Monday, 30 June 2014

Langeais chateau under wraps...

Visited Langeais yesterday before heading over to brocante at Rouchouze. As ever looking good under a surpringly blue sky...'Méteo' had forecast a rather different day. Took this shot of the chateau as one of the towers at the front is currently covered over due to works...which is a shame for first-time visitors. Though there did not seem to be many around!

 We had travelled up via Azay-le-Rideau so it meant crossing the Loire on one of our favourite bridges, the suspension bridge that connects the town to to south bank of the river. When crossing it always think it looks a little 'Disneyesque' but still love it!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Church on Sunday...Vallères

Sometimes the churches we 'stumble' upon just by choosing a new route are the ones that prove the most the church of St. Médard in the small village of Vallères on the.D39 between Azay-le-Rideau and Villandry.It is another church that has evolved into its present form over the centuries. The first church built in the 11th century was destroyed and replaced by a new one in the 12th century - of which only the bell tower and apse remain.

The current vaulted nave and side aisles are the work of a rebuild in the second half of the 19th century,making the church look rather grand for such a small village. Apparently the villagers still say behind the 'churches' (plural) as there actually used to be two identical 12th and 13th century churches separated by an 8 metre gap -why? I don't know - but one was the parish church (dedicated to St.Médard) and the other 'for devotion' to the Virgin Mary - this was sadly ordered to be demolished in the 18th century due to its poor condition.


There is a wonderfully ornate baptismal font and pulpit set into one of the pillars.

Where's Joan?

Here she is placed on the altar of another lady as if as an afterthought!

At the base of her statue is the word 'reconnaissance' - is this perhaps referring to her late acknowledgement as a saint?

If  you choose to take this route you should take a look.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Flower power in the Loire Valley...

Le Grand Pressigny is hosting this year's 'Comice Agricole' (agricultural show) - an event that brings together the villages of the 'canton Grand Pressigny' - Barrou, Betz -le-Château, La Celle-Guenand, Ferrière-Larçon, Le Grand Pressigny, La Guerche, Paulmy, Le Petit-Pressigny and Saint-Flovier. The ladies (and some men) of the village are currently busy making 8000 paper flowers for the garlands that will adorn the village for the spectacle.

The theme for this year's event is the 'forests of Touraine' and it will take place over the weekend of the 16th & 17th August. It culminates on the Sunday afternoon and evening with a procession of floats, majorettes and marching bands then evening entertainment during dinner and finally a fireworks display.

These pictures and video below are from the last time they held it in Le Grand Pressigny, back in 2008


We took them from the 'Jullet' balcony of 'Les Balcons'

Friday, 27 June 2014

On yer bike...

If you are a cyclist then this weekend you want to be around Saumur as not only is there the 'La Fête du Vélo en Anjou' - a weekend when, according to the local tourist board, 20,000 cyclists (and roller bladers!) pedal (and skate) their way along 120 km of 'reserved' roads on both banks of the river Loire between Montsoreau and Bouchemaine - but also the annual 'Anjou Vélo Vintage' in Saumur itself.

(Credit: Coralie Pilard)
The Saumur event promises a nostalgic look at the bicycle up until 1985 (don't know what happened after that) along with all things retro. Last year we popped over just after the event to see what they had been up to...we are not cyclists but it looked as if the town really gets behind the event in a big way..

Thursday, 26 June 2014

View over Barrou...

Took this with the setting sun behind me, that's Lesigny in the background, looking surprisingly close...but then I suppose it is!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

La Roche Posay brocante...

Visited the brocante on Sunday at La Roche Posay...bit boring with stuff we've seen many times before but it was a lovely sunny morning so the short walk around was pleasant enough. 

This would be a really handy thing to have (not) but my budget wouldn't stretch to this!

Away the 'reds'

When taking this shot of colour just off the D31 spotted a lone splash of red...

...isn't this the away supporters end then?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Another 'Taken in Touraine...but where?

At the drop of a hat...

Enjoyed Friday night's soiree at the restaurant here in Barrou. Willie and Sandra had brought back 'No Lies' for their second show here in the village  Willie presented me with a present...the chance to sing with the band...

here am I giving it the 'Michael Stipe' stance for the chorus of Toto's 'Hold the line'

Then they asked me up to join them for the Kink's 'You really got me' - great fun -lovely people.

Here is a video clip of them doing Alanis Morissette's - Ironic

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A day to myself...

Yesterday was the first day since Pauline went over to her mum's (it will be 3 weeks on Tuesday) that I could do something by choice rather than necessity. It was a good feeling but my choices were not very exiting - morning coffee with my friend and neighbour David then tidied up our own house as have been living like 'single bloke' as after cleaning other houses is difficult to find the motivation to do your own place - that and being tired after heavy manual work, I am getting on a bit! Did a washing and hung it out and then went into Chatellerault for my weekly shopping. Treated myself to a pair of old people's trainers from 'Decathlon' helpful assistant wanted me to buy colourful jazzy pair but I explained that I was nearly 60 and didn't think them appropriate, he assured me that old men in France wear them...must look out for them. Did a bit of weeding in the garden and then its off out to the music night in the bar. Exiting day or what...choices eh!

The 'Day to myself'' reminded me of a lovely song of the same name by Clifford T. Ward. The song is also rather poignant being so close to the events at Normandy recently.

I maybe should not admit this but 'Home thoughts from abroad' by him was the first album I ever bought and his song of the same name remains one of my all-time favourites.

Friday, 20 June 2014

'Fete de la Musique'

Free music where you are in the Loire Valley

Saturday 21st of June is the 'Fete de la Musique', the annual music festival here in France where musicians are asked to provide free live music in a variety of venues. The tradition inaugurated by the then French Minister of Culture in Paris in 1982 continues to reinvent itself with free concerts with everything from hunting horns in the private gardens of the prefecture in Tours to a free afternoon and evening of music in Azay-le-Rideau

Check your local tourist office for what is on near you. or check out whats on in your department here

Our weekend of music actually starts tonight at the bar here in Barrou with live music from 'No Lies' a  very good group Willie and Sandra brought over from Nantes last year and who are returning tonight.

 Check out what's on locally here: 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Changeovers and moving mountains....

Put in 8 hour shift yesterday at Les Balcons - 'changeover' - previous guests left before 8.00 am so good early start. They left it in good condition but still needed the time to do it on my own - don't you think bed-making is so much easier with two people?.

Another one at 'Le Bourg' tomorrow - this is what the courtyard there looked like on Monday had a bit more than general cleaning and preparation to do - you should have seen the back terrace!!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Expect the unexpected...

Went along to Yzeures-sur-Creuse on Saturday night with friend Cally to listen to 30 members of the Symphony Orchestra of the region giving us a programme that included (thankfully) some Mozart among others. Made me want to revisit 'Amadeus' but unfortunately its in our rental house!

Here is a small sample of what we had the pleasure of listening to.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sunday market, plus...

As well as the normal very good Sunday market at Descartes there is also a brocante - so you can make a day of it! Sadly I'll be working. There are also brocantes at Betz-le-Chateau and Abilly (Jam Festival)

It's the little things...

It is 'Father's Day' today back in the UK - I would not even have known but for this card received from my son Paul, who is so thoughtful when it comes to things like this (actually on many levels). I have never been 'big' on the hijacking of 'Mother's Day' (they deserve it) for fathers but would have to say that this hit the spot when it popped in my mailbox on Saturday. Michael and Mark are lovely too but not so great when it comes to card sending!

Friday, 13 June 2014

It's amazing what you can cram into a day...

On Thursday I was invited to join friends Cally, Dave and Jane for lunch at one of our favourite spots -  'Auberge du Vieux Port' in Maire. Cally had kindly offered to pick me up around 12.00.

Because of this I changed my work schedule so as in the morning rather than continue with my current project where I normally end rather 'hot and bothered' and a little dirty I decided to do my weekly grocery shopping (I also needed more cement) Before this however I harvested some more strawberries and some cherries to take to our current guests at 'Les Balcons'. This allowed me to check that they had settled in and answer any questions they might have. It also meant a cup of coffee and a pleasant chat with our guests who are, as it happens are frequent visitors to the Loire Valley. It also meant I had used up a little more time than I had planned...

So back to Barrou to change cars as had to take my trailer on my shopping trip (remember the cement). This entails dragging the trailer out of the drive onto Grande Rue and going  to fetch the trusty (?) Honda from the car park up the road, then I was on my way...clock ticking.

Shopping at Intermarche at  Yzeures-sur-Creuse, as usual not enough cashiers for number of customers - joined queue of four. Lady behind me had a plant plus one other item so I let her go before me, big mistake, price for plant scanned differently from marked price...took a bit of sorting out, telephoning, then back to where she bought it...but hey ho its only time! ...clock ticking.

Then to Bricomarche for the cement - straightforward enough - not. I'm sure many of you know the procedure, you go to the back of the store ,place your order,get a ticket ,pay at cash desk then go around the side to collect your goods. Unfortunately the chap before me was buying something from the current list of 'special offers' problem was they didn't have any left - he was demanding it  today as his leaflet said that the offer was still on and he wanted it. Listening to the conversation as best I could ,which was in French, I thought the assistant was handling it pretty well and trying to stay as cool as possible explaining he would love to give him the item today but there were none left - he could make an order and he would still get the 'offer' price but would have to come back.Now I've been that customer and it can be very frustrating but at the end of the day if they don't have any - they don't have any. He eventually agreed and was given the option to pay for it now at the offer price and collect it when it arrived - he was given a chit to pay at the desk. I then bought the cement but and headed for the cash desk in he certain knowledge that the 'man' would be in front of me as there was only one cashier. Sure enough there he was voicing his displeasure and making sure that although he wasn't actually getting it today he was getting the offer price. Two pone calls were necessary to sort whatever the problem was, out...clock ticking.

Eventually got round the side to collect my cement but had to wait as the guys there loaded 12 lengths of wood on to their delivery truck...did they not know I was in a hurry? - of course the didn't - but wouldn't it have been the proper procedure to see to the man standing under the warm sun who's order would only take a few minutes to satisfy rather than load up the van that certainly wasn't leaving anytime soon. I then headed back to Barrou,unloaded the shopping and picked up some blocks I needed from the house to take to the 'project' along with the cement. Only had time to abandon the trailer in the drive and head back down for second shower of the day. As it happens I made it with a few minutes to spare...oh and did I say I also hung out the washing!  

 At lunch we were also joined by Calley's charming friends from Paris, Stephane and Judith who I'm sure enjoyed the 'experience'. After dropping me off they were heading off to visit the chateau at Azay-le-Rideau.

I on the other-hand went back to my concreting for the afternoon before heading back down the road in time for aperos with David and Karen. We then did a collaborative dinner with both parties literally bringing something to the table. Lovely night sitting putting the world to right. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Trick of the light...

The setting sun seemed to add something to our cherries...or maybe it was just the wine my friend and neighbour David was serving on his  terrace.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Going solo...

Welcomed new guests at 'Le Balcons' yesterday after first solo changeover since Pauline left for much easier as a 'team'...think I passed muster.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Berry good harvest...

This is what I collected from our strawberry patch on Sunday morning....they just keep coming!

Monday, 9 June 2014

A weekend of music...

Went along on Saturday night  with friends to listen to 'Siansa' a band from the UK who have been playing traditional Irish music for many years - but since guitarist Dave’s forays into France have had less opportunities to get together. Dave fixed this by organising  some gigs locally here in Southern Touraine.

It was a very good turn out and both French and English enjoyed the music on the terrace

Yesterday afternoon Dave and Jane organised an afternoon of entertainment at their lovely property just outside the village with friends and neighbours. The band were joined for a few numbers by  keyboards and double base part of  Dave's current musical project here in France. They even aloud me to sing!

It was good to see our friend Cally back behind her double base.

Below is a small sample of the music provided by this talented group - who were also, as it turns out, a nice bunch of people.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Church on Sunday...St. John the Baptist,Chenonceaux

This Sunday we bring you the parish church of St. John the Baptist in the small village of Chenonceaux (with the 'x') which is rather overshadowed by its neighbour. The view above is from the carpark of the adjacent hotel - and is probably the best way to appreciate its Romanesque 12th century origins

The front elevation is rather undistinguished but  inside  breaths of authenticity...well 16th century authenticity - when the church had a complete makeover;

You can see a little more detail here...