March 27, 2011

OF SHY DAFFODILS AND EXTRA STRONG RHUBARB

I am always relieved when we put the clocks forward.  More daylight after work to take the dog for a walk or do a bit of gardening.

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The signs of spring are all around us in Derbyshire and last week we had virtually a whole week of warm sunshine. 

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But it was still not enough to bring the daffodils out.  The ones along the lane by the farm are almost there but not quite.  Those in our garden are even further behind.

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We do however, have Herculean rhubarb.  We inspected the garden for signs of the plants a few weeks ago and found nothing.  Another casualty of the two feet of snow we had last December, we thought. 

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Then Nick spotted the first few shoots of the two plants and put a plant pot over each one with a brick on top.  One day this week I noticed that one of the pots had flipped off.  I assumed Nick had done it.

The next day, the other pot had flipped off.  As Nick was away from home it can’t have been him so the rhubarb must have done it by itself.

Strong stuff, our rhubarb !!  I’m looking forward to a good crop this year.  Lots of crumbles, some for the freezer and also some cherry and rhubarb jam, perhaps.  Yes, spring is definitely sprung at last.  Enjoy !!

March 23, 2011

NOT FINISHED YET

not finished yet

This blog, I mean.  Today is my blog birthday.

Two years, 80 followers, 25,000 visits and 269 posts. 

The idea of going to stay in our little house in Le Grand-Pressigny, still fills me with excitement.  If we haven’t been there for a while I get homesick for it.  When a holiday is over and we have to come home to the UK I don’t want to leave and as soon as we’re home I can’t wait to go back again.  I love it that much and still pinch myself to make sure it’s not a dream when I turn the key in the lock when we arrive.  The idea of going anywhere else just hasn’t crossed my mind since we discovered it nearly four years ago.

I never thought it would get under my skin and into my heart like it has. 

So, whilst a few of the blogs I follow have dwindled to an occasional catch-up and other bloggers have packed up, left France and gone back to the UK, I’m not done yet.  I am still exploring this lovely corner of France and finding lots of things to blog about.

I shall be here for a while longer and I will be absolutely thrilled if you stay with me.

March 18, 2011

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED

I was reminded recently of something that happened a while ago and as remembering it amused me no end, I thought I would share it with you.

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We were on holiday in the Loire, on our Harleys, with two friends from Sherwood Chapter.

One day we were out and about and visited the beautiful Abbey at Fontevraud. We decided to go into the village to find some lunch and as it was the middle of August all the restaurants were very busy.

We found a place that had room for us and managed to squeeze all four of us round a ridiculously small table, with our jackets, helmets and other clobber . We were busy perusing the menu and I happened to look up just as a very smartly dressed elderly lady approached the counter to settle her bill.

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She plonked her handbag firmly on top of the computer keyboard next to the till so she could rummage inside it to find her wallet.

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The computer crashed.

The old dear had no idea what she had done and proceeded to hassle the horrified waitress to take her cash. This the young lady could not do.

No orders could be taken, no bills could be paid, food went cold in the kitchen because nobody knew who had ordered it and, as the restaurant staff flapped about, desperately trying to fix the computer, four English bikers sitting in the corner under the stairs were having the biggest laugh they had had so far that year.

(All photos from the web, courtesy of Google.)

MORE CHÂTEAU PICTURES

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You can wander around the courtyard and admire the buildings, the trees and the flowers to your heart’s content, for free.

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There are peaceful and shady places to sit to admire château or watch the world go by.  Actually, not much does go by, making it very peaceful indeed.

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The new building above, and part of the old building, below, house the new museum.  There is a charge to enter and it is well worth the cost.

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The view over the village from the château wall is spectacular.

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It’s 4.5°C here in Derbyshire today -  spring has not quite got going yet. Our daffodils are still waiting for a bit of warmth to open them up.  Knowing that it is warmer and brighter in our little corner of France helps.  I think.

I could say “roll on summer” but we have spring in Le Grand-Pressigny to look forward to first.  I just can’t wait !!

March 14, 2011

LE CHÂTEAU

Last July I had a long weekend in Le Grand-Pressigny with my friend Barbara.  She was keen to have a look round the château and I realised that although it is literally on our doorstep we tend to take it for granted and this was only the second time I had stepped within its walls.  Of course we usually do a circuit around the outside at least twice a day with Lulu.

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We often lean over the drawbridge and see this view when walking with Lulu.  You can just see the new part which has been built beyond the tower.

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New and old blending together – the donjon standing next to the new museum.  It’s nice to remember that it was a hot day in July when I took these photos, in fact I can almost feel the heat………..not long now !!

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In the courtyard we spotted something that definitely was not open last time I visited the château myself– an entrance and some stairs descending below ground.  It just had to be done !!

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Once we got to the bottom of the steps we found ourselves inside the base of the round bit of the château wall on Rue des Ramparts. There were slits in the wall where we could peer out over the village.  To think that I walked past these slits every day and it had never occurred to me there could be someone inside, looking out. !!

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I wondered how different the view might have been when the slits were being used for their main purpose – presumably watching for unwelcome visitors – hundreds of years ago.  Apart from the obvious, such as there being no washing lines or TV aerials.

It was certainly cool in there, a brief respite from the heat of the day.

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Turning around, our way back up to the courtyard was through this entrance.

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And then back up the steps to the outdoors.  All very nicely restored.

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This view is looking back towards the drawbridge at the other end of the château from the first picture.

When we were chez nous in January I noticed some work going on in the grounds around this part of the château.  It will be interesting to see what has been done next time we visit.

More photos soon.

March 5, 2011

A MISSING MASTERPIECE

When I spent a girls’ weekend chez nous in July 2009 with my friend Jackie we visited the village of Le Louroux and in the old mill there was an art exhibition.

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I spotted a painting by the local artist Veronique Duprès and went back a couple of days later to buy it as a present for Nick. It’s at the bottom right of the photo. It is of a stretch of the Loire river.

He really liked the painting but not the frame, which he thought looked as though it was bought from an vide-grenier. It probably was, but I thought its shabbiness had a certain charm. Anyway, it hung in our room in Le Grand-Pressigny for a while then we brought it back home to the UK and last week took it to be re-framed.

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We are very pleased with the result. The picture shop made a lovely job of it and the frame really enhances the picture, we think.

But, when the man in the shop dismantled the original picture, guess what !!

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Underneath there was another painting. We rather like it. So the man in the shop cleaned up the old frame for us and put the original picture back in. There is some damage to the bottom of it but we like the colours and the style. It is unsigned so I have no idea who painted it.

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I’m trying to think of a suitable name for the lady – she looks slightly wistful or even sad, I think. Maybe one day I’ll have her reframed as well.

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While we were in the shop, I spotted this poster and couldn’t resist it, puddings being rather my thing these days.

We will be taking all of the pictures back to France with us next time we go.