Saturday, 30 June 2012

Booker prize...

Sometimes it just sounds so much better in French  - Bibliobus or mobile library?

Bouquiniste or bookseller?

Friday, 29 June 2012

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The sun and the rain...

All the sun and rain recently has seen our carnations in the garden at 'Les Balcons' go wild - which are great for cutting for inside displays of colour.So much better than this time last year...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Will put your sprinkler to shame...

Not sure if this elaborate spraying monster is for water or some other substance but of late it has been pretty redundant!

It actually goes the whole width of the field (you can just about make it out here), should perhaps try and get to other end to see what propels such a beast! How do they keep it driving straight?

Restaurant review... La Val de Creuse

Recently we decided to give the Val de Creuse restaurant in La Roche Posay another try. We had eaten here before for Sunday lunch when a high wind decided we would have to eat inside,despite it being very sunny, in their very well-appointed dining room. We ate alone that day with the meal being ok if a little pricey..but it was a Sunday.

This time we had sunshine (a rarer thing these days) and no wind so with a couple of friends, we had the opportunity to sit outside and take in the lovely views of the churh and terrace.

If you stand up and walk over to the wall of the terrace garden you can take in some fine views of the bridge and river Creuse itself.

The meal itself again could only be described as ok and it was served by a lady who looked as if she would rather have been somewhere else! The portions were small and left you hungry but the worse part was when we received the bill we were charged 11.50 euro for half a carafe of house wine! At the 'Auberge du Vieux Port' in Maire you can have a five course lunch including wine and coffee for that! We will not be back! It was interesting to note that the restaurant was rather quiet - there might be a clue there for the proprietors!.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Feu de St Jean...Barrou

On Saturday night the restaurant here in Barrou (Les Tilleuls) continued to play its part in the local fetes by providing a meal of Paella and live music from 'Music Instinct' It was good to see a good turn-out.

We cleared up a point re the actual event itself, we had learnt from going to the same event over the years at Le Grand Pressigny that the Saint Jean being celebrated was Saint John the Baptist and the lighting of the bonfire - no  fireworks - was to celebrate the summer solstice.A lot of people associate the bonfire with Joan of Arc (understandably) but then that would be the 'Feu de Jeanne'

Barrou's bonfire was less spectacular than Le grand Pressigny's have been but the kids were still happy to dance around it.

Monday, 25 June 2012

A walk around...Chaumont garden festival

On Thursday we made our annual visit to the garden festival in the grounds of  the chateau at Chaumont sur Loire. We had gone despite the 'Meteo' weather forecast telling us that there was the potential for hailstones and storms! Indeed as we entered the festival we were advised of the evacuation procedure for when the storm hit - honest! They love a good orage here but as you can see from the photograph below it turned out to be a lovely warm day, if a little blowy!

This garden was designed by an Englishman and entitled 'Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité - look out the gnomes are revolting - wouldn't go that far but certainly not braw.I'd have thought 'An Englishman's gnome is his castle' to be more appropriate due its location.

Here are a couple more shots...

I liked this garden,which might not be to everyone's taste, entitled 'Lèche- vitrine' (window shopping) Its 'blurb' tells us it is "An anthem to temptation! Is this garden seeking to defy the laws of desire and frustration?"  Well I don't know!

Don't know what the appeal was in 'Un jardin psyché-délice' but here it is anyway!

I have put a slideshow of our walk around the garden festival on my Loire Valley site here but it is a poor substitute for an actual visit.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Church on Sunday...Saint-Martin-le-Beau

This Sunday we are in Saint-Martin-le-Beau a small village on the D40/ D140 road between Chenonceaux and Montlouis sur Loire - not a village most travellers to the Loire Valley will visit but no less interesting for that. The église is in the heart of the village overpowering, as intended, its surroundings. The facade gives the impression of a symmetrical building, so once inside you expect the now familiar naive consisting of a main central bay leading to the alter and apse,with two identical side bays.

This is almost what you get - but not quite!

The first church, primitive as it then was, was built here in the 10th century to honour St.Martin and replaced with a more befitting building in the twelfth century.

Inside is adorned with some fine carvings,hangings and paintings.

The stained glass windows inside display the life of the saint.

The sixteenth century addition above the front portal contains an 'oculus' with a 19th century example of stained glass I think by a master craftsman 'Lobin' who is credited with many such windows in Touraine. Its central part depicts the now familiar, to me anyway, act of charity of St. Martin with the surrounding scenes showing other episodes of his life. The bottom two recall the chronicled event in 903 when the area was under attack from the Normans and almost defeated when the clergy came up with the idea of boldly carrying the shrine of St. Martin in a procession in front of their assailants this act of defiance apparently had them turning on their heels and fleeing!   

As ever it is the outside the church where you witness its history by additions (and subtractions!) over the centuries.

The rear of the church flies in the face of its symmetrical front with a hybrid display of its history.

Inside it's not all about St.Martin...there's Joan of course!

If you want to see some fine detail of the front portal and other areas of the church check out the photographs here:


Saturday, 23 June 2012

Hardy variety?...

Despite the very hard winter we have had, last year's tomatoes re-seeded in the garden - even on our gravel path! We have lifted them and transplanted them in the garden as they are obviously a hardy variety.

The higher ground...

The cows from the farm behind the church here in Barrou have mistaken their new feeding trough for a boat and with all the rain recently have begun taking to the higher ground - do you think they know something we don't ?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Sometimes you just have to stop...

Driving north through the pretty village of Genillé yesterday I had to stop and photograph the attractive facade of  the hotel/restaurant 'Agnès Sorèl'. We have driven past it many times in the past but with the sun shining it seemed the ideal time to stop.It was too early for lunch and anyway, probably a little to expensive for us working folks. 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Brocante at Betz le Chateau

We visited the brocante at Betz le Chateau on Sunday - it was good to have the sunshine back.

The village was looking well and as we walked around we were struck by how pretty it was. We have driven through it many times and visited the chateau on 'Patrimone Day', the only day it is open to view but because you do not need to go up to the 'high' part of the village you miss quite a lot. We also came in the past to check out their 'banana festival'-surely the only one in France?- but were guided to a little 'big' top on the out skirts of the village.


Will have to come back and do a 'walk around' here. Bought a couple of small paintings and frames plus a red bottle to replace a display bottle we had in the kitchen of our Le Grand Pressigny house, Pauline had filled it with a red vinegar oil - to get the colour but some previous guests assumed it was for using, understandably and did just that! So rather than refill we bought a red glass bottle to replace it. Not a great deal else caught our eyes but as I said it was good to be out and about bumping into friends and acquaintances.Nothing for my 'bizarre' account but these couple of swells had me wishing I had someone to by them for!

Come on you know you want us!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Serving up some art...

On Sunday morning we got all of Sandy's painting up on the walls of the ‘Les Tilleuls’, the village restaurant,  along with others from local artists. They will be there for the week. She has already sold a couple to our local mayor and has also been given a couple of commissions to paint peoples houses - in watercolours.

An interesting drawing of Barrou turned up for display ,,,

 ...a plan showing the buildings lost due to flooding in the past, think in the 1930's but not sure. Will try and find out more. - the buildings lost are marked above.

The loss has been turned into a lovely riverside walk... protected by a new levee.

You can view more of Sandra's work here

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Celebration,French style...

They were happy down at the bar in the village on Friday night -  even the Italian! (He is actually French). 
Ukraine 0 France 2 the European championship

I was happy for them and was even indoctrinated into the tribe by the locals for the night. 

We (Scotland) were not taking part because as is usual for this competition we failed to qualify!   

Monday, 18 June 2012

Happy to help...

Our current guest at Le Bourg is Sandra Beck from Arizona who is here on her second painting holiday. Last year she stayed at the 'Old Walnut Mill' with her friend Cathy who had also come to paint here in the Loire Valley. They were kind enough to give us some paintings of the house, the one above is currently hanging on our kitchen/diner.

She is just about to start the last week of her three week holiday with an exposition of her work in the restaurant here in Barrou. She has been busy painting the many views of the streets and houses of the village including 'Le Bourg' itself 

She has made many new friends in the village and some of them suggested that she should display her work and offered to organize the exposition. Unfortunately due to other commitments this has not been possible so it has fallen to Pauline and I to organize it.

Here is a copy of the 'flyer' I made to advertise it which Pauline has distributed in the local villages to stir up some interest. 
Une vue de Barrou

Nous vous invitons à venir découvrir Barrou à travers les yeux et les coups de pinceaux de l’artiste américaine Sandra Beck et d’autres artistes.

Leurs œuvres seront exposées du dimanche 17 au vendredi 22 juin dans le restaurant Les Tilleuls, dans le village.

Vous pourrez faire l’acquisition de ces tableaux si vous le souhaitez.

You are invited to view the village of Barrou through the eyes and brush strokes of visiting American painter Sandra Beck and others.

On display from Sunday 17th June until Friday 22nd at
 ‘ Les Tilleuls’ Restaurant within the village.

You can view more of Sandra's work here

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Church on Sunday...Manthelan

The current L'église Saints-Gervais-et-et-Saint-Protais-et-Volusien (bit of a mouthful) in Manthelon sits on the site of an original 5th century church founded by Volusien, the 7th Bishop of Tours. It is said he brought relics of Saints-Gervais and Saint-Protais from the cathedral at Tours to sanctify his new church thus we have the name. When later churches were built on the site they added the original founders name as they obviously didn't think it was long enough!.

The present church was rebuilt in 1868 with only the bell tower being left of the previous 12th century church.

It is quite a narrow church currently fitted out with chairs rather than pews.

                                      It has some good examples of 20th century stained glass.

Where's Joan?

Outside has given way slightly, to modernity and h&s with this ugly external stairway.