Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Creative Elizabeth...

If you have followed our blog for any length of time you will be aware of Elizabeth's creative talents. Today she regressed to her childhood and created this fine sculpture in our garden.

Well children will play won't they...

Another of  Elizabeth's many talents is sewing. Here's a couple of garments she knocked together recently...

The first is a baby dress... All we want now is a baby to wear it. How do we get one of those? Its been a long time!

The second is a little more sophisticated a work of art in fact. Elizabeth your talents never cease to amaze me!

Monday, 30 January 2012

What a difference a day makes...

Yesterday was cold, bright and sunny today was somewhat different as shown by the pictures of Braye church below. The first was taken yesterday when we returned from Pouzay and the second this afternoon.

We have had the first snow of the winter and more snow than we have seen since we have been here in France. It made for some magical views of the village and surrounding woods.

Local children and mad Englishmen!! (and women Elizabeth took the picture)

Even our garden looked great...

And as I write this it is still snowing!!!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Salon de l’Habitat, Chinon

For our Sunday afternoon outing this week we went to the Salon de l’Habitat held in the Espace François-Rabelais at Chinon. Basically a Good Homes Show.

The Espace François-Rabelais itself was an impressive building and stages various events throughout the year including many live concerts. Some of these can be found here.

Today's exhibition is an annual event and had stalls offering many services aimed at home improvements including such things as New Gates, Doors, Windows, Bathrooms, Insualtion, Roof and wall finishes.etc etc.

One stall featured cooking utensils and some food samples, unfortunately ALL of it contained Gluten even the peanut brittle, so Elizabeth missed out!! The stall holder said he usually made it with Almond flour but had run out so he had used ordinary flour. Better luck next year.

It was a good show and well worth a visit. We picked up a leaflet on solar water heating, but unfortunately we could not speak to anyone as the stall was unmanned whilst we were there. I suspect he was in the restaurant / bar having some lunch. Something for the future perhaps! It really depends on what the payback would be - several years I think will be the most likely answer.

On our way back Elizabeth took this stunning photo of the Fortress out of the car window. They certainly knew where to build it those days...

From Chinon we returned via Pouzay and visited an exhibition of paintings by the local Cré' Artistes Association held in the village hall. Elizabeth has very limited competition there.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Triumph of Hope over Experience...

Or just how misguided can you get?

This little ladybird was spotted (no pun intended) crawling on the buds of a hyacinth out in the garden today.

It obviously hasn't seen the weather forecast, or it would have known that within minutes of posing for this photograph it would be hailing and sleeting in equal measure. Not fit weather for a ladybird to be out and about!

Either that, or it's got some mighty fine thermals and a good set of wellies!!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Restoration ?

We are followers of the Channel Four programme 'Restoration Man'. The programme is hosted by architect George Clarke who follows and offers advice to people restoring, generally, listed buildings throughout the UK.

Last evening's programme followed a family restoring an old brickwork's engine house in Oxfordshire. It had been derelict for 100 years and had no roof.

I wonder what such a programme would make of the 'Maison de Fondoire' which according to the information at the site has been 'returned to the phantoms' since 1959.

The building had a life of just over 100 years from its construction in 1852 to its demise in 1959.  No time at all for such a building!

It would, however, be a brave soul and a very rich one who would undertake such a restoration project. But I bet it could be turned into a fine modern residence.

Some buildings are perhaps best left as ruins and if you want to see this one it is located on one of our favourite walks 'Les Sentes de Fondoire'. There are three walks, from 1350 mtrs to 5000mtrs, to suit all abilities. All three take you past the ruin and make for a very pleasant walk at any time of year.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Anzac Day Bake: Anzac Biscuits

Back in 2008 I collected a few family favourite cake and biscuit recipes from my mum's recipe book to give to the 'next generation' at Christmas. I still have a very battered copy of the first version which I kept for myself.

The recipes are nothing out of the ordinary; in fact in many ways that is their charm. They are each named after the person who baked them for the family and that makes them special.

Looking through the list of unwitting 'contributors', including my sister and auntie shown above, not one of them is still living, but they have left behind something we can enjoy.

Today being Anzac day I decided to bake Anzac biscuits following my mum's recipe:

As usual, I had to substitute gluten free flour and used a combination of Doves Farm Self Raising and Rice Flour..

Unfortunately the result was a little disappointing. I added more liquid and syrup to counteract the properties of gluten free flour, but nevertheless they are drier than I would like and not the lovely moist offerings mum used to bake.

However, the taste isn't bad. So thank you mum!

And you see, Gaynor, you're not the only one with baking nightmares!!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Fresh Local Produce

 A couple of weeks ago we noticed the old caravan showrooms en route to Chinon was undergoing alterations after standing empty for as long as we've lived here.

Last week the new business was up and running. It is a branch of Terre Y Fruits, supplying fresh, locally sourced fruit, vegetables and meat and fish direct from the producer to Touraine 37 . They already have branches in Descartes, Ste Maure de Touraine and Esvres

This week we stopped to take a look and, of course, came out with a bag of fresh veg and fruit - well who can resist?!

Although a new store it is already attracting a good number of customers and we had trouble finding a space on the car park.

That's always a good sign!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Identity crisis??

Our Goldfinches are enjoying our Niger seeds in great numbers. On most days we can count 30 plus around the feeders. They fight and squabble to get a perch on the feeders. ALL except one lone female who we are convinced thinks she is a Blue tit. For the last week or more she has appeared everyday feeding and  sometimes squabbling with the Blue Tits and Great Tits on the nut feeder.

We think it is the same bird that has mastered clinging on and pecking the nuts. We have seen other Goldfinches clumsily try to get on the nut feeder and then fall off.  She either has an identity crisis or has developed a liking for peanuts. Either way she does not have the hassle of the Niger seed feeders.

She probably cheeps "I want to be like yooou"

Monday, 23 January 2012

Spring preparations.

Last year we grew most of our vegetables from seed taking advantage of the space available in the grenier. There was however limited light and many of the seedlings became very leggy. At the time we talked about buying a greenhouse for use this year. However on reconsidering we decided we would not get full use out of a proper greenhouse... So we compromised on a very cheap option... Unfortunately it was another of those DIY assembly jobbies... This time without instructions and plenty of bits!!

I just love 3D jigsaws...
 Can you see what it is yet?
It will hold 18 large seed trays and more if we improvise a couple of shelves at the higher level. It comes complete with pegs to peg it down and four guy ropes. It should do the job if it doesn't all collapse when we get a strong wind.  Once we have finished with it it can be stored away in the cellar until next year.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Rambling round the villages 2012 part 2

For 'villages', read  'forest', because today's walk took us back to a favourite area of ours - la forêt de Scévolles, about 20km south west of Braye sous Faye near the village of Guesnes.

I photographed the following specimens, which I'm not going to attempt to name - I don't think it would add anything even if I could. So just enjoy, please, a look at some of the array of mosses, ferns and lichen we saw today.



Saturday, 21 January 2012

Fully loaded...

Yesterday we took advantage of the Soldes - again. We had completed the decoration and re-carpeting of one guest bedroom, and having bought the carpet with 20% off in the soldes we decided we may as well take advantage and go up to Chambray to buy another for the second guest bedroom.

At the same time we wanted to look for a suitable wardrobe for the completed bedroom. We had already looked in Ikea on our previous trip, so whilst the carpet was being cut and packed went to look in BUT. We found just what we were looking for and it was reduced by 20% in their soldes.

The salesman was very helpful, telling us it was €90+ for delivery and assembly which we thought was a bit excessive. "Will it go on a roof rack?" we asked. "Yes I think so; its in four boxes." he replied. As they had one in stock we decide to go ahead, paid for it and went to the loading bay. The two young gents were very helpful, despite thinking we were American, they loaded the boxes, three on the roof rack and one in the boot. The car sank several inches!!!.

We then went to collect our carpet all nicely rolled and packed. Again the staff loaded the roll onto the roof rack. The car sank a bit more!!! With everything secured by straps and rope we slowly drove home...

As you can see we made it...

We managed to unload the boxes to the garage where they were unpacked. On reading the box labels we saw the combined weight of the three on the roof was in excess of 100kgs!! 

Building the wardrobe was typical flat pack... The flat bits and hundreds of different screws and fittings. ("Been there" I can hear you saying). The instructions said 2 persons 1 hour 45 minutes... Rubbish!! it took us at least twice that. Anyway we were very pleased with the results.

AND we managed not to break the glass... A good result.

Bedroom number two here we come.....