Saturday, 31 August 2013

Even more klutz problems...

Yesterday was a day for abusing my little Citroen C3 yet again...Our Irish guests left 'Les Balcons' yesterday and new Australian guests arrive today so we had (and took) longer for the changeover,after an 8 hour shift in the heat we were rather tired - well that's my excuse. So after reversing into the drive at Barrou for unloading - I went in the house only to be called back out by Pauline as I had not put the hand brake on and the car had rolled back out - luckily the gate stopped it from going out onto the road.On the positive side the scratches it received were just on top of existing ones! I really don't know why it stays with me!  

Friday, 30 August 2013

Health warning...

Following yesterday's post I thought I should post a health warning based on the effect a visit to Loches Medieval Festival  had on one of our previous guests to 'Le Bourg' in Barrou...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Loches Medieval Festival...

Loches, one of our favourite places here in Southern Touraine has for the last few years held an annual 'Medieval Festival' (L'Epopée Médiévale). Their description describes it as 'epic' but that might just be overstating it a little. Like many events staged here they promise so much and yet...

The old citadel is the ideal place for such an event as stepping through the 'Porte Royale' in the footsteps of Joan of Arc you are transported back in time.

The town has successfully maintained most of the authenticity of the place providing an excellent backdrop.
It was free to enter the citadel and the guard at the gate gives a flavour of what was going on.                  
It is an event we had wanted to visit since previous great guests "The Willinghams" (stayed at 'Les Balcons' and 'Le Bourg' 06/08 to 20/08/2011 )  had raved about it.

In 2011 they got...

2013 we got...

 In 2011 they got...

2013 we got...

In 2011 they got...

2013 we got...

Although we enjoyed the pipes,I can understand they might not be to everyone's taste

We felt that we had been short changed somewhat...maybe there has been some cutbacks since 2011. As I said the location of this event is ideal and the idea is great but from what we could see it was aimed at French tourists - and why not, although anyone else visiting would enjoy the peripheral atmosphere,especially if it was their first time visiting the town. The additional cost of €2.00 on top of the normal price of visiting the 'Royal Lodgings' and 'Donjon' was a bargain (C&E) - if you had not visited before - having visited many times before ourselves we saw it as a donation to the upkeep of the festival.

We didn't take in many of the scheduled demonstrations but did sit under the shade of the trees by the 'Donjon' and watched a man on a very small horse do some 'jousting' tricks - but don't think 'Chateau du Rivau' has anything to worry about 

Then we watched a group of kids try on heavy chain-mail and then have a competition to find out who could rise from a lying down position quickest - they seemed to enjoy it.

Highlight was Pauline buying me some medieval fudge at one of the stalls on the way to the 'Donjon'. 

As I said, if you haven't been to Loches then during the festival is a good time to visit to get a taste of things medieval. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Rooftop terrace...

Since completing his new terrace our neighbour David has had a few 'launch nights'.Last one included a barbecue but space is now at a premium with his table and seating now in place. The three cars in the drive don't help!...

but David is very resourceful, so he used what space he had  and added a roof terrace.

Footnote: H&S...yes, he's wearing flip-flops!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

'Cante' say I enjoyed it...

Our friends, John & Linda's last night in Barrou was spent at the bar, almost where it started, but this time it was 'moules frites' and Flamenco music...they sure didn't expect that! Now as it happens neither I nor John & Linda like 'moules' so Willie &  Sandra had made us steaks instead. Not only that but as Linda was a 'Bacardi' drinker he had added a bottle to his kind.  

The band played late into the night and while there was no denying their musical skills the 'cante' (singing) style did not, in our opinion, add anything to the performance - other than authenticity perhaps.

Judge for yourself...

Monday, 26 August 2013

Friends old and new...

On Friday we had a get together with some of the friends we have made since moving to France and with our visitors, old friends John and Linda. It was no surprise to us that they got on so well and we had a great night. The only thing is that when we four J&L,.Pauline and I get together we still try and do what we used to when we were a great deal was a 5am finish for us...this picture I took at the end of the night says a lot!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Church on Sunday...two for the price of one.

Back into the Vienne this Sunday to Coussay-les-Bois where I had been intrigued by the presence of two churches almost side by side. The one in the forefront of the above pic. is the church of Saint Martin with Notre Dame in the background.Why?...sorry but I still really don't know!

The church of Saint Martin,with its twisted steeple,which is now part of a private house (wonder if it's a 'Grand Design'?) has been around since the 12th century and was originally tied to the abbey at Preuilly before coming under the control of the Bishop of Poitiers. Although it was here first it was,I think, simply abandoned in the 19th century with Notre Dame being the favoured choice as the parish church. Apparently there are a number relatives of Cardinal Richelieu ('du Plessis') buried here. The local community have formed an association 'Friends of Saint Martin' so perhaps some time in the future we will learn more of its history. 

The Romanesque church of 'Notre Dame' has been the singular parish church since 1803 and from the above angle is rather imposing...

...but viewed from the other side, bears the scars of many modifications over the centuries. You can make out the old Romanesque portal with its capitals plus and the corbels that show the original height of the building. An extra level had been added during the 'Hundred Years War' to offer a place of refuge, apparently quite commonplace (?). The square tower is a bit of a mismatch of styles with blind portals and an 18th century addition to house the church bells.

As you enter the church you are met by a surprising sight - the nave is domed - apparently it is the only church in Poitou, along with that of Fontevraud, with this feature..

It also has the 'Latin Cross' basilica layout which is not obvious from the outside.

There are some good examples of stained glass in the church.

There are some interesting designs on the pillar capitals... a rather fetching WW1 memorial.

The baptismal font but no Joan!

Back outside there is an interesting 12th century carving above the windows

There is a 

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Sparkling day out...Part III

After our hearty lunch at 'Le Bas Rocher' we headed up to our favourite vintner Pascal Berthelot at Husseau just along the river from Montlouis-sur-Loire

You can take your car right into their courtyard...

 ...where they have a very inviting  little 'tasting room'

On this visit Pascal took us up to see his vines...

 Then it was back to the serious business of tasting...

...and buying...well,that's the weekend sorted! Mainly made up of our favourite Rosé Méthode Traditionnelle

Friday, 23 August 2013

Sparkling day out...Part II

After our visit to the 'Cave des Producteurs' in Vouvray we headed over to Montlouis-sur-Loire to visit our favourite vintner...but we had planned our trip to fit in lunch first. Pauline and I had eaten at our chosen restaurant,'Le Bas Rocher' on Quai Albert Baillet, before but our friends hadn't. We had actually been checking out the 'Toque et Vins' gourmet restaurant next door which looked inviting but the menu on that particular day wasn't to our taste and to pay €21.00 for lunch it had to be.

We were heading back to the car when we noticed 'Le Bas Rocher' and although it is advertised as a 'creperie' it is more than that.

We had eaten inside on our first visit...

 and remembered the highlight was their 'cafe gourmand'  ('Relais de la Mothe' take note)

This time we sat on the terrace and our friends agreed (thankfully) that it was a good choice. Good food in a good setting with a very pleasant hostess. We had the straightforward 'formule midi' at €11.90 ( 3 choices for each course) but all had the cafe gourmand and coffee, plus wine of course and including the tip it was only €15.00 /head...great value.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A sparkling day out...Part I

We had to do a bit of re-stocking of our wine cellar recently which meant a trip up to Vouvray and Montlouis-sur-Loire with friends with the same objective.

Our first stop was at the 'Cave des Producteurs' in Vouvry where Mike &Liz were picking up a repeat order for friends back in the UK, Jane & Peter were making their first visit and Pauline and I were back for another visit.

On this visit we all decided to take the guided tour of the caves and arrived just in time for the 11.30am tour in English.(there are others at 2.30pm and 4.30pm).They only charge €2.70 and its great value for money.

If you arrive a little early there is a video 'The four seasons of the wine maker' you can watch...

plus a small cooperage (barrel making) museum. These are free to view even if you are not taking the tour.

Then its down into the caves with your guide, on our visit a charming and knowledgeable young lady, where you are lead through part (a short walk) of the vast network of tunnels. After visiting the caves you are then lead across the road to the bottling plant where the is a gallery to view a very small part of the process which is explained in a good video presentation.

(This and previous pic. courtesy of Mike Funning)
Then its on to the serious stuff of tasting and buying - you do not need to buy anything and there was no pressure from our guide...but how could you resist that smile? 

If you haven't already done these we would encourage you to go..oh and take additional clothing even on a warm summer's day as it is obviously a constant 13 degrees in the caves (we didn't!).

Footnote: Next year's production has been severely affected by June hailstorms see article here.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Sponsorship needed...

Our very good friends from waaaay back. John & Linda (known John since primary school) are over for a visit so we had a long first day/night... where we introduced them to the bar in the village, were accosted for drinks by French neighbour on way past his house...and made to listen to Nana Mouskouri...before heading back for apéros with friend and neighbour,David... perhaps we should have sponsors for their visit!

Quinze août...part II

Before heading to the great barbecue at Liz & Mike's on the 15th we did our usual walk around the village of Lesigny's annual brocante. Another fine day with the village looking great with all the biz...

 There was the usual assortment of giant cuddly toys...

...wonder what caught his attention?

I bought a sledge hammer (as you do) and a box of picture frames...of which Pauline says I have enough (she's probably right)...maybe I shoild not have left them together!

Fashion you like the way the hammer matches her outfit?