Tuesday, 26 February 2013

'Cherche du pain' at the world's end...

Photo by Dickelbers
We were invited to drop in on some new French friends who are renovating 'the family home' just outside Le Grand Pressigny and although they are up to their neck in projects they took time out to feed us sparkling wine and cake - a great combination, don't you think?

The photograph above is not of their house (the sea on the horizon probably gives it away) but it is of the house that claims to be the most northerly of  mainland Scotland. I've included it as our friends reminisced about a trip they made in a campervan around our lovely country. They said they had driven north as far as they could and indeed at one point they had to turn back...they commented on how remote the place was.

It reminded me of a story my friend Bert tells of when he first sought the peace and tranquillity of the Scottish Highlands in a family home in a very remote spot. Its situation however was supported by a very small village shop where you are served by a charming old lady. On Bert's first trip to buy bread he was asked, after exchanging the usual pleasantries,  "Would you be wanting yesterday's bread or today's bread"
" Oh I think I'd prefer today's"  says Bert, only to be told " Well for that young man you'll have to come back tomorrow!" -  it was that remote!!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Church on Sunday...Bossee

Today we visit visit the church of Saint-Laurent in the village of Bossee. The original church was built in the 11th century with the nave, south transept transept and apse still remaining from that period.

The square tower and south wall are from the 12th century with the octagonal spire steeple dating from 1720

The church is currently in a poor state of repair with rather obvious repairs above the 19th century stained glass windows by Touraine master glass maker Julien Fournier. 

There is more evidence of work needing done within the side alters of the church.

Where's Joan?

 She's represented by an impressive stained glass window within the church.

There is a rather ancient side door to the nave  

Which is equally enchanting from the outside.

The church's steeple has a rather unusual weathervane for the region - a crescent moon.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

New view...

At this time of year we are able to get a view of the chateau at Le Grand Pressigny  that we do not normally see because of the lack of foliage along the road from Barrou.

Friday, 22 February 2013

February in Chaumussay...

Our walk around Chaumussay at the beginning of the week was made pleasant by the lovely bright and sunny afternoon.

We took the opportunity to visit some friends who live nearby, thus giving us a destination to walk to and back from -plus the addition of a nice cup of tea.

We have taken these shots during every season of the year with Autumn being our favourite time.

 We just made it back to the village in time before the sun disappeared over the horizon. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Revisiting Rivau...

One of the 'revisits' we did last year was to the delightful Chateau du Rivau to see how its gardens were maturing ...we were not disappointed, the owners are doing a great job in turning it into a fairytale-like castle to enchant children and parents alike.We have updated our experienceloire site after our visit.

You can check out Colin and Elizabeth's post on Rivau's jousting tournament here.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

20's plenty...

Well certainly for everyone and everything in the nearby village of Chaumussay. Spotted this sign when we were out for a walk on Monday.No danger of us breaking their speed limit though!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

All's quiet...

Walking past the chapiteau from Saturday's St Blaise fete yesterday, it was all very quiet, with no hint of the bustling merrymakers of a great day out!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Tour returns to Touraine

This year (the 100th) the Tour de France returns to the region with the 218km, Stage 12 on July 11 bringing the riders from Fougères down to Tours. Then they head out of the city on the 12th towards Saint-Amand-Montrond for the 173km 13th stage. As to the finer detail of which towns and villages it will pass through I cannot find anywhere - maybe someone out there will know. Could be there is still some 'bidding' going on!

Map and logo are from the official site
As far as racers, the latest big news is Chris Froome will lead Team Sky, not Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins is apparently set to focus on the Giro d’Italia.

In 2008 they came whizzing by 'Les Balcons' in Le Grand Pressigny where we had a great view of the proceedings and had a great day with friends and neighbours watching the 'caravan' pass by.

Our friend Mike did a good blog post of that day here with some interesting facts and trivia.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Church on Sunday...return to Montrichard

Small can be beautiful...

We return this Sunday to Montrichard, last week we featured the church of Notre-Dame de Nanteuil in the town but there is also L'église Sainte Croix which is built in to the castle fortifications - its here that Jeanne de Valois, who could not have children, married her cousin the Duc d'Orléans, who subsequently became King Louis XII -the marriage was later annulled to allow him to marry Anne of Brittany - ah the French Royals and their politics! Sadly when we have visited we have never found it open. 

Because of this we sought out the other religious buildings in the town ,the aforementioned Notre-Dame de Nanteuil and then the pretty little chapel of the 'Hotel d'Effiat'...

a small building squeezed into Rue Porte au Roi

Inside is surprising....

 for such a small place it had many statues but I have to confess 'pas de Joan'. 

The simplicity of some of the interior detail made it quite charming.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Feast of St Blaise

Today is the annual Fete de la Saint-Blaise here in Barrou.  A test of endurance, as indicated by the above menu.  The morning starts with a service in the local church. Complete with dignitaries and brass band.  This is followed by a reception in the Salles de Fete, which is attended by the Mayor.  Aperitifs are served.  Everyone, then adjourns to the grand chapiteau, where for the next 4-5 hours we are fed generous helpings of food accompanied by various local wines.  For the more intrepid amongst us the banquet is followed by a ball.

Jim and I enjoy this challenging day out.  We usually go with our neighbour, David, but a couple of years ago we flew solo and had to communicate for ourselves as the only non-French attendees. It is pleasing to see a lot of the villagers en masse.  The atmosphere is convivial and there is usually an open mike.  Jim, never one to shy away from an opportunity to perform,normally gives a turn and has been learning to sing in French this year.  It is always interesting to hear well known classics such as Viva Espagne and the birdie song sung in French.  When trying to decide what to sing this year, it was suggested that Jim should look at translating The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  We then discovered that this has been done and this 'Youtube' recording by Henri Salvador has engendered a great deal of interest.

We will be coming round later with sponsor sheets.  All proceeds to go to the RSPG (Royal Society for the Prevention of Gluttony).

Friday, 15 February 2013

St Valentine's Day 2013

One of the good habits we have acquired since moving to France is to pre plan trips and not waste petrol or time. Very green!  Since there was no way of topping St Valentine's day 2010, when we went for lunch to the village of St Valentin, we decided that we would celebrate a day later for a variety of reasons.

  1. I had paid in advance for my keep fit class yesterday.  No sense in wasting money.
  2. Friday is shopping day. 
  3. We have to go to Descartes to visit the tourist office at some point.
It was, therefore, decided that we would go to Descartes today, February 15th.  Visit the tourist office, have a Valentine's Day lunch and visit the supermarket there instead of our usual one.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Exercising my French

It is Thursday.  Thursdays are when I go to Lesigny with my French neighbour and friend, Caroline. We attend a keepfit/exercise class at the Salle des Fetes, along with another half dozen French ladies and an English lady from the village.  I find this a satisfying experience as I, not only, indulge in some much needed physical exercise, I have to use my French, both with a view to following instructions and also social interaction. It also affords me some degree of independence as working with Jim as well as living with him has resulted in us being joined at the hip.

Having attended exercise classes on a regular basis in Scotland in the 80's and 90's, I am amazed to find young insructresses still using some of the exercises, such as Rover's revenge, taught by Jane Fonda in her heyday.


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Countdown to Spring

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  It is 6 weeks to Easter and the return of the Hirondelles is imminent.  Last year they were recorded as having arrived around 31 March and it just so happens that Easter falls on 31 March this year.

It is always good to see them as their antics and chirping cheer us all up after the winter.  It is not just the birds, who brighten up our lives in spring and summer but the 2 legged variety of 'Hirondelles', who spend their summers in their maisons secondaires and return to Britain for winter. We look forward to renewing the acquaintance of all our new friends here in France.

The advent of spring sees the start of the village social calendars, with organised walks, brocantes and music festivals.  There is something to do every weekend within a short drive.

Walking, here in the Touraine, is always a pleasure with a plethora of marked routes, through the countryside at one with nature, take some exercise and generally just feel glad to be alive.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Girls on Tour 2013

Anne, Francoise & Babs in Berlin 2011

It is that time of the year again.  My sister-in-law and her cousin, both French, have a city break each year with me and another Scottish friend.  Over the last 9 years we have visited many destinations and have had many varied experiences, notwithsatanding our permanent loirevalley experience. This year's destination currently under investigation is Krakow.  As lamented in a previous post there seems to be a conspiracy by the cheap flight operators to keep the Scots in Scotland.  Babs lives in Aberdeen, which although still benefiting from North Sea Oil and the incumbent prosperity is still not easily served by low cost airlines. Last year's foray to Granada was very expensive and involved 2 changes for her, not to mention the time taken. This year we are proposing an Autumn break.  Usually we go around April/May but it is difficult to agree dates because of work and family committments then.

Easyjet are offering reasonably priced flights from Paris CDG and factoring in Babs' travel costs and times, Aberdeen compares favourably. Research is showing Krakow to be a very interesting city, with plenty of interesting things to do and see.  A lot of them seem to be free of charge, which for me and my Scottish friend is even better.  Eating out seems to be reasonable with a good many varieties of cuisine available at a reasonable cost.

I have volunteered to check out accommodation this year, usually preferring to leave it up to others. Babs booked our first trip and the apartment in Barcelona was amazing, well located, well appointed and reasonably priced, so the bar was set high.  So far the quality of apartments that I have looked at have been of a high standard and reasonably priced.  It is interesting for me to approach holiday rentals from the other side.  Normally it is I answering the enquiries. 

Some of our more memorable trips were Barcelona, Venice, Rome, Berlin and Granada, although everywhere has had something unique to offer.

One thing that I have learned is that packing a tried and trusted pair of comfortable shoes is top priority.

I look forward to finalising the arrangements and enjoying some well earned R&R at the end of the season.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Seasonal produce

You would think that having lived in France for the best part of five years, I would have got to grips with the concept of seasonal vegetables and would know to plan menus accordingly. You would think?  But no, having recently invited some friends for dinner, I set about planning the menu.  Carrot and orange soup to start.  The supermarket is practically giving away  the seasonal carrots.  Chocolate mousse for dessert.  What to have for a main course?  Boeuf a la mode?  More carrots!  I know, we will have crispy duck stir fry with Mangetouts.  Got the duck. Alas, no mange tout. Oh well, haricots verts will do.  Spring onions?  Mmm these look sort of like them.  They are a bit more bulbous than I would like but they will do.  Chinese water chestnuts? No, there are none in the tinned vegetable section.  None on the foreign food shelf either, oh well I have some bean sprouts to substitute. Nearly left without picking up the cashew nuts.  Jim dashed back to find them. Despite having written a shopping list I got home to find I had forgotten the green pepper.  The local shop had none.  They are not in season, she explained.  Oh well I have plenty carrots I will use some ribbons of carrot. I think my guests enjoyed their crispy duck stir fry with green beans, carrots and bean sprouts minus the all important cashew nuts which were forgotten at the cooking stage.

Roll on tomato time!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Church on Sunday- Notre-Dame de Nanteuil,Montrichard

This Sunday we are in Montrichard in the department of the Loir et Cher to visit the church of Notre-Dame de Nanteuil which can be found to the west of the town centre.