Friday, 12 December 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This year, as in the past couple of years, we have made donations to charity instead of sending Christmas cards.

The charities we have chosen this year are The Brain Tumour Charity and  Queenscourt Hospice, Southport as both are instrumental in providing information and support for a very dear friend of mine.

In an attempt to stay sane during the festivities of Christmas and New Year, we will be posting only intermittently , so please check us out every once in a while!

For now, all that remains is to wish:

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
To all our readers and fellow bloggers!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Self Indulgence in Saumur

We took advantage of the weather yesterday and drove up to Saumur.

No matter how many times we visit, we are never disappointed. The Christmas decorations were going up and this one was on the mini roundabout by the Cessart Bridge in front of the Theatre and Opera House, which is now nearing the completion of extensive renovation.

A far more unusual sight greeted us as we made our way up the Rue de Franklin Roosevelt...

These umbrellas were being put up as a christmas display and they certainly made an impact..

From the shopping area we took a stroll round the older part of Saumur, where even the fountain was decorated...

The Eglise Saint-Pierre, the focus of a massive restoration project, is due to be completed in March 2015
We look forward to seeing it without scaffolding and wrapped with tarpaulins..

Then a couple of photos which are sheer indulgence on my part. The final one isn't even fully in focus because it was taken from the moving car (NB. I was the passenger!) but I just love the colours of the buildings in the last of the sunlight..

Hope you enjoy them

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The colour of money

Mistletoe... And what a colour! The sun was highlighting it perfectly...

These trees are absolutely full and this year there are plenty of berries, too. If the contents were on the shelves in the UK supermarkets they would certainly be the colour of money...

If you are interested in the history, myths and folklore surrounding mistletoe, we have blogged about it  before here.

The photos were taken on Monday afternoon on one of our local walks and this was the sky just before we reached home!

The white clouds on the horizon only served to intensify the indigo above.... Despite this, we just managed to finish the walk and get home before the heavy rain descended.... and it certainly descended!!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Richelieu Marché Noêl 2014

Over the weekend we've made three visits to Richelieu to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Marché Noël. Saturday afternoon was glorious, but when we were there the square was relatively quiet..

This view was taken through the La Porte de Chatellerault, looking into the Place du Marché...

We just caught the end of the annual "Crèche Vivante", featuring the school children accompanied by live animals, which this year were (thankfully!) housed in a separate pen!

Les Halles made the perfect backdrop for the Marché,

particularly when we went back in the evening

Despite the colder weather on Sunday attendance was very good..

 The children in particular, enjoyed the Spectâcle, with Père Noël and friends...

We spotted our little neighbour, Thiméo,watching spellbound..

and then with mum trying to coax him along..
The band struck up...

And everyone seemed to be full of the festive spirit (which one, we weren't sure; but they were certainly full of it!) by the time the fireworks drew the whole thing to a close yesterday evening..

So a Very Merry Christmas from Richelieu!!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Dartford Crossing

Yes, many of us will have been in this situation....
Image from Google Street View
But things should be improving...

After talking to Jean and Nick yesterday and discovering they were unaware of the changes to the Dartford Crossing payment system we thought it would be a good idea to include it as a blog post.

As from last Sunday you now can no longer pay by cash... It is all being done on number plate recognition, the same as the London congestion charge.

And if you don't pay by midnight the day after you use the crossing there is a £70 fixed penalty.... Ahhhh. The other Ahhhh is that they have increased the charge for a car from £2:00 to £2:50.

You can, as we have done, open an online account and place a £10 deposit for future use. The link is here.

You also have the choice to make this auto renewable, which we have done!! There is NO WAY we want a £70 fixed penalty after all it's the cost of an awful lot of crossings if you forget!!!

I am not sure if they let you know by email when you are charged but we will soon find out when we return to the UK for Christmas!

Hope you have found this useful as from what we have seen it has not been widely publicised!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

What's a Kaki?

That's what we thought when we saw the sign in E.Leclerc yesterday, so we bought one or rather, three as the offer was 3 for 0,99€

They turned out to be what we know as Persimmon. Searching through online recipes for help on how to prepare them, we found lots used in salads, predominantly alongside hazelnuts, but one recipe by Martha Stewart, was for a simple dessert: Caramellised Persimmon with marscapone and lime.

Jean and Nick came over today giving us the perfect excuse to try out this recipe...which basically involved cutting the persimmon into half inch slices,

drizzling over some runny honey and grilling until caramellised.

This done, place on a serving dish and sprinkle with fresh lime juice and serve with a spoonful of marscapone.

And the result?? Well, there were none left and I think we all enjoyed them. I found them just the right blend of sweetness - the lime juice helped to cut through the honey - and we would certainly have them again as a light dessert.

We'll also be on the look out for trees locally, as we have noticed one or two with fruit (or to be correct botanically, berries) going to waste by the wayside.