Les poissons en France

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Forth Bridge....

Start all over again..... you know the tune.

Our bedroom has needed redecorating since I was ill and it was bashed about by hoists, zimmers etc. We have taken a while getting round to doing it but work began today. Well actually we started to fill in cracks etc. in November but Festivities got in the way.

Cleo was not too impressed with the disturbance but refused to relinquish her bed.
Yes we know we have not finished bedroom three yet but we intended our bedroom to be a quick lick of paint. But oh no, watch this space.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Playing with the Pressies

We've spent today 'playing' with the gifts Guy and Tara sent us.
Firstly I set up mine as it was easy.
As you can see we can now have a continuous show of photos, although Sue is worried that I will only show some of my 'arty' photos!
Then, this evening we embarked on the Italian experience.  They have given Sue a pasta machine, which is coincidental as she hadn't long regretted throwing my father's one away!
It developed into a two-handed operation as it soon needed both of us to control the pasta as well as turn the handle.
So, tonight's dinner was :-
Ravioli stuffed with fresh Tuna and ricotta cheese served on a bed of Provencal vegetables.
Sue says that if you visit us in 2015, you will get pasta!

ps reservations for tables are advisable

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Getting in the Spirit

Now that we're feeling Christmassy after the 'concert', we went off to the Truffle market at Lalbenque, just outside Cahors.  
This market is held every Tuesday afternoon from the beginning of December till March...
...but, of course, this one, just before Christmas, attracts lots of people; curious spectators like us, families intent on buying truffles for a very special Christmas meal as well as professionals and suppliers.
There was even a group of some 5 Japanese/koreans being shown the market.  This excited some of the truffle people who were trying to press business cards into their hands!
And this is what all the fuss is about.
We arrived just after 2 o'clock and the street was already heaving with people.  The truffle sellers lined one side of the road with their produce on trestles in front of them, with the public kept at bay behind a rope.
Potential buyers were offered the baskets to smell and then replaced on view.
And then the moment arrived; half past two , the bell rang, and the rope dropped.
Whispered negotiations took place, prices were agreed and folded notes hurriedly exchanged hands.
Within minutes everything was done and dusted and we were left with memories of rural France and the ways things have always been done ... and no doubt will continue!

We loved seeing the 'old boys' creep out of their barns to come to this weekly ritual.

But the day was not over yet!

I had seen that our nearest town, Gourdon, was having a Firework display in the evening.  So, as it was free, we decided to go, albeit with no great expectations.  We arrived at the Place in front of the Post Office and saw that it had been set up with 'disco' lights and 'Dance' music was playing (not ballroom!).  
We bounced around to the music whilst we were waiting for it to start as the temperature had fallen to zero by then.  Then the display began; lots of laser lights and one static firework!  At this point I feared that my suspicions were correct. But, the performance got better and better. The laser display, bursts of real flames and then rockets and aerial displays were great.
The entertainment finished in a blaze of glory and then Father Christmas arrived, to the delight of all the young children who were invited to go and get a kiss from him.
So, the end of a lovely day, and we went home for our mulled wine!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Seasonal Soiree

Imagine the setting, an old French farmhouse, a blazing log fire, a grand piano in the corner, the minstrel's gallery amongst the beams above and seasonal decorations all around. That is what greeted us when we arrived at our friends Sue and Mark's house last evening. They are a couple like us with many diverse interests but in particular they are musical. They both play the cello, sing in a choir and Sue has singing lessons.

The seasonal scene was soon populated by an international gathering of their friends who were either performing or audience. We were neither, we were staff, helping to serve drinks and lovely food which punctuated the evening. We were treated to carols in French, Dutch and English, serious peaces from Sue's Dutch singing teacher assisted by various pupils some of whom gave us some more light hearted performances. The evening culminated with a recital by two brothers who play the violin and cello in the orchestra with Sue and Mark. They are both very young men but very accomplished.

Call us old fashioned romantics if you like but we love these sort of evenings where people participate and don't just observe.

Sorry no photos, we forgot our camera and the "official" photographer complained that the mood lighting was insufficient for her to take reasonable photos with her phone!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

What a beautiful day to wake up to. Yes it was a white frost and the deer were busy eating my wallflowers but what the heck. Its been grey and soggy recently and we've had to make do with socialising and pursuing hobbies. John has been painting and writing poetry and I have been designing and studying plant and seed web sites.

In view of today's glorious weather we went out into the front garden to mark and try out one of my  current schemes. Whilst the labourer is normally very acquiescent to my ideas I know that I must make adequate provision for him to be able to get round with the mower - one of his many foibles!! After much debate we think we have achieved a design that we are both happy with. Now I just have to decide what to put in the beds. Oh decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter is Here

You will be pleased to see that winter is here at last and consequently we will stop going on about how wonderful the weather is. We know its winter because everywhere is white and we see the deer in the garden. I looked up from my breakfast yesterday morning to see one in the middle of the rose bed and this morning, Mum and her growing twins were in the back field. They were there for a long time but we were not organised to take photos. No doubt you will see the photos if "the photographer" manages to take some in the future. Meantime I sent him out into the garden to capture the essence of winter on the plants - it was too cold for me!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Culture Break

Last weekend we went back to the UK to see old 'Aunty' Betty who is 91 and has some heart problems.  The journey didn't start too well as, on the way to the airport, we clipped a deer which ran across the road in front of us ....damage to the front 'bumper' (estimate some 600+ euros!).  We were able to continue and so we braved Stansted Airport and the M25 to go and see her.  She was very pleased to see us but the trip made us realise that we've grown comfortable in our home here in rural France and we struggle a little with the constant traffic.  However it does us good to broaden our horizons and we enjoy the opportunity to experience the buzz of a big city.

So we went up to the City on Saturday and went to a few exhibitions.
We started in a small gallery to see the works of Kurt Jackson, who is considered to be one of Britain's leading contemporary landscape painters.  He is a bit of a renaissance man; a painter, a poet, and very concerned with the environment and the natural world.
We then popped around the corner to the Royal Academy for an exhibition of Anselm Kiefer, a German painter who works on a monumental scale, but very dark!  His work deals with History, the futility of the human race, alchemy and the German psyche.
We revived our spirits with an Italian meal before braving the National Portrait gallery to see the exhibition by Grayson Perry tied in with the series he did on the tele, exploring the construct of identity.  I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed by his pieces, and if we hadn't seen the tv programs, they would not have meant much.  However, the gallery seemed packed with people wanting to find and see his pieces.  It all left us wondering how many of them would have gone to the gallery if his work had not been on show there .... the workings of the cult of celebrity?  But, if they were there as a result of him, at least he got them through the doors!

Our return journey home proved to be astonishingly easy.  Not knowing how much time to allow on the M25, we met almost no traffic and hence arrived at the airport early, no problems going through Security (in fact they were all very helpful) and we enjoyed an excellent coffee and croissant in an airport-side Wetherspoons which employed cheerful, helpful and efficient staff.

But now it is back to the grindstone.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Another Sad Day

Unfortunately we had to have our beloved white cat Diana put to sleep this morning. She has been a part of our lives for over 17 years. However, she has been declining for some months and deteriorated rapidly over the weekend. The vet basically told us that all her organs were failing so we knew we were doing the right thing.