Les poissons en France

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Seeding the Future

Autumn is fast approaching and the squirrel has been busy for the past couple of weeks 'squirrelling away' his walnuts.  We've had two days of rain but the forecast is for at least 12 days of warm weather and no rain so the Head Gardener decided that it was a good moment to re-seed the courtyard lawns.  A simple job of an hour or so .... (I fell for that one!)

Sue cast the grass seed and then began to cover it with compost and

 and I prepared the compost.

  My job involved filling up wheelbarrows with a mixture of proprietary compost and compost collected from the local recycling depot.

 However, when the Head Gardener's back needed resting, I had to take over all aspects of the operation.
Comme d'hab!

So, a good job done, even though it took longer than I anticipated (and it wasn't on my list!)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Roll On!

Yesterday started cool but clear and so, after nipping down to the Friday market, I had to set Sue up to paint the shelves destined for the office.

As usual we had a 'discussion' on the best way to do the job and the standard required, much to the amusement of our neighbours who were out on their terrace having their lunch by the time we got going!

A second coat will be required but it's raining today so I will have to work indoors; I'll have to organise some lighting!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Another Art Exhibition

Throughout the summer villages in our region (and all over France ) stage amateur and professional art exhibitions. John scours the local media and we make as many pilgrimages as we can. It is our experience that the number one prerequsite for hosting  a show is that the venue must be in the remotest location possible. Today was no exception. We toured the countryside following little lanes and tracks and of course making guesses when we came to junctions where the signs had run out.   But was it worth it! We eventually found ourselves driving for about half a kilometre between recently constructed stone walls up to the most magnificent gated entrance to The Manoir du Rouergou. However the gates were firmly closed, even though it was within the advertised opening hours. Not to be detered I pressed the intercom and the electric gates opened and we were admitted. We were overawed by the magnificence of the buildings and gardens as we walked up the drive to be greeted by madam La Proprietere. She was charming and didn't seem to mind that we were interupting her gardening. We were the only visitors that day so she had to open up the barn. It was "la piece de resistance"; enormous (125 metres long) with incredible beams.

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 It made us so want to renovate our loft (bedroom 5). However we have developed our strategy; we will buy a weekly lottery ticket!!

Now for the art work. The artist Fred Bourgignon , now deceased, did not seek fame and publicity but to us his work was wonderful. Lots of abstract paintings in oils with multiple layers of paint worked together with a palate knife. Loads of inspiration for John who already hasn't got enough hours in the day.

If you are interested I recommend that you have a look at their website www.rouergou.com.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

La Patrimoine

Since 1984 this weekend has been celebrated as a Heritage weekend.  Lots of museums, art galleries, chateaux, buildings both public and private are open free to the public and special events are put on.  This weekend is now designated as the days of European Heritage.

Yesterday we went to the hilltop town (a Bastide) at Domme on the Dordogne.  Having decided to make a day of it, we arrived there about lunchtime and so started off with lunch.  We didn't make a brilliant choice; a bit touristy but adequate.  We then wandered about the town, which unfortunately included a visit to a jewellers.  We have seen his work before and have been very impressed by his style.  So much so that an anniversary present (belated) was bought.

This is an example of his work; not the piece we bought as this was out of our price range!

Later in the afternoon we commenced an organised guided tour which included 4 'hidden' gardens; private gardens which are not normally open to the public.  Our guides were two ladies who must have been amateur dramatics actresses as they were dressed somewhat idiosyncratically and 'performed' their roles amusingly.

The first garden we went to had three musicians who performed North African music.

After a 20 minute performance, the large group proceeded to the second garden.  This was in the family home of a deceased sculptress and examples of her work were on display in the garden.

But, we were then also entertained by a Japanese gentleman playing the accordian.

As it was now getting hot and Sue was beginning to feel tired, we dropped out of the rest of the tour and so missed seeing what musical delights lay in store in the other two gardens!  We reflected that this respect for heritage and culture is very strong in the lives of all French people.  There seemed to be no disgruntleness at listening to 'foreigners' performing in rural France.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back to Normal?

So, summer is over and and our social diary has gone quiet.  Life can now return to normal (what's that?) and I'm ready to carry on working on the house.  Trouble is, I'm juggling a number of jobs which are nearly finished.  Our first 'guest' bedroom has about a week's work left for it to be finished; the office has about a week's worth of work to finish!  And once these rooms are done, we can put lots of things away, allowing us to carry out a major tidy up.

Today I grouted the floor in the office so that I'll be able to put up shelves for books and CD's

Once I clean up the tiles, I can continue with the 'juggling act'.

In the course of grouting and washing the tiles I was tippimg water onto the road outside.  It was sunny and warm, although breezy, and I realised that the water on the road was attracting a swarm of small, bright blue butterflies (Common Blue)

I tried to take some photos of them but every time they landed on the ground they had their wings shut and there's no blue showing!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Time Flies when you're having Fun

So, where did those 45 years go???

Yesterday was our 45th Wedding Anniversary and, although we didn't want to broadcast it, we decided to use the opportunity to thank all of our friends who helped look after Sue when I had to spend time at my 'bootcamp' and all of the girls from the hospital who looked after Sue whilst she was bed-ridden at home.  It was a year since Sue first went into hospital and, by coincidence, it was also 6 years since we came to live in France. As you can see from the card above we didn't manage to keep it secret from everyone!

Sue and I didn't have much time to prepare for the 'do' as we only got back from Bilbao on Thursday evening and then we had to go shopping on Friday, which left Saturday and Sunday for cooking!
However, with a little help from JJ and Nadine we were just about ready when the first of our guests arrived.
After a few glasses of wine Sue gave a speech in English and French to explain all of the reasons for us wanting to celebrate!

I remembered to take a photo of the savouries before they all went, and of course, the puds drew lots of ooh ahh's.

The weather was kind for us and we were able to be outside all evening.

A memorable evening!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Footsore in Bilbao

We returned to Bilbao this week after 5 years!  The reason for going was to catch the David Hockney exhibition which was at the RA in London in the spring; it transferred to the Guggenheim Museum and is on till the end of September.  Bilbao is a 6 hour drive for us but, once again (and even with GPS this time) we seemed to drive around the city centre for an hour when we got there.  This was our own fault because, going through the city to our hotel, we realised that a) it was going to be much too far away from the museum for Sue to be able to walk, and b) the area we were driving through looked like the patch for drug dealers and prostitutes!!!  We fortunately found another hotel near to the museum and, totally by chance it was the same hotel which we stayed in 5 years ago.  We didn't begin to remember it until I was walking in to the reception.  The episode has made us realise that, in future we will need to be within close walking distance of the 'attractions' and the hotel will need to have it's own parking facilities.  (Barcelona in the spring?)

We both thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition; we had a number of stimulating discusions about it over a glass of wine, and we have returned home full of enthusiasm to press on with finishing the house in our 'minimalist' style and press on with developing my own amateurish painting efforts.

So much to do and not enough time to do it all!!!!!

Amongst the exhibits at the Guggenheim we saw one or two interesting items ....

.....I might have got these mixed up??

One result of us finding the same hotel was that we went back to the restaurant we used on our previous visit.  We chose an all inclusive menu which looked good value because, as we thought, there was an amount of sharing of courses.  However, the starter came and was a small portion of Foie-gras between the two of us.  We thought it a bit strange but .... once we'd finished it we were served with a large plate of salad consisting of grated cheese and Serrano ham ... followed, when we'd finished the salad, with a bowl of calamares with mushrooms and asparagus!  Here ended the starters!!!  As you can imagine we both felt as if we were ready for puddings.
Our main course arrived without any more suprises although we were struggling to get through the bottle of wine between the two of us.  And so on to the dessert and two glasses of lemon sorbet were placed on the table which we thought was ideal after such a large meal.  Therefore, you can imagine our discomfort when a further plate was produced which contained one large portion of chocolat gateau covered in rich gooey chocolate sauce, 3 profiteroles with a portion of ice cream, a portion of caramel sponge layered with mousse and finally a different flavour of ice cream served on slices of Kiwi.  We staggered home!
However, to show you how really stupid we are, we decided to eat in the hotel the next evening.  But, when the time came to go to the restaurant in the hotel, we found that it was shut.  So, what did we do?  Yes, back to our 'favourite' restaurant again.  I still can't believe that we subjected ourselves to that punishment again, although we did cry off of the plate of gateaux (yes, even Sue who is reknown for her sweet tooth).

We are now back to a healthy diet and sensible portions!!!