Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wedding bells at La Fosse

Well there's been quite a mood of expectation around here. Liz's friends who live across the road Patrick & Helene's daughter Constance was getting married on Saturday. Preparations were long and involved.
The local Church looked amazing, decorated completely with white flowers. There were some amazing outfits most of which I was too shy to photograph but I did get this shot of the most Parisienne woman I've ever seen. All in black with dark glasses, hair in Princess Leya ear buns, smoking a long cigarette and with two tiny matching dogsAs the wedding progressed, her partner had to look after the dogs and looked mightily hot and peeved.We hung out the window of the top house waiting for Patrick & Constance to come around the corner with the horse and carriage and finally they came. What is it about a wedding that makes you involuntarily sob? Especially at the sight of a horse and carriage. Patrick looked so proud and Constance looked like a vision of loveliness.
More sobbing as they wound their way back out of the village to Uncle Gerard's Chateau for the reception.
So.... we tried to decide whether we'd rather these two horses
or these two horses.Over a game of Yarnuff, a bottle of wine and some steamed artichokes we decided the latter.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Frenzy and calm

It's been all sytems go 'round here at La maison du bonheur. Liz has her first proper guests coming to stay here today (Saturday), as there is a trés important wedding happening in the village.
She and Ricardo (and even yours truly) have been slaving away for 10 or more hours a day all week to get at least one room up to scratch. As part of the preparations we made some gorgeous tranparent natural coloured linen curtains for the room. As an even more important step we had to make up a workshop to sew them in. Oh my....who could wish for a more romantic workshop. Painted a pale purpley colour with sea grass matting that makes the whole room smell just wonderful. Liz realised she had a spectacular machine tucked away in the cupboard especially for pressing things. Ooh la la, that added to the wonderous smells emanating from our end of the house. Here's yours truly relishing the ironing for a change.
This is it from the outside. It's the open window on the left.
And one more picture of inside all set to go.
Meanwhile in the business end of the house, the others were as busy as Santa's elves. Painting, putting in cupboards and skirting, scrubbing all the painty bits off the new bathroom.

And then finally unwrapping the bed and titivating. (The best part)
Here's Liz absolutely rooted.
And finally, finally the long awaited and well earned champagne on the terrace where we could sit and watch the swallows on the same level as us.
So here it is with great pleasure I bring to you the most tasteful, the most restful place in the whole of the Maine et Loire.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Balloons near Anger

The other night we went on an adventure to see if we could find the european ballooning championships that are happening here at the moment...we did. Balloons are called 'Montgolfiers' here after the Montgolfier brothers

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Finally at La Fosse

Never underestimate the heat, even if you're on holiday! Especially if you have to drive for 8 hours in it.
If you look closely here you can see that I look absolutely knackered and a bit f...ed off, with a plastered on smile .
Ricardo being the Sweetie that he is wanted to show me the area around the Dordogne on our mammoth drive back north from the Tarn et Garonne to the Loire region. He worked there near La Roque Gageac for a while as a barman in a nudist camp (no really) so I tried to say ooh and aah at the appropriate times even though all I wanted to say was zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz on this boat called 'Norbert' (maybe without all the people though). This area is Tourist Central. if you click on the photo above you should be able to see 7 million tourists. We stopped at Sarlat for a wander around and a granita which saved my spirits.
This is the site of the old goose market as this is the prime place for foie gras.
Even Ricardo was looking a little pissed off by now (as he didn't have the granita). Although this amazing door made up for it.
So it was quite good to get back on the road again and continue our marathon journey to...... 'La maison du bonheur'. We finally arrived at 11pm and after the requisite glass of wine went to bed. But next morning however, there was work to be done as it was Liz's good friend Laure's birthday. Many canapes were made, much meat was barbecued and a lot of fun was had by all.
Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the 20 or so friends enjoying themselves but needless to say we had a ball and ended up falling into bed at 2am.
Here's one last photo of Ricardo surrounded by beauties as he likes to be while singing 'La Mer'.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cordes sur Ciel and Albi

Go and find a cup of tea and a comfy chair this is going to be a long post...
We spent the day in Cordes sur Ciel on Tuesday, so called because it's high up on a hill right up in the sky (ciel). It was a big climb so we had to fortify ourselves beforehand with cake and coffee.
Sally introduced us to the little mouse 'souris' cake which I'm going to try and reproduce when I get home. I however couldn't resist the 'Frais de bois' or tiny wild strawberry tart.
Corde is incredibly beautiful. A medieval town which had more than 5500 inhabitants towards the end of 13th century. Beautiful sculptures and views everywhere.
Mine 'perfect' hosts.
It was pretty hot so we had to have a beer at the top. There were umbrellas over most of the tables with an ingenious device that sprayed a fine mist of water over the diners. Can imagine needing this anywhere in the UK?
After the rigours of strolling, drinking and shopping we had a picnic in a nearby field. Chairs, table, tablecloth and napkins as well as a sensational array of food. It was incredibly hot though with only cicadas for company.
Yesterday we went to visit Albi. Albi is quite a large town about 40 minutes away, it is the capital of the Tarn département. Famous for it's incredible Cathedral and being the birthplace of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. The French are so good at the smoothly vertical.
How's this for an organ? The paintings underneath the organ are vividlt descriptive of what happens to you if you're not GOOD. Some of the images are quite hilarious and some are positively chilling. There is a hierachy of souls going from gluttons and thieves at the very bottom to arch angels at the top with crowds of dead looking individuals marching with their bibles in hand. Makes you want to be very very good in future.
The Cathedral is devoted to St Cécile the patron saint of musicians because when she was dying she sang to God. She was martyred between 176 and 180 and survived for three days after her executioners failed to decapitate her three times. It doesn't bear thinking about really. Here is her tomb with its incredible reliquary which supposedly holds one of her finger bones.After the Cathedral and Lautrec museum we neede refreshment again and Ricardo's favourite food is 'Bulot' or big, chewy, slimy, yucky sea snails. He was in heaven.
My favourite food however is now iles flottante