Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Market Day

Sunday is market day in the pretty medieval village of St Antonin which is about 13 km from us. It is a fantastic market and it has become something of a tradition to get up early and head off for breakfast at the cafe in the main square. From this vantage point you can see and be seen and enjoy the atmosphere which is bustling to say the least.

Under the Halle activity is intense. In August it becomes quite manic with crowds of visitors eager to take part in the excitement. The village is crammed with good things to eat and the piles of jewel toned courgettes, peppers, tomatoes and aubergines beg you to buy and cook, whilst all around are heaps of cheeses, sausage, hams and other goodies to feed your imagination and make your tummy rumble.

The aligot man sells his speciality of smooth mashed potato enriched with cheese. You can tell if the aligot is good by how stretchy it is and he lifts it high in the air so that strings of cheese and potato hang enticingly from the spoon in fragrant loops. The smell of warm cheesy potato drifts enticingly across the square mingling with the scent from the hot roast chicken van. The tiny, blood red Mara des Bois strawberries are piled high on another stall and release a sweet and long forgotten summer sweetness.

With all this wonderful produce cooking is an essential activity although making chutney on the day it managed to reach 40 degrees was probably a mistake. I was as crimson as the plums which went into the spicy concoction! However the chocolate and blackberry mousse, green apple and goats' cheese couscous and chilled leek and potato soup have all gone down well this week. I hope the photos make your mouth water.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Taking the cats for a walk

The amazing countryside which surrounds us. Ideal for walking naughty cats.

We got up this morning to discover a scene of devastation in the kitchen including one of our favourite wine glasses broken on the floor. Monsieur Camille has far too much energy and because it was a cool damp morning we decided to take both him and Amelie on a walk around the village. They are getting very good at trotting along on their leads, although they do get tired and have to be carried sometimes. However it was an ideal morning with lots of interesting things for humans to look at and for cats to sniff and chase so we all had a lovely time.

The village of Verfeil is so beautiful and it is easy to take it all for granted when you are here for a long time. It is what is called a Bastide which means a Medieval town built on a grid plan with central market place or Halle and surrounded by defenses. Our Halle is still in place although the defensive walls are gone. However you can see that the village was built on a hilltop in a good position to see what was happening around it. That didn't stop it from being destroyed a few times during the Medieval period but a lot of the architecture has survived and we really enjoyed our walk around soaking up the history and the wonderful countryside.

The cats enjoyed it too, although we had to carry them the last bit! People are always fascinated to see cats on leads and we are often asked "what kind of dog is that?" What a terrible thing to say to a cat.

Tonight we are going the the mussels and chips evening arranged by the local rugby club. As many mussels as you can eat so they say..... will we live to regret it? Watch this space.

What shall I do next? Hmmmmm.....

John and Amelie a mutual appreciation society!

This is our village square and the war memorial.
Here is the church just off the square.

The Market or Halle in the centre of the village.

The bar, a very important feature with excellent meals cooked by Lydie
One of Verfeil's beautiful Medieval buildings.
Fancy making us walk all that way!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Photos of the house

As promised I'm posting some pics of the house in France. The
cats are not allowed out here unless under supervision which means harnesses and leads. They don't think much of this and they spend a lot of time sitting in front of the windows looking hopefully at the pigeons. Camille is living on a diet of flies and chases them madly all over the house. As well as the house pics there are a couple of me doing the Race For Life in Cambridge last Sunday. It was a great day and we reckon that between us me and my mates Sam and Sandra have raised about £500. We are going to try to pick Nick up again this afternoon, hopefully he will be on the plane this time. Hope you like the house. We love it and think it is very French.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Widening my horizons

I've decided to make my blog wider and share our experiences in France where we are at present. My best news is that I am going back to Wadi Gawasis in December to do more work in the pottery. I'm really excited. Need to say Hi to Joey Ludbrook who has encouraged me to make my blog wider. Hi Jo how's it going? Jo makes fantastic cushions and I'm proud to have two on my sofa at home. We arrived in our lovely village Verfeil Sur Seye on Tuesday evening where it is hot and beautiful and everything was fine although a bit dusty. The cats were very good on the journey and Camille has settled in well with Amelie to show him the ropes. Nick John's son was supposed to arrive last night but so far he has managed to miss his flight twice so hopefully he will get here on Friday afternoon! There will be piccies so check back later.