Thursday, 31 December 2015

Out with the old...

2015 was a very good year for us. We are very fortunate to have enjoyed good health, and the year has been characterised by fellowship with family and friends. It was a year in which as I tried to get to grips with retirement, Tim slipped from retirement into semi-retirement, and ended the year almost working full time. We weren’t able to spend as much time in Le Petit-Pressigny as we thought we might, but the compensation was that we were able to travel.

Time spent with family and friends has been very important. We didn’t dream that we could have made good friends in France in such a short time. If ever there is a problem someone has the answer and is prepared to help out with tools, advice or just a listening ear. Friends have also been very generous with their hospitality. Just a selection of the photographs we've taken this year of friends or their cakes!!. 

Our travels took us first to Switzerland, with our very good friends Stephen and Anne. They were at Loughborough University with Tim in the 1970’s and we have been firm friends ever since - best men, godparents to each others children, holiday companions both in summer and winter for most of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. We almost  (but not quite)  persuaded them to buy a house in Charnizay!

The weather in Switzerland was fantastic, especially if you want to ski! We had a mix of heavy snow falls and bright sunny days. I am a fair weather skier, and to ski at my best (which isn’t actually very good) require gentle slopes, perfect snow conditions and the kind of light which highlights every imperfection in the snow!! However, I feel that I come alive in the mountains.

Tim turned 60 in March. This was followed by just over a month in Japan, which was amazing. It was good to spend time with Tom and experience Japanese life. The scenery was wonderful, with so much to see. We were there in March/April for cherry blossom which was just as wonderful as the guide books show. Our favourite hotels were the traditional Japanese Ryokans.

Rhiannon went back to university to study social work, graduated in July and is now a qualified social worker. She works very hard in a demanding job, but is making a difference.

In August Tom came back from his two year stint teaching English in Japan to return to university.

Tim visited Shanghai as part of his work, but his visit coincided with a week of almost torrential rain.

Torrential rain has been very much a part of the UK weather this year. We are fortunate not to have been affected, but so many people have had their lives and homes devastated by floods, many of which could have been avoided. Our hearts go out to them as they try to restore some semblance of normality.

Christmas was lovely, and, as we look forward to 2016, I’ll quote from Rhiannon…

“ For the first time in quite a few years (so long none of us can remember when it last was!!) We've spent a magical Christmas all together as 'The Brotherhoods' in our family home, with a couple of added extras!! We have eaten, drunk, laughed, and been truly spoilt with both gifts and love. I can't think of a more fitting way to celebrate my last as Miss RhiBro. Who knows where 'The Dales' will end up in 2016; but I am so excited to find out!!”

So there we have it. So much to look forward to. For us 2016 will herald a wedding, another graduation, and my 60th birthday. However, I also hope it brings with it much happiness, good health and peace for you all.

The New Year is the time of unfolding horizons and the realisation of dreams, may you be able to enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer and face the challenges that may come your way. I hope that in 2016 we can also remember, and, do what we can, to help those people with lives that have been torn apart by conflict or natural disaster, and are needing sanctuary or a share of some of the wonderful things we take for granted.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Season's greetings...

... from our home to yours. 

We are celebrating at home in the UK with both Rhiannon and Tom,  for the first time since 2009. We shall be joined by Rhiannon's partner, Stuart, my brother and three dogs!

After a couple of glasses of sparkles!

However you mark the day we send you our very best wishes.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Trentham Gardens...

A couple of weeks ago we used  a windfall (procured on my behalf by my wonderful daughter!) of Tesco club card vouchers to buy an annual pass into Trentham Gardens. I regularly go to the garden centre and shopping village so it makes sense to combine a trip with a walk around the lake (which takes about 40 minutes of brisk walking) and a browse through the Italian Gardens.

We've been three times in the past couple of weeks and usually treat ourselves to a cup of tea and a scone afterwards. Unfortunately I'm not certain that the walk is a sufficient energy trade for the scone (on an energy in v energy out basis), although I suppose we could always walk around the lake more than once!!

The lake and Italian gardens

An otter carving on a diseased tree

We love the detail on the eye

The Italian Gardens aren't looking at their best at this time of the year, but I shall post some photographs later in the year. 

Wirework fairy

Intricate wirework dandelions

The wonderful metal sculptures were created by Robin Wright and his daughter, Amy.
Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was employed to create the gardens and the mile long lake between 1759 and 1780, and 2016 will celebrate the tercentenary of his birth.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Busy, busy...

My inactivity on Blogger over recent weeks and months could indicate one of two things; either that I have nothing interesting to write about (since when has that ever stopped me!) or that I am so busy that there isn't time to write!
In reality it is a 'Bob' or a bit of both. Also, the immediacy of Facebook means that I can keep up to date via my telephone or tablet in a way that is difficult to achieve via the Blogger app on my iPad.
This week we've been in Cranfield and London. More about London later, but first check out some of the decor in our hotel near Cranfield...

Most of this happened in the SAME room. Busy, busy!!

Must go as I'm off to Harrods... 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

À bientôt, au revoir but not adieu...

(Photographs will be re-sized)

Last few days...

The overwhelming memory of the last couple of weeks has been of fantastic weather. Sunny, bright and warm. We've been able to prepare the garden for winter and in all will have taken 27 of the very large (1 tonne) builders bags full of garden waste to the déchèterie! Hedges have been trimmed, shrubs cut back, fruit trees pruned and mountains of leaves raked and bagged.

On Sunday we took some time out for a walk around Le Grand Pressigny...

We've also hosted our annual curry evening for around thirty neighbours and friends. It marks the end of our year at Le Pré Vert and helps us to use up food from our fridge and freezer and beers (and wines) from our cellar. Of course we are helped by friends who bring delicious desserts, nibbles, naan and cheeses, not to mention wines and gifts. Thanks to support and help from friends the evening runs smoothly; aperitifs are handed out, plates collected, dishwashers stacked, and special thanks to Elizabeth and Jean for this, and for coming early to make sure we were ready. This year I even managed to get the quantities of rice and Bombay potato about right - last years mountain would have fed a hungry army!! Unfortunately I didn't manage to take any photographs of the evening or food which are worth posting. Next year Simon has promised to bring a 'man's curry'. Watch have been warned!!

The following evening found us at the trough again at a Fondue Savoyard at Le Bon Coin. Our table of 17 was an eclectic mix of French, Dutch and Brits. Again good food, wines and conversation flowed.

So, I'm signing off at Le Pré Vert until 2016, although hopefully, between now and then, I'll sign in from wherever our travels take us...

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween 2015...

The day started with a trip to the market at Le Blanc. The weather was wonderful; bright, sunny and warm. In fact, as we ate lunch in the outside seating area of a cafe we had to ask for the sun parasol to be opened, to give us some relief from the heat of the sun - not something you often have to do on the last day of October!

Tim had been busy carving the 2015 pumpkin.

We arrived home from Le Blanc just in time to light the candles in the pumpkin and prepare the bonbon stash ready for the village children to visit, dressed in their Halloween costumes. They were very sweet and all thanked us in English!

Today was also a day to remember for a special group of people. Congratulations to the New Zealand All Blacks for winning the Rugby World Cup. The experts say that this current team is the very best rugby team of all time. With their record of only three losses in the last four years it is hard to argue with their verdict. Well done to their opponents Australia for making it a final to remember. 

Friday, 16 October 2015

New in Le Petit-Pressigny…

We were excited to find a wonderful, new, 5* hotel in LPP, and it is just what the village needs.






We love it, but hope that it works well for its special inhabitants…