About me

IMG_0722My name is Lesley and I am the owner of TheSecretGarden-France, cooking school, a self confessed foodie, food blogger, cook, hoarder of recipe books….. I could go on.




I am a Scot (Glaswegian born and bred) living in France and loving every minute of it. I arrived in France, not knowing anyone! and moving to a very rural location with very little French vocabulary.

I had studied French at school, but only for 2 years as I was not really getting the hang of it and ‘really when would I ever need French’….. if only the hindsight had kicked in at that early age….

On arriving in France,  I had one of those moments, ‘I was finally coming home’ although I had never been to France before. So I guess somewhere in my many previous lives, maybe I had been.

I arrived on 16th December, and I have since been told and repeated to a number of other people that ‘if you can hack it in the winter then this is the place for you…… ‘

I bought an old French farm house, it had been renovated to a very high standard so I could ‘just move in’. My brother-in-law and his friend drove a lorry from Edinburgh with all my furniture and they arrived at the house about 3 hours after I did, not bad going after such a long drive. Anyway I already had the water on and the soup was bubbling away nicely so we could all have a good warm lunch and evening meal.

We started to unload the lorry and had to stop at about 4pm in the afternoon as it was so cold we could not feel our hands and fingers……

OMG what have I done, as this big old lovely farmhouse had no central heating and had not been lived in for at least 5 months….. Anyway we stopped for the day, went out into the orchard and barn to collect wood for the 3 open fires to get the heat moving around… Yes you have guessed it, it was not quite so simple and we had to learn that there was an order to play when lighting the fires as we ended up with a house full of smoke and not a lot of flames on the fire….. we did get there in the end.

Here in France we don’t quite have the same selection of produce in the supermarkets as you can very easily buy in the UK. Although what we do have are some wonderful local producers and ingredients. The point to this previous statement is a major contributing factor to my obsessive behaviour with cooking and creating good food and treats.

I look for any excuse to cook, bake, create….. and my husband thinks he is the victim…..of course he has to taste all my creations.

Another little point that has brought a focus to my obsession came when I found out that I have some major allergies that impact what I can eat, so what are they…. well you may think it is very strange that I came to France with an allergy to Vanilla and Cinnamon but then there is also Benzoate.

So what does this mean for me, primarily it means I need to make everything from scratch so I know exactly what is in it.

The problem with cinnamon is that it is a very cheap spice, so producers use it in most things that have any spice included as it enhances the flavour, therefore there is lots of reading of labels and we go back to the drawing board, but I do enjoy the whole experience of creating and cooking good food so its all good really.

I hope you enjoy my blog and recipes, if you think there is something that could enhance what you see, please feel free to let me know.


A little note on Benzoate (E210-E219) is that it is naturally produced in old cinnamon sticks and vanilla pods, and hence my allergy to cinnamon, vanilla and benzoate. (I have made these points for information only)


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