Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Saumur revisited

The buildings of Saumur in the sunshine....

It's a great place to visit anytime of year particularly when the sun is shining. 

It has always been a special place for us and is even more so now.... We bought our engagement ring from here!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Gone Smocking!

On a recent trip to Saumur we noticed a quaint old shop selling a mixture of children's clothes, haberdashery, embroidery and collectable thimbles.

What caught my eye was the price of the little girl's smocked dresses. (The first one is 138 euros and the second 122 euros).

I've recently taken to doing a bit of smocking just for amusement and I've several pieces of fabric, smocked and ready to make up into something or other.. in fact, probably little girl's dresses...
After seeing these....

I think I might just show a little more respect to the work I've done:

And get it made up and on sale!

Monday, 27 February 2012


When Colin went out to close the shutters the other evening he called me to come and look at the sky. Just as the sun was setting it was possible to see Venus to the left of the crescent moon. I managed to capture the images below:

I went out to take a photo a few minutes later when the sky had darkened a little but of course because the light had faded my camera couldn't cope.... I know that feeling!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Reflections on the Loire at Saumur

Sun low in the sky and reflections on the water....The right elements for some lovely shots of the Loire at Saumur...

Annie, hope you enjoyed the view!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The circus comes to town..

The circus has arrived in Richelieu!

It is only a matter of three weeks ago that we did a post about the circus in the snow at Chatellerault and Chinon and now we've our very own one just outside the town walls.

It was a strange sight to round the corner yesterday and see the animals out to grass...

For the observant among you, it is the same name as the earlier one but a different outfit....

And just in case you're wondering.... NO we're not going!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Taupes (Moles) update

Since the beginning of December our large patch of garden has not had a new mole hill...

Great; I thought I was winning the battle! After extensive trapping and gassing, the moles had finally got the message and moved on... Especially when Elizabeth took these two photos of  another house in the village.

They obviously had a plentiful supply of worms and what does that bring!!! A mole attack. They have my sympathy and I hoped my moles.

Think again Colin! Yesterday morning I was greeted with three new mole hills and by evening another had erupted despite my efforts with the gas. So last night it was out with a trap and this morning it had been sprung but alas no mole.

One battle may have been won however the war continues and the moles are back. I am ready  for you moles... Bring it on...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Spot the difference!

Last year we had an exceptionally warm, dry spring and this clearly impacted on the growing season.

The photograph below was taken on 20th February 2011.

Six days later, the tree has buds bursting open and is playing host to hundreds of bees.

I took the following shots of the same tree today, the mid point between the dates above.

Spot the difference!! Roll on warm, sunny days...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Another new visitor to our garden

Earlier this week spotted a lone Cirl Bunting (Emberiza Cirlus) scavenging around under our bird feeders. This charming relative of the Yellowhammer is rare in the UK and has a RED status with the RSPB. In France it is known as Bruant ziza, is more common and from the limited information I have read has a Local Status... We have never seen one before and enjoyed watching it.

Interestingly we had many Bramblings last year scavaging where the Cirl Bunting was spotted. This year we have only every seen one. Was this because of the mild start to the winter and they didn't bother migrating this far south?

Our local birds should be the fattest around. Since January 8th they have eaten between them 5 kg peanuts, 5kgs Niger seeds, 5kg Sunflower seeds, 30 Fat balls, 3kg local bird seed, 2 kg millet and several of Elizabeth's failed Gluten Free breads. Thank goodness the better weather is coming!!!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Out walking on Sunday

As we mentioned in yesterday's post we had a walk around Le Grand Pressigny with Jim and Pauline on Sunday.

Our route took us out of the village over the Claise...

then along the track which ran past the Nympheum... If you take a close look at the photo below you may just make out the spaniel which followed us every step of the way...

It was a delight to see banks of snowdrops in full flower

A slight incline brought us out into open fields with splendid views of the chateau across the field from just outside the old chateau walls...

Then past one of the corner posts

and a glance into a roadside cave..

before taking a detour to see 'Les habitats Troglodytiques', a small collection of dwellings, dating back to Neolithic times, carved into the limestone hillside...

This one with a balcony is obviously the deluxe version...

The final part of our walk took us back into the village, with the chateau dominating the skyline.

Then it was back to Jim and Pauline's for a welcome cuppa and a good old chat in front of the log fire..

We had to drag ourselves away, with groans and moans as we felt muscles in places we didn't even know we had places!

The joys of getting old, eh?!

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Nympheum...

We went over to see our friends Jim and Pauline at Le Grand Pressigny yesterday and took advantage of the lovely, spring-like weather to go for a walk (more of this tomorrow).

Among the things Jim pointed out to us was the Nympheum, which is set within the walled park of Le Grand Pressigny's chateau.

Sadly the building had been left to deteriorate until it was little more than a ruin. Emergency work began five or six years ago in an attempt to save this important architectural feature.

As the above photo shows, the initial work has not been altogether sympathetic to the building but in fairness it was an emergency measure!

Originally "nympheum" referred to a natural grotto dedicated to a water nymph. In later times they became part of the itinery of walking round the chateau park - a refreshing place to rest in the shade. Due to the bucolic nature of the surroundings they became a favourite place for amorous encounters.....

The Nympheum has yet to be accurately dated but research suggests it is reasonable to assume it was constructed at the beginning of the second half of the sixteenth century. The family arms belonging to the Savoie-Villars are on the keystone of the cupola and the medallions on the facade. The last heir to the family sold the domain in 1627. It is one of the earliest sites of this type to have been partly excavated in the Centre region.  

Excavations at the site have revealed a complex water system which is fully explained here and evidence of this can be seen outside the Nympheum

The Nympheum was one of many fascinating points of interest on a really enjoyable walk!