December 24, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS !

merry christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone !!  And a very happy New Year, too.

Keep well, keep warm, enjoy your celebrations and I’ll be back in the new year.

December 22, 2011

MORE WINTER CHEER

APR 2011 - m The château with its new walkways looking beautiful last Easter.

I remember being so thrilled to be back in Le Grand-Pressigny in April, after an absence of sixteen weeks.  They were very long weeks. ~ it was a very bad winter last year.

APR 2011 - o

I just can’t wait to see those Loire Valley blue skies and fluffy clouds again.

I am happy that the shortest day is now behind us ~ although I usually notice very little improvement in the length of the days until well into January.  I always feel we have turned the corner once I am driving home from work in daylight, some time in the middle of February.

APR 2011 - p

One of our favourite views in the village ~ always pretty at any time of year but especially nice in spring.

With the worst of the winter weather yet to come, I find great pleasure in reminding myself of what it was like in our little corner of France last spring.

APR 2011 - q

The village square looks so inviting in the spring sunshine.

Curiously, today it is unbelievably mild ~ 13°C according to my car dashboard.  It certainly felt like it ~ 12° warmer than it was only three days ago !!  Long may the mild spell continue ~ any day without snow is very welcome at this time of year.

APR 2011 - b

Lulu foraging amongst the spring flowers in our little garden.

All I can say is “so far, so good”.  We haven’t been snowed in yet this winter.  Christmas looks like being a mild one rather than a white one.  That’s fine by me.  It’s after Christmas that winter really starts to bite, I think.

December 20, 2011

SPRING FLOWERS

Looking back at our photo album, our stay in Le Grand-Pressigny in April this year was very floral.  The weather was exceptionally good, if I remember, too.

APR 2011 - a

Dinner on our little terrace, just an hour or so after we arrived for the first visit since the dark days of winter.

APR 2011 - d

Our Judas trees were in full bloom in April.  Such pretty flowers ~ it’s a shame they make so much mess later on.

APR 2011 - e This poppy was in Nicole’s garden, I think.

APR 2011 - fAnother bunch of flowers left on our doorstep by Mme André.

 APR 2011 - g

APR 2011 - h APR 2011 - i Some pictures of the glorious spring flowers in the park at Descartes.

APR 2011 - r 

Flowers in a container in the village square.

APR 2011 - zc

And last but not least, the climbing rose on our front wall was in full bloom to welcome us back to our little holiday home.

December 16, 2011

WINTER CHEER

The only thing that really cheers me up in winter is looking forward to spring, summer and autumn.

APR 2011 - nThe château in spring. 

OK, it’s nice to get cosy with the fire going in the hearth, the Christmas tree twinkling away, a glass of mulled wine and the Strictly final on the telly.  All three of us, me, Nick and the dog, getting comfy on the sofa – Lulu stretched out in the middle and us squashed in at each end, a large ginger fluffy tail wafting across our eyes as she turns round and obscures the view of the best quickstep ever seen in the competition.

APR 2011 - cFlowers from Mme. André, left on the doorstep at Easter.

It’s even nice to get togged up really warm and go for an occasional long walk, noses glowing, then come back to a lovely warm house and a comforting cup of tea.

But the reality of winter is cold, cold and more cold, mixed with grey, damp and dark.  And of course the dreaded snow.  Once Christmas is over, for us it’s batten down the hatches, and keep going until spring.  What a pity we can’t just hibernate.

APR 2011 - m1 Isabella and Amélie prepare some leftover BBQ bits for Lulu last April.

So I have been looking back at our photos for this last year and realise that we have so far spent the equivalent of eight wonderful weeks in Le Grand-Pressigny and for most of the time the sun shone beautifully.

The photos fall into a few obvious themes : flowers, friends, food and sunshine.  It’s great to have all that under our belts and to look forward to more of the same.

APR 2011 - k Walt’s magnificent rhubarb crumble tart.

I’m going to post some of my favourite photos while we busy ourselves with Christmas – I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

APR 2011 - x At the Paulmy brocante last Easter.

December 11, 2011

TWO LITTLE GIRLS

two little girls 1

This little girl was born in January 1928.  She was a shy country girl with a mischievous sense of humour, the youngest of eight children.

She married a handsome sailor, had two children herself and worked in a knitwear factory where she once mended King Farouk’s underpants.  Not many people know that.  She rode pillion all over England, Scotland and Ireland on the back of a BSA motorcycle.  She loved her home in the country and enjoyed holidays in Cornwall and Scotland with her sailor.  She once went to France but didn’t reckon much to it.  She died four days before Christmas in 2002.

two little girls 2

This little girl was born on the 11th December 1951.  She was a bit of a tomboy and spent most of her spare time climbing trees, collecting tadpoles and playing cricket with her male cousins.  She seemed to spend a lot of time in a sidecar attached to her dad’s motorcycle.  She went to university, has skied down mountains, dived the ocean, sailed, windsurfed, canoed, ridden a Harley-Davidson all over Europe with her husband Nick, and once drove a steam engine.  Not many people know that.  She has a little house in France and almost as many friends there as she does at home and is really looking forward to her next visit.

She misses her mum on the day she turns sixty but she is looking forward to her family coming over for her birthday.  It’s roast lamb and tiramisu for lunch, two of her favourites.  Happy days.

December 8, 2011

NICE ARTWORK

artwork 

At the beginning of October there is a festival in the next village, Le Petit-Pressigny, called “L’Art et Lard”.  It’s a mixture of food stalls selling all kinds of interesting local produce, and all manner of artwork, displayed here and there all over the village.

artwork2

This year it was a miserable day weather-wise but we had fun, bumping into friends old and new and seeing what was on display.  These two are some of my favourites.

The artwork that was for sale was generally quite pricey but we could easily have bought lots of it – if we had the wall space.  In the end the only thing we bought was a small bottle of locally made walnut oil !!  Happy days.

December 5, 2011

WEATHER TALK

snow7

Winter has arrived in Derbyshire.  It was only 1°C at 11pm last night and we had a slight snowfall overnight.  Nothing much, just a sprinkling.

snow6

Lulu met up with her friend Jack in the field and had a good run around.  You can see Jack’s owner all muffled up in scarf, hat and gloves.  Me too.

snow5 3rd December 2011

However, we are much happier than we were this time last year.

snow23rd December 2010

This has been a normal autumn so far.  A bit milder and drier than usual perhaps, but we normally get a slight fall of snow at this time of year, then it disappears and we get some more in January and February.

This time last year we were under three feet of snow already and clearing the drive was a mammoth task – we had huge piles of snow everywhere, as did everyone else.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that we continue as we are.  The forecast is for light snow on and off this week, which is normal.

December 4, 2011

A BIT OF A CLUE

hidey-hole2

As you can see, there are actually two of them.

But what are they for ??  Why would you need two pretty little “windows” like these on a building like this ??

Any further suggestions are welcome !!

Bonne dimanche !!

December 3, 2011

A PUZZLE FOR THE WEEKEND

 

hidey-hole

 

We have come across similar things to this many times in our wanderings around the Touraine, and in fact in other parts of France.

Any ideas what it is or the purpose of it ?

This one is in Le Petit-Pressigny.

Bon weekend !!