Sunday, 18 December 2011

Shelling out....

“Le Vieux Moulin de Noix”

We are always a little sad when we leave our Barrou house as it is here we consider as our 'home' but we have come to accept the our lives over here have to be different and anyway 'Les Balcons' is not so bad! Some of our friends refer to it as our 'grown-up' house, I suppose for us it will now be our 'winter home'.

We called our Barrou house“Le Vieux Moulin de Noix” as the room currently used as the lounge in the house, was formally a walnut mill and would probably have a set-up similar to the  photograph opposite. You can still see evidence of the collecting vats here plus partial grinding stones within the garden. The power would perhaps have been provided by an animal such as a donkey which would also provide a heat source rising to the accommodation above. We were interested to see if there was a local 'mill' that we could visit. The nearest was just outside Chatellerault. 

So last year we collected walnuts from local trees and we took our harvest to the walnut mill in the village of Availles-en-Chatellerault. We had spent a couple of winter nights cracking shells along with our French neighbour until we had what we thought was enough (4kg actually but that's a lot of shelling)) to take for crushing at the mill, to give us our very own Barrou walnut oil.When we arrived there were people there with giant sacks full - obviously a large part of their winter evening entertainment - nut cracking. Our  minuscule amount was put in with small contributions from other 'gatherers' and we were given some already bottled oil. We did watch other nuts being 'milled' and left happily with our virgin oil.

This year we are just eating our walnuts in various guises and replenishing our oil at a much reduced cost from the mill.

The Lepine family have been producing oils here since1810.The mill  is open all the year round Monday through to Saturday from 8:00 to 12:00 and from 14 to 18H00. You will smell it before you see it!


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