30 September 2010
28 September 2010
22 September 2010
19 September 2010
I am always impressed with Eurotunnel. So far, we have made dozens of crossings and rarely have we been delayed. Even when they are phenomenally busy, the staff are polite, helpful and friendly. I can really recommend them.
Lulu deserved a bit of her favourite St Maure cheese after such a long day.
The house was in great shape. Alex and Nicole had made sure the garden was at its best. Nick decided to barbecue the chops and chipolatas from the butcher and we really enjoyed our first holiday meal. We sat on our little terrace until it was dark. The swifts and swallows entertained us and when they went to bed the bats came out for a while and did the same.
We were not too late to bed. On the one hand we could have sat for hours into the night, enjoying the warmth, the peace and quiet and the prospect of two whole weeks of relaxation. On the other hand, the journey had taken its toll. It was two hours longer than usual because of our detour and we were exhausted. Except for Lulu, who had slept most of the way. Soon after the church bells had chimed ten o'clock, we took Lulu up the hill for her last walk then went to bed.
Moonlight over our garden. The calm before the storm.
At 4.00 am we were woken up by the most amazing thunder storm. For a whole hour the noise was incredible. Lulu had been sleeping downstairs and usually thunder doesn't bother her but after one particularly loud bang she shot upstairs and whimpered outside our room, asking to be let in. We read in the local paper a couple of days later that some buildings in Le Petit-Pressigny had been damaged during the storm.
The next day, the weather had changed. It was much cooler, a mere 20°C. It started raining as we set off for the market in Descartes. But we really didn't care, we were on holiday.
17 September 2010
The black pepper was another fun purchase. The skins are glossy black and inside we found .... a green pepper. Well fancy that !! And very tasty they are, too. We also have zillions of chillies coming on.
Growing vegetables is something we do for fun, not because we depend on them in order to eat. Which is lucky because we have mixed success but everything that turns out edible is absolutely gorgeous.
Smile please !!
13 September 2010
8 September 2010
Earlier this summer, I was much inspired by and somewhat in awe of Jack's cupcakes. So I decided that whilst on holiday I would have a go at making some of my own.
In reality, cupcakes are really just buns. I have made zillions of these in the past (although not so many lately). Butterfly buns, currant buns and so on. Cupcakes are basically buns with attitude. In other words, lots of icing.
I invested in some basic equipment; an icing nozzle, some icing bags, a huge box of icing sugar and a variety of decorations. Then I enlisted help.
I cheated slightly by buying cake mix for the basic cupcakes. I know this is not the done thing but .... I did it anyway. Just out of interest, the McDougalls mix was far superior to the Sainsbury's own brand. I know this because, having made a total of 30 cakes, I tried a couple for myself, just in case they were inedible. They were OK but the McD one was best.
I bought a variety of decorations; gummy bears, Rolos, wafer daisies, chopped nuts, fudge and marshmallow pieces, glimmer sugar, edible glitter and blackberries collected from behind the château.
Amélie helped to sift the icing sugar. This involved tipping lots of sugar into a sieve and then shaking the sieve violently until most of the sugar settled into a bowl. After the icing sugar fog in the kitchen had cleared, we could then get on with the decorating of the buns (sorry, cupcakes!).
I made some buttercream icing and flavoured half of it with cocoa powder to make chocolate icing. The two experts took it in turns to pipe the icing on the cakes and add the decorations. The results were spectacular.
We produced 28 cupcakes (having sacrificed two for quality control previously) and they were all different.
Isabella and Amélie selected the two they thought the best to present to my neighbour, Mme André. She was delighted with them. (Who wouldn't be?)
The rest were demolished by me and Nick, Alex and Nicole, Barrie, and of course Isabella and Amélie. All washed down with some Loire Valley bubbly. A perfect evening.