Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Ile de Ré Bike Ride (26.5 miles)

After our non starter with the sandblasting on Sunday, we drove to the Ile de Ré, part of the Charente Maritime. It’s a pretty island joined to the mainland by a 4km bridge. We parked up just before the bridge, cycled over and started our cycle ride round the island, which is 30km by 5km with 100km of easy cycle paths. The houses had a slight Mediterranean feel being mainly white with all green shutters and doors. Not sure if it’s law to have everything painted green, but the majority of properties were this colour. The island is varied with lovely sandy beaches, forests that reminded us of the New Forest, marinas and salt marshes. There are lovely beach front restaurants, old forts and markets to explore. We meandered our way from north to south, had a lovely leisurely lunch then made our way back to the bridge just as the rain started!! We managed to see half of the island, so our next trip will be to go from one end to the other to see the lighthouse.

Ile de Re (2)
Ile de Re (7)
Ile de Re (9)
Ile de Re (14)
Ile de Re (12)
Ile de Re (6)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Some Frustrations

We’ve had a week where a few niggly things have gone wrong. Roger ran over a piece of metal by the back gate and damaged something to do with the blade. Another part ordered and fitted.

Mower My filling fell out, so I’ve got a trip to the dentist next week!! Right at the front so not attractive.

With excitement, we were due to have the sandblasting done this weekend on the lounge and hall walls, but on Friday night we found out the shop had let us down with the compressor. Oh well, not a problem, we had work to do on the broken beam in the barn. Mr Builder arrived with scaffolding and acrows this morning but on closer inspection found that the new plates that will hold it in place were too short. So off they went to get new ones, only to find fermé exceptionnel. Apparently there was a lot of swearing in the van as Mr Builder thought he’d let us down. Roll on next weekend and fingers crossed both jobs will get started and finished.

Beam On a plus, we picked the last of the apples which were turned into compot and another crumble. Did loads in the garden. On Wednesday we went on a lovely 5 mile walk and met a lovely couple who kidnapped us (her words) for a cup of tea. Arrived at 4 and got home gone midnight.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Lac du Lambon Bike Ride (15.5 miles)

We got some bike maps (VTT – all terrain) from the tourist office in and around the Lac du Lambon. Would you like easy or medium? he asked, we’ll take both, we said. The easy ride was only 4 miles so we went for a medium. We thought the medium wouldn't be a problem, how hard could it be, just a few hills to navigate. How wrong we were, it was flippin hard!! and right from the start to. Wet slippery stones going up and the same coming down. Roger is happy to give most things a go, but even he made us turn around and find an alternative route. Some of the off road tracks were OK but it was a pleasure to be back on the little lanes. The camera didn’t come out much, but here’s a couple of the lake. Great place for swimming, walks and picnics.
Lambon Lambon 2

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Figs Galore

It’s not only us that like the figs, but it seems that the wasps, butterflies, bees and flies like them too. We are determined to grab as many as we can before they do. So far we’ve harvested enough to make 7 jars of fig chutney, 5 jars of fig jam, we’ve frozen just under 10lb of whole figs, made crumble, fig crumble bars and given some to our neighbour. There’s still loads ripening, so if anyone has any figgy ideas, please let us know.
Fig Bars

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Leeks and Cabbages

We were going to leave the veg patch until after the winter, but we wanted to get some winter veg in. The plastic that we had used to cover part of the patch killed of most of the weeds, we then rotovated and I followed behind pulling out more weeds. We decided to make a path around the edge, using old poles kindly given to us by our neighbour, so it would be easy to weed the sides and cut the hedge. We are so pleased on how the veg patch is coming along, compared to just a few weeks ago. To see it before click Here and Here. Leeks, assorted cabbages and broccoli were bought from Lezay market to start us off. Note to self – read how to plant leeks before putting them in. I hadn’t planted them deep enough, so had to pull them out and start again!!

Veg Patch 3
Veg Patch

Monday, 15 September 2014

Coulon Bike Ride (14 miles)

The Marais Poitevin is such a pretty place and it’s a place to take things slow. Marais means marsh in English, but its also called Venise Verte or Green Venice because it’s made up of natural water channels with some man-made as well, covering 375 square miles. We got a cycle map from the tourist office and choose cycle route No 9. The routes were well signposted, so we could just plod along without getting the map out every 5 minutes. Coulon is very picturesque but very touristy, it would be far too busy in July and August for us, but September was not to bad. After leaving Coulon the paths were so quiet, we even had some of them to ourselves. There are loads of walks or you can hire a boat to explore the channels or go on a guided tour. The houses along the edges are so beautiful, what a peaceful place to live. Back in Coulon there was a historical display of jousting, troop movements, amour and uniforms etc, but it was the ladies playing a game caught my eye. Long before Playstations and XBoxes the French invented a game called French Hoops. The bottom photo shows a lady playing it and it apparently helped to develop feminine grace. When the game arrived in America it was called La Grace.

Marais (2)
Marais (1)
Marais (4)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

New Number

Our car looks very weird with our new French plates. We’ll never find it in the car park now!! Bearing in mind you can’t choose your number, the first 2 letters are the initials of our sons names, Darrel and Joshua and the last 2 letters are my Dad’s initials, William John. Nice and easy to remember.

New Number

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Apple Cake

When you have a zillion apples, you need to use some of them up, so I found this recipe in A Girl called Jack by Jack Monroe. It was delicious, very light and even more scrummy with a dollop of Creme Fraiche on top.
3 small apples.
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
100g butter.
100g sugar (I used caster).
2 eggs.
Handful of sultanas.
180g self-raising flour or 180g plain flour and 1 heaped tsp of baking powder.
1 level tsp baking powder.
Pinch of cinnamon.

Preheat oven to Gas 4/180C or 350F. Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line with greaseproof paper.

Peel, core and slice the apples thinly. Put in a bowl and sprinkle over the lemon juice.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, apples sultanas and mix. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon and mix. Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake for 45 mins until golden. Insert a knife into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s ready. Allow to cool before turning out.

Serve with Creme Fraiche, custard, ice-cream or cream. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Bacon and Cheddar

Peter and Sue came for lunch on Sunday bearing gifts. Not only did they bring Champagne and plants for the garden but bacon and cheddar too. They had thought – if they lived in France, what would they miss the most? They decided it would be bacon and cheddar. We’ve had bacon here but we haven’t had a nibble of cheddar since we left England, so we are going to enjoy and savour every morsel.

Bacon and Cheese The weather was fantastic, so we enjoyed a leisurely lunch outside then went for a walk around the hamlet. While the men talked mowers, strimmers and oil-fired boilers, Sue helped me identify some plants around the garden, which turned out to be weeds and poisonous too!!

7th Sept 14

Thursday, 4 September 2014

I have Knobs!!

For those who saw my larder transformation in a previous post, you will know that I’ve been struggling to find nice knobs for it. Well, I had to resort to Amazon in the end and I received a lovely mixed box of ceramic knobs. Four have gone on the larder and the others will go on the wardrobe. So pleased, as I won’t have to use my nails to open the doors anymore.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Lunch at La Grange aux Oies

What a beautiful setting for a fantastic meal – lunch at a chateau. We were invited by our friends Diane and Nigel to lunch at La Grange aux Oies which is set in the grounds of Le Château de Nieuil. We arrived at the Chateau at 12.30 and didn’t leave until 4pm. The French know how to do a leisurely lunch. We had aperitifs and amuse bouche on the terrace then went inside for the main courses. Then sweet treats, coffee and tea were served on the terrace again. It was only after we arrived, that we found out it had been Diane and Nigel's anniversary just a few days before. Congratulations to you both. Here are some tasters – literally.
Chateau 4
Chateau 7
Chateau 5
Chateau 9
Chateau 6
Chateau 3
Chateau 8
Chateau 2

Monday, 1 September 2014

Riders and Walkers

The 5th stage of the Tour de Poitou Charente came very close to our hamlet on Friday, so we went along to watch. The tour started in 1987 and Mark Cavendish won this years stages 1 and 2. There were more police, publicity cars, photographers and security than riders and they went past in a flash. You definitely see more on TV!!

PC Bike Ride (2)
PC Bike Ride

On Sunday we went on a 4 mile walk to help raise money for Cancer Research Deux Sevres in and around Clussais-la-Pommeraie. There were quite a few things going on that day in the area, so the turnout wasn’t as good as they’d hoped, but we still had a good time. We had a picnic afterwards plus there was a little show put on by the Pommeraie Players featuring their version of Stomp.

Cancer Walk
Cancer Walk 2