.

I recently discovered that for the past 12 years or so I have inadvertently been an adept of the practice of Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku as it’s known in Japan where it originated in the 1980s. Numerous studies are testament to the calming and rejuvenating virtues of simply being beneath a forest canopy. Emphasis is placed on slowing down; a sweaty hike aimed at increasing the heart rate it is not! Benefits include a boost to the immune system, reduced stress and blood pressure, improved mood, a better ability to focus, quicker recovery from illness, decreased inflammation, increased energy and improved sleep. Japanese doctors promote forest bathing as an antidote to the hectic urban life. I can certainly vouch for the practice; whenever I feel stressed (just thinking about car showrooms for example), I instinctively head off into the pine forest that surrounds our house.

Forest bathing



  • K.J.

    I agree with the benefits one can achieve following the practice of Shinrin-Yoku, and have spent much of my youth and later years “among the trees.” If one has not spent time in the woods, listening to the snow falling between the trees, one has not lived, in my estimation. For me, that is my church…

    • The Healthy Epicurean

      It is my church too. When we bought this house, the man living in it at the time told us that he had suffered from very high blood pressure until living in this house and that since living there it had dropped again to totally normal. There is no doubt in my mind about the physiological and psychological benefits. Also, I have read a number of studies that conclude that a view of at least one tree, and preferably several, from a hospital bed greatly reduces recovery time. When we lost an enormous amount of trees hurricane Klaus in 2009, it made me physically ill. Have you read The Secret Life of Trees?

      • K.J.

        No, I have not read that book, and I will put it on my list to read. Near my writing desk there is a huge window, about nine feet across and five feet in height. My view is of a mature walnut tree and twelve of his cousins, of different species, in our garden. There are others, but they are not in my line of sight. At the end of the window there is a door, which I open during spring’s rainy days, to hear the raindrops on the leaves. Short of living at the beach, this is my Xanadu.

  • kristenannmoore

    I’m with you on cars~ I just want something that runs without much maintenance and I couldn’t care less about anything else. I hope one pops up for you without too much hunting.

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