May 20, 2011

DESCARTES IN SPRINGTIME

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Every holiday, we always make time to visit the park and the Sunday market at Descartes, which is just a few kilometres north of Le Grand-Pressigny.  The park is free to wander around and we are nearly always there all by ourselves.  Over Easter we were obviously too late for most of the daffodils but there were still plenty of tulips basking gloriously in the spring sunshine.

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We came across this little seating area where the wooden bench seat was under a canopy of wisteria.

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I sat under it for a while and enjoyed the heavenly perfume of the flowers.

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Fishing cafe

Nick made a pilgrimage to the fishing tackle shop, which is part of the fishermen’s café, to seek out a new landing net, then we wandered up into town to pick up a few essentials and enjoy the sensory delights of the Sunday market.

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There were rows and row of lovely plants for sale.  We managed to resist this time.

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I don’t know why, but everyday vegetables always look so much more appealing on a French market than anywhere else.

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I confess I was unable to resist buying a scarf.  So many pretty colours to choose from and only 9€, a bargain.

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We went home the back way, taking a bit of a detour along the almost deserted roads.  From here we got a good view of the troglodyte village called Ethni Cité.  We keep meaning to pay it a visit and see what it’s all about.

There are also troglodytes dwellings in Le Grand-Pressigny and one afternoon when Nick was down by the river fishing, Lulu and I walked up to them and took some photos.  Well obviously, I took the photos while Lulu did lots of important sniffing !!  You will be able to read all about it soon.

May 16, 2011

PINK SNOW, HOLES AND FLOWERS

When we arrived in Le Grand-Pressigny at the very end of April our judas trees at the back of the house were in full bloom.

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The trees produce masses of little pink flowers which are so pretty.  Unfortunately later on they produce masses of ugly seed pods which pile up on the garden and terrace, blow under the kitchen door and generally make a mess.  They are also the trees that caused us a spot of bother with the neighbours.

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But at this time of year we can enjoy them for what they are.  When there was a bit of a breeze (we don’t often get really strong winds, we have noticed) it snowed pink snow.  The snow formed drifts where the grass meets the tiles on the terrace and formed puddles in the leaves of garden plants.

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When I took Lulu for a walk behind the château, we came across things I didn’t remember from previous visits, including holes in the ground.  Some were very small, presumably made by an insect or other creep-crawly.  Others were much larger, big enough to take a mole or other little animal.

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There were also lots of catkins.  My heart skipped a beat when I first spotted the ones on the left – at first glance they looked like processionary caterpillars.  Thank goodness they weren’t – we were too late in the year for those, I think.

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We were delighted with all the flowers everywhere.  The climbing rose on the front of the house was in bloom and there were lots of lovely flowers in our little back garden.

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These irises appeared on our doorstep on the second day of our holiday – left there for us by Mme André. 

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This fabulous poppy was in flower in Alex and Nicole’s garden at Les Limornières.  All in all, we had a very floral and fragrant week.

May 14, 2011

AS ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER DOOR OPENS

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Not long ago, I posted about the Auberge du St Rémy, which was closed for alterations for most of last year.  Well, I am happy to report that it has re-opened as a restaurant and bar.  Naturally, we just had to give it a try.

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We thought the name of the restaurant was a bit strange, something to do with a seagull.  Inside it looked very new and clean with incredibly bright colours on the walls.

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The regular cheap lunchtime menu was not on offer, presumably as it was Easter Monday, so we decided to push the boat out and go “à la carte”.  We were not disappointed.

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We had starters of goat’s cheese salad and fois gras, mains of fish and pork and desserts of crème brûlée and chocolate with banana.  It was all delicious, beautifully presented and sensibly priced.  Definitely worth another visit to ensure they are maintaining standards !!

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We are however, sad to report  that the little restaurant at Barou, Les Tilleuls, has closed.  Apparently there has been some family trouble and the owner’s parents kept it going for a while but have now given up.

Which just goes to show that as one door opens, another door closes.

May 9, 2011

A SENSE OF JOY

It’s difficult to find the words to describe how I felt when we arrived at our little house in Le Grand-Pressigny for our long-awaited Easter holiday.  Absolute joy, elation - pick a word, any word describing happiness, and double it.

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We had an overnight stop at Calais this time, based on our experience of the previous Easter where the journey to Folkestone to get the tunnel was long and arduous.  We expected it to be even worse this year because of the huge number of English taking advantage of the four bank holidays in a row and disappearing to France for a longer than usual break – ten for three, as my French friend put it !

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We turned the key in the lock at about 5.30pm.  The house was in good shape, our friends Nicole and Alex having seen to that.  The garden was neat and full of flowers and the room was smelling delightful thanks to the vase of muguets left for us.

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It didn’t take us long to settle in.  Nick took Lulu up to the château to stretch her legs.  She knew immediately she was setting off on a familiar and favourite walk, pulling him up the steep hill with the lead at full stretch. 

Then we walked down the hill for the shops which are all of two minutes away.  We selected a few essentials from the boulangerie, the epicerie and the boucherie and marvelled at how easy that was.  At home in the UK the concept of village shops is long gone.  To get produce like this we would have to get in the car and drive to the supermarket.

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The things available locally may be slightly limited, but they’re there.  We chose paté d’asperges and chipolatas from the boucherie, salad, steak haché and local fromage de chèvre from the Spa shop, a baguette called a “tradition” from the boulangerie and something pretty special for dessert.  Nick lit the barbecue.

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Our first evening there was even better than I could have imagined.  We enjoyed our meal on the terrace, overlooking the rooftops of the village, watching the swallows swirling around, listening to the chatter of village life as the sun went down.

Being true Brits, we stayed outdoors much longer than most people would, just because we could.  Having donned our jumpers, we sat out until the church bells chimed their last chimes for the day at ten o’clock.  The swallows and the bats had done their job of entertaining us and gone to bed so we did too, very happy to be back home in France.

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We had a fantastic week to look forward to.

May 3, 2011

A GREAT WEEK

We have just returned from a great week in Le Grand-Pressigny.

In fact, thanks to the extra bank holiday given to us all by Prince William for his wedding, and because Easter was late and close to May Day we had a 10-day holiday for just three days off work. 

We made the most of it.

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We did plenty of this.

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A little bit of this.

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Some of this.

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Lots of this.

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We went to one of these.

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Nick did a lot of this.

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I did some of this.

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There is a special story around these.

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Lulu did a lot of this.

The weather was fantastic, we met up with old friends and made some new ones and, more than anything, it was just wonderful to be there again. 

More soon.