Friday, 29 April 2011

Good luck and happiness.........

I am not a royalist (or should it be a monarchist), and perhaps on the quiet I am a bit of a republican. However today I took advantage of my 'day off', and watched the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.

It was a lovely ceremony, and the bride looked beautful.

I wish them good luck, peace and happiness as they begin their married life together.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Wine tasting and dinner par excellence!

On Tuesday we went on a wine tasting trip to the Domaine de la Renaudie at Mareuil sur Cher, near St Aignan. Our friends Chris and Sally have been going here for many years, and have chosen some of their wines to serve at the wedding of their son Philip to Claire. They needed some extra wine so they suggested we all go along.

The proprietors, Patricia and Bruno Denis, were very welcoming and gracious. Patricia explained the process very well, with some amusing anecdotes.

Following the tasting we were taken on a quick tour of their winemaking facilities. We saw a large quantity of cases of wine which had been wrapped up and, prior to the earthquake and tsunami, had been destined for Japan. I'm sure Patricia mentioned that the order had been for nearly 15,000 bottles! She now has to find new markets for this wine.

If you would like to read more about their operation, Ken Broadhurst in his blog Living the Life in St Aignan, has written about it here. Ken is an excellent writer and has captured the essence of the place much better that I ever could!
Patricia explaining the sauvignon v sauvignon blanc debate.

A selection of the wines they produce.

Two Australian visitors, Robert and Kathleen who were also tasting, were on a world tour and spending a few nights in the Loire. They limited themselves to a few bottles that they would be able to drink before they moved on. We, on the other hand, had no such restrictions, and could buy more (quite a lot more!!)

After the tasting we went to Le Moutier, the beautiful home in Mareuil sur Cher of Martine and Jean Lou Coursaget.

Photograph from Google images - mine didn't turn out very clear
They offer chambre d’hôtes and table d’hôtes, which if ever you get the opportunity, you should try out. A link to their website is here.

Jean Lou is an artist, and besides her day job, Martine cooks wonderful meals using the finest local produce. You eat with the family, and their daughter is an accomplished pianist who entertained us with some fantastic and varied pieces of music.

One of Jean Lou's paintings.

The wines were supplied by Patricia and Bruno.

Another of Jean Lou's paintings on display at the Domaine de la Renaudie.

I can thoroughly recommend both the wines and the meal. We came away with cases of their sauvignon, rose, sparkling white and sparkling rose (fines bulles).

Would anyone like to join us for a drink.............................?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Scaring the crows....................

Last week I was driving to Loches to do some shopping. My usual route from Le Petit-Pressigny is via Betz le Chateau and St. Senoch. As I was driving through St Senoch I noticed quite a few new (or old!) residents out and about in the streets.

We have a scarecrow competition - sorry festival (village politics, I think!)in our village in the UK. Tim always tries to make his 'move' in some way. Last year he 'won', with a crow that flapped his wings when anyone approached.

When I get home I'll post some photographs....................

In the meantime here are just a few of the pics we took at St Senoch. I browsed the web for a quick way of inserting the photographs as a powerpoint. Does anyone out there know how to do this, and can explain the process in simple terms?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Home from home................

Well finally, I'm back home in France.

The old Maire in Le Petit-Pressigny

Plans have been changed and then changed again, but it was great to finally arrive, even if it was at 2.30 am!

Our friends Chris and Sally cycled over from near Angles to visit, and were waiting for us on the terrace.

Lunch for 8 on the terrace.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Rue 2011

I’ve just returned home after a holiday in northern France with 46 Y8 pupils. On the whole we had an excellent week, with just a few minor irritations. 

The Chateau, inside and out.

We stayed at the Château du Broutel at Rue. The Château is run as an education centre during term time, although open to families and the public during the summer holidays. We use it to give our pupils an appreciation of French life and culture, but other schools use it for adventure activities.

The chocolate factory

Madame making cheese at the goat farm

Me, making a tressage de ble

Some large corn dollies, the one on the right is over 100 years old.

On this visit we went to the market at Etaples, visited a WW1 cemetery, goat farm, chocolate factory, hand made sweet shop and wheat farm. We saw croissants being made at a local bakery, visited the Nausicaa (sealife centre) at Boulougne, and best of all paddled in the sea off a beautiful sandy beach at Le Touquet.

The cemetery at Etaples.
What a week! I think the kids got good value for money, which is important these days.

The Château was built in 1714 by Jean-Baptiste Loisel, one of the heads of cavalry for Louis X1V. During the French Revolution it suffered and fell into disrepair, but was substantially renovated in 1824. It fell into disuse at the start of the 20th century. It is not known what happened to the Château during WW1 , but it was occupied by the German army during WW2.

After the war the main part of the Château was left uninhabited until the early 1980's when it purchased and renovated by Lionel Leroy (a former director of Leroy Merlin). In 2001 it became a residential centre and the barn and stable blocks were renovated and turned into accommodation blocks.

The staff provide excellent care and are superbly well organised. They also manage to be relaxed, and appreciate that 'kids will be kids'!!!

We have being using the centre since 2006, and will do again.

I am tired, but happy.

Soon, I shall be in France again......... and hope to meet up with a few of the people I have met through our blogs. Isn't it strange to know so much about the daily lives of others, through their blogs .

I know that
  •  Jean loves baking and France.
  • Susan enjoys cleaning beams with a toothbrush and wildlife.
  • Tim and Pauline take wonderful photographs of birds.
  •   Antoinette and Niall are enjoying the joys of life in Charnizay.
  • Mandy is more comfortable with her life, and enjoying the challenges of her work
  • and Elizabeth keeps fit by chasing butterflies!!!
Keep it up..............

I've said it before but it is just like 'Wikipedia but with SOUL'.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Turn! Turn! Turn! (to everything there is a season)

March was one heck of a month! It brought with it a rollercoaster of emotions, and I am pleased that April has arrived.

March started with the deaths, very close together, of Pete, a good colleague of Tim’s (from when he worked as an LEA inspector for Staffordshire) and his cousin Tony. Pete lost a battle against cancer and Tony with heart disease. Both men were just 60.

Their funerals were followed a couple of days later, by the tragic death of my cousin’s daughter. Faye took her own life aged just 19. Her funeral last week was a beautiful Humanist service, packed with her friends, all dressed in brightly coloured clothes to celebrate her short life.

This Bob Marley song was a favourite of Faye's, and was played at her funeral.

Finally, on March 30th  I called on my uncle to let him know that my brother had returned safely from a tour of duty in Iraq. He rang me very early the following morning to tell me that he had been given the ‘all clear’ following some treatment for cancer. Sadly, his wife died suddenly, a couple of hours later.

A lot of sadness, but life goes on and we make of it what we can...............