Sunday, 31 October 2010

A recipe for you

That break seems a long time ago already. Today I have been trying to strip the paint off a small door with Decapant (liquid paint stripper) or decrapant as Neil calls it, and he couldn't be more right - the stuff is useless.

We have had one set of trick or treaters yesterday - and as we had nothing to give them I ended up handing over my last bit of English chocolate - a packet of Rolos. The children weren't in the least bit scary, and I can't imagine they would have any good tricks up their sleeve had we not had anything to bribe them with, but as we were going out later in the afternoon I bought three small packets of sweets in case we were called on again tonight.
This morning though, Neil admitted that he had scoffed some of the sweets apparently not realising that halloween is in fact tonight, not yesterday. I sent him off to Intermarche to restock, and he came home with two large bags of bonbons, most of which we have eaten already.

Looking out of the window it looks like we are living on a chicken farm. We have 23 chickens roaming around the land (and unless they are laying somewhere secret none of them are producing eggs yet)so it looks like it is time for a bit of a cull.

Yesterday I made a cake that we were served whilst on our break last week. It's like an apple upside down cake and is lovely and moist and yummy. Here is the recipe in case you would like to try it...

Recette Gateau 5-4-3-2-1

for the cake

5 heaped soup spoons of flour
4 soup spoons of caster sugar
3 soup spoons of milk
2 soup spoons of oil
1 egg
1 pinch of salt
half a sachet of yeast / baking powder
2 or 3 apples

To add during cooking

80 grams of butter
100 grams of sugar
1 egg
1 sachet of vanilla sugar

1. Mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt.
Then add the milk, the egg and the oil and mix well.
Line / grease a baking tin, and arrange peeled apples cut in slices on the bottom of the baking tin. Add the mixture on top and put in a cold oven.
Switch oven on at gas mark 4 or 120 - 130 degrees and leave for 30 minutes

2. meanwhile prepare the second mix and pour on top of the cake when it has been in the oven for 30 minutes. Cook for a further 15 mins.

I hope that makes sense - its a bad translation of the french recipe but tastes lovely so I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Anniversary trip

It seemed like we hadn't had a moment to stop and relax for ages, what with work, animals and visitors so I took advantage of my parents offer to house sit and booked a few days away in the Perigord Pourpre region of France for our wedding anniversary.
I fancied getting away somewhere luxurious (with at least a staircase and central heating) so that Neil (and I) could at last take some time out and relax.

I found wonderful chambres d'hôtes called the Coteau de Belpech in the town of Beaumont Du Perigord (www.coteau-pelpech.com) where we were met by the owners Isabelle & Alain Le Coz, a French couple who had restored their eleventh century chapel beautifully.

The region has lovely countryside and lots of historic chateaux and cathedrals (mostly built by us Brits) and plenty of vineyards scattered around producing some lovely Bergerac wine.

Our room

One of the 360 degree views at the Coteau de Belpech

The converted chapel and buildings

The Mairie at the bastide town of Monpazier

This is Neil tasting some wine at the Chateau la Renaudie, just outside of Bergerac

In the town of Beaumont du Perigord we found the most amazing Quincaillerie (hardware) store, it was absolutely massive and stocked with the most bizzare items - apparently people come from Paris just to visit the store

So now it is back to work and back to reality. The break just wasn't long enough really- but then they never are!!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

épi - the French word for whorl

Last night I uploaded the photos but really was too knackered to write the blog. Yesterday was full on with moving the eight horses that needed to be seen by the vet and moving around several others, by walking, riding and boxing them in a trailer.

One thing I did want to mention though was my faux pas with the vet. As he was noting the distinguishing marks of one of the horses he asked me what an épi was in English. I told him that they are called whorls - little swirls of hair growing in the opposite direction to the lay of the coat. They are used in the identification of horses. He then asked me to spell whorl out in French, which I did, but then I was halfway down the garden towards the house before I realised to my horror that I had spelt it with an e on the end, not an l.

I rushed back with a pencil and wrote on his notes the correct spelling before telling him that the other spelling should not be used as that would mean a 'femme de la nuit!'. Needless to say he found this very amusing (the same vet who had had a laugh about the chicken in the waiting room), but I fear I may only have confirmed his opinion that we are all as daft as brushes.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Here for Helen and anyone else who may be interested is a picture of the new pig run - followed by a photo of the residents inspecting the stream

Today my dutch friend Nicoline who owns the fresian horses bought a selection down to my place to be blood tested and microchipped. Here she is with the vet and the latest born foal Amy

It is lovely to have some horses back in the field and we now have 3 mares and one foal in the field, so I will be riding once again now we have weaned these two foals.

Lastly here is a photo of her 3 year old fresian stallion. Gorgeous isn't he?!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Chicken and cat in a basket...

This afternoon Judith and I went to the vets surgery for open clinic, so on the backseat of my car were two baskets, one with a chicken and the other with my cat.

I did have to smile as I knew the vet would find Judith and her chicken sitting in the reception area a great amusement, as most people around these parts would rather neck a chicken than pay a vet bill, and they know how soft she is about her hens.

I took Romey, the cat that we purchased with our house. Unfortunately she has white ears and is a sunseeker. This year the cancer that has appeared on her ears has rapidly got worse, and now looks red, sore and is not healing. I have been told there is nothing to be done with them, but she is so uncomfortable I couldn't just leave her. The vet gave her a cortisone injection and is going to review her before deciding wether or not to take the ears off.

It was then the turn of the chicken, and the vet shook his head and laughed when he looked in the cat box and saw the hen. It has had a large swelling on its foot that Judith had tried to lance without much sucsess. the vet sliced it's foot open and removed a large ball of pus, before swabbing it with betadine. He decided not to put a stitch in it and told Judith that as long as it was eating and drinking and looked happy enough she shouldn't worry about it. It cost her twelve euros, which would have bought her a new chicken, but lets hope the hen makes a full recovery.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Porky Palace

Thursday afternoon Mags and Keith, who own our second pig BB (bacon buttie) came over to help construct a new run for the two porkers.

We decided to move them into an area of our field that had been taken over by bracken and brambles, and so the afternoon was a full on work party with some serious strimming, fence post ramming, pig house construction and electric fence connecting.

It was getting dark by the time all that was finished, and I was a bit concerned that if we didn't get them into the new run sharpish, we would be chasing two tamworth/cul noir porkers halfway around the Limousin to get them into the new accomodation.

Although now pretty tame, we hadn't really tried moving them any distance before and Mags and Keith galantly held two makeshift pig boards whilst I went along in front, shaking a bucket full of grub (that they largely ignored).

I hadn't quite bargained for how big and solid they are these days, but after a bit of a tussle we finally got them into the new run.
I also hadn't bargained for them taking fright at the tiny stream running through the front of the new run, so Neil, at this point desperate for a beer, rugby tackled one of the pigs over the stream and in the general direction of their night accomodation - Like a flash it hopped back over the stream to join his brother and at this point we all thought sod it, and tucked into a pint of shandy before we went and had our tea.

I am happy to report they love their new patch, and after they have done their stuff of clearing and fertilising we hope that one day this area will provide us (and Mags and Keith) with very large, (pig) fertilised pumpkins.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Going too big, too soon.

Is a failing of mine - I admit. I am talking of course of the woodburning stove and of loading it with wood. It's actually far too early to be lighting fires - within an hour you end up stripping off and opening doors and windows, but with the pool and sun lounger season now firmly behind us, there is nothing so nice as loading up the fire and settling in for a night of snuggly warmth in front of 'flicky flames' as my friend Judith calls them.

Neil is a bit of a boy scout fire starter - and deeply frowns on my use of firelighters to get the fire going. As far as I am concerned it is a failsafe method of lighting the fire and puts paid to being on your hands and knees staring desolately at a smoking pile of paper and kindling. I tend to buy packs of firelighters when he is not on a shopping trip with me and secrete them around the room in places he never looks.
"Let me do it!!" is his frequent cry, as I go to light the fire and grab the lighters and he proceeds to unload my stack of newspaper, kindling and lighters in favour of his own method - which I'm sure is something of a secret ( like 5 year old moss covered old wisteria sticks or something).
It's just a case of male pride I am sure and I normally let him get on with it, although with his recent liking of walking around in a state of undress perhaps I should ensure the house is as cold as possible!

Here is a picture of Lenny - who has settled in like a dream and has already caught his first mouse. Long may he continue!!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Winning friends and Influencing People

I was blissfully unaware of this mornings events until we turned up at the local bar for the bi-weekly fish and chip event ce soir.

It appears that after I had left for work this morning our dutch friend (who is married to a local french farmer) popped in to give us some cheese samples that she had made. It being in the fairly early hours of this morning she was greeted by Neil, naked as he normally is at that time of the day.

Nakedness is not something that sits awkwardly with my husband so he offered her a cup of coffee, at which point he heard another car pull up outside.
Assuming it was a pal of ours (who is also used to Neils nakedness) Neil walked outside to tell the pal that he would just get changed before he made him a coffee too.
Unfortunately the visitor turned out to be our dutch friends husband - who took in Neils nakedness before calling for his wife - who very nonchalantly called out -"Oui?!".

Luckily however curious our french friend is about his wife being with a naked Englishman, our dutch friend thinks the whole thing is hilarious. I am a bit concerned he may turn up with a shotgun to defend his wifes honour though.
At the very least though, I think it will spread around the village like wildfire that should anyone be stupid enough to visit us, they are likely to be met by an english naked man.

Should save us a fortune in coffee....

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Fete de L'Ane

It was obviously the place to be today - we bumped into half the village at the Donkey Fete today, which took place in a small town on the route to Limoges
Judith and I go every year primarily as it always has a very interesting vide grenier, but also many interesting stands, including one which made boudin noir to order and had a sign warning you that spurts of blood were a very real hazard - but first here is a photo of a donkey with an interesting hair do.