Friday, 28 February 2014

Grande Vente Emmaus...

We'd noticed the signs last week and made a mental note to go today to the Grande Vente Emmaus, at Chatellerault. Against the odds we remembered and took a trip down.

This is what Colin would like to have purchased...
or the tall object in the middle here....

However, sense prevailed and this is what we bought..
Eight matching glass serving dishes, a glass cake stand, a cut glass serving dish and a mixing bowl and a fluted loose bottomed flan dish - all for the princely sum of €8.30. From there we went to the book and clothing hall and lost ourselves for an hour or so!

Everything is sold by weight; €2 per kilo for general bric-a-brac; €2.50 for books and €3 for clothing

The sale continues over the weekend at the Parc d'Expo, in Chatellerault.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Problem with Early Bloomers!

The mild weather has brought out another couple of early bloomers in our garden borders...

The first of these being the Fritillary

We saw many wild Fritillaries in early April last year and would like to be able to visit the site again this year. Our problem now is going to be timing when they are in bloom in the wild...

Another early bloom is the Cowslip

This one was taken on a walk through our local wood yesterday...

These are beginning to show themselves in the wild as well...

So you can see our problem...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

En Route to Chinon..

Driving to Chinon this morning we spotted this magnificent buzzard on the roadside verge by the roundabout at Anché

It was prepared to ignore Elizabeth leaning out of the car window taking a photo as long as it kept its meal...

We'd also seen a carpet of snowdrops by the roadside near Champigny-sur-Veude so on the way back we planned to stop for photos..

However we had one of those magnetic French cars behind us... the ones which cling to your bumper for dear life. We had to go past and look for a convenient place to pull in where we wouldn't get stuck in the mud. Elizabeth then legged it back to the snowdrops, jumped the dyke and got these shots.

There were snowdrops as far as the eye could see in every direction!

As she ran back to the car a "Blue Van" arrived..... The gentlemanly Gendarmes pulled over and asked:
"Vous avez un problème Madame?"

In her best French she had to explain:
"Il y a des belles fleurs et j'ai pris les photos!"

It was reassuring to know that if there had have been a problem they were prepared to stop and offer assistance!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Servicing the Autoportée

and some advice about the cost of parts...

Yes, it is that time of year again... Our next door neighbour Antony actually cut his grass on Sunday, keen chap that he is!!!

This coming season will be the fourth for our Autoportée (ride on mower) and it does get some abuse as regular readers will know, so this year I decided to do a little more 'servicing'.

First job was the engine oil change. I normally buy my oil filters in the UK and last year I paid £10 from a local garden machinery company. This year I decided to see what I could buy here in France (basically I forgot to get one!)

To cut a long story short - cost €45;, £8.62 plus £4.60 delivery. I increased the quantity to two and the postage went up by £0.40. So I ordered two, delivered, for £22,24. They came on Saturday.

Next was the cooling system (air) and the engine air filter. For the first time I removed all the engine cowlings in order to give the area a good clean, although in fairness it wasn't too bad.

The air filter was a different matter...really needs replacing after three seasons of dust. Getting a replacement was the same story as the oil filter. cost €47;, £7.54 plus £4.09 delivery. It is due to be delivered at the weekend!!

Next up was the drive and the cutters. Last season the cutter drive belt jumped the pulleys, for reasons only known to itself, and as a precaution whilst in the UK I ordered a set of belts from a company on Ebay for £58 delivered... I have no idea what they would be from Bricomarche BUT expensive springs to mind.

The cutters have been sharpened for the third time...

They get very blunt after a season cutting

and are showing the signs of the repeated sharpening.

I am not sure at what point they will need replacing but I will for sure be shopping around for the best price...

....Elizabeth likes the sparks!!

Here's to another good season mowing and the arguments as to who wants to drive the mower round!

As a note, I thought I was early with the servicing... when I looked back at the blog it was 18th Feb in 2012 and 10th March in 2013... Blogs do have there uses...

Monday, 24 February 2014

"Feels like Spring..."

We lost count of the number of times we said "feels like spring" yesterday afternoon, but the signs were all around us as we walked through the woods near Braslou.

We mentioned the butterflies yesterday. Today it's the turn of the flowers....

Gorse, Lesser Celandine and Spring Cinquefoil gave a colourful display..

Less obvious were the tiny flowers of Common Chickweed..

And lastly one of my all time favourites..

For yesterday at least, Spring put in an appearance and we hope very much that it's here to stay!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Early Butterfly Spotting

We commented the other day that we had seen both Brimstone and Peacock butterflies in the garden but today we were surprised to see yet more butterflies as we walked in the woods between us and our neighbouring village, Braslou..

First up was the Brimstone. With its wings closed it is hardly noticeable at first amongst the leaves on the woodland floor...

A short flight later and this plainer background set it off beautifully...

Next a Peacock Butterfly and a Red Admiral flew past, the Red Admiral landing on my sleeve for a brief moment, but we didn't manage a photograph.

Further down the track a dash of bright orange against the silver-grey of the tree bark caught our eye

The Comma stayed still long enough for us to get a close up shot..

These were unexpected sightings so early in the year. We would not normally expect to see them for another couple of weeks into early March.

More about the walk tomorrow, but for now another unexpected sighting...

What a way to travel... How perfectly lovely!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Sapeurs-Pompiers to the Rescue

Driving home today from Chatellerault this morning, we came upon an "incident"..

It's not every day you see two cars on fire after a collision. I didn't like the look of the flames under the blue van and we weren't going to hang around and find out what happened next..

I guess there'd be two shocked drivers and a home owner with a scorched wall and charred hedge...

Not what you expect to see on your way home with the shopping!

Friday, 21 February 2014


For the last couple of years we have enjoyed the luxury of Ryanair flights from Tours to Manchester during the summer months.

Some may wonder at my use of "luxury" but it has been a luxury for us to travel 50 minutes from Braye to Tours airport, take a 35 minute flight and land at Manchester with a drive of only 40 minutes ahead - and all this for a ridiculously low fare. On one occasion I did the round trip (Tours/Manchester/Tours) for 12€...

It was always too good to last and we confirmed this week that the route will not be operating this year. Having just travelled back to the north west of England via the Tours to Stansted route, I've realised what we've lost.

Landing at Stansted, collecting a hire car and then driving for 5 hours up the British Motorway system is not my idea of a good start to a visit "back home"! And the thought of the same in reverse at the end of the week just about did it for me..

So what is our alternative? The next best thing is to drive down to Limoges and fly to Liverpool. It's not the end of the world (excuse the pun) but it's a faff compared to Tours-Manchester.

Oh well! Gripe over! We're lucky we've an option at all. But for now our luxury route is up in the clouds..

And our airport of choice, just a dream at the end of the rainbow..

On a brighter note... Here's one from a half Yorkshire man to a Yorkshire man (you know who you are)...

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Good news for Richelieu

The following is a basic translation from an article published on La Nouvelle You can see the full french text here
The National Commission for conservation areas approved the revised backup plan and development of the city of Richelieu. On February 13th 2014 the commission under the Ministry of Culture was unanimous in its approval,  and commented "very favorable" on the project that was presented. The quality of the study was also praised.
This important and essential decision will help to continue the process of change currently underway. Beyond this is the opportunity to continue the heritage restoration in the city and boost the tourist attractions of the city and the park. 
The new backup plan should be in place by the end of the year after the results of the public inquiry. It will promote the development, both residential and economic. 
The programme is based on clearly stated goals while helping to make the people involved in the redevelopment of their city. They were involved in its preparation and a public presentation of the project took place in December before the validation of the main orientations.
Launched in 2009 by the prefect at the request of the council, the revision process will update the documents from 1965 which have become inconsistent with the city's needs over time.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Cherry Pie No 2

You could say I am an infrequent baker... I last used REAL pastry to make a cherry pie in January 2012... Last week whilst the 'gluten free' Elizabeth was in the UK I was going to make another but didn't quite get around to it...

But yesterday...

With a freezer full of ready stewed cherries and the ready made pastry in the fridge it was Colin the pastry chef into action!

A slightly different approach to the last one in that we now own a suitable pie tin AND some blind baking balls... The tin was lined with the pastry and blind baked.

As the cherries were a bit watery when thawed out, on the advice from the expert, I added three teaspoons of arrowroot and brought them to the boil in order to thicken them...

These were then cooled and added to the pastry case.

 NOW promise not to laugh... There was insufficient pastry left for a full top so.......
The finished pie

had Elizabeth drooling... It tasted delicious AND its ALL MINE!!!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Set Fire to the Rain.....

...... soaked Leylandii...

The wind was in the right direction, so it was all systems go as we attempted to burn the last of the leylandii trimmings - for this year at least.

And after a day of sawing, carrying and piling on branch after branch, we were amazed that despite the rain we've had, we were able to leave the fire to burn out, with all but these few logs left to smoulder away..

And by this stage it was starting to rain....

So, with apologies to Adele, today it was our turn to set fire to the rain!