Monday, July 31, 2017

WE DID IT WE'RE DONE FOREVER

OMGYOUGUYS it's the last day of MyBloWriMo and I think it's safe to say I'LL NEVER DO ANOTHER ONE AGAIN. I mean, I posted CLOUDS yesterday. Your patience is saintly.

I have had the maddest, most productive day. It consisted of more laundry - of course, no post would be complete without - but also So Much Unpacking and also So Many Emails and also A Very Exciting Business Meeting in which Important Businessy Things Were Discussed. Opportunities abound, things are afoot, shenanigans are on the horizon.

We have no food in the house. Except for pate and foie gras, because I had it in my head that I Can't Live Without These Things and brought over jars of the stuff. I'm sure I'll appreciate this when it's not a million degrees outside but right now all I want is some kind of meat on a bbq. This is not a helpful craving when I'm trying to work on my online grocery order and find myself adding ten packages of sausages to my cart. MUST. BALANCE. DIET. At the very least add some greens that I can let get wet and moldy in my fridge before throwing them away in a week.

I do have a punnet of British blackberries in my tote. I impulse-bought them when picking up some eggs at Tesco Metro and they cost a million dollars and I don't know what I was thinking since the only way I like blackberries is in a crumble and I'm not likely to turn on the oven for dessert.


It has been an exciting* month and I thank you for tuning in. It was a lot of nonsense and my heart can't contain my gratitude for you reading. 

Big hugs and lots of love,
Essss


*Was July three months long or is that just me?  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Road Tripppp

And we are home. We drove ten hours on five hours' sleep, entertained by S-Town and Hamilton, and now we've flopped into bed and I am going to share with you the dramatic sky that France farewelled us with. Tomorrow is the last day of MyBloWriMo so this seems fitting.

 It all started off so innocently, clouds as gentle as lambs

 Then they got lower

 and darker

- pretended violence -

and then rolled like the sea

It never acted on its threat though - it was all bark today

See you tomorrow! It's going to be a rough one - the first day back after a long holiday is always so - but I've got my to-do list (so long it reaches the floor like a cartoon scroll) and I'm just going to knock things out one at a time and hope for the best.

Big hugs,
Essss

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cleaning and sleeping and . . . that's basically it.

Since we have last 'talked,' I have done the following:

- Slept. This was the majority of it. I had a dream that I went to a festival with my sister and nieces and they thought it was funny to lose me so I couldn't find the tent at the end of the night but little did they know I have abandonment issues and I LOST MY BLOODY MIND and threw my sister's toothbrush in the dirt when I finally found them. It was excellent (sorry, sissy).

- Scrubbed the toilets, wiped the windowsills, swept the cellar, brought in the outdoor furniture. Wolf hoovered, a strange and unanticipated skillset he has. Man is THOROUGH.

- Ate breakfast, drank some Cantillon apricot juice, wished I had some more Cantillon apricot juice.

Current status: settling in with our books and about to enjoy the last day in our garden. Tomorrow's the big drive back!


See you from the road!

Big hugs,
Essss

Friday, July 28, 2017

Happy Fosse Friday!

YOUGUYS what a day. The sun has come back out in strength after a dappled week and we resumed our splashing in the pool and dusky bbq’ing. We just had a pile of sausages and as we finished, Wolf says, ‘So we’ll have dinner later, right?’ It's 6 p.m. so apparently he’s fully acclimated to European dining hours. He'll be wanting to eat again as I'm climbing into bed with my book.

Here is a picture of a tree in the middle of a patio. Not our tree, not our patio, but I liked it so here you go.

We’re having more adventures with our septic system! We now have a LEAK, where the pipe enters the concrete tank. It DRIPS, youguys. DRIPS. Just imagine for a moment the collection bucket that Al has to empty every day. Our builder was meant to come out and fix it for us but then he got sick so instead he talked us through how to make this special concrete and apply it to the joint via Skype. I did the hard part of holding the phone camera while Al slopped around. The problem was, the leak never slowed down enough for the plaster to dry, so just when we'd get the right amount on, the concrete would get soaked through and then fall off in a big wet glop. So. It’s still not fixed. Phil saw the extent of the problem, though, so will be coming out next week and replacing the whole pipe and fitting. Or something like that. THIS IS NOT A SUBJECT MATTER I WANT TO LEARN ABOUT. (Plus I already have Claire, who knows it all.)

Now it’s Cold Shower O’Clock – I am covered with sweat and grass clippings from mowing the lawn and no way second dinner is happening until I’ve cleaned up.

See you tomorrow for our last day in France! It will be a day of eating the fridge bare, cleaning the house, and packing the car, a thrilling time all around.

Big hugs,
Essss

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Should have left it to the pro's

OMGYOUGUYS does ANYone know how to replace a bike tire? BECAUSE I SURE AS HECK DON'T.


I got a bicycle repair kit and watched a youtube video and thought, 'How hard can it be??' and then I tried to take it apart and like so much glitter off a unicorn's tail, everything dissolved magically into the wind. Pieces. Just pieces everywhere. I successfully managed to take out the old inner tubes and put in the new (using a tire lever took two more youtube videos) but the reassembly has simply proved too much. I eventually got so frustrated I just crammed the tires back on - forcefully, too angry for anything like a gentle touch, no, no, this bicycle needed a safe word - and then went about chasing down every nut and bolt I could find littering the pavement and wrenched them onto wherever I could find a nut and bolt hole. While it's all *technically* in one piece now, everything is sort of . . . crooked. Like it wants to be sobbing in the shower, like it will need therapy to feel whole again. Also the brake pads are hanging out all footloose and fancy free, and those seem like a piece that SHOULD be secure. The only solution I can possibly think of now is to throw the whole thing in the bin and call it a day. I'm sure it will thank me for it.

We did have ONE tire success today! We at last got a replacement for the chipped death trap. So we can safely make our return drive to Engrand this weekend. 

Tonight we are having yet more foie gras for supper (I have a jar, it is open, it is going on everything) and a glass of barrel juice has been poured. It's a quiet one, perfect for one of our last nights here.

Big hugs,
Essss

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bastides and brocantes and still no tire

YOUGUYS know what's happening right now? Garlic bread in the oven, except in addition to the garlic, we've inserted slabs of foie gras. WHY IS FOIE GRAS SO GOOD. The gout is going to overtake me at any turn.

You know what made our day super special? Tire Place #2 also pbbbbt'd our request for a new tire. Apparently taking money for tires is just not a thing tire places here are interested in. They sent us to yet another shop, one even farther away, where we arrived in a delirious humour, fully expecting another rejection of goods and services. But when we arrived, and waited through a massive queue - in hindsight, a sign they are the only ones doing any work - we met a mechanic who took one look at the chip in our tire, took out a tool and poked at the cords fraying out, laughed, and proclaimed: 'DEAD.' What a good time! They did, however, put in an order for the tire we needed with a request to return tomorrow, so WHAT A RELIEF WE ARE FINALLY ABLE TO BUY A THING WE WANT TO BUY.

Our day was not a COMPLETE waste of driving around mechanics' shops, though. We got to hit another brocante! There are not enough words for how much I love these markets. They are like a flea market's classier, more refined uncle. Sure, you won't find anything you can afford, but OH THE SELECTION. It's just step after step of swooooon. And when you DO find something, watch out. Today's haul included a beautiful set of stemware and an ancient ice bucket, a clear and unnecessary indication of our priorities.

Pictured here: outdoor furniture that is not in our future

Today's was in one of the Bastide* towns, Beaumont, which we inexplicably love even though it only has some overpriced antique shops and a basic bistrot to recommend it. I think there may be a football pitch, though, which would explain Al's affection.

I SMELL BREAD I GOTTA GO. Have a lovely night, and wish us luck with Tire Drama, Part IV, tomorrow! 

Big hugs,
Esssss

*I think this means 'hilltop' or 'fortress' or 'medieval English' or 'brown' or something like that. Look it up if you care.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sweet nothing Tuesday

Youguys know what we did today? We slept in til ten (TEN! Previous to this I was waking at the 7 a.m. bells so this was thrilling), then I took a bath, then we read our books, then we napped, then we ate pasta, and then we went out to the garden and read our books and napped some more. Next up we're eating a pizza and watching a movie.

Needless to say, this is all very photogenic activity. In lieu of actual content, I will share photos of last Saturday in Sarlot and the drive through Cahors.

They have a market! Of course. Iz France. Theirs is Wednesday and Saturday and I'm telling you because this blog is my brain-dump and this is a thing I will forget.

I could easily imagine intrigues involving monks and dark alleys here.

More market! V touristy, natch, but they have EVERYthing.

My favourite part was my lunchtime tagliatelle, that came with duck gizzard, smoked duck breast, and foie gras. NAILED IT YOUGUYS. Did I mention the obsession with duck around here? IT'S DUCKTOWN DORDOGNE

Drove around, saw more more windy river

It was a nice day. Would do again, 9/10

Remember that chip on our tire's sidewall? Took it to the tire guy and he looked at it and indicated - with hand-flapping and that ppbbbt sound that they must teach all French males - that it was fine, we wouldn't die. We drove off in some trepidation and just got a second opinion from our mate Phil who said FIX IT OR IT'LL BURST TURNING A CORNER. So that's excellent. Thank God we didn't just spend all weekend driving hours around the French countryside. Woooooo! Livin' recklessly!

Alright, time to put the pizza in! More tomorrow, when we try to convince a different tire place to take our money, go to a brocante, and quite possibly hit some barrel juiceries to stock up for London.

Big hugs,
Esss

Monday, July 24, 2017

Gardens and lardons

I should've blogged before breakfast and black pudding languor set in, but hunger called and my stomach rules over brain. I had some extra onion and red pepper and fried them up with some lardons and boudin noir before whacking the whole rich mess into a tabasco-splashed omelette that was then crammed into a croissant smeared with garlic soft cheese.

I'm pretty sure this is what they call a power breakfast.

Today I am going to walk you through the gardens of Maqueyssac, where we went for a candlelight stroll last Thursday at sunset.

The Dutch go for candlelight jogs. Explains so much about early exploration.

The above is the most-photographed part of the gardens, so we mistakenly went in thinking it was the ENTIRE garden (research is not our strong suit). Imagine our surprise when they handed us a map with a variety of trails and at least an hour of walking ahead of us (it could easily be two if you had one of the following: a desire to see every nook and cranny, a child in tow, or a personality that lends itself to a leisurely stroll). 

All of the paths and their offshoots had something to merit them: a gazebo, a statue, a lookout, or in this case, a . . . building. (I could look it up in the informational booklet but it's so far AWAY in a DRAWER. Let's just admire it ignorantly together and move on.)

The view from the belvédère (a new word! Means 'scenic viewpoint', and I am determined to use it daily: 'Excellent use of duck in this restaurant, now can you please point me to the nearest belvédère?')

 
The Dordogne, winding its way through the countryside like so many Dutch children in a labrynth

A hot air balloon, just when we thought the gardens were overdoing the whole 'beautiful moment in space and time' thing. When we first saw it, Alan - usually scared of heights - exclaimed, 'I'd like to ride in a hot air balloon!' 

Until it did this:

'Nvrmnd.'

Speaking of heights, part of the garden had a net-tube you could use to climb through a section of forest. We considered giving it a go but we were getting hangry and knew there was a sandwich shop hidden somewhere down the path. We promised ourselves we'd come back to it but then twenty more minutes of scavenging occurred and we never made the return journey. (Hunting for food in the forest is HARD, youguys.) I def want to play in here, though, so next time friends come down with us, let's do it:


As we paused to snap a pic, Alan goes, 'Are they walking over HEADS?' I look down and WHAT THE:
 Is this entire activity a metaphor for the history of France? 

Probably the best part of this particular path were the pictures they had installed throughout, by some artist that is also mentioned in the booklet. 

Artist: 'But you said you wanted MAGICAL. That's what I DID.' Director: 'Indeed.'

'I just didn't think it would be quite so . . . literal.'

'FFS'

Then we found the sandwich shop! We were thrilled, even though FRENCH SANDWICHES.

Baguette sandwiches are the WORST. Tearing this bread with your teeth is its own drama (nothing makes me feel alive like crust shredding the roof of my mouth), let alone how anemic the filling always is. So DRY. A single sliver of ham, perhaps a slice of cheese. No moist-maker of any kind, not even a smear of butter. It's a chewy desert of a sandwich. 

France, you do so many things right, but this is not one of them.

Refreshed by stomachs filled with bread-sludge, we kept going. 


I'd like to say this tree tunnel was so long that night fell, but we actually returned because there was a jazz band hidden in a clearing and we had to find them. 

Come on, this isn't funny, where are you


OH IN THE BIG MANICURED CLEARING. THAT'S FINE WE KNEW IT ALL ALONG IT WAS SO OBVIOUS YOU'RE TERRIBLE AT THIS

And last but not least, a sunset aperitivo

The whole night - most likely because the art set the mood - was enchanting.

We have a stormy morning ahead so the plan is make some plum jam (our garden came with a plum tree! Our tiny London garden did too, come to think of it . . . bizarre) and replace our bicycles' tires so we can take an afternoon ride when the sun returns. (WHEN, Sun, you hear us? Not IF.)

Big hugs and lots of love,
Essss

Sunday, July 23, 2017

markets markets markets

YOUGUYS we had the nicest Sunday. We woke - slightly groggily - at the birthday boy's house, crammed some pains du chocolaté in our faces, and hit the road back to Lanquais.

We live an hour and a half away, but the scenery is alright.

On the way we had to stop back at the restaurant where we had lunch on Thursday because SOMEONE* left their kindle there last week, and on our way we passed yet another village market and hauled over to poke around. This one was a Potters Market (woooo! bowls! never enough bowls!) but the average cup started around €800 so we slouched out pretty quickly.

Pictured: pottery. DON'T EVEN LOOK AT IT

After getting the kindle, we stopped one more time, this time in neighbouring Lalinde, because someone told us that the town used to be haunted by a dragon named Coulobre who kidnapped villagers and took them back to his lair and did dragonlike things to them (namely: ate them). We had to investigate and sure enough, right there in the town pond:

I don't know how their children sleep at night.

The rest of the walk around the pond was surprisingly lovely, despite the monster's threat upon the waters:


When we finally made it back to our village, we found the road to our house closed off because ANOTHER MARKET! What a day, youguys. This one was a proper flea market, a vide grenier, my favourite. We got a sweet sweet lamp and a vintage record cabinet for EIGHT EUROS. It has GOLD INTERIOR and LIGHTS. It is the best. We have no room for it. It is living in the cellar until we figure out why we bought it other than the fact it was EIGHT EUROS and has GOLD INTERIOR and LIGHTS. 

We spent the rest of the day cleaning the house and dozing in the garden. Doing a Sunday, basically. And now I've just showered and I feel like a million bucks. Al is making dinner while I write this and after we eat all I plan to do is climb into bed with the netflix and watch half an episode of the Mentalist before falling asleep. Being an old lady is wonderful.

Big hugs and lots of love,
Essss

*Me. It was me. Shut up. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Happy Saturday!

ACCKKKKKK I had a whole hour set aside to do this post this morning before we leave for the day and the entire time was spent digging through the million photos on my phone trying to figure out the best ones. (Why do I TAKE so many??)

HERE ARE SOME PICTURES LOVE YOU BYE

         
Thursday's lunch at Le Vieux Logis in Tremolat

OLD MEDIEVAL TIMEY TOWN ON TOP OF A HILL, a.k.a., Ten Thousand Shades o' Brown. Meet Belvés:



    
 Architects of the XVII century: we're going for a combo of sepia filter plus DUST. * flicks wrist * 

Locals: still having fun since 1700

I have a kazillion pics of candelight night garden oh so romantic ooh la la but NO TIME WE HAVE A DAY HEAD: two more markets (a brocante in a neighbouring village and Sarlat), the wine region of Cahors to explore, all capped by a birthday party + sleepover in the Lot. THIS IS GONNA BE FUN YOUGUYS.

See you tomorrow!

Big hugs and lots of love,
Essss

Friday, July 21, 2017

A marche gourmand, and how to forage for truffles

OMGYOUGUYS. Alan has not seen Alias.

This is a problem we are going to be dealing with.

For now, we address two other items: the mysterious marche gourmand of Wednesday night, and a truffle farm. The gorgeous lunch, the creme de la creme of French villages, and candlelight gardens deserve their own post, also five items seems like too much* for a single day.

Tomorrow's just gonna pile on: we got a flea market, a tire change**, The Sarlat Market, and Cahors to cover, not to mention a birthday party in the Lot. I think we can all agree this content will never see the light of day.

But what we can cover to start: the Marche Gourmand. It turns out this is basically a street food market. All trucks/stalls making hot tasty meats (sorry, veggies) with one token bier stand and some live entertainment:


 
Pictured here: a 'Burger Perigord' - a duck burger, obvs, because that is where we are. A+ for idea and flavour, C- for Execution, about as easy to eat as a fatty steak on a burger, much gnawing, empty bun and dangling meat-hunk. Tasty meat hunk, sure, but not teeth-tearable like a burger demands. The merguez sausage 'sandwich' was a winner, but BAGUETTES SRLSY

The best part of the whole thing? THE ENTERTAINMENT:

IT WAS AMERICAN COUNTRY LINE DANCING. I recorded a video of it but I'm too Xennial*** to figure out how to upload it from phone to internets so you will just have to imagine how wonderful it was.

Then yesterday morning we went to a truffle farm. The biggest draw - other than finding out More Than Any Human Would Want to Know about Truffles - was obviously the doggos:

Two pros at work. The farmer had one instruction: Pet, Yes, PLAY, NO. Apparently they do not have an off-switch and once you turn on their Play function, no more work. I GET IT, DOGGOS.

Another fun fact: they know the basket Eduard is carrying below means On the Clock. If he takes them for a walk without this basket, it's straight Rompsalot.
He is indicating here something he referred to as the Bonsai Effect: the wider the branches, the wider the roots, the better the odds of a truffle. Look for live oaks spread like this with dead grass beneath (the mycelium spores kill the grass or something something science) which is how you can tell truffles are happening below the soil. Also flies in winter. In December, take a stick, whack leaves, watch for flies. That's how you know where them tasty truffles are (if you don't have a pig or a dog, that is.) Fresh ones smell like beetroot, unless you're a female pig, in which case they smell like male pig sex pheremones

I learned a lot of good French yesterday.

I don't even know what's happening in this picture. Caption at will.


Good Truffle Doggo

While he was blissed out working, Truffle Doggo Two was all:
I'M A BORDER COLLIE I SEE HORSES TRUFFLES WOT

video


The best part of the whole tour: when we (the dogs) found a truffle and the farmer's phone began to ring. That is when we knew he was the best. PLAY IT YOUGUYS.

Needless to say, best morning ever. We'll see you soon with photos of Our Favourite Lunch in Perigord, the Cutest Village, and Candlelight Gardens!

Big hugs,
Esssss


*Also I am lazy
**TL;DR: note on our windshield pointing out a 'chip' on the 'sidewell' on the 'offside' of our tire. Given we are driving a UK vehicle in an EU nearside, this alone took ten minutes to decipher. Found it, worried it, replacing it.
***lols, true tho