Friday, 31 August 2012

Picture perfect...

The Hotel Gouin on Rue de Commerce is one of my favourite buildings in Tours. In an area heavily bombed in the war it is one of the few buildings that came through unscathed. It is a great example of Renaissance over-exuberance. 

The building is normally open and free to view to the public and houses architectural and palaeontology artefacts including flint tools from Barrou and Le Grand Pressigny.  It is currently closed for renovation work but the city has been kind enough to still let us see the exterior in all its glory.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

La chocolatier...

Our friend Karen joined us on our trip to Tours and could not resist visiting her favourite chocolatier.

 The proprietor picks your selection with her white glove and boxes them for you - very civilised and tasty!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

It's all in the way that you say it...

Loved this sign on florists door in Tours - such a lovely turn of phrase!
Apparently they will be in their suitcases for the holidays!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

If my mother could see me now...

After sorting out our 'carte grise' at the prefecture in Tours we headed over to one of favourite eateries 'Chien Jaune' for lunch, it's actually on the same street as you walk back towards the railway station.

The meal was up to the usual standard but my starter was something else  - a baked nectarine wrapped in bacon with a salad, a long way from my Scottish roots. Only blemish was they charged 12.50 € for a half litre of Chinon rose.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Carte grise...or should that be grease?

We had to visit the prefecture in Tours last week, which is our link at local level to the country's national government offices. This is where you have to go for residency papers, vehicle registration (carte grise), driving licences and more here in France  We had to renew our 'carte grise', now called 'certificat d'immatriculation', as we had left it in the glove compartment of our car with a couple of large candles. Not that that in itself is a reason to change it but with the very hot weather the result was that the candles melted and coated our certificate making it instead a 'carte grease'!

The lady behind the counter was not in the least put out by this - must be a common occurrence! The only thing was that a new numbering system is being introduced and they took this opportunity to change it on our car which meant a new set of number plates were required. I like the fact that some enterprising chap has a shop for just this service two minutes along the road from the prefecture. To renew the certificate only costs €2.50 but they only give you a temporary one on the day and post out the official one a few days later.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Church on Sunday...Betz-le-Chateau

The  church of Saint-Etienne sits in the centre of the pretty little village of Betz-le Chateau (of banana party fame) in Indre et Loire. 

The apse of the church dates back to the12th century with the side chapels from the 15th.

It was built by Pierre de Betz and originally dedicated to St. John the Baptist (now the Virgin Mary). Church papers show it as being intended to house the remains of the lords of Betz.

From the village website: "In 1884, when we dug the basement of the church to open the door of the sacristy, were discovered stone tombs, a tombstone bearing in Gothic letters incomplete list of the lords of Betz., A woman's head, is likely a mausoleum and a sword called "Sword of Peter Betz" and who disappeared in 1988." I particularly like the bit about the 'disappearing sword'.

The nave and facade of the church are fro the late 19th century

There is a 'Lobin' window featuring Saint Etienne...

Plus an interesting baptismal font  featuring electrical supply - I would have to box that in!!

Where's Joan?...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The spice of life?...

The varieties of tomatoes in our garden as well as the other prolific veg. has meant Pauline has to be even more inventive in the way these can be used. Last night we had a birthday bash for one of our friends and for a starter she had used the cherry tomatoes to make a coulis to pour over a courgette flan topped with cheese - great!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Cute car...

At recent Lesigny fete among the classic cars the cutest had to be this little 'Punhard' 

Noticed this little fellow giving her the eye!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Are the stars out tonight?- 3...

My third story on this theme relates to Pauline and I being together so long -we have been together for 40 years (married 37) - I know those of you out there who know us are saying that we are not old enough but it's true!- and sometimes being a little too much in-tune.

During one of our early holidays here Pauline was relaxing on the patio reading and I was pottering about the courtyard when,as is my want, I burst into song and started to sing "are the stars out tonight..." which was a really odd choice as at the time the sun was splitting the sky (where does that come from?). Anyway at this Pauline let out a yelp - not an uncommon response to my singing - and asked if I had been looking at her book. "No - why would I?" I replied. Only to be told that as I started to sing she was reading a line in her book which read something like  "As she lay there the sound of her favourite song washed over her with the words ... are the stars out tonight?"
Spooky or what!!!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Are the stars out tonight?- 2...

Mondays post reminded me of a couple of stories around a similar's the first

After having bought the our house here in Barrou back in 2005 as a holiday home, we shipped some of our possessions over to furnish it. I had left the same day so as to be there when it arrived and to do a bit of 'tweeking' to get it ready for our first stay there the following week - when Pauline would join me. There had been a lovely family living in it and although it was a little dated (it is a an 1830's house after all ) they had left it in good order. It was a strange week for me for a number of reasons - I was 'self-catering' in a strange country with little or no knowledge of the language, knew no-one and was, for a short time, not sure what time it was - I had travelled on the day the clocks changed in the UK and wasn't quite sure if they went back or forward here in France! The furniture van took two days to get here so I spent the first night in the 'Campanile' in Chatellerault. I was up early the next morning but they still beat me to the house - arriving before 8.00 am. When I got there there was only one guy in the van and where I didn't mind lending a hand I didn't feel that it should be down to me to be the 'second man'. I needn't have worried - apparently the other chap was in my neighbour's, who I had never met, having breakfast! Dominique introduced herself through her window and conversed in her native tongue which could have been Greek to me!  Although I did pick out a little bit about an invitation on the Friday night - she must have said this bit in English.

Anyway I survived the week by keeping myself busy. I had not been drinking as I was on my own and feeling a bit down - adding alcohol into the mix would not have been a good idea! I was talking to Pauline every night giving her updates and feeling a little sorry for myself. Towards the end of the week I found myself out in our courtyard on a balmy night, just like the ones we were used to in Scotland (not), under a beautiful starry sky when I thought - hey its not so bad and decided to have a glass of red to celebrate my progress and the fact that well, it just felt right.

No sooner had I taken my first sip when I heard the faint sound of bagpipes in the distance, now I had been a little down but this was ridiculous but I could definitely hear them. I convinced myself that it was perhaps some Breton who had moved here getting some practice in - Pauline of course thought I had one too many!

The invitation was for the night Pauline arrived so she had a great introduction to living here - Francois  and Dominique know how to throw a party! We met a lovely bunch / mix of people and had a great night. When we tried to leave we were asked to stay behind and join them for a last drink before retiring to bed - after a very long night I could just about take one last drink. They took us around to a quiet little part of their lovely garden where we were sat down and they put on some more music - the shrill of the pipes was, after all that alcohol a joy to hear!! Yes, they had bought a CD of bagpipe music just for us! At least we knew I had not been hearing things - they obviously had a sneak preview to check if it would scare the neighbours or not!
Lovely thought!

After our 'treat' we said our goodnight and made our way back through the pitch black night (the street lights having gone off many hours before) feeling our way along the wall - it was my one and only true feeling of being 'blind drunk' but we were very heureux !

Monday, 20 August 2012

Are the stars out tonight?...

As a very amateur photographer I am often dismayed at the results of my attempts at capturing 'the moment'.

One of the great things about our lovely part of France is sitting under the clear starry skies after the street lights have gone off (saving energy), sipping some wine and contemplating the universe - well perhaps not the universe. Last Friday was such a night and after saying goodnight to some guests I decided to have a go at capturing it - at first I thought I had been successful but then realised it was only smudges on my screen (must clean this sometime) but those of us living here will not need a photograph to understand the feeling and those who don't can only imagine!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Church on Sunday...Yzeures-sur-Creuse

This Sunday we visit Notre-Dame church in Yzeures-sur-Creuse which is a late 19th century church built on a religious site dating back to the 5th century.

The church has been rebuilt/repaired over the centuries but here are still traces of the church from the12th century, in the north wall of the nave and apse.  

Inside is rather grand and belies its position as the church of a rather small town..

Where's Joan?

There is a rather elegant side entrance to the church...

...and a grand former rectory to the rear.

The gate was open allowing a better view of the rear of the church... a surprising grotto.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Leading on from yesterdays post...

Your accent is something that other people hear so when I see eyes being raised in a quizzical way I know that I have to speak slower or even use a different word - I find an English one normally helps. 

The Scottish accent is well known the world over through the media of cinema and television with the likes of Sir Sean Connery, Ewan Mcgregor, Billy Connelly and sadly Willie the ground keeper at Springfield Elementary School in 'The Simpsons' but the regional accents like the 'Doric' of Aberdeen are less well known;

As a young(ish) sales rep. I was sent on a mission to sell a new concept to the Aberdeen agricultural market.On my very first call I was greeted with the phrase Furry boots ya frae? and then a few fits and starts which led me to think I had crossed over into a strange foreign country. I came to understand the greeting was simply a request to know where I'd come from or who had sent me -"Where abouts are you from?" 

Others I came to learn were:
Fit like? - How are you?
Fitya selling? - What are you selling?
Far hiv ya bin? - Where have you been?

We recently had a couple from the Isle of Skye staying at 'Les Balcons', the husband was originally from Aberdeen and he recalled the time when he was travelling on the bus and two local woman were chatting away in front of an English couple who were heard to say that "You would not expect to find Russians here in Aberdeen - must be the oil."

I've had a few moments myself. When Pauline and I visited Copenhagen many years ago we dropped into a small cellar bar where we heard the sound of 'The Eagles' drifting up to the street above. There was an American singing and after sitting down and being entertained he noticed me singing along and asked if I'd like to come and accompany him. As I began to speak to him he said that he would have to apologise as he did not speak Danish - I reassured him, in my best English, that this wasn't a problem,  as neither did I!

Below is an example of the 'Doric' accent -apologies for some of the language!! 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Not sold Yeti...

These furry boots were on sale at the brocante in Lesigny on Wednesday and I remembered taking  a photograph of them last year  

Same boots? perhaps the owner wears them over over winter before trying to sell them in summer

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Annual event...

Our 'quinzième Août' day over at nearby Lesigny proved to be as good as ever - pre-lunch walk around the stalls of the brocante, great long lunch at our hosts Mike and Liz's along with David and Karen, back to buy at brocante and view the 'classic cars' and finally 'up and down the river' in the afternoon - we know how to live!!

There was a bit of confusion when someone tried to buy this lady's washing...but peace ensued.

The 'classic cars' display proved as popular as ever (or was it the beer tent?) with one of my personal favourite being...

...this classical beauty.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Menu du Marche...

We recently did the walk around Chambon again with friends - and rewarded ourselves with lunch at the restaurant in the village the 'Vieux Fournil'. Their 'menu du marché' at €12 is very well presented good value for money and tasty.

Here are some examples of what was on offer