September 17, 2013

THE FIRST MONDAY

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday today but I have been looking back at our holiday photos and thinking about our first Monday in Le Grand-Pressigny.

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Now that I am no longer working and don’t therefore have firm holiday commitments you would think that would make life easier but in fact it’s the opposite.  Because Nick’s work pattern is so unpredictable we were unable to book a definite date for travelling until the last minute.  This meant that the usual train we take on Saturday morning was fully booked so we ended up driving down to Folkestone for a late train on Friday evening – which is the worst time to be heading south and I was dreading it.

It was the usual story, huge hold-ups and aggravation on the UK motorways and although we left the house at 4.30pm we only just caught our train at 11.50pm, arriving at Calais well after 1am.  But then had a very comfortable night in the Ibis Hotel just by the tunnel - a step up for us as we usually stay in the Ibis Budget where the rooms are like a garden shed with a shower cabin.  The Ibis was well worth the extra cost in terms of space and comfort.  In fact we even took breakfast there instead of hitting the road as soon as possible.

As always, the roads on the French side were a dream, and we arrived chez nous on Saturday afternoon in beautiful warm sunshine.

Mondays2Anyway, let’s return to our first Monday morning. 

I no longer think of our stays in Le Grand-Pressigny as holidays.  Certainly for Nick it wasn’t all holiday.  We were there for almost four whole weeks and for more than two of those he was working, so rather than “being on holiday” we were just “living there”.  While he was sitting at his computer I was just doing what I normally do at home in England, walking the dog, shopping, cooking, clearing up and generally keeping house. 

Mondays3On that first Monday morning the weather was glorious. Lulu was skipping about, doing everything she could to nudge me out of the door and take her up to the château for her morning constitutional.

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As we headed up to the château an old gentleman stepped out of one of the little cottages and waved a measuring cup in front of me.  He asked me how much flour there was in it.  Obviously he couldn’t locate his glasses that morning but he need 250g flour and 150g sugar.  I was able to reassure him that he had exactly 250g in there and pointed out where the 150g line was.  He disappeared back into the house before I could ask him what he was making !!

Mondays6 Mondays7 Mondays8The fields at the back of the château were full of sunflowers and the walnut trees were full of fruit.  It looks like it will be a good year for walnuts this year.  As Lulu and I completed our customary tour the château was already open for visitors and the day was warming up.

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Nick was able to tear himself away from his computer and take a break around midday, so we were able to enjoy lunch on the terrace in the sunshine.  So although he was working, at least it was more pleasant than eating a sandwich in our conservatory in Derbyshire with the rain hammering on the roof !!

We had taken the remaining contents of our fridge and veg drawer with us to eat up so for lunch we had bacon, mushroom and leek tart followed by an imaginative concoction that was something like a knickerbocker glory for dessert.  (I wrote about that here.)

Mondays9aLater in the afternoon Lulu was ready for another long walk so we headed back up to the château and then round the other side of it and down to the river.

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You can’t really describe Le Grand-Pressigny as a beautiful village in the touristy, chocolate-boxy sense of the word, compared to say Angles-sur-Anglin or Chédigny.  It’s an ordinary working village, with shops, businesses, derelict houses and disused factories, surrounded by agriculture.  It happens to have a château too.  A lot of villages in Sud Touraine do.

Mondays9b Yet it is beautiful.  There are flowers everywhere and as I walked around in the sunshine on that Monday afternoon I felt very happy and very lucky indeed to be able to think “I live here”.

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Lulu was in charge that afternoon, pulling on her lead to indicate where she would like to go.  She does that sometimes – pulling in one direction and putting on her anchors if you try to take her the other way!  So we checked out the little square behind the church and the war memorial before climbing back up the hill for a cup of tea in the shade.  It was becoming a very hot afternoon.

 Mondays9fNick announced that he would like to barbecue that evening so I popped into the butcher’s and picked up some lamb steaks and chipolatas.  We finished off with another dessert made of leftovers from home – apple and gooseberry crumble.

Mondays9g After dinner on the terrace we sat out and watched the swallows swirling around the château and the ancient houses.  Then as darkness fell the bat formation team came out to entertain us for a while.  We lit some candles and stayed there for an hour or so, enjoying the warmth of the evening and the little noises of the village.  Some laughter drifting up from the bar, a moped scooting along Grande Rue, the hoot of an owl.

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You would think that with four whole weeks (almost) in France I would have had time to post while I was there but no, the days hurtled by and I was too busy being immersed in the place to write about it.

That’s why I’m doing it now !!

15 comments:

  1. You are living my dream and I love reading about it! Btw, Lulu looks very slim. Has she been on a diet, or is it all the walking and fresh air of Sud Touraine that are keeping her in shape? :) Martine

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    1. Martine, Lulu looks slimmer or fatter depending on how long it is since she was clipped. She had just visited the hairdressers when these photos were taken. You will no doubt see her fill out a bit as the weeks go by.

      Mind you, she's not the only one - but in our case it was more than just fur !!

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  2. I know the feeling, the days fly by and you wonder how on earthe you ever had time to even go to work let alone do all the other daily jobs. Love this post and it sounds like Lulu did as well :-) Have a good week. Diane

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  3. Lulu must be a lucky and happy dog.
    She must be used to the other location across the channel by now :-)

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  4. OK. Maybe the third time will be the charm (I've tried leaving a comment twice already)!

    What I've been trying to tell you is that I would have been immersed, as well. What a beautiful place. The photos all made my heart sing (well, except for the one of Nick working!).

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  5. Your contentment with your life shines throughout the post, Jean. You certainly live in a wonderful village.

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    1. If only the getting there was easier Gaynor - and you fared even worse than we did this time.

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  6. The author Larry Niven invented the matter transmission booth. In his universe, every home had one and people could go anywhere instantaneously. I wonder where you can get one?

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    1. Pauline...
      the patent would be bought up by all the airlines and destroyed!!

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    2. I think I would be nervous about using it.
      What if your matter got accidentally shuffled en route and you landed with your legs upside down. Or looking like Denis Healey.
      Mind you, I used to be just as nervous about the tunnel...

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  7. I do sympathise with your travels -- the journey time getting out of England the worst part -- always and on the way back the journey time once we get back to England ... You have inspired me to write about our time in France this year. I always think I have to write about it 'in situ' -- which is silly not having regular access to the Internet -- except by mobile phone, which is a bit cumbersome! You have found a beautiful part of France to make your 'other' home and I love reading all about it!

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    1. Broad, now that we have internet chez nous in France I still find I am too busy to write very much. Afterwards is always easier, when I can look back fondly on how wonderful it all was.

      The interesting thing is, it didn't feel particularly "wonderful" at the time - well it was, but it was just "normal".

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  8. In the reflective part of writing you can be more creative with your blog memoirs than if you were writing them in situ. I really enjoyed reading this blog post and seeing the sights with you. Don't know if you have caught up yet but I wrote a blog post a short while back promoting you and your baking.

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    1. Thanks Phil, that's very sweet of you.

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  9. You give us a wonderful tour of your village here, Jean, and I can see why you love it so much. I know just what you mean about living rather than holidaying in France, but I still have problems explaining the concept to others.

    As for your meals, I love your gorgeous puddings, but would never make them if there were just the two of us. We're dragging enough weight around with us as it is. Sigh.....

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