The Sound of Music

Last night we went up to Friend Cathy’s for apèros and music – in fact, we were there all evening, so I’m glad I’d had a substantial lunch! Despite that,  Mr FD and I did rather attack the snacks with gusto! We had a wonderful time.

There were three guitarists, and various tambourine/maraca players, plus those of us who did impromptu percussion on tables, or glasses!

David, (C’s friend from the Port), Martin (C’s friend, staying for a few days) and Gerome (Friend Alison’s Other Half) were our guitarists. Sue (Martin’s wife), Cathy and Mr FD were the tambourine/maraca players, I was the impromptu percussionist and Richard and Stefan just listened and sang. We sang (some of us better than others) songs – Beatles, Eagles, Johnny Cash, and many others – and generally had a great time.

Martin is also a talented songwriter and he played and sang some of his own compositions, which were lovely.

Later on, a storm arrived, so we decamped into Cathy’s as-yet-unfinished house. There is a roof and floor, with electricity in some of the house, and windows & doors not all fitted yet. But it was dry and we continued singing and playing until Friend Clare, who lives opposite, came & asked us very politely if we could stop as she had to be up early tomorrow. As it was 10.30 that was fine…the party broke up and we wended our way back home, or to our camper vans/caravans (depending on who we were, & where we were living!)

A really great evening…

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Happy Retirement, M. Khodri!

I have worked for ILS for 9 years now. I remember my first meeting with M. Khodri, the director – previously I’d been working in St Etienne, at Wall Street Institute, and although I liked the people, it was a long way to travel (taking about 1.5 hours to get from door to door) and I wasn’t very keen on the method of teaching employed by the company. So one day, I took a few CVs and letters of motivation to Clermont Ferrand and decided to trawl round the language schools there. I called in at WSI, and had a slightly bizarre interview with them (they turned me down) and then I called in at ILS. M.Khodri saw me immediately and sat me down in his office for a chat – my French being even worse than it is now, and his English being practically non-existent, it may have been a little awkward at times, but after about half an hour he offered me a job with the company!

I was very happy teaching there – mostly in-company, but sometimes at the offices of ILS – and the majority of the work done was for Michelin, which is one of the biggest employers in Clermont. It was also the golden goose for ILS, with, I’d say, at least 85% of the English teaching work being done in partnership with Michelin. Unfortunately, with money-saving becoming more important, and technology becoming more prevalent, Michelin decided to move over to e-learning, which meant that ILS, who had put all their eggs into the Michelin basket, was a bit stymied.

For a few months, in 2012, it looked as though ILS might be going down the pan, and sadly this meant that 6 or 7 of the English teachers had to be made redundant. I was one of them. I remember that M. Khodri was so distressed at having to make me redundant, that he said to me that anytime I wanted to come into the office to use the resources, or to use one of the rooms for private telephone lessons, or to make photocopies for my private lessons, then I was welcome to do so!He was always very supportive, and so even when I wasn’t working for them, I still popped into the office from time to time.

Happily, the company survived, and I, plus most of the other teachers, were re-employed, but as “auto entrepreneurs” – that is, we are self employed and on a contract basis. It means ILS do not have to pay any of our social charges etc. Not so good for us (no sick pay etc) but better for them. I’m still happy to work for the company, however, as it is a real family company. We know each other, we support each other; the Head of English is a really lovely woman, the staff are friendly, the resources are plentiful. Even though we are not “salariés” – directly employed – we are considered as part of the team, rather than as sub-contractors, so our relationship with M.Khodri, and the other admin staff, is exactly the same. When I’ve got myself in a mess with French admin papers, M. Khodri has always been willing to spend time with me, helping me to complete the forms and calming me down.  And, most importantly, there is quite a lot of work!

Recently, M. Khodri decided to sell the company and retire, together with his wife, who is the accountant for the company. I have only met the new owners very briefly, but Claire, Head of English, assures us that they are dynamic, and forward thinking, and want to move the company onwards and upwards. As you can see from the photo of the offices above, it is looking a tad tired and old fashioned, and Melissa and Thomas want to modernise. I’m a little concerned, as I have to admit that I don’t take to change very well – especially if that change requires me to learn new technology & new ways of doing things that I’ve been perfectly comfortable doing “my” way for a while – but I’m going to try hard to embrace this. After all, I won’t have a lot of choice in the matter!!

So, on Friday, it was Monsieur and Madame Khodri’s retirement do. It was in the restaurant in Le Jardin Lecoq, in Clermont Ferrand, a lovely public garden not too far from the office.

I booked into the Holiday Inn, just across the road from the park, as I didn’t want to drive afterwards, and I didn’t know how tired I would be. I’m happy I did so, as it meant I could have something to drink, and I didn’t need to leave too early.

We gathered at 7.30, and stood around chatting, and at about 8.00, we were led to our tables, all set up outside. There was a four piece jazz band who entertained us

and it was good to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen since Christmas. We started with a glass of fizzies (I had some sirop in mine to sweeten it, so I could enjoy it) and we gave M & Mme Khodri their gifts: a voucher for a dinner in a very good restaurant, and a cave à vins – a temperature controlled cupboard to keep your wine in – plus some starter bottles. Note we didn’t actiually give them the cave à vins: Yacine, their son, who works for the company as well, had set it up in their house so it would be a surprise for them when they got home.

M. Khodri made a little speech and then we got on with the food!

Unwrapping their presents

We started with an amuse-bouche, (a little something to tickle your taste buds) which was a verrine of something – noone was quite sure what it was, but the general consensus was finally a cold pea-and-mint soup; it was okay, but as I’m not a great fan of peas, or cold soup, I couldn’t get too enthusiastic about it. Here’s the empty verrine, as I forgot to take a photo before I ate it! :

Then the starter arrived – a galette with roast vegetables and mozzarella, and salad in a lovely honey vinaigrette dressing

I remembered to take a photo halfway through!

A pause, while the jazz band played on, and then the main course was brought out:

I remembered to take a photo before I started eating!

This was delicious – white fish, chorizo and a scallop in a buttery sauce, served with polenta, roast tomatoes and a giant crisp thing. I’m not sure why the crispy thing was there, as it didn’t really add much to the meal, but it tasted fine! I’m glad I’m not vegetarian though, as their meal was peas-and-asparagus, roast tomatoes and potatoes. Not very inspired – as vegetarian meals in France so often aren’t!

Dessert was profiteroles – I couldn’t finish mine…which is unlike me. I’m thinking that the intake of my stomach has shrunk a little during chemo, as I’ve not been eating the same amounts. Perhaps I need to encourage this!

Claire, Head of English, clapping along to “Ain’t Misbehavin‘ ” We both started singing the lyrics soon afterwards!

M. Khodri boogeying on down with Alyssia, one of the English teachers.

And still the band played on… as it was getting on to 11 o’clock, and I was flagging, I decided to leave. Also, there were others going at that point, and as I didn’t know where the gate was, and didn’t want to be wandering the park in the dark, I tagged along with them.

It was a really good way to say “Goodbye” to a very kind (sometimes slightly incompetent!) employer. Thank you, M. Khodri, for the opportunity to work with ILS, and here’s wishing you a good and happy retirement.

Another voyage with the Cyclos

So on Friday we set off to go to Annecy for a short séjour with the Cycle Club. We left at 8.30, and drove via Lyon airport to drop off Friend Alison, who was going over to Liverpool to visit her mum. Her plane wasn’t until the afternoon, but this way it meant nobody else had to schlepp over to Lyon to take her to the airport. She had about 5 hours to wait, by the time we dropped her off, but she was well prepared with books and other amusements.

We met everyone at a service station for a picnic lunch, then drove the final hour to reach the holiday village. The cyclists got changed, and set off for their ride, the walkers set off for their walk, and I borrowed Louis & Odette’s room (our rooms weren’t yet ready, and L&O had stayed there the night before) for a snooze and a sit down, as I felt very tired. Later on in the afternoon, I had a stroll around the grounds, and discovered, to my disappointment, that the masseur wasn’t available that weekend, and the Spa wasn’t free.  There went my plans!

Never mind! Mr FD got back from his ride, a bit disappointed too, as his ongoing sinus problem meant that he hadn’t ridden too well. He also suffered from the heat; being a big lad, he finds it hard cycling in anything much hotter than 24°. It made us both think a little harder about how we need to change our eating habits. Then we went for a beer!!! Wry smile.

There was a deadly serious boules competition going on between some members of the party:

What an amazing backdrop

Serious discussion about which boule is nearest the cochon

After the match was finished, we trouped in for dinner – which was okay, but nothing special. Salad & cold meat buffet to start, folowed by tepid brochettes (very chewy meat), merguez, ratatouille, and new potatoes (again tepid). Cheese and then “industrial” puddings – certainly nothing home made. It was edible, but that’s about all you could say about it!

After dinner there was a meeting about tomorrow’s activities, and then we took some time to enjoy the evening sunshine, and take in the glorious view (and I don’t mean me!!)

Saturday was the day that I had planned to meet up with Chomeuse and her family, but due to familial reasons she had had to cancel at the beginning of the week. That was a disappointment, but it meant I could join in with the other activities, which otherwise I would have missed. Mr FD was still feeling a bit rough, and as the temperatures were due to be higher than yesterday, and the ride longer, he felt unsure about riding. He finally decided to be a non-rider for today, so he and I struck out on our own a little.

In the morning, we drove up to the Col du Forclaz, 1157 metres up above Lake Annecy, from where there were some amazing views.

 

It’s a favourite launch spot for paragliders too; here’s the take off point:

There were some rather lovely wood carvings there too. Here I am, sharing space with an eagle:

and here is a carving of a marmotte:

After this we drove on to La Clusaz, where we met some of our party for a drink in the sunshine. La Clusaz is more of a winter ski resort, as you could tell from the number of ski rental shops, bars, and après-ski snack bars. But in summer it is a very pretty village.

The plan was to meet everyone at the Col des Aravis (1487 m) for a picnic, so off we set, passing some of our cyclists en route.

This was the view from our picnic spot, looking towards the Massif of Mont Blanc:

This was lunch

a fairly uninspiring offering from the holiday village – a bit of salad, a ham sandwich, some crisps, a manky apple and some plain biscuits. Mr FD had been so unimpressed, he decided to buy himself a “proper” sandwich, and we supplemented our meal with a mini quiche and a raspberry tart each. That made it more enjoyable! And the view helped!

At the Col there was a little chapel which I popped into – dedicated to Saint Anne, the patron saint of travellers, or so the notice said.

 

Around the shops and restaurants, the Col was heaving – cyclists photographing themselves, thrilled to have cycled up so far, motorcyclists buzzing past, visitors and tourists all wandering round…but inside the little chapel it was peaceful and calm. I took a few breaths and relaxed…I was getting a bit tired by now, but the little pause refreshed me.

Mr FD and I decided to go back to La Clusaz and take the télécabine up to the mountain top of Beauregarde.

When we got to the top, Mr FD went for a walk while I sat, admired the view and did a very bad little painting (which I’m not showing you).

 

It was lovely, and the views really were spectacular. My poor photography skills do not capture their beauty. I sat in the warmth of the sunshine, listening to the clanging of the bells around the necks of a flock of goats, smelling the sweetness of the meadow flowers. It was a beautiful moment.

We left to go back to the holiday village, as Mr FD wanted to do a short, flat ride along the Piste Cyclable that ran alongside the lake. He got changed, and psyched up, but was thoroughly pissed off to find that whoever had the key to the garage where the bikes were stored had not left it at reception, but walked off with it. So he couldn’t get to his bike. Not a Happy Chappy at all. We avoided each other for an hour or so, while he calmed down…

Dinner was better than last night:  salad starter, followed by tartiflette, or quenelles de brochet (I had tartiflette), cheese and industrial desserts – but this evening there was also fruit, so I had a peach & some grapes. I was feeling really tired by now – it had been a long day – so an early night was in order. Just before I went to bed, I wandered to the edge of the property to deposit the remains of our lunch in the long grass “for the creatures of the forest”, only to be caught out by a man walking his elderly dog, who gave me some very suspicious looks as I tossed hunks of bread into the undergrowth. Oh well, Les Anglais do some strange things!

On Sunday morning, most of the cyclists were going to do a tour of the lake, but Mr FD had always planned not to do this, because of the changing facilities. As we have to vacate rooms by 10 am, and they would return after this, it had been negotiated that 3 or 4 rooms would be available for showers. But that would mean lots of people showering/ changing in the same room at the same time, which is not Mr FD’s idea of fun, so he almost always opts out of the Sunday morning rides on voyages. Instead he went with the walkers to visit a spectacular waterfall.

I stayed around the holiday village, reading, painting (an even worse picture!), chatting with an interesting American woman who runs writing courses, and going out for a short (1 km) walk. I felt relaxed and enjoyed my morning.

Lunch was the usual salad buffet, with a daube de boeuf, and boiled potatoes in a chive/yoghurt sauce. Cheese and more industrial desserts followed. I tried a piece of lemon meringue pie, but it was overly sweet, so I didn’t finish it. Mr FD wanted to leave immediately after lunch, but we had driven here with two other people who wanted to visit the beach, so I persuaded him to wait until 3 o’clock before leaving. I wanted to walk to the beach too, so I set off before the others, being a slower walker, and Mr FD followed me. Unfortunately, I thought I knew the way, but didn’t so we ended up going the wrong way – however, we found a very peaceful little spot at the water’s edge, which, finally, I think was nicer than a crowded beach would have been!

 

From our vantage spot we could see cormorants perched on the breakwater, and coots bobbing their way through the reed beds; there were birds calling and the sound of the water lapping against the bank. Much more peaceful than a municipal beach!

By the time I staggered back to the holiday village my pedometer told me I’d walked another two kilometres, making it a record three kilometres in a day! No wonder I was knackered! Vincent and Marylyn had found their way to the beach, but were at the car dead on 3 o’clock, as demanded by Mr FD, so we left on time, keeping our driver happy! We were home by 6.30, and were greeted, rather desultorily, by the cats. “Oh, you’re back, are you?”

 

 

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Today is my big sister’s birthday.

My brother, sister and “the baby”

I won’t say how old she is, but she’s five years older than me, and a lot fitter than I am! She morris dances with her group in Leicester, Black Annis, and also plays the penny whistle for the group. Judy’s playing in this clip.:

and apparently launching herself at someone in this photo:

She also often goes walking with her friends all over the country. I always wanted to be like my Big Sister when I was younger: when she was out, I would sneak into her bedroom and pretend to “be” her (which sounds a bit creepy, and stalkerish!) I imagine I was just an annoying younger sister to her! I even used to sneak the odd cigarette out of her drawers, and hang out of her bedroom window smoking them. That didn’t last long, however, as I was too scared of being caught!

A couple of things I remember –

I used to have a dolls’ house which I adored. I think it had been hers originally. One Christmas, Judy spent time decorating the dolls’ house for Christmas, with a tiny tree, and paper chains. She even bought a “Christmas pudding” cake from Sayers, so the dolls had a celebration lunch! Another Christmas tradition would be the writing and performing of some “pantomime” when all the relatives came for Christmas tea. Judy would write it, and we’d all (my brother, me, our second cousins – or maybe they were third cousins. I’m never quite sure of that relation! Definitely not cousins though – they were the children of my mum’s cousins) rehearse before “entertaining” everyone after tea.

It was due to Judy too that the tradition started of Mum & Dad receiving a Christmas stocking as well. One Christmasmorning we awoke to our pillowcases full of goodies, and our parents had stockings attached to their bedroom door. I think I was, by then, wise to the fact that Santa Claus does not exist, so we all joined in the following year, buying little things for their stocking.

After university, she came back to Liverpool to work for a while – I would have been maybe 17, and she and her friend Mandy took me to Stratford to see “Measure for Measure” I remember being in the back of the car, and being a little bit shocked at the way the two of them sized up the men in the cars that overtook!! But I enjoyed being treated as the same as them – I was no longer the “little sister”, but a young woman!

And for my 16th birthday I was allowed to have a party – with real boys! Judy and her then boyfriend, Andy, were left in charge (she’d have been 21) and my parents went out for the evening. That also made me feel very “grown up”!

I still do look up to her – she seems to have her life all sorted out, whereas I feel I kind of just drift along, rather aimlessly! She is intelligent, politically aware, kind and generous.

Happy birthday, Judy!

Food Nostalgia.

There was an interesting article in Saturday’s Guardian partly about convenience vs “proper” food, but also about food eaten regularly in the author’s childhood. While I was interested in some of the comments made, I found myself distracted by nostalgia for certain foods of my childhood…I wonder how they’d taste to me now? That is why I have enjoyed the BBC series “Back in time for…” and particularly the 60s and 70s, which were the decades when I was growing up.

What do I remember…?

Mum was a good cook, and she loved “entertaining”, and having friends for dinner. But I think the everyday feeding of three children, and a hardworking husband, while also holding down a job as a teacher probably wasn’t such a joy to her. She did rely on convenience foods to a certain extent, such as packet sauces. Meals I remember were

the occasional Vesta curry, served with chopped banana and raisins, for that “exotic touch”

The prawns were tiny, and slightly rubbery, but oh! We felt so sophisticated!

I didn’t like shepherd’s pie night – the tinned tomatoes were never really broken down, and I didn’t like mum’s addition of a tin of baked beans. Of course, now I understand she was stretching the meat content, but then I couldn’t work out why she would do this!

Butterscotch Angel Delight though was a different matter – Mum would usually serve this over chopped bananas, and with a crumbled Cadbury’s Flake over the top. I’d be very willing to help transport the dessert from the kitchen, and put it on the trolley in the dining room, because that gave me the chance to snaffle the largest pieces of chocolate from each dish! It was always served in little metal Sundae dishes.

And then, as a special treat, we might have a ring doughnut, served with vanilla ice cream and hot jam sauce! They were special times.

Sometimes she’d make “apple snow” – which wasn’t my favourite dessert, but was better than plain old stewed apple, or rhubarb “steamrollers” (thick pieces of stewed rhubarb)

I don’t think mum was a great pudding maker – relying on such things as Angel Delight and doughnuts – but she was well known for her apple pies. She has always had “pastry hands”, which I have not inherited!, and most Sundays we would have an apple pie, baked on one of those white enamel pie plates with a blue rim

Pastry top and bottom, stewed apple inside – I remember sitting in the kitchen on a Saturday morning, watching Mum peel the huge Bramley apples, and I’d beg her to try to cut it off all in one long spiral. She’d let me eat the peelings. Served with cream this was the perfect end to a roast dinner. Then Marks & Spencer started selling food, and Mum discovered “Lattice tarts”

Now, while these were acceptable as a midweek convenience pudding, there was near uproar when she brought out a rhubarb lattice tart for Sunday lunch! Poor mum! She did persevere though, and we did finally accept Lattice Tart from time to time. Just not every week!

We were not encouraged to eat biscuits and so on. I don’t remember a biscuit tin or biscuit barrel being readily available. But I do recall the cosy pleasure of “supper” when I was 16 or 17. My brother and sister had gone to university or the world of work by now, so it was just me, and my parents. Just before News at Ten, we would have a little something – a glass of milk, and either a slice of hot buttered toast, or a couple of digestive biscuits.

Dad tried to help out when he could, but he was a busy GP, who rarely got home before 7.30 in the evening. He had Wednesday afternoon off, and would go and play golf with his GP pals, but then would come home and cook a three course meal to give mum a night off…initially using Delia Smith’s “How to cheat at cooking” I remember a “cheese paté” made of cream cheese with chopped celery and red pepper in it.

But once Dad grew confident, he graduated on to using “The Hungry Monk” recipes, which were rather more sophisticated, being recipes from a real restaurant!

Dad was one for new food experiences – when the fish & chip shop at the Old Roan closed, but then reopened as a Greek restaurant, he took us there. When the Greek restaurant closed, but then opened up as a Chinese restaurant, we were first in the queue!

He bought Paul Masson wine (at the garage!) which came in its own decanter – there’s posh! – and mum and dad would have a glass with their meal

But the best times were when we went out for a meal to either a Berni Inn, or to Flynn’s Steak House, both in the centre of Liverpool. I think that maybe dad would be working in Liverpool, so maybe the rest of us would go in on the bus, and meet him for dinner. They really were special times! I couldn’t understand why we didn’t do it more often, but of course it must have been quite expensive to pay for 5 people, especially when I don’t remember there being a children’s menu – but maybe my memory is playing tricks.

I think the Berni was underground, which made it even more special – going down the red carpeted stairs made me feel really grown up! The choices were no doubt limited – I guess there was prawn cocktail or soup to start, but then it would be steak, chips, peas, button mushrooms and possibly onion rings. The ice cream or cheese and biscuits just topped off a sophisticated dining experience! I wonder what I had to drink: I don’t remember Coca Cola being allowed, or even tasted. Maybe an orange juice and lemonade, or just lemonade? It was such a special occasion to go out with Mum and Dad for a “grown up” meal.

Here’s an old advert for a Berni in Grimsby, with some of the choices that were available

 

And then there were the sweeties – again, I wasn’t really allowed many sweets, which made them all the more alluring. When we went to my Nana’s for Sunday tea, she would always give us one sweet from the sweetie tin just before we went home – there would be lots of different kinds of sweets: Nuttals Mintoes, strawberry Ruffles, Opal Fruits, and many more. Being a basically greedy, and remarkably unsubtle child, as the clock ticked nearer to 7.00, when we would leave to go home, I would start singing a little song that I had invented, which emphasised certain words: Candy and Andy and Sweetie-Pie…, I would warble irritatingly, until the tin came out.

I would often steal the odd sixpence from mum’s purse, when I was doing the shopping, and buy myself sweets – here’s a picture of various sweets and chocolates from the 70s. Do you remember any?

I remember the “Weekend” box of chocolates/sweets – which were often a disappointment – Caramac, Bar Six (basically KiKat by a different name), Spangles, Old Jamaica chocolate – I seem to remember this had shreds of something in it? – and orange Matchmakers. Oh, they were posh. Mum would serve those after dinner with her friends ( never After Eight, or mint Matchmakers, as she hated the combination of chocolate and mint!)

Talking of stealing, I remember (still!) stealing half a crown (two shillings and sixpence) from mum’s purse, which was a lot of money back then. I wonder how many problems that caused for the housekeeping that week. I went to the local Sayers cake shop and bought FIVE cream cakes (I told you I was greedy!) I sat in the park and ate them all myself, furtively cramming them into my mouth. A mum from school came across me, and asked what I was doing; I made up a story about an event at school, and mum giving me my picnic tea to eat – I wonder what she thought of the local doctor’s daughter eating five cream cakes for tea!

Well…there’s a meander through some of my food memories. What about you – is there anything you particularly remember from your childhood?

 

Sweet treats and poetry.

Monique from across the road has just popped in with a little present for me

a box of 6 macarons, strawberry, pistachio, and lemon, two of each flavour. “Just because”, she said.  How kind!

I went to Charlotte’s exhibition of illustrated poems from her writing group yesterday evening – she invited me to the “opening” get together. Friend Cathy was going to come with me, but had an emergency with the battery for the electrics in her caravan; Mr FD was going to come with me, but he’d just got his new bike, and wanted to tinker with it. So I went by myself. I read the poems (needed Google Translate from time to time!) and chose my favourite few. I was introduced to various of Charlotte’s friends, and we all agreed she was a lovely, vibrant person. I took two sips of Cremant de Bourgogne (which tasted horrid) and then abandoned my glass. Then I went home again.

It was quite nice just being out by myself. I’m not sure I’ll make it to Church tomorrow though, but I am going to Clermont on Tuesday, to catch up with friends & colleagues at ILS. I might do a bit of unnecessary shopping too!

Long ago, in time…

A comment that Michelle made, on my Wedding Anniversary post, has inspired this post. She said: I LOVE seeing old photos like this! 

And so…

For our 25th Wedding Anniversary, back in 2010, we had a party, and made a montage of various photos taken from our photo albums. I used to love putting together scrapbooks of our holidays, and so in order to make the montage a friend & I raided the albums. I always meant to put the photos back in the books, but 8 years after the event, it’s still on the wall:

As always, you can click on the pictures to biggify them…

So I thought I’d share a few of the photos with you.

1985

This one is another from our Wedding Day – a closer up of me with my Nana’s hairstyle and Deirdre Barlow glasses. (For those who don’t know, Deirdre Barlow was a character in the long-running soap Coronation Street, well-known for her huge glasses)

She had a difficult life, and spent a lot of time on screen looking anguished!

I’m happy to say, I look less anguished that Deirdre in my wedding photos!

The next two photos I chose because I thought I knew exactly when & where they were taken, but on looking through the Holiday scrapbooks I see I was wrong!

1992

Here is a very youthful looking Mr FD. This was taken when we were on holiday in France, in a village called Montferrat (which we revisited last year) in the Var region of France. This photo was taken on 17th August, in the village of Montaureaux – we had spent the day at a Medieval Fair, where I had painted a pot (which I still have!) which was then fired in a Medieval-like way. We booked to eat the “Menu du repas des Tavernes” eaten on long tables underneath the trees. I stuck the menu into my scrapbook, and read that we ate:

  • Sur un lit de feuilles de salades variées du potager de Monsieur le Duc, Riz de Piémont aux raisins secs. Melange paysan avec poisson au sénevé, graines de Turquie, poivrons, concombres, et tomates de nos campagnes (Served on a bed of mixed salad leaves from the vegetable plot of the Duke, rice from Piedmont with raisins. Peasant mix (?) with fish with senevé mustard, grains from Turkey (which is what sweetcorn was known as in the Middle Ages – or, alternatively, what the menu devisers chose to call sweetcorn!), red peppers, cucumber and local tomatoes)
  • Roti de lapin des terres du Seigneur de Tournon, tranche de boeuf cuit à la braise, accompagnée des sauces au genièvre, cannelle et oignonnets ( Roast rabbit, from the land of the Lord of Tournon, slice of braised beef, accompanied by a sauce of juniper, cinnamon, and little onions) – I’m not sure whether we had to choose one or theother, or whether we got both!
  • Tartouste aux sarments, qu’enrobe une crème à la ciboulette ( a type of young potato, covered with a chive cream – I suspect these may have been baked potatoes, as often  these are served with a chive cream here in France)
  • Fromage à la Province Briarde (Cheese from Briarde)
  • Galette Paysanne aux fruits rouges ( Red fruit tart)

It was at this place that this photo was taken of me, presumably somewhere at the top of the Chateau of the Duke:

and here’s a photo from t’internet of the village:

Do you have places that you associate with pieces of music? For me, I remember a long straight road back from this village to our holiday appartment in Montferrat, and that road is associated with the Proclaimers’ “Letter from America”. I don’t know why it should be that those two things are interlinked, why I should particularly remember the song being played there, at that moment, as we no doubt listened to it several times during the holiday, but when I think of the song, I think of the road!

1998

This photo was taken on 20th August, while we were on a family holiday with Mr FD’s side of the family. We stayed in a village called Ambazac, in the Limousin region of France. That was the year I paraglided from the top of Puy de Dome! We shared a gite together (me & Mr FD, Mr FD’s brother & SiL, and MiL & FiL) We generally had a good time, partly because we didn’t do everything together. I find out that (either altogether, or just me & Mr FD) among our activities, we visited the town of Limoges, we went to the very sobering place that is Oradour-sur-Glane , we went on cycle rides (I seem to have actually chosen to go on quite long rides, which surprises me!), we went on a steam train, we went to a folk festival at Confolens, and we saw the start of the Tour de Limousin.

I particularly remember the day (and the following night) of the train ride. You see, my BiL is diabetic, and, although he manages his illness well, needs to eat at regular intervals to avoid either hyperglycemia, or hypoglycemia ( hypo is when the  blood sugar levels are too high, hyper…is when the blood sugar levels are too low) We took the train in the afternoon, to Eymoutiers, planning to eat in a restaurant there; however, there was some sort of festival going on, and all the restaurants were booked up. The only sustenance that was on offer was wine and chips. Which we partook of, before (presumably) getting the train home again.

That night, we were awoken by a terrible groaning noise, and lots of thrashing about from the bedroom next to ours. We rushed in, to find SiL (who is quite small and slight) trying to force Lucozade into BiL (who is neither small nor slight) who was fighting her off with some force – while still asleep! He was having some sort of diabetic crisis. Finally everything settled down, but of course it took us a long time to get back to sleep afterwards. In the morning, everyone was very bleary eyed, except for BiL who declared that he’d had the best night’s sleep that he’d had for a long time!! Good for you, was the reply.

Anyway, back to the photo. My scrapbook informs me that the photo was taken at the Restaurant La Chanterelle, not too far from the gite. That night I ate:

  • Mousse de Saint Jacques (scallop mousse)
  • foie gras
  • entrecote (steak)
  • fromage
  • Iles Flottantes (Floating Islands – a dessert made of creme anglaise, soft meringue, caramel sauce. Like this:

Well, I’ve really enjoyed this short trip down memory lane, and  I think I may well be doing some more similar posts!