Les poissons en France

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Seasons at Eyrignac

You may remember that we went on a guided tour of the gardens at Eyrignac, a Manor house garden known throughout France.  We have visited this garden a few times with guests but, seeing it out of 'tourist' season was a lovely different experience and we decided to take out a season ticket so that we could see the changing seasons in this impressive garden.

The first change we noticed was in the sculpted Hornbeam hedges.
 These hedges are impressive winter or summer but our guide did mention that every 15 to 20 years they cut them hard back ... and the time had arrived!
They were cut back in February and will take about 2 years to grow back to size!

One area is known as the White Garden and is planted with white daffodils and white hyacinths.  It gets whiter as the year progresses.
We will report further after subsequent visits.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


I have noticed the older he gets the more obsessional he becomes. However his overwhelming obsession is the grass. Not that it has to be weed free or 2 millimetres in length but that when it is mown it must not look like a hay field. Inevitably at this time of year it is growing rapidly so when he mows it there are thick lines of grass resembling a hay field. This drives him berserk. So much so that yesterday he raked the offending grass in the one acre back field in to piles. He should get out more!! I did feel a bit sorry for him so I did gather up some of the heaps.

I fear it will be the same when we return from holiday, however he assures me that he has another strategy!!

Saturday, March 11, 2017


That's what the French say when they think something sounds a bit weird or half baked and they are too polite to say so. Well "interesting" would certainly describe yesterday evening.

We again went for a meal at the catering college. No we don't go every week but we discovered that one couple do.The evening was advertised as a meal in the kitchen and the menu sounded great so John booked up. We had to join a waiting list which further intrigued us, although our reservation was subsequently confirmed. The reason for the restricted numbers soon became evident when we were escorted to our table in the kitchen overlooking the stoves and preparation areas. The table was beautifully dressed even though the guests were spread around the kitchen.

We started off with a "Blue  Lagoon" cocktail (pure spirit) during which we became acquainted with Camille who was to be our personal chef. She oozed confidence and is one to watch for the future. As we chatted she told us that she is working in a Michelin starred restaurant for 4 months in the summer. She then explained how she and her colleagues had spent all morning spring cleaning the kitchen and all afternoon preparing the food. We had never had Tartare of Duck before but, served with an avocado mousse, it was delicious, shame about the old jam jar it was presented in!! Camille cooked the red mullet to perfection but the risotto had overtones of rice pudding and none of fennel. She explained the cooking of the ballotine of chicken in warm water (we didn't tell her that we have seen it hundreds of times on Master Chef). However we did tell her that this course just tasted like a roast dinner. You get the idea that we were on a downward slope, However the dessert hit the pits. Camille's colleague was destined to prepare this course. We expected a conventional round baba soaked in crepe suzette sauce with ice cream. The sauce was to be prepared in front of us and flambed, but the mini stove turned out to have nearly run out of gas so the sauce took for ever and was certainly insufficient to coat the baba and we knew that the ice cream had disappeared. Eventually the chef tutor intervened and lobbed up the dessert, canteen style.

I hasten to add that none of the unsuccessful dishes was the fault of the students as their cooking techniques were fine but the recipes which were presumably devised by the staff left a lot to be desired. Interesting!!

There he was digging this 'ole........

Some of you will remember the song, if you are old enough!!

You may remember that last year I/we started to create a woodland bed at the beginning of the alley. As most of the shrubs which like shady conditions also like acid soil we had to keep them in pots as our soil is alkaline. However it didn't look very attractive so I planned to bury the pots once the ground was moist enough. Not an easy task as the soil is very shallow and almost solid stone. But I have an assistant who never lets anything beat him so he spent all morning digging holes for me to "plant" the shrubs and disguise the pots. It certainly looked better.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Spring Clean

Although we've had a week of rain thoughts have turned to Spring and the garden.  As we are opening the garden again, and as we think we have a couple of gardening clubs coming, we needed to do something about the 3 Albizia trees in the front garden.  One is dead, one is half-dead and one is struggling; as it is they will look just like sticks with leaves on for years!!!
So we have replaced them with crab apples (the silk trees have been put into pots).  We went to our local friendly garden centre but they had nothing in stock.  They said they would look for us but Sue said we wouldn't pay more than 50 euros a tree.  Two weeks later they phoned us to say they had 3 trees at 50 euros each.  We were amazed when we went to the centre and they were about 4 metres tall.  They were delivered yesterday and so, today they went in.
One out ...
... and one in ... three times.

This is our third attempt at growing trees in the front garden and we hope it is third time lucky.

The start of Spring has also stirred me into using some old shutters to make new doors for the pigeonnier.

I made a door for the bottom opening which was originally the chicken coop, and a replacement little door for the 'window' where the rabbits lived.  We've kept the fleur de lys feature.
It's only taken 10 years for this!!!