Tuesday, August 28, 2007


This post has no pictures, you'd be too scared if there were.
A few night ago, it must have been Friday when Liz got here back from work in Paris. We had had a fun night drinking Rosé d'Anjou and playing Yarnuff, our favourite card game. Finally it was time for bed & off we trotted to our empty "Other house" with its building dust & spiders & many millipedes. Up until then I'd just not looked really but this time there was a big hairy millipede just near the bed so I squashed it bravely not caring about Buddhism at all, as soon as I had I noticed another one straight away, obviously I was creating instant Karma.
I went to clean my teeth, not looking up at the ceiling where they usually cluster & trying not to feel too scared.
As I walked back down the darkest part of the staircase unbeknownst to me Richard was feeling in a silly mood & had decided to stand behind the curtain that you have to pass to get to the bedroom. It always kind of billows out so you think there's someone behind it, so normally you pass by very quickly. As I looked down I saw a hand sticking out from behind the curtain.....You always wonder what you will do in such a situation, surely you wouldn't be a complete girl & squeal or anything....I screamed like you've never heard, I screamed & screamed until I thought the whole of La Fosse would come running. Richard came out from behind the curtain looking mortified as he should have. He tried to calm me & finally did after about 10 minutes of sobbing. I think in the end he got more of a fright than I did.
Now Liz has great delight in telling all the neighbours about his shameful prank. They are all suitably horrified & sympathise with me no end saying "J'aurais eu une crise cardiaque", (I would have had a heart attack.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Doué la Fontaine zoo

On the weekend we wondered what to do with a precious day off together, Liz suggested that the Zoo at Doué la Fontaine was good. It's not what I'd normally think of doing in France but....she said it was really worth a trip, so off we went. Boy was it ever worthwhile. The zoo in Melbourne in Australia is marvelous but it doesn't have FLAMINGOES...I'd never seen them even though they are my sister's favourite animal. Here they are specially for you Thomsey. I don't know how they keep their colour in the zoo because it's shrimp and blue-green algae that keeps them pink in the wild.
There were also a couple of rhinoceros in a sensationally large enclosure.

Hornbills in a jungle of bamboo which so wonderfully cool on a hot day. The first one we've had for ages. All through the park were marvelous sculptures of animals carved in wood. Toward the end of the trail around the zoo we came across a guy carving a huge ostrich. Richard talked to him & discovered he was from Bali. It must have been quite a culture shock for him. He said the first time he came to France he got sick from no chillies & too much cheese. Evidently the guy who runs the zoo gets sculptors to come & stay for a couple of months while they add to the carvings in the park. We stayed & talked to Maday for ages & he was incredibly sweet. Telling us to come & visit him in Ubud if we ever came there. Next time we come to France we'll have him to dinner Chez Liz & provide all the chiilies he can eat.
We didn't bring Cheekee monkey to the zoo but we told him about his relatives....

And yes the green spotty dress did get an outing.......although with all the millefeuille we've been eating it's getting a little tight!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

At home in Nantes.

Yesterday Liz & I went on a very long trip to get a staircase.....to Nantes, about 100 kilometers west of here. We hired a truck from the truly ugly Super U and set off on what should have been quite a short expedition...little did we know it would take hours of trial & error to actually get the "Escalier".

At first they only had half of it in Nantes & the other half was another hours drive away. Then they (I wont mention any names here "Lapeyre") decided they would bring the other half to the shop in Nantes if we could come back in the afternoon. We decided we would have a little lunch in the mean time...& try & find a shop that I've been wanting to go to for years called "La Droguerie". They sell ribbons, buttons & wool. It was heaven. I bought 8 metres of braid. The most beautiful stuff. I could have spent hours in there. They had the most beautiful baby clothes to knit in brilliant colours and hanks of wool, cashmere, silk & cotton all hanging in rainbows one above the other against dark wooden panelled walls.

We were both pleasantly surprised by Nantes. First & foremost it has a spectacular tramways system, the largest tramway network in France, I felt right at home, it was just like Melbourne....in fact the first ever organized public transport system began in Nantes in 1879.

I wasn't so used to blue double decker buses though.

After our little sojourn we went back to see if the staircase had arrived but somehow somebody else had taken our staircase & left us with theirs, which was the wrong size (eternally grateful that we discovered this before we left for the long drive home). So... to fill in some more time while we waited we went to a huge hardware store & bought plasterboard & various bits & pieces in an extremely anarchic French way, where there was no queue and the time was getting shorter & shorter until the Lapeyre shop closed.

Fnally we got the stairs & headed for home over this bridge over the Loire. You can see a HUGE wood yard here that went for acres & acres. Richard would have been in heaven.
Finally after a short detour where we went awry because we were yacking too much, we arrived home for dinner & a quick game of Yarnuff before we went to bed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The battered sav...

Here in La Fosse de Tigne, I find myself thinking nostalgically of Australia. Maybe it's because I can't really speak to anyone other than Richard or Liz.
I miss my own tribe.....therefore without hesitation I bring you one of my favourite comedy duo's...Roy Slaven & H.G Nelson, commenting on the gymnastics at the Sydney Olympics. A true Australian gem.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The den...

Richard & I went to have a look this evening in "The Bar", where the blokes who used to own the house had a little den of their own underneath the 'Other house'. I don't know how long it's been unused but boy-oh-boy was it dark & dusty.
Check these out for cobwebs.
Richard found this skellington too.

He's looking incredibly dirty because he knocked a doorway out on the ground floor for when the new staircase comes.

Dinner at La Fosse

Life is good, really, really good. We had the neighbours over for dinner on Saturday night. Christine & Simon have been really kind to us ever since we got here, despite us all struggling with language. Christine came with gifts for everyone and a giant Tiramisu for sweets, made with Cointreau instead of the usual Marsala.Liz (who owns the house here at La Fosse de Tigne) & her friend Laure were here for the weekend from Paris where they are both working their butts off so we wanted to do something special. We pulled out all the stops & made Navarin of lamb. That wonderful dish that somehow becomes more than the sum of its parts. Afterwards the guitar came out & we all sat around & tried to remember any French songs we knew. Richard hit the jackpot with La Mer.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Brewster Brothers with Jim Conway

Here at Chateua Liz we have been listening to great music....Tony Joe White is now a firm favourite...but we did introduce Liz to The Brewster Brothers with Jim Conway. So here they are, kind regards of good old Youtube

Here is a little taste of Guy Clark just in case you need a bit more good music

Come the Revolution...

We had another amazing day yesterday and had a little trip to a chateau nearby.......only this one is no longer entire....there began a history lesson in the Revolution..Martigne Briand is only a few minutes away from where we're staying here at La Fosse de Tigne.
During the French revolution the whole village where the chateau is, was sacked and only 14 houses were left standing, 80% of the people were massacred because they were Royalists. The fire at this Chateau lasted for 15 days. Not surprisingly there are miles of subteranean tunnels under the house as a means of escape if things became too hot...
They are trying to restore it now but I think they should leave it. It's a great way of seeing how the Revolution manifested in the Loire valley, 'The Valley of The Kings'.
...... having just researched a little bit, it seems it is more complicated than I thought at first, with Protestants & Catholics pitted against one another in the wars of the Vendee .....too complicated for me to explain here, but if you're interested go & have a look at what Wikipedia says about on the link I've inserted.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Montreuil Bellay

Up until now I've been nervous of going out & about on the wrong side of the road into a world were no one speaks my language. But today I was determined to venture out a little further than La Fosse. I made a trip to Liz's favourite butcher in St George Sur Layon and managed to negotiate a kilo & a half of lamb neck fillets for tomorrow night's Navarin of lamb. The butcher's tiny little Mama that served me was sweet & tried valiantly to make small talk with me. Everyone we have met has been so lovely especially Christine, Liz's neighbour & her small cute doggy named 'Capsule.'
After the meat adventure I drove on to a nearby town called Montreuil Bellay...
Chateau heaven. I had absolutely no idea there were so many in the Loire valley. What a dummy. Montreuil is one of those story book towns with honey coloured stone towers everywhere. No wonder there was a revolution here in France. The rich must have had an incredible life; it's also no wonder they had such impregnable walls surrounding their magnificent piles of stone.

Here for you also is a picture of the one doing all the work while I swan about, (although I do cycle up to the local pattisseie every morning for Tarte aux fruits or La Religeuse au chocolat)...luckily I bought my 'Buns-of-steel' DVD with me, otherwise there would be a lot more of me coming back to the UK than when we left a few weeks ago.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Richard est très heureux

Here is a picture of Richard in French hardware heaven. I had to buy a crowbar to lever him out of there. We managed to safely negotiate the buying of nails and the cutting of wood to the right size to span the hole that the staircase is coming out of.
Here he is feeling even more 'joyeaux' closing up the hole with said pieces of wood, where it came out.

(Forgive these strangely written sentences, I have the feeling that my English is deteriorating at roughly the same rate as my French is improving).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chateau d'Angers

On the weekend we went to Angers to have a look at the fortress there. It was huge and stripey!! It had been even bigger but they cut the tops off the 17 towers and their pepperpot roofs at the end of the 16th centuryas a precaution against a possible attack by the Protestants. This allowed them to introduce cannons into their artillery.It was started in the 9th century to counter the threat from the Normans, the Count of Anjou set it up on a rocky promontory overlooking the river. The Plantagenet's reigned here for 3 centuries. At its height in the 14th & 15th century there was a dazzling court life here of enlightened Royals and art lovers. In the midst of that time Louis 1 Duke of Anjou commissioned a huge tapestry that took 7 years to complete: about 100 metres x 4-5 metres of it are left, originally it was more than half as long again. Here is St John watching the fall of Babylon from his safe little sentry box. In 1782 the Church tried to sell the tapestries but there were no offers. During the Revolution it was thrown out of the Chateau and people cut pieces off for horse blankets and draught stoppers. In 1843 the Bishop of Angers bought up all the pieces he could find for 300 francs (mostly off a rubbish dump).
It depicts St John's version of the Bible and it's apocalyptic visions of scary beasts, fire & brimstone. It's the oldest surviving tapestry of this size. The room it's hung in was built for it around 1952-1954. It was dark & cool in there and the tapestry bent around an L-shaped room. It was like twilight in there and more than a little spooky. Image afer image jumped out at you of wierd & horrible creatures. I'm sure the inspiration for Maurice Sendak's "Where the wild things are", came from here. I wondered why you would want such horrific images on your loungeroom walls.
As a bit of light relief I attach a picture here of the beautiful 'Ivy'. She was staying here with friends Marianne & Chris last week. Ivy fell in love with Cheekee monkey & we fell in love with Ivy. We miss you Ivy. xxxxxxx

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Liz's house

Here is your daily picture. (Photo's take a lonnnnnnnggggggggggg time to download)........Of me outside Liz's house.....a lovely warm evening. I think this was the evening when we had cote de boef and too many glasses of rosé. There are so many roses here, and the ones in the jug are a particularly lovely variety called Polka. I must see if they have it at Peter Beales in Attleborough. Evidently Angers is the Rose capitol of France. Lucky us.

It's raining today just a little so I may have to change my plans of chateau spotting and go tomorrow. It definitely doesn't curtail my trip to the pattisserie/ boulangerie though..
This is a photo of the "other house"....from the outside.

Monday, August 13, 2007

La Fosse de Tigne

At last a little bit of time to blog. The weekend was full of eating, laughing, chatting and a trip to Angers to see the famous & kind-of-scary Tapestries of the Apocalypse. (More on that later).
Now I need to bring you up to speed as to where we are & what we are doing here.
We are in a small village in the Loire valley in France called La Fosse De Tigne (pronounced tinyay), about 1/2 an hour South East of Angers.
Richard's lovely friend Liz has bought a house down here and needs a hand to do it up. Well actually she bought one ages ago and has recently bought the one next door, it's the newer house that Richard is working on. It feels like home....I never realised how Mediterranean Melbourne was. The main house is ancient and made of thick stone. The windows are tiny and it stays cool even on the hottest day. There is a huge backyard. There is lavender and roses everywhere. (Thomsey you would love it). The more recent house is a marvelous one from La Belle Epoch, built around 1904. It has really bad wallpaper and endless rooms with giant spiderwebs. It is so quiet at night. Liz uncovered this beautiful floor of tessilated tiles.
Not much else is left inside the house of any character, most of it had 70's panelling in the rooms.
Last week there were friends of Liz's staying, Chris (an Aussie guy from Hobart), Marianne (from Amsterdam)and a little sweetheart that Chris looks after named Ivy. Ivy fell in love with Cheekee Monkey, and I fell in love with Ivy. She made a skirt for monkey to wear & called him Elizabeth Nemo. She was an absolute delight and made it not so lonely with Richard working all day.
The weather has been beautiful so far. About 25 degrees with little puffy white clouds. It is such a familiar landscape, there are vineyards as far as the eye can see, with the odd field of sunflowers or corn evey now & again. There is a mini chateau over the back fence which I will photograph soon to show you. It's like a piece of Disneyland.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Made it...

There may not be much happening in blogland over the next few weeks (as hard as that is for me) because there is only a dial up connection here at Chateau Liz ...but I will post these couple of pictures and let you know that we are safe, well and happily ensconsed at La Fosse de Tigne.

Finally after a huge drive, starting at 5.30 am on Wednesday, from the ferry terminal in Newhaven UK and ending around 6.30 pm in France, we made it in one piece.
Games of Yarnuf helped us along through the ferry ride.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bringing in the sheaves

The day before we leave for France, this is what's happening everywhere in Norfolk............

The weather has finally got better and the farmers are working day & night to bring in the harvest. Everywhere you go there's a sense of urgency on the roads as trucks & tractors ply the roadways to get it all under cover before the next rain.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tres Passionant

We are geting very excited about going to France!!!!!!!

We are going on Wednesday the 8th and returning on the 28th of August.

We are a little nervous about being sea sick on the boat. We are also a little nervous about being in a country where one doesn't speak the lingo.

Nevertheless "We" are still.....tres passionant.