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.
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.
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.
On 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.
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 !!
The 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.
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.)
Later 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.
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.
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”.
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.
Nick 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.
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.
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 !!