Saturday, 30 November 2013

Christmas Dinner...

We like this...

And we like this.....

But we like this better!

Christmas Dinner courtesy of Lidl (with apologies to Aldi!)

Friday, 29 November 2013


Yes, late November sunflowers!

Regular readers may remember my grandchildren in the sunflowers adjacent to our house back in August

Well, the sunflowers were still there until yesterday, looking a bit worse for wear.

The plus side is that they attracted birds by the hundreds. I attempted to get close up pictures but failed. Too many sunflowers to go at and they avoided the camera on a tripod like the plague! There are several in the 'cut' of the above photograph (below). Can you see them?

What you can see is how many actual seeds have been eaten; a lot!  As well as all the different small birds, we have even seen pigeons and crows pecking at them!

When disturbed, the sky was full.

The farmer, with combine, came yesterday and harvested them. I suspect his yield would be very limited. They will be sorely missed by the birds.... Better get the feeders out!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Walking in Gueule Noire

We mentioned here a walk we had done one Sunday afternoon in Guele Noire. just north of Panzoult. Since then other topics have got in the way but tonight we will look back to that walk.

We were initially heading for the forest above Cravant les Couteaux but a wrong turning took us up the valley to the east and we discovered Gueule Noire, part of the heavily forested area to the north of Panzoult. We followed Rue de la Forêt from Panzoult up the valley to a suitable parking spot where there was access into the forest via marked tracks.

We had hoped to see spectacular autumn colours but at first we were a little disappointed. There was still a good deal of green on the trees. However, as we walked the nature of the forest opened itself to us and a riot of colour was revealed.

Not all the leaves were green...

There were berries of the brightest red on the hollies..

And a variety of shades on the oak apples...

We didn't see any wildlife at all though there was plenty of evidence that it existed...

And for those who enjoy a fungi foray, there were Pied de Mouton (Hydnum Repandum) in abundance!
So despite an overcast day, there was plenty to see and autumn colours to enjoy. Perhaps next time we visit we shall chose a brighter day!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Beaujolais nouveau...

The third Thursday in November is the release date for this vin de primeur originally produced to celebrate the end of harvest. If you are interested you can read further information on it here.

I always buy a bottle when it becomes available in the supermarket; this year was no exception. I chose a reasonably priced bottle on our weekly shop to Auchan last Saturday. Pierre Chanau Touraine Gamey at €3.25.

It was very pleasant and I thought the predominant taste was blackberry... but I am no expert.  All I am certain of is I enjoyed it.

So whilst in SuperU this morning I thought I would try another bottle... It was more expensive, I am getting frivolous in my old age, at €3.70

Say no more! I just hope it doesn't taste.

Elizabeth's theory on the name is that it reflects what the workers do into the vat! Thanks Elizabeth!

For the true meaning of the name see here.

Footnote: We hear an Australian couple have broken the world record for Christmas Lights. Simon; When is your big switch on? We can't wait to see them all!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

In the kitchen with Colin...(2)

The second in the 'series' is from a large cookbook I have had for many years entitled 'The World's Best Cooking (in colour)!' dated 1988. It was most probably bought from one of the companies selling cheap books in the workplace. Copies are left for people to browse and order, and then delivered at a later date.

The dish is 'Cod Manuella' which is a Spanish dish in which cod is poached with courgettes, tomatoes and red peppers. It could be any white fish, I used cod as we had several portions in the freezer from a bulk purchase at Auchan.

The dish contains Sherry and despite several supermarket searches I could not find a reasonably priced bottle of sherry anywhere. So I made a substitute of red wine and to be honest it was just as good and more to my preference. The rest of the recipe was as above.

The ingredients

Basic softening.

With the liquids added.

With the cod added.

The finished dish served with basmati rice.

It is a very tasty and different way to serve cod (or any other white fish). We have enjoyed it a couple of times now.

To download a PDF version of the recipe Click Here

Monday, 25 November 2013

Marché de noël

On our way up to Chinon Forest for our walk yesterday we called in to one of the first Christmas markets.

It was being held in:-

a very small village, about four kilometres from the town of L'Ile Bouchard also on the banks of the Vienne.

It was an excellent market for such a small place, though my photos don't really do it justice.

Of course, this was a popular spot....

There were examples of many different crafts on sale. Made me feel like taking up crafting!

The Salle de Fetes was packed to the rafters with stalls. One in particular which caught our eye was that of Jean-Pierre Michel-Chagnot, an "enlumineur" from Les Trois Moutiers. His display of illuminated texts, using parchment and gold leaf was truly magnificent. What skill and artistry!. The simplest of texts took around eight hours to complete. Interestingly, he told us, his most popular line was a small piece with the word "Welcome" illuminated. We could have watched him all day..

Anyway, it is getting towards that time of year. So...

Well someone had to be the first!!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Missing a Comma...

A close friend of mine documents what she calls "Offences against the Comma" on a certain social network site. Some of her favourites include a sign outside a local pub advertising tv football featuring: "Leed's"
 and the notice on a gate which reads: "Beware of the Dog's" .... the dog's what? one wonders!

Our photo tonight features a Comma of a different kind... but how easy is it to spot?

Or for a better view of it....

And if you have any favourite "offences against the comma" I know someone who would love to hear them!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Time Lords

No, I'm not talking Dr Who here, despite the fact that this weekend marks that programmes 50th Anniversary! I'm reflecting on one of the advantages of living where we do: in rural France.

Time takes on another dimension (sorry, Whovians!). Of course we still trot out the old chestnut: "I don't know how I found time to go to work!", but now it's a matter of choice for us. We DO have more time than when we were working full time. If we fill every minute, that is our choice.

The reality is that we have time to admire the little things around us...

the quirky...

the delicacy of nature's designs...

to stand and gaze over the garden fence

to look to the sky

to laugh at ourselves

and to laugh with others...

We live in a village described by the locals as "tranquille et calme". We often remark that it is what England was like fifty years ago. And anyone who has been here will agree. We like it that way! We don't mind if the highlight of the week is going to buy a new pair of wellies because the old ones leak.

Listening to an item on BBC radio the other day brought home to me the difference in our lives from what it was back in the UK. The discussion centred on a request on behalf of the elderly and less mobile sector of the population for an additional 3 seconds to be added to the time allowed to cross a pelican crossing. A representative from the AA said that this would (and I quote):

"have a huge economic impact across the UK"

Why?? What is wrong with these people?? We're talking 3 seconds, for goodness sake!!

Yes; we like it here!

Friday, 22 November 2013


Earlier this week, 21st November to be exact, was the first anniversary of our fabulous 2CV France 3.

This meant two tasks for us!
First to get the mileage confirmed for the insurance company, to ensure we don't go over our annual mileage. This involved going to the local garage with a form for a mechanic to record the mileage and check that we had not tampered with the mileometer. This year was slightly different; the mechanic was "busy" so the receptionist recorded the mileometer reading. I suspect he said "You do it".

Second was to change the oil and oil filter.

The make and type of oil was the same as had been used by the previous owner (a retired mechanic) when we bought the car. The filter was from a UK company as the price was about a third of what I could find here in France!!

DIY oil changing is always a messy job! The sump plug was easily accessible but the oil filter was a different matter.

The filter was made worse by the fact that I think it had been tightened with a spanner. However I tried it would not move. In the end I had to resort to the main mechanics tool, 'the big hammer'!

This is where it got messy; puncturing the filter was unavoidable and as there is a ridged floor plate below it, there is no way to catch the released oil. Until you see where it goes and then... Yes it's toooo late.

I did get it off eventually although it was a little battered.
With the new filter filled with oil and screwed back on, hand tight only, the engine refilled with the new oil, (about 2.6 litres)  the job, as they say, is a good one !

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Walk Puzzle.

After our Jigsaw puzzle we have another puzzle that we would like solving...

On our Sunday walk, in the Gueule Noire above Panzoult, (more about that in another blog) we came across several dugouts at the side of this main woodland path.

Below are just three of many, sited adjacent to the main path (above). Each dugout is about 45cm deep and you can get an idea of the scale of the other dimensions from the photo of Elizabeth standing in the middle of one.

We wondered if they were to drain water from the woodland track, but they seem unnecessarily wide for that purpose.  A narrower channel would surely suffice? Or are they something military?

Other than this we have no ideas? Have you??