New job, more cooking and how the two things finally connect.


Sunshine in October

I haven’t blogged for ages. You would think that the months I’ve had without confirmed employment, could have been spent blogging, creating, setting up a business from my kitchen table etc. I could have become one of those women who tell tales in glossy mags of how they founded thier dotcom empires as the result of getting a life knock. But what I found about being with no specific employ, was it became harder to do anything. And I mean ANYTHING. I was rudderless and energy less. Getting paid to do several things at once but nothing specific took all my spirit. I feel ashamed that while other people use difficult situations to spur themselves onto greatness, I used it as an excuse to sit around feeling sorry for myself and in the evenings lie on the sofa watching Lewis/Grantchester/Scott and Bailey.
On the other hand, lots of people did point out that I’d had a very full on job for ten years which had involved 24 hour thinking, planning, and in the latter months knowing I was steering an oil tanker through a gugrling stream, so I could afford to give myself a break for four months. Plus, my idea of ‘not doing much’ did involve completely renovating a room in our London home, settling our eldest son into secondary school and consulting on several brands also published at Hearst UK.
I also found time for two trips to France – the latter of which was an amazingly hot week in October with zip wiring, lake walks and plenty of cooking which as you know is actually one of my favourite things in the world to do. A glut of squash from our various neighbours meant I persuaded the entire family to eat squash soup with every meal. Plus I made a beef stew with squash and chillis for guests one evening.


Home made Calamari and squash soup with sage croutons

My love of food is well documented on this blog and on instagram and while in France most of my relaxing time is spent cooking. I even treated myself to a crepe maker this visit.


oh Crepes!

And as I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, things all happen for a reason. And on my return from France and a lovely restful week of genuinely doing nothing, I had a call to go and see my big big boss. He had some news. I’d been working on lots of interesting projects across Hearst for the last few months (from Elle to Digitial Spy) but my favourite temporary role had been dropping into Good Housekeeping magazine to work on their digital strategy and social media. The biggest selling monthly lifestyle mag in the UK was a very different beast to my old home on a relatively small title like Company. On Good Housekeeping everything was big. The office bigger, the departments bigger and best of all – there was food! Recipes to be tasted, tested and triple tested. An entire cookery department, hundreds of thousands of recipes on the website and things to instagram that I genuinely have an interest in. And the news from the big big boss – was that Good Housekeeping wanted me to stay permanently with them. To be their Digital Director! And so I have a new job. A fabulous new job that means although I won’t be hanging out with One Direction and wearing improbable fashions anymore – I will legitimately be able to live tweet while watching Midsommer and my French idyl is considerably more on brand than it was before. My ‘real’ life and my work life have finally come into sync. I can stop pretending that I listen to experimental indie music at the weekend and luxuriate in Buble’s Christmas without guilt. And best of all – I can bore you all with my food pics on instagram.

One last one….


Quiche for kids AND adults (one half without asparagus!)








A baby at La Maison


Children make the best childcare

NOT FOR ME!!! Dear god – that horse has bolted…..but there are moments like when baby Io came to stay this summer that I do wonder if our French House could be just a little bit fuller – I mean we have the space….

Anyway broody feelings notwithstanding, this is a tricky post to write as it features my friend Ian, who is a writer. And he is a very good one. Writing a blog post about a writer is rather like putting on an am dram production of Iolanthe and asking Robert de Niro to swing by for a look.

Only last week Ian wrote a brilliant piece on turning 42. It was featured on the Independent website – and although I was apparently quoted in it, there were many ways he had found to describe the subtleties of aging that seemed so spot on I was a little envious I hadn’t written them ALL myself. Finding a successful path in life is surely about being so good at something that others simply don’t understand how you do it. And this is sort of how I feel about Ian’s writing. I feel the same way about Peter and plumbing. My Mum once said to me that she couldn’t understand “how you come up with so many ideas for things to go in your magazine each month” and it was one of the best compliments anyone had ever paid me. I do it without question or analysis. And I love it and maybe, I hope, I’m quite good at it. One of my main hopes for my children is that they find something that they are good at. That they get to spend every day of their life doing that – even if it is building Minecraft servers or googling pictures of poo!

Anyway back to Io – enough of her parent (who for the sake of blog continuity I should mention is a friend from Uni who, along with his lovely wife Alice had already visited La Maison Blanche once – it was pre Io, they didn’t just leave her in the car with the window cranked a bit… The sun shone while Io visited physically and metaphorically. My children were angelic, picking up on her good girl vibes, offering to look after her so that Ian and Alice could head off to Super U alone (for those reading without small children – at this stage of parenthood, a trip anywhere without having to pack a nappy bag is like a week on Necker with Ryan Gosling)


Seb’s in charge

And we were happy that Io liked the big plastic toys we’d been amassing at vide greniers for her in the run up. The boys even used their allocated €5 to get her some wooden building blocks at one. And Ian cooked us an amazing dinner of chicken with baked bread and we lolled and LOLed in the hammock with Io squished in between us. And Sebastian asked why he couldn’t have a baby sister – at which point Peter shuffled uncomfortably and announced he was going for a long run. But with our combined baby girl god-daughters Mabel and Bo and slightly older goddaughter Cara we have more than enough girlyness at La Maison and at home in London. But we did suggest that Io comes again next year and every year after that if she wants to – she can get her Dad to write a book about it!

How many bedrooms DO you have?


See it IS like a boutique hotel!

Now that the house was almost fully functioning (don’t get me wrong – there is A LOT still to do/finish and even when we do there are barns and woods and by then the house will need redecorating – the kitchen already looks like it could do with a lick of paint!) we had more guests putting in requests to come and stay.

I remember reading an article written by Daisy Waugh years ago about why they finally sold their house in France. It was because she got fed up with people using it like a hotel and having to spend all her holidays cooking and cleaning for other people. And I also remember thinking – well that will NEVER happen to me cos my friends are not annoying posh people like hers and I love them all. And I do. And in fact it feels really quiet chez White when there is just us there. And as the house got more furbished – it became much easier to have larger groups of people all at the same time. And in Easter 2013 we hosted our biggest house party to date.


A house big enough for 3 families! (just)

Many years earlier (too many to start counting but put it this way ER was the ‘hot new TV show’ at the time) I had shared a home in South West London with a group of total strangers I found via a thing called Loot. It was a listings newspaper that came out every week and people would place adverts in it for flat/house shares. These were the days before the internet when you actually called people up using a landline to arrange appointments to view. And so I went along, 21 years old and just out of Uni to look at a house on a street called Cavendish Rd in Balham. I ran into two people called Darren and Isobel on the way in who had just graduated from Cambridge and were looking for a place to move to in London. And that was that. We decided we sort of liked the look of each other and we sort of liked the house so we took it and moved in together. We found two others and our five bed house was full and the ‘Cavendish Rd’ gang were born. The later additions via moves, different shares etc included Dan, a fellow Cambridge Grad and Petra my now best friend and at the time, colleague of Darren. And those three years learning to be a grown up were some of the most fun of my life. Like Uni days but with a bit of disposable income. We lived mostly on a diet of Chardonnay and Covent Garden Soup Company soup. And we got promotions, changed career directions, fell in love (not with each other – phew) and because we had each other, it was OK that our boiler broke every winter. Or that the furniture in our big, ugly, rented house looked like people may have died on it years earlier. So, when, in 1996 I was offered a job in Australia, the decision to leave Cavendish Rd was made with a very heavy heart.


young and foolish

But, it was a promotion and it was AUSTRALIA! I had to go right? But as the Cavendish Rd crowd waved me through to departures at London’s Heathrow I sobbed into my passport and wondered if I’d made a terrible mistake.

But everyone’s lives moved on – the house share broke down and people graduated into smaller flats with working bathrooms. We all became proper grown ups. Darren even got married and before long everyone else did too. And then we had kids. Two each. And so that we didn’t lose touch with one another we arranged (and still do) every year to go away for a weekend somewhere with all our kids and we refer to it as the Cavendish Rd Weekend Away. Twenty adults and twenty kids.


OMG we had kids!!!


Darren leading the 20 strong Cavendish Rd gang today!

And somewhere in the midst of all of this, someone suggested that a Cav Rd sub group could come over to France for Easter. And so that’s what they did. There was a bit of overlap which meant Darren, Dan and I plus our partners and kids could sit in my kitchen in SW France and wonder if we could ever have imagined all those years ago that one day, twenty or so years hence, we’d still be friends. And our wives, husbands et al would be friends. And our kids would be friends. And we’d be friends with each other’s kids as they grow older and develop personalities of their own. And Dan’s daughter Suki taught Seb how to play backgammon. Then Seb taught Suki how to shout ‘poo poo head’ really loudly at your parents.


And Dan taught Peter and I how to play bridge and got really cross when we beat him and his wife Louisa (beginners luck)


And on Easter Sunday we had a feast that didn’t involve any Covent Garden Soup Company Soup at all. See. We HAVE become grown ups!