Monday, September 20, 2010

Back so soon?

This is not like me at all - two posts in less than a week?!

I just had to share some photos that I took on Sunday. We visited some friends in the nearby village of Gourge (accent over the last 'e' a la Francais!). I've already blogged about this village before and posted photos of the ancient bridge and the water mill on the river but, on Sunday, we started off for home and got side-tracked down an inviting country lane, and found this stunning chateau which took our breath away. It is in the most beautiful setting and just suddenly appeared out of the lovely landscape. Lovely as it is, I don't think I would like to live in it (as if we could ever even think of buying it - property in France is on the inexpensive side compared to the UK but it would still cost a million or so!) -  at night I think it could be a bit spooky!

The photo was taken from the entrance of this lovely old house which had the Husband drooling at the thought of renovating it but, sadly for him,  it's not for sale! He still has to finish our house, anyway!

In the centre of the village we found this little house and I just had to take a photo of the two windows at the top - you can just about see the little metalwork birds in the one on the right. I think it's a lovely window!

All around Gourge there are lovely views of the surrounding countryside - this is just one of them.

We will be there again on Saturday evening because the local bar is hosting a 'Sausage Sizzle' and the sausages are to die for - from a local farm run by a lovely English couple who rear their own Gloucester Old Spot pigs, and produce the best pork ever. The sausages are the best I have ever tasted.

Such a shame about the road sign - it just doesn't seem to fit into such a lovely setting, does it?!  The flowers are just starting to go over but the colours are still gorgeous.
 Yesterday morning we had the most fantastic sunrise - I took this at about 7a.m......

....and this was at about 7.30 a.m.

It was really cold at the time, probably no more than about 8 degrees but, by mid-morning, the temperature had risen to around 25, making it the most perfect day.

Small but deliciously sweet and tasty - peaches from our very own tree, waiting to be preserved in white wine if we can stop eating them straight from the bowl!

Thanks for reading - hope you all have a lovely day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

How time flies when you are making treasured memories!

Well, where did that ten lovely memory-filled days go?  There we were on the ferry going to Portsmouth and, suddenly, there we were sailing back to Caen almost, it seems, in the blink of an eye.

 The afternoon sun on the water about an hour out of Caen as we started our trip.

It was a whirlwind tour taking in wonderful laughter-filled hours with our very very good friends who so kindly take us in on our trips back home and spoil us rotten with their company and fantastic hospitality (especially the wonderful cooking!), and share their beautiful family with us - a lovely new baby to cuddle, and a lively new border collie to play with!

We celebrated my dear mum's 80th birthday with her - and believe me, this was a real celebration for a wonderul lady who has beaten all the odds to reach such a grand age. We are already planning her 85th and 90th! 

We celebrated a few more important birthdays in the year in the family, too - a sister's 50th, a granddaughter's 1st, and a nephew's 21st, and my lovely youngest son and his gorgeous wife announced that they were expecting their second child next March! There was much to raise a glass - or three - to!

The party was held at The Commodore Hotel in Kewstoke, Sand Bay, Weston-super-Mare. My mum spent some of her childhood there when it was just a little cafe run by her grandmother. The building itself has seen changes but the wild and windswept beach hasn't - it took me straight back to my own childhood when many an hour was spent playing on the sands.

Here we all are in the garden of the hotel - how we managed to get all the children to stand still for a minute or two was amazing!

The Commodore Hotel from the beach - it stands right at the end of the beach at Sand Bay against a backdrop that has hardly changed over the years.  It's fantastic to know that, in a fast-changing world, some things stay almost exactly the same!

The beach at Sand Bay just as the sun was setting at the end of a perfect day.  I spent half my childhood playing on these sands and it was lovely to be there again.

Another view of the beach which is just a two minute walk from the hotel.

Of course, a trip to Weston-super-Mare would not be complete without a visit to the Grand Pier which so famously burnt down just a few short yeas ago.  They have kept the entrance exactly as it was - sadly, it still isn't open to the public while they iron out a few problems.

The end of the pier, which was destroyed in the fire, has been rebuilt to a much more modern design but it looks exactly right. As you can tell, the weather was quite typical, with the sea almost invisible as usual!

They are working very hard on the whole seafront area surrounding the pier. By next year, when all the work is complete, it should look fantastic. I can't wait to return.  I'm so pleased that the pier has been rebuilt - it's another part of my childhood that holds fond memories for me.

Another favourite spot between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare is Chew Valley Lake, now a haven for wild birds.  The last time we were here in February, it was teeming with all sorts of birds. This time it seemed was just for ducks and seagulls!

At its busiest, it has thousands of birds and the noise is almost deafening.

And all of a sudden, here we are sailing into Caen on a beautiful summer's afternoon with the temperature quite a few degrees warmer than we had left behind in Portsmouth, and hearts full of memories that will last for years!  Aren't families wonderful?!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Back to the UK for ten precious days!

Thanks for all the lovely comments about my last post! They're very welcome!

Well, having been thinking about our forthcoming trip for what seems like ages, we only have one more night's sleep here now.  I know the ten days will whizz by and that I shall be very reluctant to come back here, so I shall try and stay positive!  We have lots to look forward to including a huge family get-together in honour of my lovely Mum's 80th birthday.  As she has suffered a lot of serious health problems throughout her life, it's a hell of a birthday to celebrate, and members of the family are coming from far and wide.  I'm sure it's going to be an emotional trip!

We've been warned about the cooler weather in the UK, too. Here, it's been absolutely fantastic for days and days - yesterday was 29 degrees with pure blue skies and wall to wall sunshine, so nothing to grumble about there!  Just have to decide what to pack to be prepared for the UK's varying weather!

The renovations here have been ongoing but it will be good to have a break from the disruption and dust for a while, although we'll be straight back into it as soon as we return!

This is one of my mum's birthday presents - it's my first attempt at making jewellery; just hope it doesn't fall apart when she opens it!

I have a few more things for her to open but forgot to take photos of them before I wrapped them!

This is the peach tree right now.  The peaches are just starting to ripen and should be perfect when we return. They don't get very big but they are deliciously tasty and very sweet.  Some are falling off, though, so I hope we don't get any gales while we are away!

We are still in our temporary sitting room.  This room is really a big hall turned into a small sitting room  - the main sitting room is still down to bare stone walls. At least we can sit and relax in here - last year we had nowhere comfy to sit so this is a vast improvement in our lives!  The oddly-shape alcove behind the small sofa now has some lovely shelves in it that the Husband made with some old timber he found in a barn - with some TLC and a lot of hard work sawing, staining and waxing, the timber looks lovely now! 

I think it's the photo that's listing to one side, not the house - I hope!

This is the other end of the room - we need to get some curtains up but that's another job that can wait until we come back!

This part of the garden was really uneven but some workmen were finishing off the resurfacing work outside the house, and they had to dig up a load of soil - the Husband, being ever on the lookout for things, asked them if we could have the soil, so they brought it round for us. He spent an hour yesterday spreading it around to even up the ground under the tree.  They had a digger, too, so he asked if they would move some heavy granite slabs for us - you can just make out some seats that we made with them against the wall - we couldn't have done it without the digger because they weigh too much.  We had to force them to take some euros for their trouble AND they worked into some of their lunch hour, which is a lot to ask of French workers!  They have some more work to do over the next couple of weeks and I should imagine they'll be glad that we're away!

This is a spare table that we can sit at as the sun moves down the garden in the evening. It's away from the main sitting area, and is great for catching the very last of the sun before it sets!

The workmen finally got round to putting up the fence posts that run alongside our building plots - the local commune needed to pinch some of the land to widen the access road, so they've had to move and replace the fence. Only the posts have gone in so far - we may get the 'grillage' that goes in between them some time soon - it takes forever to get anything done here!

I like this bit of the garden - it shows the end of the drive as it goes out onto the newly-surfaced road.

I just need to tidy up the big bedroom that the Husband has been working on then I can take some photos. I daren't take any right now; the room is a mess and there is much packing going on ready for our trip back to the UK - oh, and, as it's only 6.30 in the morning, the Husband is still asleep in there!

Thanks for reading. I hope to catch up with you all when I get back!