10 March 2018


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Well, February disappeared in a blur of activity in the new house.  With deadlines to meet of one sort or another we frantically sanded and painted walls, rerouted wiring, added more electric sockets than we can surely ever need and moved our belongings for the umpteenth time in and out of rooms to make way for the fitting of carpets, flooring and so on.  My laptop languished untouched under a pile of papers in the corner of the bedroom and whoosh – suddenly we are into March.

Time to look back at the photos again and the joy of the familiar suddenly made me smile.  Events that come round every year and that we never get fed up with.  One of them is the annual garden event at Château de la Bourdaisiere near Montlouis. 

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It’s a lovely day out at a time of year when you really need to see that kind of thing, beautiful flowers and plants full of colour and promise of the good weather that will inevitably arrive.  Not to mention the food producers, craft stalls and the fluffy chicken exhibition.

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We don’t necessarily go to it every year, but we never tire of it.  The château and grounds are beautiful and in fact it is now a hotel.  The garden event is huge and we usually buy something.  Last time it was a gorgeous dark purple lily, this time one of the cute bird baths.

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And of course we enjoyed a delicious cake and coffee in the tearoom. 

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Another event we went to last April was the open day, “portes ouvertes”, of the local potter in the village.  She lives just outside Le Grand Pressigny and produces beautiful decorative and useful pottery in a studio at her home.

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We have bought quite a few pieces over the years, either for ourselves or as presents.  She now has a shop in the village where you can buy her pottery and her partner’s gorgeous leather work.

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Her old bread oven had been lit and used that morning.  There was still plenty of bread for sale when we turned up after lunch so we treated ourselves to a loaf.  Very good it was too.

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There was something immensely charming and fascinating about seeing the old oven in use.  So many people would have relied on the regular production of bread in that very oven, food to keep them alive probably, and very hard work it would have been to produce it.  What a joy it was to see (and eat) real, rather misshapen and very rustic loaves, so different from the stuff on the supermarket shelves and even the local bakery, where it’s all so uniformly shaped.

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Speaking of regular events, I suppose you would count a birthday as one of those.  For a friend’s 70th birthday and a surprise party I was asked to make a novelty cake in the shape of his favourite English food – fish and chips.  It was a bit of a challenge but I managed it, including sugar salt, apple juice vinegar and green marzipan peas!

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Along with the comfort of the familiar comes the joy of a new discovery.  For us anyway.  In a shop in Descartes we discovered a cheese we had never seen before, made just up the road from us in Neuilly-le-Brignon.  It’s called Bourdel and is not cheap but utterly delicious with an interesting rind, strong flavour and a firm texture.  Since we bought our first one last spring it has made a regular appearance at our cheese course.  You can read all about it here.

25 January 2018


We are partial to a bit of bargain hunting when in France and with brocantes or vide greniers going on most weekends throughout the year there is plenty of opportunity for it.


Apparently I took this picture on 27th March, which was a Monday, so these items were obviously acquired at a brocante on Sunday 26th. 

The thing is, I can’t actually remember where it was.  I remember certain things about it, such as the set of little china dishes being brand new and unused in their original box and I thought that for 1€ they might come in handy for all kinds of things.  Afterwards I wondered why on earth for only 1€ each I didn’t buy both of the two boxes she had, especially when at the first use of them later I dropped and broke one!


I remember spotting the cake stand on another stall under a pile of bits and bobs.  It’s definitely one of those love or hate items.  I love things like this, a bit quirky and not necessarily in the greatest of taste but for 2€ I thought I would risk it.  In the end it turns out to be more of a fruit bowl as it’s not flat enough for a cake but I think it looks great when full of fruit.

We rarely pay much money for anything at a brocante, that’s a great part of the fun, consequently we don’t haggle over the price that often.  Only if the stall holder is asking more than we think it’s worth do we try to knock them down a bit.  Some do indeed start at a high price expecting to get a bit less.  But when items are only 1€ or 2€ each, haggling over them seems rude!


This necklace was a terrific bargain for 2€.  The beads are china and would retail for probably £1 each in a UK bead shop.  I have bought a lot of jewellery at French brocantes and in UK charity shops but nice beads are becoming increasingly difficult to find.  On close inspection a lot of the “jewellery” for sale is cheap and nasty stuff made of plastic beads, which are not much use to the discerning jewellery maker.


Of the other things, the little glass rose bowl is something I have fancied for a while but clean examples in good condition do not turn up too often.  A lot of the brocante we see is not transported very carefully and stored in barns or outhouses between events so they become dirty and damaged.  Some stall holders clean their stuff up before putting it on sale but most don’t.  The little holes in these rose bowls are difficult to get the muck out of and I’m also a bit choosey about chips.  I don’t mind using secondhand crockery once it’s been through the dishwasher but I don’t buy anything that’s chipped or cracked, regardless of how cheap it is.

The little wine glass is one of those very old hand made glasses that Nick is collecting and the coal scuttle was a really good buy at just 2€.  We obviously don’t use coal but it’s handy for stashing other fireside stuff.

So we did really well at our first brocante of the year, wherever it was.  Sometimes we find nothing at all that we want to buy but this was a good haul!  We do sometimes get it wrong, of course.  We buy something and then decide it’s not so good after all.  I usually then pass it on to a friend (any passing friend who looks like they might need it!) or take it back to the UK and give it to a charity shop.  (The point being that charity shops are plentiful in the UK but almost non existent in France, apart from Emmaus.)


Now to the flowers.  On 29th March according to my photos, our friend Susan of Days on the Claise turned up and asked if we wanted to go with her to see a field full of fritillaries, those lovely flowers with snakeskin like petals that apparently don’t grow in too many places in this part of France.  You do see clumps of them in ditches here and there but a whole field full of them was a sight to behold.  The other thing about them is that they do not hang around for long so this was our chance to get a good look and off we went.

One thing that strikes me about this picture is that even though the trees are completely bare because it was only the end of March, Nick is in his shirt sleeves because it was a lovely warm day.  That’s one of the things we love about our little corner of France so much, by the end of March spring is in full swing and it is often lovely and warm.


The Live Writer programme is up and running again.  It’s little hiccup of not publishing pictures seems to have been fixed, but now that I have posted using Blogger I will not be so nervous of using it again if I need to.


Looking through last year’s photos makes me think that Spring was good in Le Grand Pressigny last year.  So much sunshine so early in the year – magic!

Plus flowers in bloom, way before they would normally be in flower in the UK.  Tulips, my favourite flower, rarely make an appearance in Derbyshire before May.


Judging by the content of the pictures we obviously spent a lot of time out and about and in the village.  The chairs come out onto the pavement at the PreHisto bar as soon as sun is warm enough for sitting out, to tempt people to sit in the square and have a drink.  It always works for us!

According to the photos, on the 24th March we had lunch in Loches at this restaurant, the Côté Tour, which opened the previous year I believe.  It’s name comes from being situated near to the Tour Saint Antoine, a sixteenth century bell tower in the centre of town. The restaurant used to be a garage and the paper place mats on the tables have a picture of how it looked at the beginning of the last century, a nice touch.

In the photos it looks like we had the menu du jour, quiche followed by roast pork with mushrooms then prune flan for dessert - delicious!  Also excellent value at just under €13 each.  Plus a little more for wine and coffee of course.

So this is my first attempt for years at writing a blog post using Blogger.  I expect I'll have to get used to it.  Even as I write this it has decided that my text should be written centrally instead of starting on the left.  Hey ho.

23 January 2018


This is a test post.

I no longer seem to be able to publish photos to the blog using Live Writer.  Until I can find a solution to this problem the blog is closed.

13 January 2018


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Nick flew into Limoges on the same plane that took my friend back to the UK at the beginning of March last year.  With his arrival came a welcome improvement in the weather and some sunshine.

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It was certainly chilly at first but it was such a relief to see the sun.  Daisy was pleased to see Nick back home too.

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The village was looking at its best in the early spring sunshine and we enjoyed taking our regular walks, although of course we were still missing Lulu.

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After a long and dismal winter a walk around the village in the crisp and cold sunshine always makes my heart sing .  The feeling is the same as in the very first years when we had the little cottage at the foot of the château.  It never fades and I still occasionally have to pinch myself and can’t believe how lucky we were to stumble across this lovely place and to own a little part of it.

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Things have evolved and changed around us, gradually over the years.  Last March, with all the year ahead of us, my heart was bursting with a mixture of pride and excitement at the thought that this is where we live and how much we had to look forward to in the coming months.  Even though it was nearly ten years, it could have been just yesterday that we made that first walk around the village and through the grounds of the château and thought “wow, this place is really special”.

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Looking back at last year’s photos makes me realise that we had a great year and I should really have shared more of it in the blog.  I’m hoping to make up for that in the next few posts!

9 January 2018



The weather was not great in our part of France last February.  We did have a few days when the sun came out and we could sit outside and have a drink, enjoying the warmth of the sun on our skin.  But on the whole, as we have found in previous years, February is not a terribly reliable month.  Mostly it’s as cold, damp and miserable as in the UK.  This is one of the reasons that after much discussion, we have decided not to live full time in France, especially for long periods in the winter.

Towards the end of my two weeks in France last February I was running low on ideas of how to keep myself and my friend entertained.  Just for myself I would have been content to stay home, watch TV, read, knit and sew, but having a friend with me I was conscious that for her this was a holiday so felt the need to organise visits and events, plan proper meals and so on.  If I had been by myself, just keeping warm and on top of the housework would probably have occupied me full time.  Keeping two log fires going all day long takes a lot of time.


A few years ago some friends gave me a book full of beautiful full page photos of some of the more attractive villages in France so I asked my friend to have a look through and choose somewhere she would like to visit on her last day in France.  She picked a place called Levroux.


I had never been there before, so off we went to explore, on a bitterly cold and windy day.

It’s greatest claim to fame, if it has one at all, is the tower entrance or gate into the town, which is absolutely spectacular but in a sad state of repair.


In fact, Levroux seemed to be one of those really sad towns, full of dilapidated buildings, closed shops and businesses.  There was hardly a soul about as we wandered around taking pictures.


There was a fine old church in the centre of town and we managed to find a little café open where we were the only customers.  We warmed ourselves up with a drink of delicious and indulgent hot chocolate before bracing ourselves against the increasingly strong wind and heading back to the car.  


We had parked in the town square opposite the most amazing junk shop I think I have ever seen.  In fact I’m not sure it was a shop at all, there were no opening hours displayed or any indication of owners.


I wondered if it was just someone’s collection of brocante, or a shop that had given up trading some time ago.  Inside there was a huge amount of stuff, all typical junk shop fodder, and some of it I would really have like to get a closer look at.


Including this rather nice painting of the town gate.


As you will have come to expect, I took dozens of pictures of old doors and windows, but I’ll spare you the bulk and show just three of my favourite door knockers instead.

Later in the year, Nick and I returned to Levroux for another look and found it to be a bit more lively.  On that occasion, one château led to another……..I’ll come to that story in due course………..