Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Lunch, Loches and Lansyer…

Our journey soon forgotten we’d decided on a leisurely Sunday morning watching the Indian Grand Prix. We were well aware of the clocks changing but were still sitting round in our dressing gowns at 11.30. We needed to be showered, dressed and at La Renaissance in St Hippolyte for 12.30 – about 25 minutes from Le Pré Vert. We made it by 12.34.

We’d arranged to meet for lunch in Loches but Le Gerbe d’Or was closed and Maureen came to the rescue by booking the alternative venue.  The meal  was good, tasty, hearty fayre although not haute cuisine. However, as we mostly chose from the 16.50 menu we didn’t expect it to be. The service was pleasant and attentive. We’d eat there again.


We’d been persuaded by Jim and Liz to visit Maison Lansyer in the afternoon. I first came across Lansyer in an excellent post by Susan of Days on the Claise, but hadn’t managed to visit the exhibition. If you would like to find out more about Lansyer you can read Susan’s interesting and informative post here.

We were very impressed by the detail and how he captured the light in his paintings.




I tried out the framing device but am not too sure about my chosen subject, although with a combined age of more than 180 years it is certainly in keeping with the surroundings!!

IMG_9935 Tim, John and Jim – paid up members of the OLS escape committee!!

**   Apologies for not using the crop tool to improve my photographs - the quality is such that I wouldn’t want anyone to think they were taken by Tim! The process is an absolute pain on my laptop!  **

Monday, 28 October 2013

Nous sommes arrivés (2)…

… at last. My timetable is much reduced; I only work on Monday (all day), and just the mornings on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but it has been a long half term. Eight weeks. The students are tired and I am exhausted, although this is probably caused by a function of age and a desire to be elsewhere!


I’m fortunate to teach some absolutely lovely kids. I enjoy interaction with them and their parents and don’t find working stressful in the usual sense. I just find it exhausting. An early bird I try to be at school for as close to 7 as I can manage. The trade off is that I now leave as close to 12.30 as I can manage. However I can’t seem to summon up the energy to do all those things I’d planned to do in the afternoon.

Before you feel too sorry for me I am managing to walk, and to meet and enjoy the company of good friends for lunch on a regular basis. Tim is usually getting his lunch time sandwiches made for him and I’ve watched a few more episodes of Jonny and Jasmine looking for a ‘place in the sun’. But where is the redecoration of the front and back porches I’d planned to do? Why aren’t the wardrobes sorted and cleared? Why doesn’t my garden look ready for winter? Why hasn’t Percy (Tom’s car which is laid up for the duration) been cleaned and covered to protect it from some of the ravages of time? I could go on…


Even thinking about these things makes me tired! The journey out to France, once looked forward to with anticipation, even when we were driving to the Alps, has now become a grind. This time, taking the advice of various friends, we left home at 3am to avoid the traffic jams. We avoided the traffic jams, but encountered closures and diversions. The M6 was closed at J13-12 and then at J6-7, the M25 clockwise had a section closed and then to cap it all the M20 was closed at J1-3. Luckily for us we travelled around the M25 anti-clockwise and this meant we avoided the M20 closure. For once there was only a short delay on the shuttle.

We were towing a trailer so our speed was reduced and our fuel economy almost halved. To cap it all our telepeage transponder stopped working!

No photographs of the journey but by the time we’d unloaded, topped up our energy levels with some tea and cake we were ready to walk the range and enjoy a glorious sunset. With the sunshine on the clouds you could almost think they were mountains in the Alps or the Dolomites. Don’t tell Tim I said this but the photographs fail to do the actual sky justice. It does, however, make one marvel at the workings of the human eye!

Home to hot soup and a quiet evening in front of the box, watching Strictly and X-Factor. Sunday lunch with friends at La Renaissance in St Hippolyte, with our first visit to the Lansyer Museum in Loches – more about this tomorrow.

Home from home and my cup runneth over…

Friday, 18 October 2013

Just desserts - Q.E.D…

I first wrote this post – or at least a similar one – about a month ago, but before I could publish it disappeared into the ether. When this sort of thing happens I tend to get a bit discouraged and lose heart… which I did, and am then reluctant to do it again… which I was! Anyway, today I was looking for a tasty pudding and remembered this.

The gist of my previous blog had been to discuss how sometimes adapting recipes can cause problems. In this case the problems weren’t necessarily with taste but with appearance, although taking a look at the cookery book again I notice that the one in the book didn’t look much better!


In May we were at Le Pre Vert and friends were coming for lunch. I’d decided on a James Martin inspired croissant and butter pudding. The recipe suggested white chocolate but I had a fancy to use very dark chocolate and spiced orange. Actually this was what I had in my store cupboard!

As usual, I also took some short cuts with the recipe so this is my version.

To serve 6 people you will need:

  • 500 ml milk
  • 500 ml double cream – brought from the UK in my travel fridge.
  • 3 whole eggs and 6 egg yolks.
  • 200g caster sugar.
  • 6 large croissants.
  • 25g butter.
  • 175g dark chocolate
  • 75ml cointreau
  • A few teaspoons of marmalade – I used some delicious homemade seville marmalade, given to me by a friend.
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod.

To make:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4
  • Whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla extract and sugar gently. The original recipe suggested heating the milk, cream and vanilla pod to gradually bring to the boil and after removing from the heat to add the eggs, sugar and the white chocolate. As I was using dark chocolate I didn’t want a ‘mud coloured mix’ so didn’t heat my mixture. It also adds to the washing up!
  • Add the cointreau.
  • Slice the croissants and place into a greased oven-proof dish.


  • Slice the butter into thin slivers and sprinkle over the croissants.


  • Place this in the oven for about 4 minutes to melt the butter. You could of course melt the butter and pour this over the croissants, but this adds to the washing up… again!
  • Spoon the marmalade over the croissants.



  • Sprinkle the pieces of chocolate over the top.


  • Pour over the creamy mixture and bake for about 25 minutes until almost set, but still a little gloopy.
  • Serve with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream. Custard could also be added but I thought this might make the dessert a bit too rich.

My pudding didn’t need the suggested blowtorch treatment to ‘finish it off’, The oven did the job for me! However the melted dark chocolate made the top a bit darker than it might have been. Next time I'd poke the chocolate into the croissants to prevent any bitterness that might come from the chocolate burning rather than just melting.

The taste panel…


I rarely follow a recipe fully – sometimes to my downfall, but this tasted fine.

At school I remember having to prove theorems and we’d always write Q.E.D at the end, an abbreviation of the Latin ‘quod erat demonstrandum’. This shows just how good our Latin was, we thought it stood for ‘quite easily demonstrated’. Now I know better!



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

57 reasons…

to have a great day.

It’s my birthday.

It’s my birthday.

It’s my birthday.

It’s still my birthday AND it’s my day off!!

Google tells me that my day is shared with William Swainson (1789), Juan Peron (1895), Dr Christiaan Barnard (1922), Ray Reardon (1932 – and born in the same town), Rev. Jesse Jackson (1941) and my friend Janet (1960).


Thank you for the cards, presents and good wishes. I shall be enjoying a walk over the very beautiful Cannock Chase followed by lunch with friends, hoping that the rain stops.

My birthday music choice would be this...

Have a good day!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Someone’s been busy…

… and I’d like to say it was me. However, this wonderful sweater is the handiwork of Elisabeth Thomsen.

At the beginning of 2012 I published a post about knitting A PROJECT (click to read), as a result of which I was contacted by Elisabeth, who lives in Denmark, for a copy of the pattern. Another reader wanted a copy but unfortunately an email blip meant that I lost the contact details.

Last week Elisabeth emailed a photograph of her friend wearing the finished Aran sweater.


I love the rich colour; in a longer length it looks more contemporary, in line with current fashion. Well done, Elisabeth!

Where’s my knitting bag…