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)

Monday, 10 November 2014

Severe Haircut

We had a beautiful walnut tree that needed a bit of a haircut, but we weren't expecting this much. Unfortunately all the branches had to come off because the tree was stressed and rotten on places. To say I wasn't happy is an understatement. I’m no expert, but I still don’t think it needed to be as severe as this!! I have been promised by the tree surgeon with 20 years experience that it will grow back, we will see. We had decided to do all the wood clearing ourselves without realising the amount of time it would take. We’ve been clearing and chopping since Wednesday afternoon with Sunday off for good behaviour, but hope to finish it by Tuesday. On the plus side we have enough wood for a couple of years. I’ve posted a before and after photo so you can the difference plus some photos as we’ve cleared up.

Walnut 2
 Walnut 3
Walnut 4
Walnut 5

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Chestnut, Mushroom and Cranberry Loaf

I made this loaf with the free chestnuts lying in the road. I used half chestnuts and half walnuts but you could use any combination you prefer. It tasted yummy and didn't last long. It would make a perfect vegetarian main course for Christmas.

Chestnut Loaf

Ingredients Method
1 large leek, finely sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
200g mushrooms
200g chestnuts, roughly chopped
50g fresh cranberries or 50g dried soaked in hot water then drained
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment

Pre-heat oven to 200c/400f/Gas 6

Fry the leek, onion and garlic in the oil until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the cooked mixture. Add the egg, salt and pepper and mix well.
Place mixture in the tin and pack down, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes.
Allow to rest for 20 minutes before taking out of the tin. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Bits and Bobs

The weather for the end October was just fantastic, temperatures in the low 20’s enabled us to stay busy in the garden. Monday 27th we were due to have a bonfire, after getting permission from the mayor, but where it had been sitting for so long, it had compacted down and got damp. It just wouldn’t light even with a douse of petrol and just billowed smoke across the hamlet. Not wishing to upset the neighbours we put it out. We then sorted 3 big piles of garden trimmings, including the semi burnt one, made a new pile in the corner of the field, so we couldn't see it and took 6 trailer loads of the larger trimmings to the tip. On top of that we’ve mowed, weeded, trimmed trees, planted onions, pulled slugs off of cabbages, put in a new water butt and one of the nicest perks, lunch in the garden every day.

Lunch We did take time out to visit the Marais again for an 18.5 mile bike ride, take a walk around Melleran and go to French. We also visited the market at St Maixent l’Ecole. Just outside the halles there was a gentleman selling ready cooked oriental food. The smell was just amazing. I could have taken all those woks home with me.

St Maixent (5)

Saturday, 1 November 2014


Around the middle of October chestnuts are everywhere. I don’t mean in the supermarkets at 6€ per kilo, but along the roadside for free. Most of them get squished by car and tractor tyres, but if you’re quick you can collect as many as you want. Roger has enjoyed cooking them with his chestnut pan, but I’ve frozen loads whole to cook with another time. Today I made a chestnut, mushroom and cranberry loaf, which was delicious. I’ll post the recipe later. Word of warning – don’t try collecting chestnuts wearing flip flops, those spikes flippin hurt!!!