31 January 2021



It's the last day of January as I write this post.

I have had no fondness for the month of January for most of my adult life but don't ever remember dreading it as a child.  My journey to school involved two short bus rides, changing buses at Cromford both going and coming back.  I remember occasionally having to walk the two miles home from Cromford if the connecting bus had given up in the snow.  What an adventure that was, trudging through the snow and walking into the house frozen stiff in our duffle jackets over school blazers, feet soaked through.  If Mum was ever worried I never knew, life was tough for all of us in the 1960's.  The best part was drinking steaming bowls of Heinz vegetable soup in front of the coal fire as we thawed out.

I do remember some really bad winters in Derbyshire.  Snow up to my knees against the back door (my knees were nearer to the ground then of course, but even so) and having to dig our way out of the house to get coal in from the coal house.  But of course good snow meant sledging!!  All the kids in the village headed on mostly home made sledges for a field which was called "Dick Riddings".  It wasn't until much, much later in life that I even questioned that a field should have the name of a person.  One day I might find out who Dick Riddings was!

Tomorrow it will be February and I'm not too fond of that either.  What a shame that we write off two months of the year every year, wishing our lives away.  Still, February is only twenty eight days long this year and it will therefore soon be March and that's Spring in my book.

We spent a couple of winters in our house in France and whilst they were a lot of work - keeping two log fires going to keep the house warm - and rather dull - nothing much happens in rural France in February, I don't remember them being particularly hard.  

29 January 2021


The château at Le Grand-Pressigny is always a feast for the eyes, whatever the weather.

The view from the drawbridge entrance is always inviting, especially in the sunshine of late afternoon.

It's several years now since we were there to do our favourite walk in winter.
By this time of year we are aching to get back.

28 January 2021



The rooftops of Le Grand-Pressigny, from our garden at the house where we lived in the village, March 2011.  Browsing through old photos makes me realise how lucky we are to have lived in this beautful part of France for so long.

11 January 2021



We first visited this restaurant many years ago, possibly in 2010.  It was a recommendation of Jim Budd, as being handy for lunch during a wine buying/tasting day.  It's not far from Chinon and the numerous wine makers along the Vienne valley.  

I love the saucepan sign that hangs outside.  It is always nice and shiny and I wonder whose job it is to keep it perfectly polished.

These photos were taken in 2012, when we were doing a winetasting tour of Chinon with Ken and Walt.  The restaurant has been redecorated and updated since then.  The food remains excellent value, being not expensive for a really good menu du jour.

We learned early on in our gastronomic adventures in France that it pays to arrive early unless you have booked a table.  12.00 midday is our usual aim.  Any later and you may find that all the tables are taken, or, if you're much later, that if there have been no customers the restaurant has decided to close for the day! 

Another thing we learned is that it's always worth having an apéritif because with that you get the amuse bouche.  This is a selection of little appetisers, or nibbles, usually home made and very tasty, sometimes the best part of the meal.

I'm always pleased to see a small number of choices on the menu because that means they're more likely to be freshly made.

As there were four of us, between us we had one of everything on the menu. 

We've been back to this restaurant at least once and often two or three times most years.
  It was still open when we were last chez nous in the summer of 2020 and you can see its website here.

7 January 2021



On a blisteringly hot Saturday in August 2011 we had arranged to meet some friends in Preuilly-sur-Claise to watch something called the "Comice Agricole".  It's a kind of countryside and agricultural parade and usually starts early afternoon.  We thought we'd make a day of it and pop into a restaurant in town for lunch beforehand.

The interior of Le Twenty was like hundreds of traditional small town restaurants we have found all over France.  Something like a cross between somebody's front room and an old fashioned country hotel.  As it turned out they only served pizzas and, if I remember correctly, a few other basic pasta dishes.

I remember that on that Saturday lunchtime we happened to be the only diners and that the dessert menu was like a book of lovely artwork to browse while waiting for the food. 

Being full of pizza we didn't stay for dessert and vowed to come back for it another day.

The main menu was a work of art, too.

The general ambience was homely, comfortable and unfussy.

We enjoyed our pizza and stepped out into the sunshine to wait for the parade to start.

The parade was an amazing spectacle.  Fabulous costumes and music from distant regions of France.  Goodness knows how the dancers managed without collapsing in the heat, some of the costumes being hot and heavy to wear.

We intended to go back to Le Twenty but time drifted on, like it does, and we never did.  One day I glanced in its direction as we drove along Grande Rue and saw that it was closed.  One of the restaurants we have lost, and it still remains closed today.