Wednesday, 31 December 2014

What a lovely Christmas

We’ve just spent our very first Christmas in France and it was quite different. Much quieter and more low key than in England, especially as there’s no Boxing Day either. Even though there would only be the two of us, we had decided to have a traditional Christmas with a lovely turkey dinner and crackers. But just a few days before the big day, our son booked flights to come and see us. To say we were excited was an understatement. We had 6 fantastic days with him, eating and drinking too much, going for lovely walks, making silly faces and relaxing. He brought us lots of goodies to eat, things that he thought we might not be able get here – Paxo, Bisto granules, Matchmakers, Chocolate Brazils, Fudge, Lime Pickle, Coconut curry sauce, Pickled onions, Gherkins and loads more. When he found out that I hadn’t planned to make yorkies, he said he would make them. They were brilliant and a rose lot better than mine. But, note one is missing, apparently it needed a taste test, so didn’t quite make it to the plate!!  We Skyped and phoned our families in England to wish them a Merry Christmas. It’s great to have the technology that brings everyone together. Sadly our other son couldn’t make it as he worked on Christmas Eve, but we hope to see him in the New Year.

Christmas 2014 (23)
Christmas 2014 (47)
Me and Daz
Me and Roger

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Joyeux Noël

Chez les Houmeaux

 Wishing all our family and friends
a very
Merry Christmas.
Have a fantastic day xx

The photo was taken at Chez Les Houmeaux. A little hamlet not far from us which is totally decorated with all things Christmas. Here’s a video of last years decorations.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Homemade Yogurt

Lets not make homemade yogurt, without working out what time it would be ready first!! In my excitement of wanting to use my new yogurt maker (early Christmas present), I didn't take into consideration what time it would be ready. So silly me had to get up at 2am to put it in the fridge. But the yogurt was worth the early alarm call, it was delicious with a dollop of rhubarb compote on top.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Repas de Noel

Yesterday we went to our first Christmas dinner at St Coutant. There were around 60 people there all enjoying a fantastic lunch. Everyone took starters for us all to share, followed by either poached salmon or venison casserole. Of course, you then have cheese followed by either a chocolate or raspberry desert. Everything was washed down with plenty of wine or orange juice followed by tea and coffee. At the end we sang a few carols in French and English which was a challenge. Great company and a good laugh, we will definitely go next year.

Repas 2
Repas 4
Repas 3

Sunday, 14 December 2014

All sold

As an update to yesterday, we made just over 400 mince pies, and sold them all by 3.15pm. I sold 24 to one man who said they were delicious. I bet they won’t last until Christmas !!Selling Mince Pies 13th December 2014 (3)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Making Mince Pies

Yesterday, myself and group of lovely ladies made zillions of mince pies, to sell at Lezay market today. Zillions is probably an exaggeration, but we must have made over 500. Last year 200 were made and they sold in a flash, so more were needed this year. We made everything by hand, apart from the mince and had a great production line going. A lovely lunch was provided of wine, soup, cheese and fruit to keep us going. The French love mince pies, which surprised me, and as you can’t buy them in the supermarket, it’s a great way of selling traditional English Christmas fare to them. I’ll let you know tomorrow how we got on.

Mince Pies (1)
Mince Pies (2)
Mince Pies (6)
Mince Pies (13)
Mince Pies (14)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Christmas Market and a walk around St Romans les Melle

Well our first Christmas market was frankly, very disappointing. Roger described it as thin on the ground. There were games for the children, some crafts and a few foodie bits, but nothing that made me feel really Christmassy. There are some more to visit next weekend, so hopefully they will be better.

After the market we took a lovely walk around St Romans les Melle. Very short, just under 2 miles but lots to see. The church, which dates from the 12th century with a square tower being added in the 15th century. It dominates the village and is set in a valley which overlooks the square. St Romans also has 3 lavoirs and a lovely village centre with a tabac/bar and restaurant. We came across a pretty bridge called Pont Romain over the River Béronne. Beautiful spot, perfect for a picnic, but it was too cold for that today.

L'eglise St Romans
St Romans
Lavoir St Romans

Thursday, 4 December 2014

We must be mad!!

Gluttons for punishment, why because we’ve sandblasted again!! It would have taken weeks of chipping to get the remainder of the paint off the walls. So we took the decision to sandblast the walls again. Another 48 bags of sand and 2 days later we’ve managed to get all but a few bits of paint off. We were so close to the end with 1 1/2 bags to go when the pressure hose burst. So that put a stop to any more dust making. If anyone has ever sandblasted, they will know you can’t see a thing and the mess is just awful. Even with taped up doors, dust just seems to find it’s way into every crevice!! Oh well, it was a job worth doing, just need to get on with the big clean-up. Hope you like our gorgeous outfits and my romantic surprise written in the dusty cover over the sofa :)

I Love You

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Recipe – Carrot and Coriander Soup

One of our favourite soups and perfect on a cold winters day. Change the chicken stock for vegetable stock for a vegetarian variety.

Carrot and Coriander

Ingredients Method
1 large onion
400g carrots
300g potatoes
200g tinned tomatoes
1 1/4 pints chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper
1/2 pint milk
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Cream for serving
Chop the onion, carrots and potatoes and place in a saucepan with the tomatoes. Add the stock, ground coriander, lemon juice, tomato puree, salt, pepper. Bring to the boil and then simmer for around 40 minutes.
Puree the soup, add the milk, bring back to the boil and then simmer for a few minutes before serving.
Scatter the chopped coriander on top with a swirl of cream. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Two Anniversaries

On Sunday 23rd November we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary in Rochefort, a lovely city on the coast in the Charente Maritime. We stayed at a lovely B&B – Palmier sur Cour which was perfectly placed to be able to walk around and see the sites of Rochefort. The hosts Eric and Catherine made us feel very welcome, the room was lovely and the breakfast filling. In Rochefort, Roger was fascinated by the Pont Transbordeur but it was closed until March, so we will definitely have to visit again.

It was also a year ago on Sunday that we first viewed the house that we now live in – perhaps we should call it “Anniversary House”.

Our Anniversary Saturday was spent in Rochefort and Sunday we visited the surrounding area. Here’s just a few of the places we visited.


Rochefort – L’Hermione


Rochefort - Market


Rochefort - Market

Corderie Royale

Rochefort – Corderie Royale


Rochefort – Corderie Royale - Knots

Pont Transbordeur

Rochefort – Pont Transbordeur


Rochefort – Pont Transbordeur

Ile Madame

Ile Madame – Path to the island

Ile Madame 1

Ile Madame – Looking back to the mainland



Ice Room

Brouage – Ice Room

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Chipping Away

We’re making steady progress with the lounge. Most of the cement is off apart from some under the windows and the recess. My job is to get the remainder of the paint off plus any little bits of cement. Its slow work resulting in sore hands and arms, but its nice to see how much its changed. We took the render off above the fireplace to reveal the lovely stones there, but disappointingly they are badly burnt, so will be rendered over. The potager in the corner had been covered in crepi and painted. The holes for the pots had been filled with stones and cemented over and the same was done for the bottom door where the ash goes. Why would anyone do that to a piece of history??? And on top of that the beautiful Charantaise cupboard doors were sold. Our neighbour found some photos of how it used to look, so we hope to get some made to look the same.

Lounge 2
Lounge 1

Thursday, 13 November 2014


Had a great time last night bowling at La-Sphere in Poitiers. We went with Meridian Green, which is the group where we have our French lessons. Its a great group, very friendly, a mix of English and French and the turnout was great, around 45 people. We played 2 games each and I was very pleased, I came 1st and 2nd in my games. Roger was on form and won both of his games. I had forgotten how much fun bowling is, but its not good for your nails. Afterwards, we went to Gambas Royale, an all you can eat buffet of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and French food plus desserts. There was also raw steaks, langoustines, scallops, chicken and more, that you took to a grill and the chef would cook them to your liking. There was so much to choose from and everything was very tasty. I never got to the desserts, too full. Wish we could have taken a doggy bag home as there was so much we didn’t try.
Bowling (1)
Bowling (2)