Monthly Archives: May 2014

Ta Ta, Steak Tartare

 

 

Well another week has passed by and this one was much less dramatic than the last well for me tanyway, no serpents this week.

But it was a little more dramatic for one of our guests, hence the title of the blog.

Tuesday – Kevs brother Chris and his friend Carmen came to visit us, to celebrate Chris’s birthday. All started well, the weather wasn’t too bad [apart from the crazy mistral winds we had on Wednesday which wiped my plant pots from the window cills and smashed them]. We went into Albi to have lunch at Cafe Le Pontie  which is one of our favourites, its on the main sqaure and is very relaxed, a great place to watch the world go by and it has great food. Anyway the waiter gave us our menus and we all decided to have Pizzas apart from Chris who opted for Steak Tartare, now i must say he is very adventurous and brave to try this French delicacy, we  all looked at him with a grimace on our faces and roughly said the same thing “are you sure its the day before your birthday” we were going to go to our local Michelin starred restaurant at the Chateau De Salettes  for his birthday dinner, “you may get ill from it” said i, but no he had decided that is what he wanted,  and when it came it looked very presentable and very raw! We all tucked into our pizzas and Chris picked at his raw beef oh and it had a raw egg on top as well….mmmmm….not!

Anyway we finished our lunch and had a lovely afternoon meandering around the city looking at the sites and shops.

Thursday – Chris’s birthday and oh dear what your not feeling that good, oh dear, no it couldn’t be could it, not the steak tartare making an appearance, oh dear, poor boy spent most of the day saying ta ta to the steak tartare. Hence no Michelin starred restaurant for us and no food at all for Chris, poor thing, we celebrated his birthday for him, wine tasting, eating, shopping and making merry. But by Friday he was feeling much better and even managed lunch out in Gaillac and a few drinks at cafe Joubert.

He departed on Saturday healthy and a few pounds lighter, which he was more than happy with.

Heres what happened the rest of the week.

We found a fabulous bargain at Troc our local second hand store, its a French version of a Welsh dresser, it needs a bit of attention and will look much nicer painted French grey. Its going to live in our new kitchen and house all our crockery.

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We popped to our local cafe Joubert for a glass of rose and Bernard the owner had been very busy making a hen house, so fresh eggs on his menu soon.

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No Le Serpant this week but i did see this beautiful looking chap whilst out with Barnaby Pickles today, he was about a foot long which is the biggest lizard i have seen here, he was enjoying the sunshine.

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After chasing lots of birds in the fields master pickles was so hot he decided to sit the the stream for five minutes, i couldn’t get him to shift not even at the mention of  deer to chase or treats, no he stayed put cooling off.

 

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And after a beautiful hot day i was treated to an amazing thunder storm which passed our village by but gave a great light show and lots of very loud thunder.

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And now some rain to end the day which is great as i don’t have to water the garden, thanks mother nature.

Happy end of the week everyone, heres to the next one.

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The incident of the “Snake in the grass”

As i write this readers i am taking rather large sips from a very big glass of rose, no not because its been a scorching day and rose fits the bill on such a lovely day, but because i need to steady my nerves, why? well on my walk with Barnaby Pickles today we met a rather large snake, arghh…. and for those of you who know me, you know how terrified i am of snakes. We weren’t even in long grass or off the beaten track, we were on the footpath just at the bottom of the hill [in the photo below that Barnaby is featured in surveying his kingdom]. It all happened in a flash, there was a rustle in the barley and something scuttled off so we walked on and then “Le Serpent” literally popped its head out of the barley, Barnaby was about two meters ahead of me and “Le Serpent” was in-between us, i fell over due to the shock of it, it was raised up as they do to make themselves look bigger, it looked at me then Barnaby [who was stood still looking at me as if to say whaaaas up daddy] it then did a little head shake at Barnaby and slithered off into the stream. It was all shades of green, thin but about a meter long. Well you can imagine i was apoplectic, my heart pounding in shock at what at just happened and panicking as i dint know if it had bit Barnaby, although he seemed fine trotted off to sniff something. I checked him over and headed home doing my fasted London must get there walk. I had a rather large glass of something strong and immediately googled “Snakes of South West France” i found a lot of sites which all mostly said the same things, that most of the snakes in France as in the UK are not deadly dangerous apart from a few vipers but even those don’t generally kill you, unless your very old or have medical conditions. The articles went on to say that snakes are very shy and will want to get away from you very quickly, well this one wasn’t that shy it stopped for a look before slithering off. Oh i could go on for ages about it but i won’t bore you all to death, let me get on with the rest of the week but first big glug of rose.

The weather has been stunning as i know it as been in the UK, blue skies, hot, but with some nice cool breezes.

As you can see from the pic below Barnaby has been loving his walks, surveying his kingdom at every opportunity.

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Swimming in the dwindling brook, the water level is dropping by the day and soon there will be no swimums for the pickle.

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He has even taken to dipping in the pond [near Le Serpent incident] to cool off, there were lots of beautiful dragon flies all mating around this pond but i couldn’t get a photo they were too frantic with pleasure.

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The sunflowers are shooting up, or as they call them in France “tournesol”  so named because they turn their heads towards the sun.

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There are lots of wild vines popping up at the edges of the fields, i say wild but they arnt really as they derive from the cultured vines that used to be in most of the fields surrounding our village, they are mostly all gone now due to overproduction of wine and the government quoters, farmers were made to dig up their vines and plant other crops.

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Cherry season is upon us, yummy, the trees near us are heavy with ripening fruit, which are looking rather juicy, it will be rude not to try a few.

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We have been busy on our land, mowing, planting, digging, and i also had time to make a table out of some wooden planks i found in the loft.

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I hope you have all had a great week with no scary incidents with serpents….

Heres the the new week ahead.

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Market day in Gaillac

Friday is market day in Gaillac and today as the sun wash shining and the air was warm it was much busier than normal, in fact trying to get a parking space today was interesting to say the least, there arnt that many places to park and all the ones i knew about were full, hmmm where to go, argh i remember there is a parking area at the base of the abby by the river.  Off i sped in Kev’s car and today was the day for Kev’s car, roof down music playing and thank god i had it as the roads down to the river bank car park were so narrow, with lots of twist and turns and old french people walking; very slowly in the middle of the raod as they do, you can’t beep them its rude… isn’t it???

So eventually after feeling like i had been on a fair ground ride i found the car park and a space, yes, oh and what a view, it was worth all the twists and turns and the old French people, NCP’s don’t have views like this in Londinium.

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Gaillac is so beautiful i do love it and don’t come in enough, today will make up for that.

The market sprawls through the town, let me take you on a little tour.

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Lets start in the main square [the old one] which has a central sunken fountain and very pretty it is too. From here the market stalls radiate out, this part of the market is mainly fruit, veg and food and very yummy it all looks.

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Now theres a shell suit top to be proud of and you thought shell suits were out of fashion, nah not in France they arnt.

And the kind man is helping with her melons…..

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Im not really a tomato person [even though i have 12 varieties growing in my potager at home] but wow these look so tasty.

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Same goes for asparagus [i don’t like what it does to your wee] but again it looks so lovely… didn’t buy any mind you.

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Arghh here is one of my favourite houses in the old square, i would love to know what lies behind that keyhole.

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No market is complete without a huge pan of food, ill have one, the whole one please

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I bought a little succulent plant from this stall, its sitting on the table i made near my potager, the girl [her in the background with the Sofie Ellis Bexter fringe] who served me was so polite with a big grin on her face, was probably the awful French i spoke.

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There is a covered market area which is reserved for artisans, mainly ones who grow organic and bio foods and plants.

The strawberries were stunning, i tried one or two, so sweet and juicy, like real strawberries not the watery ones you get in the supermarket.

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Here you go  they take great pride in their stalls, forever titivating their boxes.

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A lovely eclectic mix of products all looking fabulous.

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Off up to the main town square[ the new one] its had a face lift and it looks very smart, this area of the market has all your basics and essentials, kickers, bras, trusses etc

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And then lets pop over the road to the main car park which is not a car park today, mores the pity.

This is my favourite part of the market i call it “Toot ville” why? well you can see for yourself lots of toot, i mean why buy a real plant when you can have on doff these stunning fake ones!!!!!

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This stall is amazing, its an extendable lorry full of home bits and bobs, i mean you could spend a day on “The Generation Game” conveyor belt and still not guess everything.

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Arggh yes and plastic tubs in every shade of unnatural.

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I do love a bit of haberdashery though, but what: no grey linen, in sixty shades of, don’t they know the brits love it.

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This last aisle is very special as its reserved for the real artisan traders

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Now these men are the real deal, i love these people they look so amazing, i would love to be able to chat to them about their lives, i bet there are so many interesting stories to be told.

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This man looks especially interesting, he only has one product for sale some kind of bacon roll thingy,  and i bet that linen cloth has never been washed, it probably adds to the taste, hmm think not.

So there you have it market day in Gaillac, well one of them anyway and what did i buy i hear you ask, six celery plants and they are doing fine, all tucked up in my potager and well fed and watered.

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The wind that rocks the barley

last week was a complete mix of weather sun, rain, cloud, and wind sometimes gusty bust mostly gentle breezes that has rocked the barley which is heady and heavy with seed.

Its amazing how quickly crops grow especially with all the rain and sunshine we have had this spring. i am loving the colours of the fields at the moment, the barley crops are a myriad greens at the moment, dark shades at the base of the crops  with a dusting of of the freshest lime green.

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Miel Miaow has been exploring her terrain, laying in wait to pounce on any passer by, she thinks this is great fun and no sooner than pouncing out on you has scarpered to find her next hiding place.

 

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After a long days pouncing she like nothing better than snuggling up on her favourite seat near the wood burner.

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The flora and fauna that i see whilst walking the pickle keep amazing me, yesterday i saw this butterfly, well think its a butterfly, I’ve never seen one quite like it, part of its wings are translucent and other parts or bright yellow, so beautiful, if anyone knows what it is do tell.

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The last week we have been making the most of the dry spells doing work in the garden, i have sanded and oiled our garden table and chairs, we bought this set 12 years ago and leave it out in the rain and snow all winter without covers, a quick sanding and some teak oil and it looks as good  as new.

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We have chosen the colour for our shutters, well i say we choose it but we have just used the same colour as our new window frames, we bought the paint from Castorama an amazing huge DIY store in Toulouse, its part of the Kingfisher brand that own B&Q in the Uk. I painted one of the shutters that is in a good condition to see what it was like and i love it apart from the fact that even though we bought satinwood and it says satinwood on the can , its gloss, so all that paint will have to go back, oh well thats another trip to Castorama, thats fine by me its amazing i could make a day out of it in that store, pity they don’t sell hot dogs like Ikea.

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We have started to prepare the area around where our pool is gong to be, we cut back a huge Hebe bush and have cut the trunks into an Egg shape so hopefully if its not too distressed by being so harshly cut back it will grow and form a nice shape.IMG_0660

 

Our amazing neighbour and former mayor Claude very kindly offered to dig some test holes where our pool is hopefully going to be, i say hopefully as we needed to check if the ground was solid enough to take the weight of the water.

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four or five holes later we worked out where the bedrock was and market out the pool using one of those bright spray cans.

 

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And bless him whilst Claude was around he offered to dig out all the stumps of the trees we have cut down [don’t worry we are going to plant new trees to replace them] lots of the trees have been planted randomly and needed to go to make way for our garden master plan.

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So all in all a busy week, mmm what will next week bring?

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Vide-Greniers

With spring most definitely sprung and summer on the horizon tis the sea on here in France for Vide Greniers, what i hear you ask? Well this roughly translates “Empty your attics” yes a sort of car boot sale as we would know it, but here in France they have many types some are just rummage sales, some can be plant sales and others all food based most are a complete mixture.

Today was our Vide Grenier and after a really lovely sunny day yesterday i awoke to drizzle and cold winds, so i presumed the worst and thought it would be a disaster, but i hadn’t counted on the French’s love of a Vide Grenier, come rain or shine they will come.

Migs our friend popped bye on her way home from house sitting for a friend and texted to ask me to open the drive gates which i did brolly in hand only to be amazed that the edges of the road was jam-packed with parked cars, Migs rolled down her window and said that the village was packed with stalls and people.

Our little village was a maze of stalls, big, small, some covered in tarpaulin’s others with patio parasols and some with plastic sheets strung up betweens trees, and a complete mix of plants, food, brica brac and junk….

The weather brightened up as the day rolled bye and more and more people came and left with armfuls of goodies.

And yes Migs and i purchased a few bits along the way too. I came home with just 20 cents left of my 20 euro pocket money but i had loads of plants a glass measuring jug in centilitres as all one are in litres oh yes and a fab huge zing jug which i have planted up with strawberries.

A fab day and a great success for our little village and next Sunday we roll on to Senouillac which is our neighbouring village and hopefully more bargains to be had.

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Raindrops & Butterflies and Pussy Cats Tales…..

After a quick trip to London for work I came back to rain, rain and yes you guessed it even more rain, April is going out with more than a few showers. Mind you they do pass over quite quickly with dramatic effect.

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Miel continues to amuse us all with her antics, she has discovered the storage boxes in the stables and thinks they are  great to play hide and seek in.

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She has also claimed her new favourite place to sit… our playstation box her favourite programme is The Good Wife.

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I made a new friend when i popped down to pick up the mail from the post box, i offered him some factor 50 but he declined.

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The one thing about all the rain and sun, it has made our garden grow like crazy, we have a lovely show of irises at the moment, the flower heads are huge and they smell divine.

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All the wild flowers have attracted swarms of beautiful butterflies, i have never seen so many.

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They are attracted to the array of bright colourful flowers, i do love the spring its such a fabulous season, full of promise for what lies ahead the rest of the year.

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The Cow Parsley is growing knee high and the buttercups are washing the fields with a yellow haze.

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The trees have all lost their blossoms now, being replaced with tiny fruits which will swell and offer up lots of tasty treats later in the summer. The wild fig trees are bursting with fruit.

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What a fabulous week and what a fabulous place we live in. Lets see what May brings us.

Happy Mayday everyone.

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