Villa Caramel-the love-it or-hate-it book I wrote for fun


As I sit on a terrace in Antibes on the French Riviera in mid-October and watch the evening sky turn turquoise with orange and pink streaks from the setting sun, sipping rosé  and-okay-flicking through reviews of my books on my phone, I reflect on this  book that I wrote about twelve years ago.

I remember how, at the time, I had this idea to write a spoof, or romantic comedy, if you like, poking a little fun at both the romance genre and the European Union and the ins and outs of this huge organisation. I saw it up close and personal during my eleven years of being a EU wife, and felt I needed to demystify and perhaps even reveal some of the corruption and the sometimes ridiculous events I witnessed. It became Villa Caramel .

Feeling that Brussels was not quite the romantic setting,or even that interesting, I moved the whole cast to St Tropez, where the characters in my story would continue networking, flirt, wine and dine while falling in and out of love under the hot sun of the south of France.

I piled it all in: glamour, fashion, food and wine, sun, sand and sex,laced with my own brand of humour. Eva, the straight-laced but boring (according to some reviews) career woman with her two slutty (again,according to reviews) step-daughters mingle with the jet-set and the hot men they meet.

I had a lot of fun writing it. I never for an instant meant it to be serious or meaningful.

Reviews have been- mixed. But that’s life- and writing. You can’t please all the people all the time.

I’m only happy if I pleased some of my readers… from time to time.

Brigitte Bardot and The Tart from St Tropez


Brigitte and the story of  THAT cake.

Having fought a very irate French lady for the last piece of ”Tarte Tropezienne’ in my local patisserie in Antibes, where I’m spending a  late summer holiday, I thought I would research the origin of what looks like just an ordinary sponge cake, filled with custard. But it’s not. Bite into it and you’ll discover it’s a piece of pure heaven. To die for. To fight with aggressive French females within an inch of your life for. To risk an additional spare tyre for. To… I could go on and on. But where did it come from? And what’s the secret ingredient that makes it so sublime? 

The story started in 1945, with a young Polish ‘parachutiste’, called Alexandre Micka, who took part in the liberation of the French Rivera at the end of WWII.  To cut a long story short, he liked the place so much, he stayed, married a French girl and opened a bakery in St Tropez. Once installed, our Alexandre used his mother’s recipes from his native Poland, one of which was for a cake with a vanilla flavoured filling (plus that secret ingredient) which  became a local speciality. Wind the film (literally) forward to 1952, when a young director called Roger Vadim was making a film entitled  ‘And God Created Woman’ with a young starlet by the name of- you guessed it- Brigitte Bardot. Alexandre Micka got the job of catering for the film crew and the soon-to-be- famous cake was served daily.

‘You should give a name to this dessert,’ said Brigitte (who, judging by her figure only indulged in the occasional nibble) and so, the ‘Tarte Tropezienne’ was born. And now it is served in every good patisserie on the  French Rivera. The secret ingredient? Nobody knows. Every time I taste it, I get a different flavour; sometimes  almond, or apple or rum.

But who cares? It’s gorgeous.

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