PROOF-LOW-RES-WW-Issue 73-April-14_Print Ready-1
I am known for my eleventh hour behaviours.
No surprises then that I have finally submitted my “New Member Profile” to the Woman Writer, the journal for the Society of Women Writers and Journalists.
Not bad going, even for me – a full 12 months after joining!
Anyway its tucked away on page 26, and was written by Susan Elkin, the outgoing overseas liaison officer for the Society.
For those disinclined to scroll through, I have pasted the text below.
26 April 2014
The Woman Writer
From Little Acorns
by Susan Elkin
New overseas member Helen Aurelius-
Haddock, who is registered as disabled,
moved to the Poitou-Charentes region of
France in 2004 with the help of her brother-
‘He suggested that I keep a video diary of
my daily exploits and pitch it as a TV
programme,’ says Helen. ‘Sadly he was
unaware of my severe short-
comings on the “techno” front, but I liked
the idea of sharing my story and decided
to write a blog, which I eventually started in
Helen called her blog Haddock I The
Kitchen as it was about food and she
describes herself as ‘an avid foodie’.
Soon she was also writing for a food
magazine called Flavour, a series of pieces
entitled Retro Chefs encapsulating the
work and writings of near forgotten cooks
and cookery writers, using her collection of
old cookery books as her main resource.
For the same title she interviewed
Masterchef winner Mat Follas, writer
Josceline Dimbleby and her personal
heroine, Clarissa Dickson Wright.
Then came articles about living in France
for Daily Telegraph, French Property News,
Green Living and a number of local
English language magazines and
newspapers. ‘I offered advice on a range
of issues affecting expats who had taken
the plunge to move to a new
country – healthcare, property,
administrative issues, disputes with
neighbours, schools, and of course
learning the language,’ explains Helen.
Although she has ongoing health issues
and days when she finds work difficult,
Helen is now writing a novel based on her
experience in France. ‘Perhaps I am
playing safe by “writing what I know” but
for a first attempt I think it’s wise. It won’t
be all sunflowers and wine festivals
though,’ Helen says, adding that her book
will explore the themes of loneliness and
isolation – two strong negative forces that
very often force newcomers to France to
uproot and return to the UK.
So just how lonely is it living in France?
‘Despite living in a rural area, I am very
fortunate to have access to a good writing
community,’ declares Helen. ‘My friend
Alison Morton has recently published the
second novel in her Roma Nova series
(Perfidas), Susie Kelly and Karen Wheeler
are both writers based near me, and we
keep in touch via social networking. I also
have friends who run an excellent writing
school, The Circle of Misse, and I am in
touch with a local writers’ group that
includes a number of published authors. I
am also a very active member on the
Survive France Network run by fellow
journalist Catharine Higginson.’
Last year Helen visited China. ‘It took a
mountain of faith, gritted teeth and, of
course, my iron will actually to get up onto
the Great Wall, but it means a great deal
to me to have done so!’ she says