Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Brocanting…

 

Angles_panorama A panorama of the chateau and river at Angles-sur-l’Anglin.

On the past couple of Sunday mornings we’ve indulged in a very French pastime. Brocanting. At Azay-le-Ferron and Angles-sur-l’Anglin.

IMG_8344 The chateau at Azay.

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IMG_8347 Some beautifully dressed dolls.

IMG_8343 Would you buy this doll?

It’s a bit like car-booting in the UK (which we very rarely do, probably no more than a handful of times in the 35 years I’ve known Tim!) We did sell at one, once, and have regretted giving away classic vinyl albums for 50p. They just walked off our stall!

We’ve loads of stuff that we could sell, and certainly need to get rid of, but it’s always preferable to take it to a charity shop. I remember when my parents died I couldn’t face someone haggling over an item was worth 50p or £1 so I gave all but a few sentimental, or items of greater value away. I remember the newly opened Hospice of the Valleys charity shop was completely kitted out!

We never buy very much, but usually find something, useful or otherwise, to buy. It’s also fun bumping into people you know and checking out their purchases, or pointing out where that special something they are trying to find might be located!

IMG_4030_640x427 The paintings were very expensive!

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At Azay we bought six glasses and four blackcurrant bushes for a total of 16 Euros. However, at Angles I picked up a beautiful leather bag which I am still feeling rather guilty about. A little old lady was selling a number of items. I picked up the nearly new leather bag which she said had been expensive, but would sell it for 20 Euros. When I hesitated she asked me whether it was too expensive and asked how much I would pay. I mentioned 10 Euros, expecting her to negotiate up to 15, but she agreed. I’ve worried about it ever since!

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My second purchase was probably worth exactly what I paid for it!

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Not for sale.

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On second thoughts, the man might be…

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A birthday lunch…

Daniel was soon to reach the ripe old age of 30.

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To celebrate we had lunch at Au Croissant, in Buzançais, with our friends John and Maureen, Daniel’s very proud Mum and Dad. Lately I’ve become far more cautious about taking photographs of the food in a restaurant, but we assured the waiter that these photographs were being taken because we were impressed with the food! We mostly ate off the 25 Euro menu.

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We had a delicious meal and would thoroughly recommend the restaurant. Market day in Buzançais is Friday.

Our starters…

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Our main courses…

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Cheese…

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Desserts…

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The consensus was that we’d had an excellent meal with only a couple of slight gripes. Although the lamb was cooked to perfection, and absolutely delicious, it could have done with a little more in the way of vegetables. Perhaps another couple of the tomatoes with pea puree would have done the trick and provided a contrast with which to savour the tasty lamb. Having said that, with the other courses there was more than enough to eat. The other gripe was that one of the cheeses (the one with the yellow rind, which unfortunately I can’t remember what it was called) was certainly an acquired taste!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Touraine Trekkers and Simnel cupcakes…HAPPY EASTER..

Following discussions with friends Elizabeth and Jean it was decided that what the Touraine needed was another walking group! Elizabeth came up with the name, so all that remained was to canvas interest and organise our first trek or randonnée.

Over thirty trekkers expressed an interest, and twenty five intrepid souls and two dogs fastened their laces for our inaugural walk around Le Petit-Pressigny.

We’d planned a couple of walks of 7k and 10k and could offer a choice part way round. We were a bit worried that given the hot afternoon sun that we had chosen the wrong time of day for the walk, but luckily(?) Friday dawned cool and cloudy. However the sun eventually come out, and more importantly, it didn’t rain!

Copy of IMG_4011_640x427 Checking in.

Copy of IMG_4014_640x427 Susan and Liselle, the back markers.

Copy of IMG_4015_640x427 Nick, Rieja, Sally and Elizabeth.

IMG_8394 Sam, Chris, Sally and John.

IMG_8395 Simon, Colin and Elizabeth.

IMG_8397 Pauline and Liz, just after the sun came out!

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Jim, stopping for a rest!

It seemed like a great idea to offer refreshments at Le Pré Vert after the walk, and a big thank you to everyone who generously brought a delicious array of quiches, cheese straws, focaccia, cakes, brownies, biscuits, flowers and wine.Tim, i/c photographs, completely failed in his duties to photograph the food! Friends who were unable to make the walk joined us for the refreshments.

Copy of IMG_4017_427x640 Poppy, performing her party trick for a dog treat! Ann, Maureen and Kay, her appreciative audience.

Copy of IMG_4020_640x427Sally, Chris and Gail.

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Copy of IMG_4021_640x427 Jean, Nick and Edna.

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Antoinette, Niall and Susan.Copy of IMG_4024_640x427

Elizabeth, how lucky are you to still have that lovely pink cardigan?

The idea is that we become an informal group who enjoy exploring our beautiful countryside together, and that on a rota basis someone will volunteer to organise the next walk. Thanks to everyone who took part in this inaugural trek. I think Tim was worried that I would have my whistle at the ready to chide those who fell out of line or failed to keep up. Worse still, to expect people to walk in pairs, holding hands and wearing fluorescent walking bus tabards!! Once a teacher…

If you are reading this, live in the area and would like to join in then drop me an email or a comment and I’ll contact you.

We certainly enjoyed ourselves and it provided an ideal opportunity to persuade some guinea pigs to sample my first attempt at baking Simnel cupcakes. The recipe is loosely based on one in the Hummingbird baking book.

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Ingredients:

300g (10 ½ oz) mixed dried fruit

100ml (3 ½ fl oz) Armanac and Cointreau mix

200g (7oz)  softened, unsalted butter,

200g (7oz) soft dark brown sugar

4 large eggs

160g (5 ½ oz) plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp mixed spice

½ ginger

60g (2oz) ground almonds

For the topping:

60g (2 oz) marzipan

Chocolate mini eggs

Melted white chocolate

Makes 12-15clip_image004

Method:

·        Place the dried fruit in a bowl, cover with the alcohol and leave to soak for about an hour.

·        Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/ 375°F/ Gas Mark 5, and line a tin with muffin cases.

·        Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Break in the eggs, one at a time with a teaspoon of flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl after adding each egg and mixing.

·        Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger and mixed spice, then add to the creamed mixture and whisk slowly until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the ground almonds, followed by soaked fruit, and mix until combined.

·        Divide the mix between the paper cases.

·        Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes have risen and spring back when you gently press them. Let them cool in the tray for a short while, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

·        Form the marzipan into small balls and press into a circle. You could roll out the marzipan and use a cutter but this was too fiddly for me!

·        Place on to the top of the cupcakes and using a small amount of melted white chocolate add the chocolate egg.

I had intended to put a small amount of marzipan inside but don’t really think it is necessary.These cupcakes are deliciously boozy! They also lend themselves to lots of variations, and I can see how they could easily become a Christmas cupcake.

Q.E.D…

 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Just when you thought…

… that you’d seen it all, something always crops up to surprise you.

We were shopping at the Brico in Chatillion-sur-Indre on Monday morning, stocking up on essentials like curtain rings, ant powder, three different sizes of clear plastic tubing (don’t ask!) and a new sink plug. We have one of those pop up things which hasn’t worked properly since we bought the house in 2009. Looking along the shelves it seemed the least we could get away with paying was 13 Euros.

That was until we came across these little lovelies…

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We resisted the flower patterned ones as we thought they might clash with our 1970’s flowery tiles we inherited.

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And, lest you think we are snobs, the finished article. All for less that 6 Euros.

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Now the bidet and bath look a bit mismatched…

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Feeling good to be back…

We’re busy sorting everything out after a long winter. As I type Tim is power washing the terrace and balcony areas. When this vital posting work is finished I shall go outside to assume the equally important role of directing operations, and, of course, to point out any small areas he might have missed!! As you can imagine, as retirement for both of us becomes a reality, he is really looking forward to having me on hand to assume this role permanently!!  ;o)

A welcome sight…

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IMG_8327 The clematis is blooming.

IMG_8334 Plenty of blossom on the quince tree.

IMG_8337 The palm tree, which we thought we’d lost, in the cold winter a couple of years ago.

Less welcome…

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IMG_8329 The moles have certainly taken advantage of our absence to take up residence.

Any ideas?