Monday, 31 October 2011

Building measurements !

"I told you to check your measurements before you ordered that window" Did you give the carpenter metric or imperial dimensions?

Structural Calculations "Wot structural calculations"!!!

Only in France do you find such things!! I think they are great and they always brighten my day....

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Situated approximately 8km from Braye is the village of Faye-la-Vineuse. Its name comes from the Latin "fagus" (beech), which gave Faye. Indeed Braye-sous-Faye still bears the name.With a population of just over 300 it is a typical sleepy French village. However its history tells a completely different tale.

The settlement grew up on a hill for defence purposes and by the Middle Ages this was a walled city housing ten thousand people within and outside its walls. Until Richelieu was built, it was the largest city in the region.

In the eleventh century Fulk Nerra built a castle to fortify the city. Its walls had four gates each with a drawbridge. At the beginning of the twelfth century Râoul Châtellerault built three churches and a crypt. But by 1593 nearly all these buildings had been destroyed as a result of religious conflict. This heralded the decline of Faye-la-Vineuse as a medieval city. In 1626 the city was taken by Richelieu.

Today few of these grand buildings remain, among them the twelfth century église Saint-Pierre de Marnay and the église paroissiale de Saint-Georges-de-Faye-la-Vineuse.

The church merits a separate blog which we will do over the next few days.

A poster in the Place d'église describes two walks round the village; one follows the boundary of the centre of the village ; the second is a circuit of the ramparts.

The village today bears no hint of its violent history. We enjoyed a peaceful walk with only the geese hostile to our presence.

As we left to return to Braye the countryside opened up before us, a reminder of the elevated position Faye-la-Vineuse enjoys.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Carrots with everything!

The last of the carrots were dug up yesterday so that we can rotivate the potager in preparation for the winter. Quite what we're going to do with all the carrots is yet to be decided. Carrots with everything, I guess!

One thing's for sure: there will be nothing wrong with our night vision!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Appropriate clothing for the work !!!!

We noticed in Richelieu that repair work was taking place to the roof of one of the grand properties on the corner of the Le Grand Rue and the main square. The pitch of these roofs is extremely steep and as usual with these works in France 'common sense' Health and Safety was in place to protect the men working at height.

It wasn't until I looked at the photograph a little more closely that I noticed the jacket worn by the guy on the roof top!

For those of poor vision it reads "Dare Devil"  Most appropriate I would say!!!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Exposition d’instruments insolites au Château du Rivau

On a visit last week to the Château du Rivau we were fortunate to spend some time with the Kamil Tchalaev, a professional musician whose collection of instruments from around the world have been on display at the chateau this summer. Many of his eclectic mix of instruments are available for visitors to handle and to try for themselves.

Kamil explained to me that the role of professional musician can be an isolated one. His world became confined to the concert hall, the academy and the conservatory without really engaging with the public. Since 1999 he has made it his mission to bring music both to children and to the disabled and disadvantaged. He spoke of his interest in the chaos of sound and of creating structure from this chaos. Having learnt how sound is created he has been able to build his own instruments, some of which were also on display.

More about his life and work can be found

Kamil found us experimenting with these horns....

and stepped in to show how it should be done...

Almost ready to perform a duet... as daughter looks on barely able to conceal her amusement!
 Now it's on to the conch shell. That's the way to do it!
And now for the smaller version!

It was at this point that he gave us up as a bad job and moved on to other potential musicians!

I think I could actually get a sound out of that one!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Want-not Soup

At the end of the season when you've picked the last of the tomatoes and other vegetables, soup is the ideal thing to make. Not only is it nutritious and warming in the cooler weather, it also freezes well, so nothing need go to waste.

My recipe for "Want-Not Soup" is so called for that very reason.  Add whatever vegetables you have spare and every batch you make will be slightly different, which is an added bonus!

These are the ingredients I used to make my batch today:

Now for the method:

Tomatoes form a good basis for the soup. The quantity is up to you but they must first be skinned. I do this by bringing them to the boil in a large pan and as the come to the boil I scoop them out with a slotted spoon and, wearing rubber gloves to protect my hands, I peel off the skin which at this stage should come away without much difficulty. The peeled tomatoes can be put in a separate container until all are ready.

Once the tomatoes are all peeled pour away any water from the pan and return the tomatoes to it. Peel and chop your selection of vegetables (such as the ones shown above) and add these to the pan along with a vegetable stock cube (the Knorr one shown are really good). Then simply bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.

Leave to cool slightly and then blitz with a whisk until smooth, or, if preferred, leave it chunky for a more rustic feel! Sometimes I put it through a sieve to remove the tomato seeds but this is optional.

Serve with a herb garnish or a swirl of creme fraiche:

It is delicious with fresh bread (I'm told!) and will freeze perfectly well until needed.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Pont de Chinon. Work completed (nearly)

Back in September when we last wrote about the Pont de Chinon. The works to  renew the foundations of two supports were well underway. Today they are virtually completed and it looks a very sound job....

All that remains is to remove the piles and dismantle the temporary access road. Today they had started to remove the pilings on the back side of the works..


Just in time for the high river levels of the winter...

Monday, 24 October 2011


This morning we went for a walk through our local woods, just through the village of Braye. Whilst there we took the opportunity to do a little foraging....


A fine selection of sweet eating chestnuts were collected.

We will be roasting them tonight not forgetting to cut a cross in the bottom, else they tend to explode in the oven and make a right mess....!!!! Yum Yum can't wait... Get the oven on......

Sunday, 23 October 2011

One Hairy Beastie!

If I was a mini beast, high up in my top ten "Things I would NOT like to Meet in the Grass" would be this fellow:

 Handsome he may be...

Hairy he definitely is!

But I must admit, he's just not my type!

I prefer what (I think !!!) he will grow into .....

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The last of the potager

It was back in July I wrote about our potager, After the first frosts it is now on its last legs...

The final crop we planted was two rows of Haricot beans back in August after our neighbour Antony was planting his second crop... They have been doing really well and we have had 5 kgs of beans with plenty more growing, however the frost has taken its toll..

We still have a supply of carrots and beetroot...

The red and chilly peppers are holding in there JUST...

But what surprises me is that we still have a few eatable tomatoes...

We still have some leeks but they are not growing well at all and the brassicas just don't appear to grow here and what has grown has been food for so many bugs...

But overall it will soon be time for the Rotavator in preparation for next year....

Roll on the spring I can't wait....

Friday, 21 October 2011

Dog meets dog..

We recently had the pleasure of a visit from Lulu and her faithful companions, Jean and Nick. Lulu soon made friends with our dog but unfortunately the relationship was somewhat one-sided: the dog in question is a draught excluder bought from Aldi France a few months ago.


It is safe to say that this is the most interest anyone has shown in our draught excluder and full marks for Aldi quality.... the draught excluder survived!!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Incy Wincy Spider, Hon Mem. Institute of Structural Engineers!

Of all the photographs we took in the forest at Preuilly, the one I find most impressive is Colin's photo of a spider's web. We spotted the web in a clearing in the forest and because the light was catching it, it could be seen from quite some distance away.

If we zoom in, the intricacy of its construction can clearly be seen...
What a fantastic creation. Well done that spider!