June 25, 2013

IF ONLY

One of my few remaining ambitions in life is to stumble across a flash mob somewhere, preferably an operatic one.  John Gray posted a really lovely YouTube of one recently and after looking at it I spotted this little video:

Although it might be a bit soppy, it reminded me that being nice isn’t difficult and it is, after all, the little things that count.  I like the music too.

I’ll be back soon, when I have caught up with the housework…….how did I ever have time to go to work……..and where have I heard that before ?!

For flashmob fans, here’s the Waitrose one:

Thanks to John for posting it originally.

June 17, 2013

CHEESEBOARD FAVOURITES

cheeseboard1 As one person who commented on my blog at Easter said, if the weather in France is bad, at least you still have the food.

One of the great joys of any kind of self-catering holiday in France is the opportunity to indulge in favourite foods and for us one of the greatest joys of all is the cheese.

cheeseboard2All of these cheeses are firm favourites of ours and in fact this lot were bought in the local supermarket.  The selection in any supermarket is huge and buying cheese becomes even more of an adventure if you go to the local markets.

On the left there is Morbier, a cow’s milk cheese with a layer of ash in the middle from the Franch-Comté region of France.  I like it because it’s creamy with not too strong a flavour.

The pyramid shaped cheese is from Valençay in the Loire Valley and is a goat’s cheese with a slightly sharp flavour with a mould and ash coating.

Next along is Vieux Pané, a cow’s milk cheese which has a tendency to become runny and rather pungent (in an old sock sense) when it has been open for a while.

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At the bottom in this picture is Maroilles, a cow’s milk cheese from northern France with a higher pong factor than all the others.  I love it, Nick is not so keen and it’s the cheese that will make your fridge or car smell distinctly cheesy in a very short time.

Last but not least, in the middle we have Sainte-Maure goat’s cheese made just up the road in Le Petit-Pressigny.  This is Nick’s absolute favourite and is the cheese that is served everywhere, every day in this area.  Well, almost.  It’s the one that you have grilled on pieces of toasted baguette in the classic “salade du chèvre chaud”, the ever popular starter or lunch dish that we all love.  And which in fact we will be eating ourselves as a light supper in only a few minutes, which is as long as it takes to make.

This particular one is fairly hard with an ash coating and grills nicely.  There are other, softer versions and indeed you can ask for it young and soft or fairly mature if you go to the cheese stall on the market.

Usually we buy this kind of selection of cheese to start off our holiday and will add others as the days go on, usually trying something we have never tried before.  After all, life is an adventure or nothing – so many cheeses, so little time !!

June 11, 2013

A VIEW FROM THE CHÂTEAU OF LE GRAND-PRESSIGNY

I have only just realised that I can take videos with my camera !!

So I took this one from the courtyard of the château.  There was an event going on in the château grounds to promote archaeological societies and museums in the area.  It was a dull and showery day but I took this little film during a brief dry spell in between the showers.

You can see how the château sits above yet close to the rest of the village.  You will also spot the new museum building alongside the original part of the château.

Taking the film was fun – I might do some more !!

June 9, 2013

A RE-OPENING

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The little hotel in the village – Le Savoie Villlars - has been closed for two years. 

The hotel has a prime position in the village square, opposite the church.  Nick and I stayed there for three nights when we bought our house in 2007 and it was a traditional and comfortable country hotel with comfy beds, creaky floorboards and quirky plumbing.

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So we were pleased to see the sign outside saying it was to re-open this weekend and we wasted no time in trying it out.  The restaurant that is, as we have no need for a room.  But it is nice to know that rooms are available if we should need accommodation for more guests than we have room for ourselves.

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We had an excellent meal there.  The menu was pretty safe, by which I mean that there were all the usual favourites and nothing terribly scary or peculiar.  The kind of menu that will appeal to locals as well as the large number of British visitors to the area.  There were several priced menus to choose from – the presentation and the service were very good.  Far better than we remember it being previously.

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it’s amazing how much you can achieve with a change of colour scheme, fresh tableware and a good spruce up.  I hope the new proprietors do really well because it’s a great asset for the village I think.  They seem to have got the level just right.  You can see the hotel’s website here.

June 5, 2013

KNIT YOUR OWN…..

crochet1 crochet2 …….plant pot cover.  A whole windowsill’s worth.

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Two windowsills actually.

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And very jolly they were too, cheering up a street in Chinon.  Something tells me the winters are long here !!

I can’t imagine something like this lasting out the week back in Derbyshire.  Thieves, vandals or foul weather would be the end of it before you could say “knit one, purl one”.

(I couldn’t make my mind up if they had been knitted or crocheted.  It looked very clever in any case.)

June 3, 2013

WEEKEND FUN

There is often so much going on around and about at the weekend in our little corner of France that it is hard to decide what to do. 

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Last weekend we plumped for the winetasting event at Bourgueil.  We like the Bourgueil wines and it was a nice sunny day so off we went to the Place des Halles to see what was going on.

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The venue was almost open air – the uncovered archways led directly onto the street – which produced a nice, relaxed atmosphere.  There was obviously a lot of serious tasting going on but we were there just for fun.  The accordion player added to the ambience.

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Not all of the vignerons were busy all of the time, so this lady brought something with her to pass the time !!

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Nick did most of our tasting.  (I was driving.)  We bumped into Jim Budd of Jim’s Loire, who shared a couple of his recommendations.

winetasting4 These sweet wines from Domaine de Juchepie were among our favourites.  Mind you, all the wines tasted good once we had tried a few !!

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winetasting8The town of Bourgueil was all dressed up for the occasion and in fact there were two events taking place.  A bit further up the road, in a park was something called the “fête de la nature”.

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We have been to so many things like this in France, wandering around for free, looking at all the stalls and coming away without a clue what it was all about.

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There were bits of plants and fir cones on display.

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There were fancy swans, and geese standing on one leg.  I think they might have been some of the regular inhabitants of the park.

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winetasting9e There were baby rabbits and ducklings for children to stroke, prod and generally annoy.  Also baby pigs, deer, goats and chickens, all looking pretty fed up with the attention.

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Then a man came out and played a violin on the steps at the entrance.  He played rather well but we had no idea what it had to do with fir cones and baby animals.

All very strange, but most enjoyable.  I like the weekends in France. You just never know what you’re letting yourself in for !!