29 August 2020


First the free stuff.
This pâté dish, or terrine, was in a pile of identical dishes outside the little grocery shop in Montresor.  Next to it was a notice saying "servez vous" which means "help yourself".  So I did.

I thought it would come in handy if I ever wanted to make a terrine or meatloaf, but then I realised it would look good on my recently acquired oak steps with some trailing plants in, maybe.

This little container is almost certainly not very old, one of the items that goes under the general heading of "shabby chic".  In other words something new made to look old.  It wasn't quite free either, but nearly was.  The man selling it at a brocante saw me pick it up and said "50c".  I hesitated for a moment and he said "gratuit" - but I gave him 50c anyway as it was worth that.

These items were on the "help yourself" table at the déchetterie this week.  The plates will come in handy for those occasions when I take a cake to an event and am not too bothered if I get it back.  The little pots will be nice for a small bunch of flowers and the jug - well, you can never have too many.

This mirror and matching wall sconce were definitely not free.

In fact they were not cheap by my standards but it was one of those "when am I ever going to see another one of these at this price?" moments.  I had in mind exactly the right spot in the house for them and couldn't leave them in the shop.  I've done that before, changed my mind and when I've gone back someone else has snapped them up.

The painted detail on them was just so pretty.

I don't know what this rusty old thing was meant to be but the seller suggested it was a cake stand!

This is not old either, found in the "shabby chic" shop in Loches.

Nick had been looking for ages for an old watering can and was thrilled when he found one, for just a few euros at a brocante.

These small candle sticks might be quite old, or possibly not, but I liked the little faces on them.

I suspect this book holder isn't that old either, but it's just the right size to hold a cookery book open at the right page to follow a recipe.  I can't do with peering at a mobile phone screen.  All that scrolling up and down - give me a proper cook book any day!

22 August 2020


I know that some of you like to see what little gems of battered and rusty old stuff I have acquired, so here is a selection of recent purchases.  Sadly brocantes as such are not happening in our area at the moment - but house sales - called vide maison - are. 
This old stoneware pot came from a vide maison the other week.  I'm not sure what it is except that it's like a very oversized mug.  I'm sure I'll think of something to put in it.

We bought this cast iron "crown" at the brocante at La Celle-Guenand two years ago.  I had no idea what I would do with it but couldn't resist and it finally made an appearance this year as a table ornament to enhance a citronella candle.  Why didn't I think of that before?

This lovely old oak step ladder was also acquired on the day of the recent vide maison.  As a fairly recent purchase I have yet to decide it's ultimate purpose.

Another vide maison pair.  They are measuring vessels with a slot to hang on the wall and a hose for releasing a measured item of some kind of liquid.  Other than that I don't know what they are for but I'm sure someone out there will be able to enlighten me!

I found this lovely candelabra at the brocante at Buxeuil last year (or maybe the year before).  It makes a pretty addition to our outside dining when the days are shorter and we find ourselves outdoors, listening to the deer, the owls and the crickets.

I don't know what this is but I have two of them - a fruit bowl perhaps.  The other one is a slightly different design and I use it as a water bath for the birds by placing a dish of fresh water in it and balancing it on an old tree stump.  I usually put a large citronella candle in this one.

This little brass pot came from a brocante shop.  They are open even though the brocantes are not.

This lovely old recipe book from the 1950's perhaps, had several additional items tucked inside.

I love this oil painting and its battered old frame.  Well worth the five euros at a vide maison last year.
(Apologies if some of these items have appeared in the blog before!)

17 August 2020


A couple of weeks ago Nick and I went food shopping and ended up in Le Clerc in Loches.  We like this supermarket and seem to think it has been refurbished in recent years, transforming it from a dimly lit dump of a place to a smart and airy place that's nice to be.

However, on this occasion we were the victims of a theft.

Having completed our shopping and on returning our trolley to the shelter (I don't know what you call those little huts where trolleys are stashed) I found that there was no longer our euro in the slot in the handle.  I went back to the car to ask Nick if he had selected a trolley that was a free spirit and didn't need a euro and he said "no!".

On closer inspection it seems that some little bar steward (I suspect a grubby looking kid that was following us around the aisles for a time) swooped and looped.  In other words, waited until our backs were turned and looped the chain back into the slot to eject our euro.  Leaving a trolley with the chain/catch thing inserted into the slot and our euro in his pocket.

Further investigation reveals that most supermarkets have trolleys where the chains are not long enough to do this.  At Le Clerc however, they are.  Their trolleys are giant fancy plastic affairs as opposed to metal ones and maybe the design requires a longer chain to link all the trolleys together in the shelter (or whatever it is called).

Friends then alerted me to the existence of the jéton - a plastic token that you obtain from the shop itself to use instead of a euro to release a trolley from the stash.  Now, instead of having a couple of euros permanently in the car door pocket, we have a small collection of jétons instead. 

I suspect that the swoop and loop technique used by the little kid in Le Clerc was well practised and no doubt earned him some regular pocket money.  I will not be robbed again and will continue acquiring tokens until I have at least one for every handbag, purse and car door pocket !!

6 August 2020


Two weeks ago today we arrived chez nous.  The weather has been beautiful and we have spent a lot of time relaxing and immersing ourselves in the peace and quiet.
We have also been out and about and met up with friends in a way that not many months ago seemed not possible, and in fact there were times when we wondered if we would ever do it again.  Coming from a place that is all consumed by the coronavirus, one way or another, to one where everything is so much more relaxed has taken some getting used to.  When I say "relaxed" I don't mean careless.  We have been impressed how people here have managed to enjoy themselves without taking risks.

On Monday we were invited to join a group of friends for a walk around the lake at the leisure park at St Cyr.  It's about an hour from home and when we set off to meet them it was literally pouring with rain.  Which was rather inconvenient as I discovered that I literally have no coat or mac of any kind here!  I do have a lightweight kind of summer trenchcoat that has been left here, like all my summer clothes, for years.  But it was nowhere to be found.  It seems I must have taken it home with me last winter but goodness only knows why.

However, I needn't have worried as by the time we got to St Cyr the sun was shining and in fact it was perfect weather for a walk, sunny but not too hot.  Everyone kept their distance, drifting from one set of friends to another whilst staying safe.  There was much to catch up on.

It's about 5km around the lake.  We began with coffee at the little café and strolled along in a very relaxed but careful socially distanced way, what a joy it was to be part of a group of friends again.  It hardly seems five minutes ago that we were on our own, day after day, not meeting up with anyone else at all.
How different it is here.

I can't believe we have lived in this area for so long and never been to this parc before! 

After our walk we had lunch at the golf club restaurant which overlooks the park, the lake and the golf course.  We had the set menu du jour, which was reasonably priced and fairly ordinary but the regular menu looked very promising and we will certainly go back another day.  We are grateful to our friends for including us and introducing us to the place.

Feeling so much more relaxed about things, we organised a lunch party for some of our friends.  All were English (or Welsh!) people who were finally allowed to be at their holiday homes in France, several months late, and in some cases which a huge gardening task to do. 
All were feeling a bit awkward about things, concerned that locals and friends who live here full time might not welcome their presence.  It's understandable that people might not feel ecstatic about the arrival of visitors from a country with the highest death toll in Europe.

We made every effort we could to make everyone feel comfortable about getting together but remaining safe, keeping our distance, hand gel everywhere, individual towels for the bathroom and so on.  No wandering around at the table or queueing at the buffet table.  Everyone was very careful, considerate and understanding. 
Our guests each brought a delicious contribution to the lunch and we had a fabulous time, catching up and enjoying good food and wine.  In traditional French style, the long and lazy lunch finished about 5pm!

Later in the evening we went into the village to celebrate the reopening of one of the bars.
This bar has been through several incarnations since we arrived here in 2007.  Then it was called the Jean Bart, a very traditional village bar with fabulous woodwork inside (the bar itself and the staircase), a beautiful old tiled floor and - an outside very old style toilet.  I will let you use your imagination on that but let's just say that sitting was not an option!  
At the end of last year the bar closed again.  Friends posted photos of the equipment and furniture being sold by auction on the outside a few months ago.  A sad loss for the village.

Anyway, it has reopened and will again be serving food.  Hoorah!
We went to the opening night but we didn't stay for long.  The local trio "I don't know" were playing to a huge crowd of people outside and whilst it was great to see the place buzzing again and to know that the village has one of its great assets back in business...…...but we we did not feel comfortable.  There were too many people there for us.  The adherence to social distancing and wearing of masks seemed very loose and we felt nervous about it.
We wish the new owners every success and will certainly be there before long to enjoy a drink and a meal when there are fewer people milling around.  Having been in France for two weeks we feel much more relaxed but are not quite ready yet for the big crowds.
For more pictures see Jim's post here.

2 August 2020


I saw this mask in a shop and thought what a cute kitten nose so I bought it.
When I opened it out and put it on......not quite what I expected!
Masques are de rigueur here!