Well, February disappeared in a blur of activity in the new house. With deadlines to meet of one sort or another we frantically sanded and painted walls, rerouted wiring, added more electric sockets than we can surely ever need and moved our belongings for the umpteenth time in and out of rooms to make way for the fitting of carpets, flooring and so on. My laptop languished untouched under a pile of papers in the corner of the bedroom and whoosh – suddenly we are into March.
Time to look back at the photos again and the joy of the familiar suddenly made me smile. Events that come round every year and that we never get fed up with. One of them is the annual garden event at Château de la Bourdaisiere near Montlouis.
It’s a lovely day out at a time of year when you really need to see that kind of thing, beautiful flowers and plants full of colour and promise of the good weather that will inevitably arrive. Not to mention the food producers, craft stalls and the fluffy chicken exhibition.
We don’t necessarily go to it every year, but we never tire of it. The château and grounds are beautiful and in fact it is now a hotel. The garden event is huge and we usually buy something. Last time it was a gorgeous dark purple lily, this time one of the cute bird baths.
And of course we enjoyed a delicious cake and coffee in the tearoom.
Another event we went to last April was the open day, “portes ouvertes”, of the local potter in the village. She lives just outside Le Grand Pressigny and produces beautiful decorative and useful pottery in a studio at her home.
We have bought quite a few pieces over the years, either for ourselves or as presents. She now has a shop in the village where you can buy her pottery and her partner’s gorgeous leather work.
Her old bread oven had been lit and used that morning. There was still plenty of bread for sale when we turned up after lunch so we treated ourselves to a loaf. Very good it was too.
There was something immensely charming and fascinating about seeing the old oven in use. So many people would have relied on the regular production of bread in that very oven, food to keep them alive probably, and very hard work it would have been to produce it. What a joy it was to see (and eat) real, rather misshapen and very rustic loaves, so different from the stuff on the supermarket shelves and even the local bakery, where it’s all so uniformly shaped.
Speaking of regular events, I suppose you would count a birthday as one of those. For a friend’s 70th birthday and a surprise party I was asked to make a novelty cake in the shape of his favourite English food – fish and chips. It was a bit of a challenge but I managed it, including sugar salt, apple juice vinegar and green marzipan peas!
Along with the comfort of the familiar comes the joy of a new discovery. For us anyway. In a shop in Descartes we discovered a cheese we had never seen before, made just up the road from us in Neuilly-le-Brignon. It’s called Bourdel and is not cheap but utterly delicious with an interesting rind, strong flavour and a firm texture. Since we bought our first one last spring it has made a regular appearance at our cheese course. You can read all about it here.