December 31, 2012

TWELVE MONTHS IN TWELVE DAYS

ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS – THE MONTH OF JULY.

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On 1st July we braved the cold wet weather and went to Clumber Park for a walk and to see the walled kitchen garden.  You would have thought it was the middle of March, not July.

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After an awful drive down through France in torrential rain, we arrived chez nous to find the sun was out.  We spent the evening meeting up with friends and enjoying the music festival at Barrou – Les Barroudeurs.

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I did quite a bit of baking and made, amongst others, a chocolate Guinness cake for Ken and Walt, and a pink birthday cake for Elizabeth.

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Ken introduced us to Patricia at Domaine de la Renaudie, where we discovered that we enjoy winetasting even more than we thought.

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Lots of local Bastille Day celebrations were cancelled due to the weather and ours was almost a washout – but the rain cleared up about 8pm and we soldiered on – in our scarves and anoraks.

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But the weather wasn’t all bad.  On a lovely sunny day we visited Montpoupon with our friends Gail and Chris and treated ourselves to a posh lunch at the Auberge du Château.

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And we had enough fine days to do quite a bit of tootling around on our motorcycles.

When we got back to the UK after our July holiday, Olympic fever had taken hold of the nation, and amazingly the weather was kind to us for most of the games.

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Oh no, four years already !!

Last but not least, it was Lulu’s birthday in the middle of the month.

HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR’S EVE !!

December 30, 2012

TWELVE MONTHS IN TWELVE DAYS

For the twelve days of Christmas I am looking back over the twelve months of 2012.

ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS – THE MONTH OF JUNE

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Thanks to the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and the extra bank holiday, our May holiday carried on into the first week of June.

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We went to the Fête des Confitures at Abilly and the Fête des Roses at Rivau.  We met up with fellow blogger Martine for a lovely lunch in Loches.

twelve days6  As France geared up for the elections, England geared up for the Jubilee celebrations.  The weather did not play ball and it poured with rain.

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Back in the UK I went to the Elton John concert which was outdoors on a cold Saturday night in early June.  Thankfully the rain stopped just in time for the concert.

December 29, 2012

TWELVE MONTHS IN TWELVE DAYS

For the twelve days of Christmas I am looking back over the twelve months of 2012.

ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS – THE MONTH OF MAY

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In May we had plenty of rain.  The trees were coming nicely into leaf but the little brook became a ranging torrent.

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In the third week we went to the orchid show at Chatsworth.  It was a nice sunny day but there was a cold breeze.  We wore our scarves and anoraks.

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Six days later we were in France for our second visit of the year.  The sun shone for us again and we wore our summer clothes to go to the market in Loches.

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We had a superb lunch at the Chapeau Rouge in Chinon, sitting in the square under the sunshades.

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We had some perfect weather for motorcycling and one of our outings was to visit the château at Fougères-sur-Bièvre, where we had a lovely afternoon in the sunshine.

December 28, 2012

TWELVE MONTHS IN TWELVE DAYS

For the twelve days of Christmas I am looking back over the twelve months of 2012.

THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS - APRIL

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On 3rd April we woke up to to snow.  There was 8-10 cm of it.  I had put my bag of grit and rock salt back in the shed the previous weekend, thinking I wouldn’t need them again.  After the incredibly warm weather in March, winter had returned with a vengeance.

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Then only three days later, we were in our little French house, the sun was shining and there were flowers everywhere.  It was from the sublime to the ridiculous – or rather the other way round – and it was bliss.

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During our first holiday of the year we spent a lot of time on the terrace in the sunshine, eating outdoors almost every day. 

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And Lulu had a close encounter with an angry mother goat.  Which luckily was on the other side of a strong fence !!

December 27, 2012

TWELVE MONTHS IN TWELVE DAYS

For the twelve days of Christmas I am looking back over the twelve months of 2012.

ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS - MARCH

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The countryside was beginning to look distinctly greener and spring-like.

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In early March we went on a coach trip to London, had a lovely lunch and went to see a fabulous show. There and back again in the day.

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On the 11th March it was as warm as it often gets on a good summer’s day in Derbyshire.  We made the most of it and had lunch outdoors on the patio.

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I made the first batch of decent, edible scones I have ever made in my life and we ate them outside in the sunshine when Nick arrived home from work.

The weather was so good for most of March that it didn’t seem real and certainly didn’t seem right.  We enjoyed it but I remember thinking to myself……we’ll be paying for this later !!

December 26, 2012

TWELVE MONTHS IN TWELVE DAYS

For the twelve days of Christmas I am looking back over the twelve months of 2012.

ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS - FEBRUARY

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It snowed.  Not as much as the previous year, but enough to make Lulu’s walks look rather different.

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Luckily Lulu doesn’t seem to be too interested in sheep.  Chasing squirrels is more her thing.

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The first daffodils began to poke up through the ground, a very happy sign that winter was bound to end, sooner or later.

December 25, 2012

THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS

Now is the time of year when we tend to look back, reminisce, take stock and plan for the coming year.  For the twelve days of Christmas I will be sharing some memories and some photos of the twelve months of 2012, and looking forward to spending time in Le Grand-Pressigny next year.

JANUARY

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Returning home after our Christmas and New Year holiday in France is always depressing, especially with the worst of the winter still to come.

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Walking Lulu was a muddy business in January this year.  Derbyshire was a very soggy place to be.

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One rose was still hanging on in our garden.

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And I discovered the magical combination of chocolate and beetroot.

December 23, 2012

HAPPY CHRISTMAS !

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Happy Christmas, everyone, wherever you are.

Have a wonderful time !!

December 17, 2012

LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

When we were in Chinon in October there was a display of old vehicles in the town.  There were fewer than we expected, due to the drizzly weather, but it takes more than a bit of rain to put off the old tractors - which were out in force.

Come to think of it, old tractors are on display at pretty much every outdoor event we go to in the Loire !!

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There were however a few really tasty old sports cars, including this gorgeous white one.  Apparently it’s a Cobra.  Which means nothing to me but I could see from the glazed and dreamy look in Nick’s eyes that it meant something to him.

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So with only one week until Christmas is upon us, I still have some presents to get, including something for Nick.  I’m pretty sure he’s got enough socks so I wonder where I could get one of these…………..

December 10, 2012

A GOOD FISH LUNCH

‘Tis the season to make merry here in the UK now, and all the restaurants are doing brisk business.  The good ones are well booked up with discerning diners and the not so good ones are cramming them in for drunken office parties.  I’ve been to a few of those over the years and have reached the age where I prefer my food to be well cooked and nicely served rather than to just race through it to get to the disco and the free booze !!

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One of the things that we didn’t expect when we first spent Christmas and New Year in Le Grand-Pressigny is the popularity of fish, especially shellfish, at this time of year.  The huge party-sized platters of oysters, prawns and other shellfish looked beautiful as people carried them very carefully from the supermarket to their cars.

I was thinking about this the other day as I perused yet another dreary pub menu, predictably offering turkey with all the trimmings and Christmas pud !!  It reminded me of one of our favourite restaurants in the Loire which is a fish restaurant.

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The Restaurant “Au Gardon Frit” at Pouzay is well worth a visit if you like your fish.  We had lunch there on one of the few nice sunny days during our October holiday.  It was a Monday, which is not traditionally a good day to eat out as many restaurants are closed and certainly not a good day for fish.

But we had eaten there a couple of times before, knew they would be open and knew the fish was good so off we went.  We were not disappointed.

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The interior is not posh at all, rustic and homely in fact, but the food is very good and the service is excellent too.  In summer we have eaten outside in the courtyard, which is lovely and well shaded.

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Each place is set with a rather scary selection of what looks like medieval surgical instruments!  When you see the huge plateaux de fruits de mer coming out of the kitchen it’s clear to see why you might need all of them.  We have yet to pluck up courage to try one for ourselves, not being entirely sure what might be what and indeed whether it is still alive.  One day perhaps !!

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We opted for the 23€ menu which was much more conservative and perfectly delicious.  A fishy amuse bouche followed by a smoked salmon starter, and a hearty main course.

 fish lunch25  fish lunch27 fish lunch28 fish lunch29 We can never resist crème brulée when it is on the menu and this was served, naturally, on an oyster shaped plate !!

After coffee we strolled past the restaurant down to the river for a leg stretch and to admire the view of the Vienne, which was pretty full.  Little did we know it would be even fuller a week later – it rained and rained and rained for most of our two-week holiday.

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So if you fancy treating yourself to a nice fishy lunch this Christmas, I would recommend the Au Gardon Frit.  Or at least, click on the link to their website here to experience the wonderful sound of seagulls and waves crashing over the rocks – this brought Lulu rushing to press her nose against the computer screen, eyes wide and ears up !!  I wonder if she thought it was cats ??

fish lunch29b Have a good week !!