Food – and other stuff – in the past week…

It’s been a bit up-and-downy during the past week, food wise. I’ve tried to be sensible and eat well, then every now and then I crack… Luckily, not having biscuits in the house means that the “cracking” is relatively controlled! Though it was hard to contain my delight when I found an “emergency scone” in the freezer! Although technically it was mine, (I’d put 6 in there a while back; Mr FD had his three, but I’d forgotten that I’d only eaten two!) I shared it with Mr FD. Because I’m nice like that!

Highlights this week included last night’s salmon recipe which was delicious! Baked salmon with tomatoes and butternut squashWe didn’t have it with baby salad leaves, but with some sautéed endives, but it was a really good dish. Although it’s a SW recipe, I’d recommend it to anyone who likes salmon!

On Wednesday we had a “do” with the car – the Fiat has been giving us a few problems, but we thought that the garage had fixed the cause.

I was in Roanne shopping, when, outside Lidl, I tried to start it, and there was nothing. All the lights came on, but it wouldn’t start. I phoned Mr FD, who, luckily, wasn’t far away, with our friend Louis – they’d been about to start picking apples at Louis’ family home some 20/30 km from Roanne. So Louis and Mr FD tried to push start the car down a slope – unfortunately I was in the driving seat, and never having push started a car before, I did the wrong things, and it didn’t start. Mr FD contained his annoyance. Louis drove us back home where we picked up the Pug-bus (Peugeot estate) and drove back to Roanne. With Mr FD in the Fiat 500 I towed it back to the Lidl car park (at the top of a slope), then we untied the tow rope and, with a tiny heave from me, Mr FD drove the Fiat down the slope – it started first time!! Huzzah! He drove off around the corner.

As I’d not finished the shopping, we’d planned that I’d go to Carrefour in the Pug-bus to get what I still had to buy. I dithered…I couldn’t face a big hyper-market, so I thought I’d go to the smaller Carrefour Market instead. I had a choice of two ways to go, but for some reason decided to take the least logical – and who should I come across but Mr FD stalled at the traffic lights, right in the middle of rush hour, and blocking the route for everyone else who were just managing to squeeze past by mounting the traffic island…He couldn’t contact me, as he’d left his mobile phone at home (I’ll tell you this for free: had it been the other way round, with me not having my phone, he’d have been right pissed off with me! I didn’t mention it once. Except just now.)

So we re-attached the tow rope, I pulled him round the corner & somehow he started the car again. After that, I wasn’t sure I trusted the Fiat not to stall again, so I abandoned the shopping and followed Mr FD home…

Earlier in the day I’d met up with someone from the Port – she and her husband live on a narrow boat, Out of the Blue, and travel the waterways of France during the summer and over-winter in Roanne – and we’d had a coffee together. It was the first time I’d met Yvonne, and I think we got on quite well. I’m sure we’ll meet up again at some time. I decided to stay and have lunch in the restaurant, so had a cheese omellette, salad and a big plate of chips. So I felt a bit sick from over eating and stress of cars breaking down. Thus when I got home I didn’t want to eat. I defrosted and heated up a curry and naan bread from the freezer for Mr FD, but I just had a couple of crispbreads later on in the evening. There was lots of curry left over so we had it again on Thursday evening, with added chicken & mushrooms, and with rice. It wasn’t very hot – I’m really not very good at judging the right spices to give enough heat to curries! – but it was flavoursome.

I’ve carefully planned next week’s food – however, as always, something will probably happen to change it all…Including not being able to get ingredients or something. I’m shopping (again!) after work on Monday afternoon. That is when I usually shop, but what with forecast snow last Monday, and not many lessons on Wednesday I had changed the day.

Today (writing this on Saturday, scheduling it for Tuesday) we’re having HM pizza for dinner, and tomorrow I’m pulling the wild boar casserole out of the freezer, to have with mash, carrots and green beans. Mr FD is going to be in charge of cooking on Tuesday (Feta stuffed chicken)and on Wednesday (Chinese Pork) and on Thursday (Roast vegetables with feta and pâsta). From next week he’ll be cooking on Friday too, as I’m restarting with my 5 year old student, from 18h- 19h. That’s going to be mostly crafting and colouring while speaking English, but it’s still work.

Of course, it may all be different if – as we hope – Mr FD’s interview goes well. He has an interview on Tuesday afternoon, which sounds like a job right up his street. We keep our fingers crossed.

We hope…

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Quelles temps!

What weather!

We knew that snow was coming – in fact, I didn’t go to church last Sunday, because it was forecast, but it didn’t arrive.

On Monday, Mr FD was worried – I had to go to Clermont to teach, but there was an Orange Warning for snow from midday onwards. I wanted to stay in Clermont to prepare for the week, but he wanted me to go home. I compromised by photocopying quickly what I thought I might need, before heading home. It was raining hard, but no sign of snow until I was almost home, and even that was only quelques flocons (a few flakes). It stayed grey and wet all Monday afternoon, but later in the evening it started to snow properly.

When we woke up – power was off! Our house is almost completely electric. Even though we have a granule burner it still requires electricity to feed the granules into the burning compartment, and to work the fan that blows out the hot air; we have a fireplace in our big salon downstairs, which heats bits of the house via the chimney, but that’s it. We had juice and bread for breakfast and Mr FD started digging the cars out, ready for me to go to Clermont in the afternoon for my planned lessons.

However, the motorways were closed – even in snow that’s most unusual for this region.I can only assume that some lorry breakdowns caused by the snow were the culprit rather than the snow itself. People were coming past Mr FD as he worked, asking for directions and saying they’d been stuck on the motorway all night. One of my students contacted me saying they were fine if I  wanted to cancel. As we haven’t yet got the winter tyres on the car, I thought this was prudent.

I was feeling quite caffeine deprived by now, so, knowing that our friends Monique and Michel have a wood stove and a gas cooker, I went across to beg a cup of coffee from them. I stayed in the warm, drinking coffee, while we watched Mr FD continue to clear the pavement and path, and remarked on how well he was working, considering he’d had a gastro the day before (!!)…then Monique suggested we might like to have lunch with them if the power was still off by then. I took a flask of hot water, so Mr FD could have a cup of tea, and we wrapped ourselves up in blankets and read until lunch time. When the power was still off. So we went across the road for tomato salad, and duck pot-au-feu. It was very welcome, as was the friendship and conversation.

Monique wanted to paint that afternoon, so we left at about 2.30, and went back to light candles, wrap ourselves up and read/draw. I really enjoyed the peace of it! Mr FD likes to have music, the radio, the TV on, whatever he’s doing, so there’s almost always sound going on around the house; not today. It was almost silent, erxcept for the swish of passing cars through the snow. At about 5 o’clock the fan on the granule burner started to whirr and we knew the power was back. The kettle went on for a hot drink, and Mr FD turned on the TV. The peace and quiet were over…But it was nice to be warm again!!

But here’s the weird thing – by the next morning most of the snow was gone, and by Thursday we were in bright sunshine and temperatures of 13° or more! Climate change is definitely happening…

 

The end of the week…

I am rather glad it’s Friday – I’ve had a tiring week. Although I should say I’ve got a busy weekend ahead of me too!

I had lessons in Clermont Ferrand on Tuesday afternoon, so I went down in the morning, stopping at Action in Thiers to buy a curtain. This is because all the churches going to Convention (next week) have been asked to bring their church banner. The closest Christ Church has to a banner is a felt-and-glue thing that the children made some years ago, with wobbly edges and horrid badly cut out letters. Rob, our Rector, asked me to take it to Convention, but I offered to “do something with it”.

Here it is with new letters, which I cut out and put onto white felt, before attaching to the background. Before, the red letters didn’t show up so well.

I’ve cut off the “vine” at the side to make it narrower; I’ve got “Clermont Ferrand” in blue letters on white felt, and I have bought a curtain, with ready made hoops at the top.

Friend Cathy is coming with her sewing machine tomorrow to attach the blue felt to the grey curtain; attach the “Clermont Ferrand” words and the vine along the bottom. Hopefully she’ll be able to shorten the curtain too, as it’s too long at the moment too.  It’s not great, all still being a bit wobbley, but we’re getting there.

ANYWAY on the way to Clermont I bought the curtain, and then arrived at ILS to do my preparation. However, we mustn’t call it ILS now, as the company has changed its name and is now known as “Bonjour World”

Personally, I’ve had mixed reactions to the name change, but it’s a done deal, so there you go. I did 3 hours teaching and was fairly knackered when I got home.

Wednesday was my day in Roanne, with 7 hours or so of teaching – strangely I didn’t find this as tiring as Tuesday: maybe I’d slept better the night before.

Then yesterday I had 3.5 hours teaching in Clermont again. I spent the morning at home preparing & doing other things. The lessons were fine, although I hadn’t actually got the right level of activities for one of the students. I managed to busk it, and hopefully will be better prepared next time. I was taking over frrom another teacher and he hadn’t really briefed me that well.

Today I’ve been home, getting ready for the next few lessons. I’m off to Convention on Wednesday, with the excitement of the elections.

Tomorrow lunch time, I’m helping serve meals for the Cycle Club Telethon event.

This is an annual event, rather like Children in Need – it takes place in December, but the Cycle Club got fed up getting freezing cold, or having to cancel because of inclement weather, so they moved their fund raiser to October. Basically any cyclist who wants to can join the ride and come along to the meal too, for a price. Also, anyone else who wants to can join in with the lunch too.

Organisée par le Club de Saint-Just-en-Chevalet, la randonnée est ouverte à tous. Tous les cyclistes (vélo de route à assistance électrique, VTT), de n’importe quel niveau, sont invités à participer à cette manifestation pour sillonner le Pays d’Urfé.

Au programme : 8h départ pour une boucle de 49 km (allure modérée, encadrée par une voiture ouvreuse et une voiture balai sécurisée par les motards de Saint-Germain-Laval) avec une pause à 10h à la Salle des fêtes de Saint-Priest-la-Prugne, 12h Repas partagé ouvert à toutes et à tous (cyclos, non cyclos, habitants), 14h départ pour une boucle de 42 km, 16h30 retour sur Saint-Just-en-Chevalet.

Inscription avant le 10/10. Tarifs : 15€/repas (bénéfices reversés à l’AFM)

Last year the weather wasn’t so good – lots of waterproofs in evidence!

In the afternoon Friend Cathy will help me with the banner. On Sunday morning I’ll be at Church, but I’m going to skive off the cleaning which is happening after the service, as in the afternoon I’ve got to pop over to Friend Mij, to collect some wood turning that her husband has done for Christmas presents. He does some beautiful things, and I’ll show you some of them when I have them.

Up early Monday morning – 6.30 at the latest (YAWN!!) as I’ll need to leave by 7.30 to get to Bonjour World office for 8.30 for my lesson that starts at 9.00!!

Now I have to go and get Pomme into her basket – she’s off to the vets for her injections. I don’t know how she will react…

 

 

The fun is finally over.

Judy had two wishes: to see St Roch and to do a wine tasting – so that’s what we did!

On Saturday morning we went to Cervieres, which is a local Medieval village, where we went first to the church to see the stained glass window of our feted Saint

Here is St Roch, showing off his blue knickers, and Spot, the dog, with the Jammie Dodger

After a short walk around the village we headed off to Notre Dame l’Hermitage where there’s another St Roch, which I’ve shown before.

We climbed up to the viewpoint, and looked across to our village and beyond

before heading back home for a lunch of cheese (still lots left to eat ) and salad (and still eating the lettuces from my anti-wastage box too!).

Friend Alison had recommended a Wine maker to visit – they had been with friends earlier in the summer – so on Saturday afternoon, we headed over to la Domaine Vial.

We were greeted by a very barky dog, who, having alerted his master to our presence, followedus into the Cave and then promptly fell asleep. Monsieur Vial was charming – he took time to explain all the wines that they make, to help us taste them, describing what flavours we could expect, and generally chatting away. I was very gratified to actually understand everything he said, and to be able to translate where necessary. Here is M. Vial with the 9 wines we tried – two whites, two rosé, and four red, plus a sparkling wine, which was a tad too sweet for my tastes.

We each bought some wine – Mr FD and I have been entrusted with Judy & mum’s, and have to deliver it next time we go to the UK. It was a really pleasant afternoon.

A blurry photo of the barky dog.

We drove home by a different route to usual, just to give them a different view of the area, and there was time for a snooze, before going to Louis and Odette’s for an apero. Sparkling wine and delicious snacks were followed by a meal at the Hotel de la Poste, just round the corner. Another good meal – rabbit-and-prune terrine, steak (for me. Mum had duck again!), and then the splendid cheese trolley and dessert trolley. I find that after a meal I’m too full to really appreciate either, and they really are so good one could just go to the restaurant just for them!

               

It was a very pleasant meal, made even better by the fact that we didn’t have to pay for Mr FD & my meals, due to the bartering system where Mr FD’s infomatique help and advice is paid for in food!!

On Sunday it was time for mum & Judy to leave, so we decided to go over to Lyon and visit another Medieval village, this one called Perouges. It’s about 30 minutes from the airport, so it’s quite a good place to visit if you have a bit of time to kill.

We didn’t have quite as much time to kill as we could have done, so really only had time for lunch in a very pleasant restaurant courtyard, under the spreading not-sure-but-possibly-a-lime tree.

After our meal, we took Judy and mum to the airport, and dropped them off.

It was lovely to see them both, and to spend time with them. Mind you, after a week in Italy, where I walked quite some distance, and this week, when I walked another 30-odd kilometres I’ve been glad of a somewhat more restful week this week!

Family time

So we get back from our lovely holiday in Italy on Sunday, round about lunchtime. We had all good intentions to do cleaning and tidying, but actually felt too tired to do anything other than flop during the afternoon. So Monday morning was a whirl of cleaning again (despite our efforts the week before we left on holiday!) and at 1.15 I was ready to leave to pick mum and Judy up at Lyon airport. But Mr FD just checked the site to see if the flight was on time – annd we discovered that there had been an “incident” at the airport. A person with mental health issues, rather than terrorist tendencies, had driven a stolen car through some plate glass windows, and then onto the runway – all flights were being delayed; many were being cancelled. Happily, theirs was only delayed, by 3.5 hours, so instead of arriving at 15h they finally got through at 18h30.

We drove them home, to a wild boar casserole that I’d prepared earlier, and a good bottle of red wine.

On Tuesday we had to go shopping, as otherwise there’d be nothing to eat, so we went to Les Halles Diderot, the market hall in Roanne, where we wandered around, admiring the fresh fruit, fish, meat and charcuterie, before stopping at Mons cheese stall:

Here we went rather b-zongo (a technical term meaning “mad and reckless”) and bought vast quantities of cheese: so much that we are still eating it almost  two weeks after it was bought! I’ve taken the last few crusty bits today and made a leek-potato-and-cheese soup for lunch. We then went to Lidl, and Carrefour, but mum was feeling tired, so she & Judy had a coffee while I did a quick zip round Carrefour for the last few things.

During the afternoon Judy and I did quite a lot of cooking. You see, I have heard tell of Boites Contre la Gaspillage (Boxes against Wastage) at Lidl – boxes full of out of date/ almost out of date food, usually fruit & veg, but not always – but had never actually been at a shop at the right time. Tuesday morning was the right time! For 1€ I bought a box containing:

  • 2 boxes of raspberries, only slightly mushy, which we made raspberry coulis with.
  • 2x500g boxes of grapes – when picked over, we got about 500g of good fruit from them.
  • 2x500g of carrots – these were mouldy, but when Judy peeled them they were fine. I cooked them up and froze them.
  • a wrinkly aubergine – I used it to make ratatouille, with
  • several large, slightly squashy tomatoes.
  • 6 Pink Lady apples – which are fine.
  • 6 Little Gem lettuces – slightly black round the tips of the leaves, but just needing a good trim
  • Half a cucumber

Not bad for 1€!! I was very impressed. That afternoon Mr FD had an interview, which actually turned out not to be an interview but an offer of some short term work. He needs to decide whether to take it on. The problem is that it might preclude him from taking on another job, should he find one…So he’s thinking about it at the moment.

Tuesday evening was Music Night! Cathy had organised another music night up at her place, so we gathered for drinks and food – I made a smoked salmon and broccoli pizza, and a salami and tomato tart to take – and singing and playing into the evening. Judy had brought her penny whistle with her, so she played some folk songs, and we sang to Beatles and Johnny Cash. A great time was had by all!

On Wednesday we went to the Pilat mountains, about an hour’s drive from us. Here we have a lovely walk that we like doing, which is called Le Gouffre d’Enfer – the Jaws of Hell. Which sounds way more difficult and scary than it is!

Mum, Judy & Mr FD ready to enter the Jaws of Hell – dum,dum, DAH!!!!!

It’s actually a gentle meander through a dry river valley, which then reaches a huge wall – which is the barrage, built in the reign of Napolean III, behind which is a large lake.

At the side is a winding flight of steps – no idea how many, but this is the view from the top of the barrage:

 

My 89 year old mum climbed these steps quicker than I did!

A view of the resevoir behind the barrage.

Then we followed the path back down to the car park, pausing to take in the view of the village of Rochetaillé

and to pose for photos

We had lunch in a pizza restaurant in the village – we usually go to the traditional Auberge, but neglected to check if it was open. Not on Wednesday. Never mind – we all enjoyed our meals, and I introduced Judy to the wonder that is a Café Gourmand – basically, coffee with mini tasters of desserts.

After this we drove up to the Cret de Perdrix, a summit with a good view. There’s about a kilometre walk up to it, and mum managed very well. The descent was a bit less easy, being very rocky, and mum being less confident of her balance, but with Mr FD’s hand and guidance she succeeded in getting down without too much difficulty. This photo shows the uneven ground underfoot

A further kilometre or so and we were back at the car…time for a drink! Mr FD also thought it was time for dessert, as he hadn’t indulged in a Café Gourmand at lunchtime. So he had a banana split. I hope he likes chantilly cream!!!

     

The rest of us had a variety of cold drinks and relaxed on the comfortable chairs in the sunshine, or the shade, depending on our preference. Finally we decided it was time to go, and we made our way home, with only a small diversion, as Mr FD took the wrong road.

We had a bottle of Asti, bought in Italy, which was very nice, and then for dinner we had  a chicken-and-vegetable tray bake. Cheese followed – we had a lot of cheese left to eat! But, TBH, we were all still quite full from lunch! Then we watched a DVD of “Brooklyn” which I very much enjoyed.

 

 

Turin today…Holiday Day 7

We have learned something today: Mr FD doesn’t like cities in hot weather.

The forecast had been for a cooler day, so we dressed for this, but unfortunately it was 29° – which can feel even hotter in a city, with the heat radiating off the buildings. We’d had a “discussion” about whether to take a Segway tour of the city, but the final decision had been negative. So I wanted to take a free walking tour (having found the one we took in Budapest so good) Mr FD was less keen, but agreed. However, when we arrived at the meeting place, he was really desperate for a toilet (!) and couldn’t find one, so he said for me to do the tour and he’d meet me later.

So I did. I really enjoyed a two-and-a-half hour walk through Turin’s history, admiring buildings from Roman through to Baroque and even more modern…

   

Francesca, the tour guide, was very informative, and I chatted to a pleasant Englishwoman, Megan, on the walk round.

Francesca does her stuff

At the end of the tour I texted Mr FD to tell him where I was, and I sat with a citron pressé, resting my feet and enjoying the shade of the arcades. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, he couldn’t find me, and was getting increasingly fed up, and feeling queasy after a large custard bun consumed at breakfast time. I suspect he was dehydrated too. After a flurry of bad tempered texts we managed to meet up, and he said he wanted to go back to the B&B. So, after a bit of discussion, it was decided he’d go back, and I’d stay in Turin, then get the train to Moncalieri, and text him from the station. So that’s what we did.

I did the walking tour backwards, stopping to look at places we’d not had time to properly explore on the whistlestop tour, such as the Cathedral and the roman area. I didn’t get to see the Turin shroud, as it only gets displayed once every five years – and anyway, I’m not too interested. I don’t believe it is the Shroud of Christ, and so don’t see it as particularly worth seeing.

I had a few problems buying my rail ticket back to Moncalieri – first because my card wouldn’t work in the machine, and secondly, I ended up buying two tickets because a smelly, dirty old man insisted on “helping” me at the ticket machine that took cash, and he pressed the buttons for me so I ended up buying two tickets. Happily, they weren’t very expensive (2€30 each) so I didn’t lose too much money, but I was most unimpressed by him then asking me to give him money for helping me! I’m afraid I said some rude words. It was a bit confusing finding where I had to take the train from, but with real help from a railway employee I got there okay.

Mr FD picked me up, still not his usual cheery self, and said it wasn’t worth going back to the farm, as Nicola had had a large lunch party for an association he worked with, and there would be chaos if we met people driving down the narrow road. So we went to the historic centre of Moncaleri again. We had a rehydrating drink first (Mr FD cheered up a little), then a refreshing beer, with some snacks (Mr FD cheered up more – he hadn’t had lunch, due to feeling sick, so some grumpiness was probably attributable to hunger too), and then we went to a restaurant where I had a burger, with avocado salsa and chips, and Mr FD had a pizza. With further refreshing and rehydrating drinks, Mr FD was smiling again by the end of the evening. He did want to leave early, so we informed Nicola of that when we got back, and packed the car.

Taking Nicola up on his offer, we sat outside in the warm evening with a glass of local wine, watching the lights of Turin and its suburbs twinkling.An early-ish night, and an early get up at 6.00 am, meant we were back home by 11.45, just in time to have bacon sandwiches for lunch!

Although Mr FD didn’t enjoy the last two days much, I did, and all in all, we’d say that the Piedmont area of Italy has much to offer. I’d recommend both the places we stayed, although the second was very simple. Mind you, it was also extremely cheap – 26€ a night for us both, with 8€ for the copious breakfast. But beware the chocolate covered custard bun – it might not suit your stomach!!

When we got home I felt really relaxed and recuperated…although during the week I had walked an awful long way. My pedometer isn’t terribly accurate, but it is telling me I walked approximately 70 km during the week. Not bad for an unfitty like me!

And the next day, my mum and sister arrived!

Moving day…Holiday Day 6

Not a terribly successful day in some ways…

We decided to have a look around Miasino, the village just above the B&B, before we went and to visit the botanical garden there. After wandering around for a while, trying to find the botanical garden, we eventually discovered it was closed until the afternoon.

As we were heading for Turin, we thought it best not to wait, and set off for the big city. It only took a couple of hours to get there, so having sussed out where (we thought) the next B&B was, we headed into the suburb of Turin called Moncaliari above which the AirB&B was situated.

We found a nice little restaurant for lunch: I had home made pasta with a simple tomato sauce, and Mr FD had a meat-and-cheese platter. We arranged to meet the owner of the place at 15h, so we drove up to where we thought it was, and waited in the car. After a while a suspicious woman came out and asked what we were doing. With a mixture of French, Italian and English we worked out we were in the wrong place, despite the sat nav telling us we were in the right place. After a bit of faffing, we found the farm, and Nicola, our host. We put our stuff in the room and decided to go to Asti, the centre of sparkling wine making…

The trip wasn’t successful. Mr FD was tired and hot, and didn’t feel like looking round the city so was grumpy. After about 30 minutes we admitted defeat, called in at a supermarket to buy some wine and went back to Moncalieri. Dinner was in a sweet little restaurant with a tiny terrace, where I started with caremalised cheese

Not a good photo, but the cheese was delish!

Then we both had a sort of leek flan with a creamy sauce

and then a very enjoyable dessert, which I can’t remember, and forgot to take a photo of!

Then up the long and winding road to the farm. The family were having a birthday party, so it was a bit noisy, but we didn’t mind; it was an exceptional circumstance, so we wished Papa Buon compleanno which pleased him, and went to bed with ear plugs in!