March 28, 2012

IT’S ALMOST EASTER

I couldn’t resist sharing my favourite TV advert with you.

Lulu was not available at the time of filming.

March 23, 2012

SEEING THE SIGHTS AND AN ANNIVERSARY

Some more photos from our day trip to London.

London trip8b

After leaving the theatre we crossed the river and walked along the South Bank towards the Houses of Parliament. London trip8c London trip8d

There were plenty of the old London buses being used for tours and birthday parties.

London trip8f London trip8g  London trip8j

We walked along Whitehall past Downing Street.  I don’t remember seeing this memorial before.

London trip7  London trip8k London trip8l Trafalgar Square was buzzing in the early evening.

London trip9

I never knew Texas had its own Embassy – then I realised it was a restaurant!

London trip9a The pubs were gearing up for a busy evening.

London trip9bThere were lots of very sexy cars driving around the city centre, including this E-type Jaguar.

London trip9cMany of the shops were open late – I loved the colourfulness of them, their goods looking brighter than ever after dark – it reminded me of shopping trips to town with my mum at Christmas time when I was a little girl.

London trip9d London trip9e

We didn’t do any shopping at all but this shop caught my eye.  Mr George F. Trumper just seemed to sell shaving soap and other essentials for a man’s ablutions.  I somehow find it illogically comforting that such shops even exist these days.

All in all, we had a great day and I felt rather proud of our capital city and a pang or two or patriotism.  Then the bus picked us up just off the Haymarket and after an equally stress-free and relaxed ride home, wine and coffee being served on board, we climbed into bed about 11pm, very happy people.

Speaking of happy people, today is my blogversary.  Three years, 103 followers (if you count Nick), 384 posts, more than 44,000 page views and a huge number of new friends, some of whom I even now meet up with in France. 

My cup runneth over !!

March 20, 2012

DID YOU SEE IT?

We really enjoyed the first programme in a new cooking series on TV last night:

Rachel Khoo, The Little Paris Kitchen.

Rachel cooks in her tiny kitchen in her equally tiny apartment, which is so small she has to pack the bed away every morning to make some room !!  She runs a restaurant in the apartment and in the series we get to see some of her cooking.  The views of Paris are stunning too.

So far it’s great – I especially liked the look of her croque madame – made in muffin tins !! Must try that one !!

Monday nights in are looking up – we are really looking forward to the rest of the series.

March 13, 2012

A GRAND DAY OUT

Last Saturday Nick and I had a Grand Day Out.  We went on a bus trip to London.

London trip1

Gerry’s bus drops us off in the centre of London.

If you discount any trips to London for work or exams, the number of visits I have made for pleasure barely reaches double figures.  At the age of 60 this was probably only my 11th visit to our capital city.

The reason for this is simple.  It is only 148 miles from home to the city centre but getting there takes hours and is very expensive.  Just hopping on a train and going up to London for a day’s shopping is not an option for me living out in the sticks in Derbyshire so my last few visits have been on our friend Gerry’s bus.  Trips to London is what he does for a living and he does it very well. 

 London trip2

We dropped Lulu off at my dad’s for the day and picked the bus up just around the corner.  We made ourselves comfortable, coffee was served on the bus and it dropped us off in Grosvenor Square just after 12 o’clock. 

We then walked to Regent Street, glad to be able to stretch our legs and we arrived at our lunch destination bang on time for our reservation at 12.30.

London trip3

We saw this restaurant, The Living Room, which is just off Regent Street, on Masterchef earlier in the year.  Some of the competitors were given the task of cooking for lunch in the restaurant and we liked the look of the place so we booked it.

 London trip5

Looking forward to a good lunch.

We were not disappointed.  We treated ourselves to a glass of our favourite champagne (Castellane Rosé), a bottle of nice Chablis and a slap-up lunch.

London trip5a

London trip5b

 London trip5c London trip5d                   

 

 

 

 

 

We both had the scallops for starters and a fish main course.  The pudding menu was too tempting to resist so we both indulged.  Nick won.  He had black forest trifle and I had a salted caramel chocolate tart, mainly because it’s something we don’t cook at home and haven’t seen yet at the restaurants we usually go to in Derbyshire.  Salted chocolate desserts seem to be fashionable just now and I have to say it was not my favourite pudding – but it was nice and I ate every crumb !!  (It also had a slightly unfortunate appearance which I immediately spotted as a dog owner but I won’t go into detail !!…….)

London trip6This is the only “little girls room” I have ever come across with carpet on the walls !! 

After lunch we hopped in a taxi in Regent Street and headed off to our next destination, the main event of the day and something we had planned as a special treat months ago.

London trip8 Vincent and Flavia performing in Midnight Tango at the Aldwych Theatre.

We arrived at exactly the right time, as people were piling in and taking their seats.  Within minutes the curtain went up and the music started.

The show was superb.  We enjoyed every minute and were completely enthralled.  When Nick and I were taking ballroom dancing lessons many years ago, the tango was our favourite dance.  We were pretty rubbish at it but we did get our bronze medals for latin and ballroom so we have been enthusiasts ever since – watching rather than dancing these days.

London trip8a 

The Aldwych is one of those beautiful intimate theatres full of Victorian charm and grandeur.  We had wonderful seats in the dress circle that Gerry had got for us so we were not “up in the Gods” and craning our necks to see the show but we were definitely in heaven.

We emerged from the theatre into daylight and a very pleasant 17°C with time to take in some sights before we had to get back on the bus……….

March 9, 2012

FORWARD PLANNING

At last the snowdrops are giving way to the daffodils, the birds are singing, the sun almost feels slightly warm when it decides to come out and play and we only have to scrape the ice off the car windscreen a couple of times a week.  That’s real progress, telling me the worst is now behind us and spring is definitely just around the corner.

forward planning

The château in Spring.

So we have been planning our holidays in Le Grand-Pressigny around what events we want to see this year.  There’s so much going on that we can’t possibly get to see everything.  Over the years we haven’t missed much – spending slightly different weeks there each year means that we have gradually seen most things at least once.  But until the day we are there full-time – or even most of the time – it’s impossible to do all our favourite things in one year so we have to pick and choose.

14th July214th July1

So the 14th July it is again.  We have only missed it once and that was because we wanted to be home for something that was a one-off and would never happen again – a good friend’s 60th birthday party.

14th July3

14th July4

The 14th July is not a grand affair but it is a big event for the village.  Moules et frites served on trestle tables in the village square.  Dessert and coffee arriving as the sun goes down.  Copious amounts of rosé wine and dancing after dark.  Then a procession down to the river to see the fireworks at midnight.  Finally for us a happy stroll back up the hill towards the château and our little house in the warm night air.  Dancing continues for a couple more hours and we drift off to sleep as the disco plays on.  As I look at these photos I can still hear the chatter of excited children, the clink of glasses, the rather cheesy disco music and the crackle of the fireworks.

We have nothing quite like it here in our part of the UK.  We have our village firework display in November for Guy Fawkes night, or bonfire night as it is usually known, when it’s more often than not cold and raining and the field is muddy.  There are stalls selling overpriced hotdogs, instant coffee and beer in plastic cups but nobody in their right mind would stick around for dancing outdoors once the fireworks have finished – we all scurry off to our homes for a late supper and an evening in front of the telly.  Apart from a few yobs and yobettes who roam the streets letting off illegally obtained bangers and chucking empty beer cans into people’s gardens.

So there we are, one visit in the pipeline and something to look forward to.  I feel excited already !!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now a little question for anybody who understands Blogger workings. (!!)

Does anybody have any idea how I change the time given for the posting of comments ??

I have tried clicking on my choice in settings/comments to no avail.  The comments arrive as if they were posted 8 hours earlier than they were no matter what I try, which is very frustrating.

What I would really like is for them to just show the day and date, not the time at all.

Any ideas ??

March 2, 2012

TROGLODYTES

In the late 60’s and early 70’s one of my favourite groups was the Troggs.  They were FAB !!

troggs2

I guess they derived their name from the cave dwellers known as troglodytes.  They were not the most good looking band around at the time.  But they were not as ugly as this lot, which I found amongst the images for troglodytes on Google.

troglodytes

Anyway, the point I am coming to is that there are lots and lots of troglodyte dwellings in the hills around our little part of France.  In fact there are some just on the outskirts of the village.

cave dwellers

What the plaque says, I think, is that people have inhabited these caves from Neolithic times until the twentieth century.  Certainly, a lot of them are still in regular use.  Mostly as storage or recreational space but as there are plenty of houses built into the rock I assume that there are caves at the back of them, which means they are still effectively used as dwellings.

cave dwellers4

The plaque says the caves would be cool in summer and warm in winter.  I find that hard to believe but it’s all relative I suppose.  For much of the time that they were in regular use nobody really had a comfortable life in any sense, except maybe for royalty.

cave dwellers5

An interesting fact is that in our part of the world, the average life expectancy for a man in the year 1900 was 47.  For a woman it was 49.  Only the cosseted lives we have led since the middle of the twentieth century has seen an exponential increase in that age. By the year 2000 it was 78 and 80.  Most of us can expect to live well beyond that, all things being equal.

cave dwellers6

Many things have contributed to this increase in life expectancy, such as health care, eradication of many fatal diseases, safety in the workplace, better sanitation, safer childbirth, better nutrition, and so on.  I’m sure you can think of some more.

cave dwellers2

Having said that, our neighbour Mme André has show us a photograph of the lady who used to live in the house on the other side of ours.  Her name was Madeleine and the photo is of the two of them taken on Madeleine’s 100th birthday, about fifteen years ago.  Her tiny dwelling was literally two rooms, with no heating other than a small stove and very basic facilities.  She moved out of her cottage and into a care home when she was 106.

cave dwellers7

The accommodation in many of these caves is probably not much more basic than Madeleine’s cottage.  There was a marvellous display of someone’s collection of old postcards in the tourist office last autumn and there were several showing people living and working around these caves.  The people all looked pretty old and well wrapped up.  Which either means they were a hardy lot who lived long lives despite hard work and very basic living conditions.  Or they were all only 35 and hadn’t worn well !!

cave dwellers9

As we continue to improve our little cottage we sometimes remember that it already has a level of comfort way beyond that enjoyed by its previous inhabitants and many of the other people of the village today.

It’s fun to visit the cave dwellings and occasionally sneak a look inside one or two.  I do wish we could become time travellers and secret observers, to catch a glimpse of how people lived in them through previous centuries.

cave dwellers9a

On the day that Lulu and I went for a walk up to the caves, Nick went fishing.  Afterwards we met up in the village for a coffee and talked about what we had been up to.  Happy days.

cave dwellers9b