July 30, 2013

CONTRASTS

Although we have now had our little house in the Loire for nearly six years there is still a lot of exploring to do in the area.  As we wander through the little towns and villages we find something new we haven’t seen before every day.

My friend and I went for lunch at Pouzay a couple of weeks ago.  Nick and I have eaten at our chosen restaurant a few times before but usually we just arrive, park up, eat, then go somewhere else.  This time we were a little early so we had time for a walk around the place.

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Just around the corner from the restaurant was this very smart looking butcher’s shop.  A very smart and good looking butcher was locking up and leaving for his lunch as we walked by.

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Directly across the road was this shop !!

I can’t help wondering how long it had been closed and I bet those old walls had a tale or two to tell.

Lunch was great.  More later.  I am currently tackling my harvest of redcurrants …..busy, busy…..how did I ever have the time to go to work ??  As Ken said, retirement is a 24/7 occupation !!

July 25, 2013

A RARE OPPORTUNITY

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On 12th July a notice appeared at the top of the road that leads around the château saying that between 9am and 2pm on 14th July no parking would be allowed along the Rue des Ramparts or Rue du Four Banal.  A similar notice was posted at the bottom of the hill up to the château.

The reason given was something to do with old photos and lace.  The parking of cars was forbidden and would attract the attention of the mairie and the gendarmerie.

July 14th is of course Bastille Day and preparations for the celebrations were already under way in the village – a deck had been built in the square and a small tent for music and dancing.  There would be fireworks after dark.  I couldn’t see what any of this had to do with old photos and lace.

We complied with the rules and parked our car in the château car park where there would be more space than in the square.  As we walked up the hill on the Sunday morning I realised that I had a very rare opportunity to see and photograph the streets without any parked cars spoiling the view. 

We went to do some shopping at Descartes market and returned about lunchtime to find people in old costumes and old cars around the château.  So then it dawned on me that the modern cars had had to be removed for some kind of film or photo opportunity.  Maybe we will find out what it was some time.

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It was nice to get pictures without cars littering the place.  There was also no litter.  But then, there never is !!  (Apart from the pears and cherries that mischievously fall from the trees.)

July 16, 2013

UNEXPECTED GUESTS FOR LUNCH

So here I am in Le Grand-Pressigny for a few days with an old friend.  Nick was here for the weekend and has now gone back to work in the UK while we stay on to enjoy the sunshine.

Which, I have to say, is very welcome.  The previous three holidays have featured a lot of rain so to have day after day of warmth and sunshine is just wonderful.

Anyway, I was busy investigating the contents of the fridge in the cellar when Lulu barked and there was a tap at the front door.  I came back upstairs as my friend opened the door and spoke to two youngsters in scout uniforms, then turned to me to say she thought it was “bob a job” week.

lunch guests

I was frantically trying to think what I could ask them to do (clean the windows, sweep the back yard), when they explained that they had walked all the way from Leugny (a distance of 14 km) to find the shops in the village all shut and they had nothing to eat.

So what they wanted was something to eat.

Well, we were just about to sit down to lunch ourselves so we invited them to join us.  I must say at this point that I was completely flummoxed and it’s hard to be sure which of us was the most surprised.  Me for finding two nice young lads on the doorstep asking for food, them for being invited to sit down to lunch with two strange English women, or my friend for having a friend of hers who would do such a thing as ask two complete strangers to join us for lunch.

I certainly can’t imagine anything like it happening in Derbyshire.

The thing is, is this what scouts do in France?  If they find themselves hungry and the shops all shut they just knock on doors until somebody feeds them?  And what was I really expected to do?  Is it written in French law that if a hungry scout lands on your doorstep you are obliged to provide food?  If they were actually on an exercise to get something to put in a sandwich (they did have half a baguette between them) then they would have failed, as we filled them up with home-made quiche, salad and huge slabs of home-made fruit cake.  They also cleaned me out of orange juice and drank a whole bottle of water.  Maybe all they really wanted was a piece of cheese and a banana.

Anyway, they ate it all up with polite eagerness and went on their way.  My friend and I hoped they were not then meeting up with other fellow scouts and sending them to our house !!  We decided to go out for the rest of the afternoon, just in case !!

July 9, 2013

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE no/2

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When we viewed the house in August 2007 it was crammed full of big, dark and heavy furniture.  Also tons of “brocante”.  There was so much of it that it was difficult to make out how big the room was.

The agent told us that the seller wanted to let the contents go with the house and if we didn’t want to buy it she would probably leave it all behind anyway.  We sincerely hoped not!  None of it was particularly nice or to our taste.

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Luckily when we took possession of the house it had all gone!  We had arranged to meet the agent at the property to have a look at it an hour before our final appointment at the notaire’s office.  When he opened the door and walked in the look on his face was priceless – it was completely empty, much to our delight.  Getting rid of all that stuff would have taken a lot of brocantes and vide greniers !! 

Nick still thinks we have too many ornaments and other bits and pieces around the place – but looking at the agent’s photo makes me realise we haven’t got quite that bad yet !!

Have a good week and enjoy the sun………l’été est arrivé !!

July 4, 2013

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE

spot the difference

The agent’s photo of our back door, 2007.  This is the picture that was in the shop window.

To my absolute relief and delight I recently found a CD with the original immobilier’s photos from when we first viewed the house in 2007.

I have hunted for them many times in the last few years and thought they were lost forever.  I was very annoyed with myself for apparently having deleted them from the computer.

Then I was very pleased with myself when they turned up in a tidying-up of the study a couple of days ago. ( When I was hunting for something else, that didn’t turn up!)

spot the difference2 Our photo taken in October 2011.  Nothing has changed much since then.

I can’t explain why I felt it was so important not to have lost them.  They have no value, even though they’re interesting.  But having looked through them I am reminded that we have in fact made quite a few improvements to the house in the six years we have owned and loved it.

It was when we were standing exactly where these photos were taken from that we decided “this is the one”.

How many changes can you spot?  I think I can see six.  Plus one that is a change but you can’t tell from the first photo. (That’s a clue.)

(And the fact that the château does not seem to be peeping over the top of the kitchen in the second photo is to do with the angle the picture was taken, not a genuine change!  The château is definitely still there.  If it ever falls down, we’re in trouble !!)

Bon weekend !!