24 December 2013


happy christmas

The tree is decorated and the presents are piled underneath.  Lulu has sniffed every one and is absolutely sure which ones are for her.

The cake is made and has its marzipan icing on, ready for the royal icing which will be applied lovingly this evening, or possibly on Christmas morning.  Last minute as always. A new mini herd of reindeer has been purchased to add to the forest of Christmas trees, the snowman and Santa Claus that adorn it every year.

happy christmas2

The mince pies are made and I tried a different recipe this year.  They look promising.  OK, I admit it, I felt obliged to try one and they taste good.  (Recipe here.)

The house is decorated beautifully and as minimally as I could get away with.  The tinsel factor is lower this year because I managed to hide some of it before Nick found it all.

All that remains is for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  I hope that Santa Claus visits your house, that the turkey is cooked through and that you have a truly wonderful time !!

4 December 2013


More photos from our day out at Chaumont.


This restaurant was closed when we were at Chaumont that day.  Luckily the little snack bar was open. so we were able to have a coffee. 




1 December 2013



During our October holiday Nick was “working at home” half the time and the rest was an actual holiday.  On his days off we decided to do some proper touristy, holiday activities, such as visiting a few châteaux.


The Garden Festival at Chaumont-sur-Loire was due to come to an end so we trotted off to see what was happening before it was too late.


It was one of those beautiful, sunny autumn days when the air is fresh but the sun quite warm.  There were lots of other visitors making the most of the good weather and the last chance to see the gardens in all their glory.


There were huge, imaginative and elaborate garden displays, although the meaning of some of them were lost on us!




For example, I didn’t quite get the point of these artificial flowers, but can see that they had taken a lot of work!


I quite liked the quirkiness of this wardrobe front over a path.  In fact it would make an interesting feature in any garden.  Sans the lingerie, of course !!


There were displays with peep-holes that were most inviting.  This one caught us out.  Each peep-hole was a mirror so all I saw was……me !!


Sadly, many of the plants in the displays were well past their best.  As indeed most people’s gardens are by the end of October, but it looked like a lot of it had simply been left without any attention for quite some time and looked very sad.  We should go earlier in the year to get the full benefit.


Having said all that, we would definitely go back another year and possibly splash out on the full tour of the house and garden, treating ourselves to a nice lunch in the grounds as well.  More photos soon. 

Bon Dimanche !!

21 November 2013

CHÂTEAU DE CANDÉ the final part


After our tour of the château interior we stepped outside to find that although it was dull, the drizzle had stopped, for a while anyway.


There were plenty of flowers, fruit and vegetables growing, but we weren’t sure whether they were just for display or for use by the château.  It was nice to see them anyway.


We were more fascinated by these pictures on display.  There was an area devoted to people, which we breezed past to get to the ones about food, which were much more interesting.


Each display board presented some aspect of the food of the Loire region, with an explanation of its origins in both French on one side and English on the other.  If the weather had been better I could have spent much longer reading each piece but one in particular caught my eye.


The plate of Cormery macaroons looked very tempting.  There are several stories as to how come they have a hole in the middle.  All the stories agree that it represents the belly button of a monk that originally made them many centuries ago, but there is no agreement as to how this happened.  You can read about one of the theories here.


I confess that the belly button imagery does nothing to make them seem more appetising, but I am won over by the ingredients ~ almonds, eggs, sugar and orange peel.  There are of course many different types of macaroon and this is just one of them.  Sooner or later I will just have to find a recipe for Cormery macaroons and try making them.  In which case I will let you know how I get on!

After our all too brief tour of the garden the drizzle returned so we headed back to the car.  As we turned to leave the car park a pair of young deer watched us from the edge of the wood, only a few metres away from the road.  We slowed down so that we could see them properly but by the time I had wrestled my new camera out of its bag on the back seat they had turned away and all I got was a picture of their bottoms.  Something in the timing made me think they were teasing us and that we were not the first to get such a photo!

17 November 2013



Many of the Duchess of Windsor’s gowns are on display at Candé, including her wedding dress.  Some are originals but the wedding dress is, I think, a replica ~ I can’t remember exactly.  It's very demure and a lovely shade of powder blue.


A lot of her other dresses would not look out of place if worn today.  Some styles never go out of fashion.  I have seen TV footage of coats just like that pink one being worn by our royals very recently.


The evening dresses were beautiful.


The hats were stylish.


I was especially interested to see the jewellery and I was not disappointed there.  You very rarely see brooches being worn these days, maybe because most people wear anoraks of some kind rather than a formal coat or jacket, including me.


There was a definite animal theme going on ~ I liked the panther head necklace and flamingo brooch. 

13 November 2013



Candé has an elegant yet cosy feel to it.  The bedroom was charming, comfortable and very much like a grand hotel but without the Wi-Fi, television, tea tray and leaflets. 


It reminded me of when I was a teenager in the 1960’s and worked weekends and holidays at the New Bath Hotel at Matlock Bath.  That was fairly grand in its hey day. 


The New Bath Hotel is closed and empty now.  It passed from one hotel chain to another, and Its former grandeur gradually disappeared as it became shabby and unloved.  The chambermaids, chefs and waiters arrived for work one July morning last year to find they couldn’t get in and bailiffs were taking away the furniture.


The most astonishing room in Candé is, I think, the bathroom.  Often châteaux have fairly utilitarian bathrooms, icy cold rooms with very little to make you want to linger there, even fully clothed.


Here the royal bathroom is nothing short of fabulous, with elaborate tiling, brass fittings, comfortable chairs, mirrors, mirrors and more mirrors.


In the middle of October the bathroom seemed rather too chilly for me but I suppose it would have been somewhat warmer in June 1937 when Edward and Wallis were celebrating their nuptials.


A glimpse of the royal throne perhaps?


The beautiful mosaics on the walls are works of art.  It’s something to bear in mind for the next time we have a bathroom refurbished perhaps.  On the other hand I think I will have…………a few more radiators !!