Thursday, 20 November 2014

Fungi…

When we got back to the UK the first job to be done, after sorting the heating, was to rake up the leaves from the gardens and driveways. The leaves filled seven of the very large (one tonne) builders bags, and are still falling!

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As we were raking we came across a few fungi on the lawn areas.

We’d had a couple of walks in France with friends, Colin & Elizabeth and Susan & Simon, where we’d spotted some wonderful fungi. Feeling an ignoramus I ordered a couple of books to aid identification.

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They are good with lots of excellent photographs and information, but don’t include a key. A key would help to narrow down the identification and is always a useful tool to get started.

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Honey fungus.

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Dog lichen.

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I think this is a Waxcap of sorts. Parrot perhaps?

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Welcome home…

At 2am on Friday morning to:

A very cold house,

An empty oil tank.

A broken boiler,

No hot water,

An electric shower fuse explosion,

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Pouring rain,

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Leaves to be raked up

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A leaky roof (although our very good neighbours, Rory and Gill, have obtained estimates for the replacement ridge tiles, damaged in the recent storms)

and

A stinking cold.

Thank goodness for the Boots Vapour Rub, even if it is 20 years out of date! My excuse is that whilst working I was exposed to all sorts of bugs, but I rarely caught a cold!

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By 8am I was ready to book our trip back to Le Petit-Pressigny. Luckily by 2pm, with the exception of the cold, normal service had been resumed! Thanks, Tim.

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Despite the problems it feels good to be back, and we’re looking forward to catching up with family and friends.Rhiannon and Stuart popped in with some flapjack and chocolate shortbread, and to expose my ‘out of date’ cold remedy…

Monday, 10 November 2014

At last…

Eleven pairs of doors, all to be lifted off their hinges, carried down to the sous sol and laid on the suitably covered table tennis table.

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This is the outside of the doors, which, prior to retirement, would be exposed to the elements in their closed position for about ten months of the year.

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Three thousand, seven hundred and sixty eight individual louvres to be rubbed down, undercoated and given two coats of ‘top coat’. A staggering eleven thousand in total!

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Half a dozen doors to be filled.

Two doors to have new pieces of wood scarfed in (scarphed, according to Wikipedia). Not the best photograph!

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One pair of doors to undergo this process a total of three times before the colour and finish was deemed to be right. We did have an attempt with one set of doors in 2012, which you can read about here. We eventually decided on white!

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Around one hundred and fifty hours of unpaid labour. I was going to write ‘unpaid work’, but in probation service terms this has an altogether different meaning!

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Your shutter painters extraordinaire.

At last…

Sunday, 2 November 2014

October CCC…

For the October meeting of the Loire valley Clandestine Cake Club Tim baked a gluten free, date and ginger cake. It must also be said that when we were discussing cakes which fitted in with the theme, another consideration was to use up some of the items in our store cupboard which wouldn’t keep until next spring. The last time we used this rectangular silicone ‘tin’ the sides spread out, leading to a very distorted cake, so this was Tim’s ingenious way of ensuring it didn’t happen again.

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The finished cake…

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Jean and Nick kindly hosted the event in their lovely new home. The idea is that at the meetings one samples very small portions of the some cakes on offer (along with some tea and/or sparkles), and then at the end of the meeting to take home a slice of a few of the cakes to enjoy later. There was a splendid array of delicious cakes.

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Jean starting off the meeting with Simon in pole position to taste.

My effort was a Nigella inspired chocolate fruit cake. My reason for baking this was to try out the recipe I’m thinking of using for my Christmas cake, although my nod to the Autumn theme came in the form of the chopped almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios sprinkled on the top. The cake was rather rich, but I think it would work as a Christmas cake.

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To round off the afternoon we won the raffle! I think after sampling such delicious baking, the Lorraine Pascal book is most apt!

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Friday, 31 October 2014

Hallowe’en 2014…

Tim has once again been busy preparing for the arrival of the village children, dressed up in their ghostly finery, to collect their bonbons. Our neighbour Beber, the ancient baker (his son in law Pascal is the young baker), kindly gave us the pumpkins from his garden.

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A bat…

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A pirate ship…

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and a ghost…

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I think he has excelled himself, and has the callouses on his hands to show for his efforts! Here are his 2012 and 2013 offerings.

Any suggestions for 2015?

UPDATE: Just as I was about to post there was a hammering on the door. About twenty small children carrying bags and buckets streamed in to collect their sucettes. Thank goodness I’d bought an enormous bag! Unfortunately my camera wasn’t handy!

Next year I think I’ll make some cupcakes…

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Google image.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

What a waspper…

This active nest was spotted in a tree on the roadside, as we drove down the hill into Preuilly sur Claise.

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The falling of the autumn leaves has obviously made it more visible.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Simple pleasures…

We have been very fortunate with the weather over the past weeks. Our very first Autumn in France has been wonderful. Shutter painting aside, we’ve tried to make the most of the mild and sunny weather. Amongst other activities we’ve fitted in a couple of fairly impromptu walks around the local area. These haven’t been of the large, organised Touraine Trekkers style walks, but rather walks of the “shall we?”, “ok”, “what about tomorrow?” type.

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Our walks took us around the Foret de Preuilly and Chambon. Our fellow walkers, S&S and C&E were a mine of information about the local flora, fauna and fungi. You can check out some of their wonderful photographs and info by clicking on the links. We really enjoyed the walk and we spotted so many fungi, the names of most escape me, but I have added a good fungi field guide to my Christmas present list! Any suggestions as to which one to ask Santa for?

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How many steares of wood do you think are here? Colin providing a sense of scale. Imagine stacking this pile of wood…

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The advance party…

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I wonder whether this still works…

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We spent a while trying to spot then photograph this ruddy darter which was well camouflaged against the autumn leaves.

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Nearly home.

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On each walk we walked 8km with an average speed of around 3km/hour. Hardly break neck pace, but just right for what we wanted to do.

Thank you to our walking companions for being such good company. We hope to experience more of these simple pleasures in life, and to continue learning about the wonderful, natural world that surrounds us…