Beth Haslam - logo amsterdam
A very warm welcome to the first edition of Fat Dogs News. Each issue will contain exclusives on the series, tales about our lives here in France and a fun competition to get your Franglais brains going.

Christmas is coming, and we’ve been out celebrating. Nothing overly spectacular, just countrified and very special to us. Here are some photos I took from this year's local marché de Noël.
Auvillar, a medieval bastide town near us. We love it!
One happy neighbour about to enjoy a freshly made crêpe.
The magnificent entrance to Auvillar church.
And in Other News...
As you know, animal welfare in all its forms is very close to our hearts. Yep, even Jack’s, despite his moans!
A surprise event occurred recently, one that turned into another rescue mission. Meet little Nap, the latest member of our family. You can read his full story by clicking on the blog link below.

Fat Dogs Memes

I admit I’m famously bad at throwing. This photo from our summer holiday at Capbreton pretty much says it all. Two dismayed dogs, yet another lost Frisbee.
Newsletter pic Christmas

Working on Fat Dogs Part 5

So, what happens in this Fat Dogs 5? If you’ve followed the series so far, you’ll bump into old friends, foes too. I’ll introduce you to new folks and adventures we never, ever anticipated. Here’s an extract from the auberge to whet your appetite.
The atmosphere was subdued when we walked in. There was none of the belchy bonhomie about Manuel’s welcome. He looked close to tears. Janeau was in his normal spot, bulging over the edges of his barstool as usual. Even he looked miserable beneath that helmet-shaped cap. Mind you, his glass was empty, which could have been the issue.

Jean-Claude wasn’t there. In his place at the bar sat a new man. I couldn’t help noticing his neat clothes, he definitely wasn’t a regular. He also reeked of aftershave. It made a pleasant change to the diesel fumes that clung to most of the client’s clothes.

“Bloody hell, what’s that pong? It smells like a brothel. It’s not you is it?” said Jack wrinkling his nose at me.

“Shush! No, you’d have smelled it already if it was. Please sit down before you embarrass yourself and that man who’s wearing it.”

Jack was a non-user. He could never understand why aftershave might be a perfectly acceptable masculine accoutrement. Tutting at my grumpy husband, I took another peek at the bar. Just who was this mystery man?

Jack's Latest Tantrum

If you’ve read the Fat Dogs series you’ll know that my husband, Jack, can be horrifically irascible. He regularly loses his temper and enjoys a good old rant. You’ll also know that beneath that grumpy exterior lies a heart of gold.
I try my best to take his tantrums seriously, but there are times when an unfeeling smile, or worse still, a giggle pops out. Fortunately, he fizzles out as quickly as he ignites and usually ends up feeling bashful about the spark.

This section is dedicated to a recent Jack gem. As it happens, this rant was different from his usual. Why? Because it was mostly directed at himself.
The background
It was the last day of our week-long vacation at the Capbreton apartment. Jack decided to pack the car while I took the dogs for a final beach walk. I returned to a dismal husband.
car keys
The rant
“What’s wrong?”
“You’ll never bloody well believe what just happened?”
“Oh dear, what?”
“Just have me taken away. Big van. I’ll go quietly.”
“Jack, what are you talking about? You look perfectly normal to me.”
“I’ve dropped the keys.”
“Don’t worry, you haven’t been far. We’ll find them in a tic.”
“No! I can see them.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“They slipped out of my jeans pocket in the lift and fell through the space between the lift and the landing. I mean, would you credit it?”
“Gosh! Never mind, it was an accident, though. It could have happened to anyone.”
“Hap…happen to anyone? Are you crazy? That space is no more than a slit. God knows how they fell through.”
“Yes, well, now you mention it that was a pretty good shot.”
“I should just be committed right now. How on earth I managed to do it defeats me. And to make matters worse, I can see the buggers. I just can’t reach them.”
“Have you tried with a straightened coat hanger?”
“Look, you’re going to have to do better than that if you’re trying to help. Of course. I’ve tried every-bloody thing. I’ve also called the lift company, and they don’t know when they can send someone out. They sound almost as incompetent as me!”

I looked out of the window at the peerless blue sky. The generous warmth of another gorgeous day penetrating the apartment. Actually, things weren’t so bad.

“Sorry, yes, of course you will have. Look, it’s lovely out there. We can easily stay an extra night if the lift man gets held up.”
“Abso-lutely typical. I’m dying of frustration here, and you come out with an optimistic quip about extending our holiday. I have to get those keys back now!
“Rightho, darling. I’ll leave you to it and take the dogs out for another walk. Don’t forget he might take all day, though. You’d be far better advised to give the company your mobile number and come with me to have breakfast in a café.”
“I’m staying here.”
I left my poor anguished Jack huffing and puffing to himself about his own incompetence. So rare, so difficult for the poor dear to absorb.
Happily for him, the specialist turned up a couple of hours later. Sadly for the dogs and me, we didn’t get to spend that extra night in our beachy paradise.

Fun with French Property News

Allow me to introduce you to the top folks at French Property News. Aside from producing superb information about France, they have a special place in my heart for their incredible support of my Fat Dogs. You can easily follow them on social media or pick up one of their fab mags. Here’s an extract from a recent publication:
FPN logo
Miam miam! Buy a home near one of these delicious French market towns
Market day in France is a social event and a great day out; no wonder Brits love to buy property in or near a market town.
Whether it's the riotous colours of ripe fruit, the smell of rotisserie chicken or the laughter ringing out from the cafés, market day in France is a feast for the senses. We can't possibly list the best French market towns - there are far too many! So here is just a taster of what you can expect if you're house hunting in France.


Seafood and dairy are king in the north, with treats ranging from lobster and scallops to Chantilly cream and the Breton butter cake kouign-amann. Salted lamb from Mont St-Michel is highly regarded and the carbs of choice are crêpes, washed down with cider, Calvados, champagne or Loire Valley wine.

Bayeux market in Calvados is a "gorgeous gastronomic delight," according to French Property News reader Debbie Folkes. "From the 'melon, melon' cry of summer to the chestnuts and walnuts of winter, it's just lovely," she says.

Check out the buzzing Manche town of St-Hilaire du-Harcouët (famous for its 'galette-saucisse'), the pretty town of Hesdin in Pas de Calais or Questembert in Morbihan, where a horse-drawn shuttle service takes shoppers to the Monday market in summer.

The riverside town of Josselin, in Morbihan, is particularly picturesque, especially when the bunting is still up from its biannual medieval festival. A little further south in the Loire Valley, Amboise has one of the region's biggest and best-loved markets.
Josselin Market in Brittany (c) crtb Alexandre Lamoureux
Check out of the rest of the story on

Recipe from the south-west of France

Roquefort and Walnut Shortbread
Here’s a local, easy to make favourite adapted from Orlando Murrin’s original recipe. You can bake the biscuits ahead of time, fill them at the last minute and serve for Christmas nibbles with a touch of French flair. They’re yummy!
For the Roquefort and walnut shortbreads
  • 1 ¼ cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of cayenne
  • ½ cup (75 grams) Roquefort cheese
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1 egg yolk, plus a little beaten egg to glaze
  • 40-50 walnut halves
For the filling
  • Small Boursin cheese flavoured with pepper or ¼ cup mascarpone blended with 3 tablespoons Roquefort and ground pepper.
  • Put the flour and cayenne in the processor and whizz to mix
  • Add the Roquefort and butter and whizz to crumbs, and then add the egg yolk. It needs to be reasonably well mixed or the shortbreads will be flaky when baked.
  • Lay two pieces of plastic wrap on the work surface and turn out half the dough onto each. Fold each up in the plastic wrap and shape into a flat disc about ¾ inch (1.9cm) thick. Chill for a minimum of two hours, overnight is better. (If it seems too hard to roll out when you start, don’t worry, it will soften in a matter of minutes.)
  • Roll out onto a well-floured surface until 1/8 inch (2 cm) thick and cut into 1 – 1¼ inch coins. Use a spatula if necessary to transfer to a non-stick baking sheet or one lined with a non-stick silicone mat.
  • Press a perfect walnut half gently onto half of the shortbreads. Lightly glaze the shortbread and nut with the beaten egg. Leave the other half plain. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350ºF (175ºC) until nicely golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Now make the filling
  • To fill the shortbreads, set out the bases in a row and the walnut tops in another row. Roll small balls of the filling mixture between your palms and gently press onto the bases. If the filling is too sticky, use a teaspoon instead or wet hands. Lay the walnut shortbreads on top and lightly press on the walnut to stick the sandwiches together. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy!

Bookish Corner

If you’re looking for a great read, I've recently given these two terrific memoirs a 5-star review. Why not give them a try? I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Highveld Ways by Valerie Poore
Amazon Link:
Highveld Ways cover
Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 3 by Nick Albert
Amazon Link:
Fresh Eggs 3 copy
And here’s a long-awaited new release I’m dying to read. Already a #1 bestseller with rave 5-star reviews coming in every day, it’s Victoria Twead’s latest memoir Two Old Fools Down Under (click on the title for the Amazon link).
A word on book reviews
Did you know how hugely important they are to authors? Not just a pat on the back, they help build credibility as well as providing useful information for prospective readers. For books sold via Amazon, algorithms kick into action after a certain number have been posted, which qualifies the product for promotions. Reviews don’t need to be long, just constructive. So if a book has moved you, please do consider leaving one and make everyone a winner.

Fat Dogs Comps

As a thank-you for subscribing to my inaugural newsletter, I promised to offer a Fat dogs signed paperback. Many congratulations to Barb McIntyre whose name was chosen using a random generator. We'll be in touch soon, Barb.
New competition
We all love a fun competition so here’s another for you to have a stab at.

In Fat Dogs Part I, I mentioned the number of properties we set out to visit in France. Before that, we considered many more as serious contenders. Can you guess how many? To enter, click on the illustration below. The closing date for this competition is end February 2020. The first person closest to the total wins an ebook of their choice from the Fat Dogs series. Good luck!
Itswill copy

The Fat Dogs Series - (Click on a book to take you to the Amazon link.)

And that's a wrap for this edition. All that remains is for me to thank you for your wonderful support. I hope you enjoy a happy Christmas and perfect New Year!

Warm wishes and hugs from France,
Beth - logo - cropped for newsletters
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