20 August 2018

18 August 2018

This Old House

Paul has been busy this morning repairing and re-varnishing the wooden shutters from the downstairs French doors.  He built them about eight years ago but they take quite a hit from the extremes of weather we get here.  The doors look quite bare without the shutters although it’s nice to see the stonework that is usually hidden when they are open.

man at work

French doors without their shutters

A lot of our neighbours have plastic or metal volets (shutters) that require little maintenance but they wouldn’t look right here.  Our house is old, the first record dating back to 1790, the time of the French Revolution.  I wonder what discussions have been held over the decades within these walls.

the French doors lead to an outer hallway

the arched ceiling is part of the original cellar

what are you doing with the camera?

17 August 2018

Boot Camp Day 2

my secret weapon - padded cycling shorts!

After breakfast we take Rick for his two mile walk and then slip into – er – squeeze into our lycra and set off for a bicycle ride.  Same route as yesterday but anti-clockwise.

Leaving our hilltop hamlet there is an easy start to the ride as we sweep down towards the crossroads.  Turning right we ride through Le Rat and then turn off the main road onto the forest track.  It’s bumpy and uphill but I’m feeling much stronger today.  We ride through the forest before coming out onto the road.

“Shall we go and look at Cro’s container park?” asks Paul.
“Is it uphill?”
“No, I don’t think we will then!”

We speed down another hill and whizz past the junction of the road leading to Lumberjack.  Then the easy riding is over and we attempt to climb the steep road leading to the little hamlet of Le Pouget.  Paul rides on ahead but halfway up I am forced to dismount and walk. 

“Bonjour Madame!”

I nearly jump out of my lycra.  A Frenchman joins me pushing his bicycle, exclaiming at the steepness of the hill.  He chats away to me as we both huff and puff our way up the hill.  I don’t have a clue what he is saying but I just smile and nod and let him do the talking until he gets back on his bicycle and rides off into the distance.

Paul and I ride on through Le Pouget and then turn left through the woods of Bois de l’Homme. Eventually we are back on the main road and it’s an easy, fast, flat ride back to the crossroads.  I’m riding in Paul’s slipstream so I don’t even have to pedal at all.  Every time he looks back I quickly move my legs so he thinks I’m working hard.

We are now at the crossroads and there is a long hill leading up to our hamlet.  I pedal like fury along the downhill stretch, head down, elbows in, feeling like a real pro.  Gawd knows what I really look like!  I have enough speed and momentum to get me at least halfway up the hill and then I use up the last of my energy reserves to pedal to the top of the hill. We drop down onto our chemin, past Praline the donkey, and freewheel towards home.  Phew!

16 August 2018

F is for Failure

F is for failure.  Even my stylish lycra couldn’t help me get up the hills today.  I suffered the ignominy of having to get off my bike and push it this morning.  Oh the shame.

F is for foolish.  Foolish for thinking that I could maintain my fitness levels when this was only the second time out cycling this year.

F is for flies.  Pesky critters gathering around my head every time I slowed down or stopped.

F is for fabulous.  I tried roasting some plums tonight to accompany our pork chops, they caraemlised perfectly and were delicious!  The roasted vegetables were good too.

15 August 2018

Chemin Rural

There is a public right of way, or chemin rural, running through our property.  When we bought our house over eighteen years ago the track was occasionally used by Farmer Escalier when he used to grow tobacco and sunflowers in the fields.  After he retired no-one at all came through.  Then, a few years ago, the horses discovered the trail.

It’s not a problem really because the horses only come through during one weekend in July and I quite enjoy the spectacle. Apparently there were over 300 riders this year but we weren’t bothered because we were busy house hunting in the UK at the time.  Yesterday a big, fluorescent pink arrow appeared on the road in our hamlet that would normally herald an equestrian event.  Today is a Bank Holiday in France so we expected another onslaught of horses.  We waited on the terrace but only a dozen horses and riders went by.  Rick was very disappointed.  

14 August 2018

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

Yesterday I made chocolate and beetroot cake.  It is very rich, moist and utterly delicious.

There are lots of recipes out there for this cake but I use the Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall one.  It's very easy to make but I can never figure out how they give a preparation time of only fifteen minutes.  By the time I had grated the beetroot, measured all the ingredients and lined the cake tin it was more like forty five minutes!  Only twenty five minutes baking time though.

Today it was a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips.

11 August 2018

Eating the Garden

It’s been a perfect, blue sky, summer’s day here.  Paul and I went to market early; there are always long queues in the boulangerie with tourists at this time of year.  We got bread and pastries, filled our plastic bottles with rosé and red at the wine stall, and bought a large, juicy Charentais melon from another stall.

Back home we had coffee and pastries on the terrace before a wander around the garden with my trug.  When I saw how well the basil was growing, after a shaky start in the spring, I decided to pick a big bunch and make some pesto.  Not such an easy task after breaking my whizzer but I managed to chop everything fine before finishing it off with a hand blender. 

making pesto
The garden sort of dictates to me what I prepare for meals.  Yesterday I noticed a lot of plums were down after our storm so I made a plum and raspberry crumble.  Today’s lunch was almost like tapas – lots of different, small dishes.  We had slices of quiche (leftover from yesterday), chickpea salad with pesto, fried peppers, tomatoes and lots of fresh, crusty bread.  Dessert was melon and raspberries.  All accompanied by a glass of cold rosé or two.

I like the label on this tin of chick peas

Tomorrow Paul is going to harvest a load of tomatoes for more soup and I intend to dig up some beetroots to make my annual chocolate and beetroot cake.

Does my life revolve around food?  Well, yes, just a bit!