Les poissons en France

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Souillac DeLuxe

I'm obliged to tell you about an astonishing meal last night at our local Catering college.  I had seen it advertised as a an evening with the 'Grand Chefs'.
And what a meal!  Even our french neighbours who came with us said it was the best meal they had  ever had.

The students at the college were working with a chef from the Westin Paris and the Michelin starred chef plus his patissier chef from a local restaurant.  Also the bread was made by the 'Best artisan' in France.  So, a taster of poached Foie gras in a bouillon, Langoustine with a chorizo vinaigrette and avocado, Lamb on a carrot 'gelée', cheese, a cheesecake pre-dessert, and a fabulous tarte au poire.  And all of this, with 3 glasses of different wines for 30 euros a head in a sleepy small town in the Lot.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Homes and Gardens next??

About a year ago the organiser of "Open Gardens" wrote to me to explain that a magazine called French Entree, which is aimed at Brits moving to France, wanted to include articles about individual gardens, and asked whether I would like to be considered. Feeling a bit flattered I agreed and in due course answered a number of questions from the editor, from which he would construct an article. I heard no more and assumed our garden was not deemed suitable. However last week I had a phone call from a friend who said that a friend of hers had seen an article about our garden in a magazine. Both John and I did not know what she was talking about until we eventually remembered the French Entree inquiry.
Should you wish to see our five and half seconds of dubious fame go to https://www.frenchentree.com/living-in-france/real-life-stories/my-french-garden-in-the-lot/

Furthermore we have already had two inquiries from garden clubs requesting visits and guess what they would like lunch. Do you remember me saying last year that we were absolutely not doing anymore catering.......well.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The End of the End

You may think we have not been doing much since Christmas as we have not written any new posts until recently. Well far from it, John has been beavering away in the last bedroom. I was determined not to mention it until it was finished – well almost. We were reviewing the blog at the end of 2016 and I was ashamed to read that we were working on the bedroom in January and February last year but didn’t do much after that.

The bed heads are on order and I have commissioned three square pictures to go on the wall above the beds although I have yet to agree with the artist what they are to be, at present our ideas are worlds apart. Then all that we have left to do is buy and fit the wardrobe. However the package will not fit into our little car. Our “next project” has passed the design stage and we need to hire a van to collect the materials for it, so we will collect the wardrobe at the same time. All will be revealed in due course but I expect you will think it is another of our crazy ideas!

After ten years we could now say that we have completed the renovation of our house but it is like the proverbial Forth Bridge, time to start again.

Monday, February 20, 2017


Now I know that this subject rouses many of you. However I would urge those experts among you to read no further as this is the story of how not to create that magical substance.

As the gardening season is now getting well into its stride I asked John to help me remove the top layers of our three compost heaps so that I could harvest the wonderful material at the bottom. We began by dismantling the very large heap at the end of the front garden. I had visions of it yielding enormous quantities of compost as it was huge and had been in place for more than two years. I was convinced that we would find hibernating snakes in its interior but as we delved deeper it was evident that nothing could live in the desiccated environment, not even a bacterium let alone a snake. My experience of compost heaps in the UK was that if you abandoned a heap of garden rubbish for about two years it would turn into compost. I am quite aware that the perceived wisdom is to chop the vegetation into small pieces then layer it like a lasagne and turn it regularly. I have never had the patience nor energy to follow this regime, as I had always had success with the leave it to its own devices system. However this obviously doesn't work here. I blamed the lack of decomposition on the last two years of drought. Eventually we ended up with a huge pile of very dry material and about ten barrow loads of reasonable compost which I put round some of the roses. I could see that John blamed the whole fiasco on me, but he didn't say too much.
We then moved to the far end of the allee to attack the two bins there. I am sorry to have to say that it was a similar story. However this time I had a real ear bashing. How did I expect woody material two foot long to break down etc.etc.
 I was then subjected to a master class in compost heap building and advised that in future I should make a heap adjacent to the bins and he would do the rest.
Fine, I could certainly not be bothered to chop the material having gathered it, then struggle for a couple of hundred yards to get it to the disposal point. A hectare of land produces an awful lot of green material and I know my limitations.
However you will notice that there is another ten barrow loads of the good stuff to move tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2017


There's nothing like a happy gardener working in the Spring sunshine!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Spring watch

We're not shouting yet but ... it seems like Spring.  Yesterday we awoke to a lovely morning, clear blue sky, sun rising over the hills and, of course, birds singing loudly!

Sue and I went for a walk around the garden and were thrilled to see the start of the Spring flowers.
The first of 'Aunty Pauline's' Irises
We have a small group of snowdrops under the trees in front of the house and they are well in bloom.
At the other end of the bank we saw the first daffodil.
As we went down the side of the house to investigate the back field, we were bombarded by our bees who live in the wall of the house; they were going frantic in the sunshine!
In the Autumn we had planted more crocuses and suddenly we have a good display along the first part of the bank behind the 'Long' bed.
Finally, there was encouraging evidence of the show of daffodils we should have along the 'allée' from the bulbs we planted in the Autumn.
Isn't life so much better with some sun and a bit of colour?!

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Paris Deluxe

We've just returned from spending a couple of days with our neighbours who spend the winter in Paris.  We had especially wanted to see the Louis Vuitton Museum designed by Frank Gehry.  He designed it to resemble a glass cloud floating in the trees of the Bois de Boulogne.
This is the image we had seen on all of the publicity and, having been to his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, we were looking forward to this visit.

But we were sadly disappointed!
A French artist, Daniel Buren, has used the glass 'sails' as a canvas for a coloured 'light' installation.  We think that it has cheapened the building; a tacky funfair place worth of the Kursal at Southend!!!  Without the colours I think we would have liked it; we were able to appreciate the design when we were inside.
However, the visit wasn't a waste as we thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition which was being held there.
The exhibition was of a collection made at the turn of the 20th century by a Russian noble.  The paintings are normally split between 2 galleries in Russia and the works on display were by Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, amongst others so naturally, the exhibition was packed.
 It's a shame it wasn't a sunny day.

An interesting footnote:-
The construction was delayed when the citizens of the Bois de Boulogne area objected to it being built.  We thought this was rather sanctimonious when the wood itself is a notorious place for prostitutes and as we drove to park we went past the good ladies showing themselves off every 100 metres.  Prostitutes are obviously OK whilst tourists are not wanted in this chic arrondissement!

The next day we went to a different world of culture and opulence when we visited L'Opéra National in the heart of Haussman Paris.
Inside, the building was lavishly decorated with marble, onyx and gold leaf.  It had been commissioned by the Emperor Louis Napoleon III and is a monument to 'La Belle Epoque'.
 In contrast to the prostitutes, restored 2CV's were lined up in front of the Opéra, offering tours of the city!                   A very nice blast of city life and culture.  Now back to the garden!