Amélie and Isabella came round to help make cupcakes.
They also made toad in the hole and coconut macaroons.
Preuilly-sur-Claise was dressed in its Sunday best on the 21st August for the Comice Agricole.
This is old news now, and you may have seen it in other blogs, but for me it’s good to look back and remember.
To remember that no matter what the event in France, if it’s outdoors, there will be a brocante!
To remember that it was a beautiful day - the sun shone brightly and there was hardly a cloud to be seen in the sky.
Now that the nights are drawing in and the evenings are getting chilly, to remember how warm it was, standing in the shade, as people, some of whom were definitely no spring chickens, marched and danced for our entertainment. It was about 32°C and they all deserved a medal.
This Breton group were my second favourites ~ the bagpipes were wonderful. Although I thought the person offering CD’s and DVD’s of their performance for sale was a little optimistic! I suppose if you really can’t find something to watch on the telly on a rainy night in February, it might come in handy!
The costumes were amazing and they must have been so hot in all those layers.
This group were my absolute favourites. The music was rousing and jolly ~ there was barely a single person in the crowd not tapping their feet or clapping their hands as they went by.
I suppose they did have an advantage, in that their clothes were more suitable for performing in the baking heat.
What I remember most is how blue the sky was, how good it was to feel warm and surrounded by people enjoying themselves. How wonderful it was to be back in our special little corner of France. And it was only a month ago.
The last time we boarded the train to cross the channel, we were the first car to be directed to the upper deck. We were very tired after a long drive and now we were completely alone.
Driving the full length of the empty train was a weird sensation. Almost like being in one of those space movies where you are drawn down into some strange and distant planet, swooping and diving between tall and oppressive buildings. Then an alien stepped out in front of us to stop us before we hit the wall at the end ~ a Eurotunnel lady !!
(I was going to put this in as a puzzle, but it’s far too easy!)
People have been living in the caves in the Loire region since prehistoric times and many were still very much in use in the 19th century.
Inside the weaver’s cave.
The Troglodyte village, Ethni’Cité, at St-Rémy near Descartes is a fascinating place to visit. You can have a good look inside caves that were used in prehistoric times, those that were occupied by Richard Coeur de Lion and some that still have furniture and tools from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The bread oven, typical of ones used for many centuries all over France.
When Richard the Lionheart ruled this part of France, which was in fact England, he would look down from his cave over the valley below where the river Creuse flows sleepily along. That part of the land was in France.
Confusing, isn’t it, especially if like me, you have a limited knowledge of French and English history.
Richard the Lionheart’s view of France from his cave which was in England. There would have been no roads or houses, just a few huts, possibly some animals and people waiting for the right moment to attack.
On our tour of the caves, there was much information about how the cave dwellers would defend themselves from the people in the valley below, who were often starving and would attack the caves in search of food. The cave dwellers were well organised and better supplied with food and the other essentials of life.
The post lady delivers to the caves that are still in use and some are in the process of being renovated.
None of the caves seemed to be in constant use, in other words as a home. In other parts of the Loire, many are still very much in use; a more modern house is built on the front of an old cave dwelling.
Most of the ones we saw seemed to be used for recreational or display purposes. There was nothing special going on the day we visited, which was good in a way as we had them all to ourselves.
At Ethni’Cité there are regularly special events throughout the summer, with numerous and varied demonstrations of how people lived there and the way they managed to support support themselves. We came away feeling very grateful that we were born in Europe in the middle of the 20th century, as life must have been extremely uncomfortable and dangerous for all the previous occupants of the caves. The temperature inside is apparently constant all year round, neither too warm nor too cold, but the caves must have also been rather damp, cramped and smelly.
The display boards in the caves had lots of postcards showing clearly that they were still inhabited in the early part of the 20th century and I seem to remember seeing a date sometime in the 1940’s being the last time they were used for real.
The morning we spent there was fascinating and we will certainly go back and see some of the events that they put on. It was well worth the modest entrance fee.
For anyone who might think of visiting, I was glad I wore sensible shoes and picked a day when it was dry underfoot.
Nick has phoned to say he has arrived safely at his hotel in Brazil, a mere 26 hours after the taxi picked him up from home to take him to Heathrow. Luckily his suitcase also arrived at the same time. On his way to the hotel he passed scores of the gated and guarded compounds where many of the better off have to live to in order to be safe.
Richard Coeur de Lion’s des res in St-Rémy
The picture in the puzzle is of a well shaft in one of the troglodyte dwellings at Ethni’Cité at St-Rémy near Descartes. The well was used to provide water but also as an escape route for the occupants to flee from attackers in the valley below. (Although not both at the same time, I guess!) If you look back at the picture you can see the footholes on the side of the shaft.
Thinking about Nick’s current location, one could speculate how much things have really changed over the many centuries since the caves were occupied by their most famous inhabitant, Richard Coeur de Lion. In many parts of the world, very little, it seems.
Just a quickie from me for now.
This week has been a bit of a scramble to get Nick washed, ironed and on the aeroplane to Brazil for a couple of weeks. It’s just for work, unfortunately.
Guessing what this is might be relatively easy, but there will be extra brownie points if anyone knows where it is.
Mind you, if you trogged past it too quickly, you would miss it.
The journey to France is troublesome. In the sense that we are constantly trying to find the best way to do it.
It’s 600 miles door-to-door and the travelling problems are all on the UK side of the channel. The journey from home in Derbyshire to Folkestone to catch the train is the difficult bit. All because travelling on the UK motorways is a total nightmare, a complete unknown.
According to Google it takes three and a half hours from here to the tunnel but it can take much, much more than that. All it needs is an “accident” caused by someone doing something stupid and then you have a huge traffic jam and you miss your train.
We organised things differently this time, setting off on the Friday night, aiming for the just-before-midnight train and having a hotel booked near the tunnel exit in Calais. Then after a relaxed breakfast we would continue south and be chez nous by mid-afternoon – much less exhausting than trying to do it all in one go after a day’s work.
The traffic going south on the UK motorways was foul. But moving. Until we got past the Dartford crossing and onto the M20. Not far from the tunnel there was a short section of badly organised roadworks funnelling three lanes of traffic into one lane in a very short space and suddenly there was chaos. At 11.00 pm it looked like we would miss our train, a massive hold-up being caused by a careless lorry driver stuffing his lorry into the side of a car as he changed lanes without looking or giving the car the chance to get out of the way. It was only by a difference of seconds that the hapless car driver didn’t happen to be us.
However, we eventually made it across (or rather, under) the channel to France and from that point onwards all our travelling problems evaporated.
We decided to use a slightly different route, avoiding going through the centre of Rouen and crossing the Seine via the Pont de Bretonne, which we have never done before. Yet another spectacular French bridge to add to our list of really good bridges crossed in France.
The temperature rose steadily as we got nearer to the Loire. On leaving Calais it was 18°C and by the time we were passing the florist’s shop in Montbazon, it was 32°.
Le Grand-Pressigny was in full bloom, full fruit and looking beautiful. The apple trees in the car park by the château were full of fruit, as were the blackberry bushes and the vines.
We had a wonderful two weeks and I will be telling you all about some of it as soon as I can.
Things back home are as hectic as always so you will have to be patient… !!