About me…

My name is Claire Harrison-Bullett, not because I married and kept my maiden name but because I’ve got two dads who would both cry themselves to sleep at night if I deleted either of their names. In France I’ve added an “i” to Clare as the French kept calling me “Clar”. So that’s Claire over here.

I’m 41, I live in this tiny Oh So Lost And Lonely Village in the Ardèche (the south of France), with a population of 30 in the winter and 300 in the summer. The average age of the winter population is 127. So, here I am in this Oh So Lost And Lonely Village up in the hills. However, I’m not totally lost and lonely as I have Tommy, who is seven and already a kung fu trapeze artist who listens to Pink Floyd (yay!) and Def Leppard (ahem) and has the energy of a tornado. I also have Léonie who is 3 and a half and already knows everything. She is always RIGHT. Or else she is whining in a killer high-pitched tone that shaves the skin off your inner ear. Life with these two either makes me feel like I have just done three hours of meditation in a warm, white room and that my life is rich and fulfilled (when they’re laughing, playing happily, cuddling up to me, whispering “Mummy, I love you”), or it makes me feel like a homicidal maniac. Then there’s L’Homme, my boyfriend, Tommy and Léonie’s Daddy – who goes away far too often, touring fantastic shows across France, leaving me to fend for myself on my own with the kids and haul basketloads of logs up to our woodburner.  I did have various theatre/dance projects on the go … but all that has been on hold while the children have been dependant on me being home and not touring elsewhere.  I’ve been doing some acting with little local groups and I some tour-guiding and teaching and translating and all the things a vaguely intelligent English woman can do in the French countryside… but I desperately miss being part of a theatre company whose work makes me tingle.

Our house is huge, made of stone, and – at last – finished (well, half of it… there’s still another building sitting there wondering if we’ve forgotten about it or just run out of money… it’s a bit of both). We even have a pool in the garden; so we rent the house out to holidaymakers in the summer. We did all the renovation work at the same time as having Tommy and Léonie. Apparently, renovating a house is the second biggest stress on a couple, after having small children. We have survived. So I’m pretty sure we will survive the next test; when L’Homme is home with the kids and I’m off rehearsing and performing elsewhere. Yes, L’Homme is taking a local job in September. Hoo-blinkin’-rah. I shall be able to return to “les planches” as the French say. Meaning “the floorboards”. No, not my old carpentry job… “les planches” means the stage. I literally cannot wait.


17 thoughts on “About me…

  1. Go Clazza! I have a New Year’s resolution too – I’m going to read your blog every day…hurrah!! You can always do the same thing that you do when you write about your “Dad” – ie: write “my sister” and then just lie to Sian & I about who it is…xxx

  2. Hi Claire, read your blog post about Lhasa. I am a writer in Montreal. I would like to include some of your comments in a story about breast cancer for The Gazette. Would it be possible to email each other direct rather than communicate here? cfidelman@thegazette.canwest.com
    btw. i spend much time in the south of france – à Moissac, where we have a little stone house and garden

  3. Tres bon Claire. I’ve got to go and do some nappying and some sweet potatoing. I feel a whole new stream of language opening up to you, me and Sian. What with that and Flames of French Terror™ we need never write anything sensible to one another again….hurrah!!

    • Yes Lucy, your comment is très indeeding. C’est le agree. But please remember that flames of FRENCH TERROR™ must be written exactly as I have just written it. The capitals are all important and you could face a law suit if you neglect to include them. Right, off for a footing before roading to Tommy’s nanny’s house. C’est le must.

  4. Help!! I am (a) getting withdrawal (sp??) symptoms and (b) a bit worried that you haven’t written anything for a few days. It’s a nightmare now – if I see you haven’t been writing, I immediately start thinking something terrible must have happened, whereas before, I was blissfully ignorant and you could have been dying of bubonic plague or engulfed by flames of FRENCH TERROR™ (cheque is in the post) and I would never have known…. L xx

  5. Hello Clare

    My name is Julie Stalker. I have been trialing the web for someone who would be interested in helping out with holiday rentals. eg change over keys, cleaning.
    We have a house in the lovely village of Labeaume. This would be our first year at renting it out. I just wondered where you live. Hoping it not to far….!
    What are your thoughts on this, let me know .


    Julie Stalker
    Leigh on Sea

    • Hi Julie,
      Unfortunately we live too far from Labeaume for me to deal with your holiday house. 40km of windy roads, which would mean at least a 45 minute drive. And I hate cleaning! Partly because I’m so scrupulously thorough, so it takes ages! I would have been happy to hand over keys and show people around, but it’s just a bit too far away. Hope you find someone though … isn’t there anyone in the village who could look after things for you? We’re planning on doing the same thing with our house in a few years time so we’ve got our village friends lined up to help out…
      Best wishes,

  6. Il y a déjà un certain temps que je voulais te donner de mes nouvelles, suite à ta lettre mais je n’ai pas ton adresse e-mail pour te répondre. Peux-tu me l’envoyer ?
    A bientôt,

  7. Hi Claire
    I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now, admiring the flowing prose, interesting pictures and the way you make the pages flip over on my ipad. Sooo clever.

    My partner and I (she would be La Femme I guess) have a little piece of Ardèche too, north of Aubenas among the châtaigniers. It’s a second home, so we’re not always there; but when you write about the heat or the rain, I know where you’re at…

    We wish you all a happy Ardèchois Christmas and look forward to your continuing adventures in 2012!

    • Hello Malcolm, thanks for your words. I shall indeed be writing more and more in 2012 as I’ll have more evening time on my hands, as L’Homme goes back on tour, leaving me to battle my way through weeks of ice and snow and broccoli on the walls and peas mashed into our socks and exploding nappies and mountain ranges of laundry. If and when you and La Femme come over to your Aubenas home, come and visit and help me scrape mashed carrot off the dog. We’re about an hour from Aubenas. A bit less when you’re speeding along the windy roads about to give birth. I know this from experience. Bonne fêtes et bonne année! Claire

  8. LadyMustard are you on twitter? I can’t remember your username if so, and I need to credit you with being the muse for my latest post. Um except you may not like it! Arf! LadyCurd xxx

    • LadyCurd, I once signed up for Twitter and have NEVER used it for fear of getting hooked. But maybe I should take the plunge and bite that hook. Except that god knows what username/password/email address I used. So I’ve just signed up. Here I am: @Inagainoutagain … sigh – looks like I’m stuck with that euphemistic name. x x x

  9. Hello Cla(i)re,
    I have just received a mail transfer about your Leonora Carrington evening and I looked you up.
    I’m hoping to be able to come on 10th August. I have been living in the Ardèche for 35 years and I’ve been running a theatre company here for the last 32 (nearly). I started off in a village (Rocher) with 244 inhabitants in 1980 and am now in Aubenas where my company has built a theatre. I too have hankered to write but have yet to get down to the nitty gritty. I look forward to reading more of your texts when I have time.
    I now live in a smal stone house in the centre of Aubenas and my two children are 24. I’ve spent most of my time avoiding english speaking spheres – but actually there haven’t been many to avoid.
    If I make it on saturday (I’m only a very, very short-distance driver), I’ll be really pleased to meet you.
    All the best,

    • Hi ALison, thanks for writing. If you make it on Saturday that’s great, but otherwise there will probably be other opportunities as the association de Max Ernst are keen on me doing more of these Leonora Carrington evenings.
      Keep in touch, our home isn’t that far from Aubenas (45km)… Best wishes, Claire

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