Thursday, July 15, 2010

Down by the river!

It's been some time since my last post, mainly because I lost both phone and internet access from Friday until Tuesday, all courtesy of France Telecom. The phone suddenly went dead on Friday evening; I checked with the neighbours, and it seemed that the whole area had been affected. As one of them said, 'possibly the whole of France, who knows?' accompanied by the inevitable Gallic shrug!  No-one else seemed to be as bothered as I was - which must be because I am the only English woman in this part of France! There is just no sense of urgency here at all - luckily, no-one in the hamlet needed the emergency services!

We look after a holiday home in a gorgeous little village called Gourge (accent over the 'e' for pronunciation), about ten miles away. Gourge is one of the prettiest places here, and the holiday home itself is lovely. Owned by two English couples, it has been renovated beautifully and furnished in an exceedingly French way, although they assured me that almost everything came from Ikea in the UK!

Anyway, I digress - we called over there yesterday evening because the latest guests had just left. I had intended to collect the bedlinen and towels for washing, but found that it had already been done and, in fact, as the little lady opposite informed me, some was still hanging on the line, so that saved me a job. 

When we were last there, just under two weeks ago, the garden was really showing off the climbing roses - they were already shedding petals and I collected loads, in yellow and hot pink, to make pot-pourri. Yesterday, sadly, all the petals had gone but there was this gorgeous gladioli just starting to flower, and, in another corner, this beautiful hydrangea.

Here is my pot-pourri in the making -  in the bowl so far are pink and yellow rose petals, bay leaves, some lavender (which is not quite ready, really, but I couldn't resist picking it!), some lemon peel, and leaves from one of our orange trees. It already smells delicious, but I may add some herbs later.

After we'd locked up the house, we took a trip down to the lovely river Thouet that runs through the village.  It was about 8pm and the sun was low in the sky, casting a golden glow over the countryside. The old mill house here dates back to the Middle Ages; the old wooden wheel is no longer in use.

I love the willow tree in the foreground that seems to be growing straight out of the water.

Gourge now has a thoroughly modern bridge to take the traffic, but the old one is still there for strolling along.  A Gallo-Roman bridge, it was built in the 11th century over the river Thouet, which runs from Nantes to Poitiers.

Here you can make out the passing places that were set in along the bridge.  The pathway is made from heavy granite cobbles, and you can see the centre that has been worn away by all those footsteps from times gone by. I wonder how many people have crossed this bridge in all those years?

The Husband was taken with this house so I had to take a photo of it!

and I was taken by these gates that hide a little house up on a hill.  I would loved to have ventured inside!

A nosy photo of someone's garden! It runs right down to the river; what a lovely spot.

Someone else's garden with its neat rows of veggies....

... and this is on the way home.  The French love their trees; this is one of my favourite roads here because it is so typically French. Just after Christmas, the powers that be cut the trees back so far that we thought they'd been killed off for good.  It seemed to take ages for any signs of new life to show but, all of a sudden, the branches started to grow, and the leaves slowly appeared, and now they are almost back to their former glory.  The French really seem to brutalise the trees here in the winter months, but they obviously know what they are doing, and there are many stunning boulevards here with perfectly-planted regiments of trees lining them.

Well, that was our lovely evening out and we thoroughly enjoyed taking time away from the renovations to enjoy the best of what France has to offer, and it cost us nothing but a bit of petrol!

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A beautiful start to the day!

After days and days of high temperatures, the weather had a different feel  first thing this morning -  like the sort of day when you know that you can sit outside for more than ten minutes without turning into a crisp!  I sat outside with my first cuppa of the day and watched the cows grazing in the field next to my garden. These aren't anxious, fast-munching cows, rather they take their time, stopping every few mouthfuls to admire the surrounding countryside.  They are so far from pollution and other threats - they live a happy peaceful life, completely unaware, thankfully, that they are eventually destined for the table.  They are called Parthenaise; they are  local to this part of France, and the farmers are immensely proud of them. They have quite an enviable routine at this time of year - eating all morning and sleeping all afternoon, when all you can see moving are tails and ears, switching away the flies.  I think I might follow their example one of these days!

The sun was just starting to filter through the trees; no-one else was around - mind, it was early and everyone else in the hamlet was probably still asleep!  It is Sunday, after all - only a mad Englishwoman like me would be up this early, especially in France!

Back indoors, I loved the way the sun seeped through the little window high up in the dining room, so out came the camera again!

It can't have gone unnoticed that the World Cup has been occupying the minds of fans - whether they be true fans who follow football right through the season, or those, like me, who don't normally watch but can't help but get caught up in the World Cup itself.  I really wished I was back in England because I knew that the flags, and anything else red and white, would be flying frantically from every available point.  Here in France, you'd be forgiven for thinking that France had not qualified - not one flag flying, not one piece of cheerful bunting fluttering in the breeze - it's no wonder the team looked demoralised!  Whilst England did not do as well as we were all hoping, at least they got that far - I won't mention 'the' goal!  The Husband and I watched the team play  Germany on the edge of our seats - well, until about ten minutes into the second half when I thought it was more interesting to put the bins out, and the Husband turned off the TV in disgust and carried on pottering about in the garden!  The only member of the family with no opinion either way was Louis, the cat - here he is just as it was becoming obvious that our team were on the next plane home!   I'm sorry it's such an inelegant pose; he has no shame! I'm not sure what he'll be like when we've had him 'fixed' at the end of the month! He spends most of his time like this, with the odd break for food, and a slow, very slow, walk around the garden!

I'll be back later with photos of the outside of the house that the Husband is currently painting! He hasn't quite finished yet - I'll go and tell him to hurry up!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a lovely day!