Les poissons en France

Friday, October 19, 2018

The End of Summer?

Our neighbours are packing up to go back to Paris for the winter and, as a 'thank you' for their help in looking after Cleo when we went away, we took then to the catering college in Souillac for a meal last night.
(Click on the photos to see a larger view of the menu)

It was a special meal around fish; a starter of a bisque of langoustines followed by a medallion of lobster in a vanilla vinaigrette.  That makes it sound too simple, the sauce/broth was out of this world. Who would ever think of marrying lobster with vanilla, but it worked. After the initial bisque we were invited to choose our preferred fish for the main course from the fresh display on the 'fisherman's stall'; tuna, sole, bream or sea bass. John and I could not resist the metre long loin of tuna. The meal was finished with a dessert showing an array of pastry skills.  Everything about the evening was extremely good and was a fitting way to say goodbye to summer.

Meanwhile, back home, work on the replacement for the Box hedge is continuing ...
... and Sue is plodding on with cutting back, dividing and moving plants in the Serpentine bed.
The weather will eventually change but the sun and temperatures in the mid twenties continue!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Clearance continues

The work on the 'old' hedge is progressing (around our normal socialising!).  I've cleared the stones edging the path, raked and moved off the gravel on it and now I've been cutting down the 'stumps' to remove any evidence of the box which formed the hedge.
 Some of the trunks were massive as Nadine says the hedge has always been there (so at least 70 years old!).  As you can see the box is starting to regrow.  It was attacked by the Box Caterpillar which eats the leaves, so there's every likelihood that the same thing will happen again next year, but even if it escapes this pest, we don't have enough time to wait for it to became a proper hedge again!!!

PS What did we do before chainsaws?

Monday, October 08, 2018

One thing leads to another.

Work on the removal and replacement of the box hedge is progressing.  However, the Garden Architect has decreed that the path which ran alongside it has to come out, and this has meant taking up the stone edging which we put in some 10 years ago.
I don't know what we were thinking but we could have built a wall on the bed of concrete under the stones!!!  Once I've removed the rubble I will cut off the remaining stumps level with the ground and then prepare the 'path' for seeding with grass.
I'm told that the planting scheme is still under review.

Meanwhile the Winter Pansies have gone in.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Just nipping to the shops

We only went for  a little saucer to go under a pot !!!!
 Look what Sue found in the cheapy dead and dying section ... prices ranging fro 1 to 3 euros.  She was like a kid in a sweet shop!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Guy and Lucy

We were delighted on Tuesday when Guy (our son) and Lucy (his Taiwanese girlfriend) Skyped to tell us that they had got engaged. Guy had arranged a trip to Hong Kong for Lucy's birthday which coincided with a rock festival/party which went on for days. Guy wanted the DJ to announce the engagement, but he said "sorry mate, there's already 7 in front of you"!! It must have been quite a "Love In"!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tour Guides

Having spent time in Edinburgh as tourists, it was our turn to be the guides for our friends Paul and Jennifer this past week.  
The more times people come, the more difficult it is to think of new attractions but we were able to find new places to go, one being the museum of Jean Lurçat about an hour away.  Lurçat was an artist of the 20's and 30's who gradually devoted his time to Tapestries.  I had previously been a little skeptical about the idea of this, but going to the museum/workshop and seeing them in vivid colour was a revelation.
See the source image
 Lurçat expressed his beliefs in his work; he was a pacifist (although he worked with the Resistance during the war) who had great hope for the future of society.

Another highlight in the week was a walk along the river Lot, passing along the towpath carved into the cliff face (Chemin de Halage) between Bouziès and St Cirq Lapopie.
A section of the path which was carved out has been decorated by a sculptor ...
... and when we got to this section, the man himself was working on a further part of the 'wall'
I doubt that he would have been allowed to work like this in the UK with the public walking past and chatting to the artist!

Well that's the entertaining and being entertained over for this year.  Back to the garden now.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Edinburgh and Beyond

Sunday 9th September we flew from Toulouse to spend time with our friends Ray and Fay who live in Edinburgh, to be joined by Bob and Jenny from Birmingham.  Leaving home in the mid-30's, we took vests and jumpers to cope with Scotland's temperatures of 15 or 16 !

Ray is very knowledgeable about Edinburgh and so we benefited from a detailed personal tour of the city centre, its buildings and their history.
The next day was the Botanics (the Royal Botanic Gardens), and Wednesday Sue and I went to the Museum of Modern Art.

Thursday we went to a 'conceptual' garden/art installation called Little Sparta which contains sculptural works, philosophical inscriptions and land art; the work of the Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay.  When we arrived at the car park it was raining and, as we had to walk about a mile to the entrance, we waited ... until we convinced ourselves that it was easing off.  The walk up to the garden was 'interesting' as the track led us up through a herd of cattle with a bull (at least that's what Sue maintains) and she was very uncomfortable (scared).  Once in the garden we waited in a conservatory of Hamilton Finlay's house waiting for the 'easing off' to materialise.  A bleak site.

In the evening, Ray had booked a walking tour of the 'Hidden Gardens of Edinburgh'.  This was an evening tour of the private gardens (which are small parks) set in the middle of some of the large Georgian terraces in the centre of the town.
Fortunately it had stopped raining and we visited about 5 gardens in all, some with a 'municipal garden' style and others given a naturalistic 'wilderness' treatment.  The tour ended in the dark in one of the gardens with a glass of bubbles ... very civilised!

On our final day with Ray and Fay we drove about an hour north to Pond Cottage, a house which started as a ruin with 10 acres of woodland and which, over the years, they have converted into a comfortable home.  Sue was particularly keen to go to see this.
(Sue says that this photo doesn't do justice to the cottage, actually a 4 bedroom bungalow)
A view in their wood.
The pond, which is quite large.

On Saturday we turned our backs on civilisation and drove up to the West Highland Peninsulars to Strontian, near Fort William.  We drove North-west, through Glencoe, on twisty, narrowing roads, over a ferry and on to see my cousin Sue and her husband John (no really, another Sue and John!) who had moved there about 3 years ago.  We stayed in a 5 star B&B, but the weather was foul; it struggled to get up to 12 deg. the wind blew and it rained sideways.
The countryside has a bleak grandeur but the weather meant that the wildlife (deer, otters, eagles etc,) sensibly stayed at home.
With no animals to see, we decided to drive to Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly on the British mainland.  Unfortunately, the weather didn't improve!
Having seen the grey sea and the grey sky we started our journey back to the B&B which proved eventful.  As the roads there are all single track with passing places, when we came upon a Fuel tanker delivering domestic fuel oil we calmly turned the engine off and waited ... about 10-15 minutes. Once this was sorted we carried on and then decided to stop at a Wildlife Park.  Upon getting out of the car, neither of us had my bag ... with all of our money, credit cards, phone etc.  We (not just me you realise) must have left it on a chair in the cafe next to the lighthouse!
We retraced our steps (at least 45 minutes) driving slightly faster around the twisty narrow roads than in the morning, fearing the worst but trying to reassure ourselves that people who would make the effort to go all the way to this Point would be the 'right' type. And our luck was in.  The bag was sitting behind the counter waiting for us.

Tuesday morning we were to drive back to Edinburgh for our flight home at 7am Wednesday.  As we had plenty of time (the car was due back at 4pm) we decided to stop at Glencoe visitors centre.  The weather had become calm but very misty, but it gave us some great views of the mountains.
We left the visitors centre to continue the journey to Edinburgh and fine for time until ... between Callendar and Stirling we hit a traffic jam, and the kind drivers heading in the opposite direction were telling us "There's a tree down blocking the road.  You'll have to turn round" (Scottish accent needed here). A quick 3 point turn and we were following a little tour bus which seemed to know the way.  We, and lots of other cars turned down tiny little lanes, churning up the verges when cars were coming the other way, until our tour bus met a service bus.  There was much discussing between the two drivers as to the width of the lane, the width of their buses and the state of the verges.  After about 10 minutes, a lady (fairly stout, possibly Glaswegian) jumped out of her car, went up to the drivers and proceeded to take control.  She got one bus to back up to a wider section of the lane, and then told the other bus driver that he could now get a bus through the gap.  It worked!  We were only 15 minutes late getting the car back.

After all the excitement of our return to Edinburgh, taking the car back and finding our overnight hotel, we decided the simplest thing to do was to make up an M&S takeway which we ate in our room before retiring early to bed ready for our alarm clock sounding at 4am!!!!
It was certainly good to get back home to continuing temperatures of 30 deg. and to start the course of antibiotics for the flu that we have come home with.