Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve in France is almost more important than Christmas Day. The evening, usually a big family affair comprises of a light seafood meal with Crab, Lobster, Oysters etc after which you attend Mass, upon return you have 13 deserts, we are not talking Pavlova, but tastings for example a date, figue, etc.and so leaving space to eat again on Christmas day where it is tradition to eat either Turkey, chicken, Goose or Duck.
This is what we shall be eating Thursday night.....

On Christmas day we shall be eating Salmon en croute, we ordered a Fillet of Scotish Salmon from our Fishmonger who is in our village for the market on Tuesday.It looks delicious!

It is always interesting when living in a different country to observe the differences in peoples priorities. It is commonly known that the French love their food. And they are quite happy to pay good money to eat well. Whilst buying our Salmon the customer before us bought two live Lobsters. They were 180€ a Kilo and weighed 1.45 kilos, the fishmonger even managed to keep a straight face when is asked for the €262 Euros! The customer did not flinch! whilst I stood with my mouth open in disbeleif!increable!

Friday, December 18, 2009

We love talking weather! Last weekend saw the annual change from Autumn to winter, glorious Saturday went to soggy Sunday! And this week has seen temperatures falling to minus 10 overnight and only 1 degree above in the day.

These recently planted rosemary plants wonder what hit them today with a steady snow fall.

Guests who rented Le Chene this year might not recognise the house in the snow, the pool temperature is 3 degrees compared to 30 in July.

Our newly planted trees are wrapped up and will hopefully survive the cold snap.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Côte-Rôtie AOC
I was given this bottle of wine as a gift before I left the UK to live in France by a close friend. It's retail value today is around £300. Côte-Rôtie is debateably the finest wine produced in France, from the Northern Rhone where the slopes are incredibly steep and face due South.

As always the dilema of when to drink such a special bottle is when, with what and who!! And so, some months ago we were at a friends for supper and were discussing wine, my bottle of Côte-Rôtie came up and David revealed he,like I ,had never tasted a Rôtie. So it seemed the best way to share it, and it did not dissapoint,here David & Karen taste the nectar!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Olive Oil - Virgin Huile

This is the reward of our Olive picking.Our 245 Kilos produced 46.60 litres of Virgin Olive Oil, first pressing, as good as it gets and it would retail at 685€.
I confess I felt a sense of pride and acheivement when we collected our oil from the mill in the village, I had never envisaged my self as an Olive Oil producer, with much more to come in the next few years as our trees become more established.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Paris, December 4th to 6th.

Our first experience on the TGV(Train à Grande Vitesse) or train of high speed, it sure is! 2hrs 40 minutes from Avignon to the centre of Paris. Super fast covering almost 500 miles, super quiet and comfortable.

We arrived in Paris Friday morning and after checking into our hotel headed off to our first Museum, the Musee D'Orsay.

Sadly like many of the Museums in Paris it was closed due to a strike. I was interviewed for a Radio station on whether I felt sympathetic for the employees plight!

And so we headed off to explore the many other wonderful buildings and to take in the Autumn sunshine. The Louvre was actually open having been closed for two days before.

Part of the Louvre, a wonderful building.

The Grand Palais ......with its stunning glass roof.

It is interesting that the French flag is flown from all public buildings - very patriotic

Naturally you cannot do Paris with out a visit to the Eiffel Tower

Team photo with our fellow explorers Ian & Sheena.

Souvenir Eiffel Towers - three for a Euro!

Dinner in this charming restaurant, which we found when researching our trip on the internet, excellent menus from 25€ which is pretty good for Paris. A most enjoyable night was passed!

The Seine at night - very special.

Saturday morning and we are up and about bright(?) and early and off to the Sacre Coeur followed by walk around Montmarte

After a most enjoyable lunch we headed off to the Arc de Triomphe, which has 12 Avenues leading off.

The most famous is the Champs-Elysees which has many Stores, Car showrooms and is a real show case for the glitzy glamorous retailers.

About halfway down there is a great view up and down, one way to the Arc de Triomphe the other to the Place de la Concorde, where this spendid wheel has been built for Christmas.

Dusk gives great light on this image of the wheel, Place de la Concorde and the Eiffel Tower.

I know it's been a while since we visited a 'big City' but the traffic in Paris was incredible. Look at the position of these cars!

Dinner in the evening at 'Gourmard' famous for sea food in particular shell fish.

Karen tucking into a rather splendid selection of sea food

And after that you need to walk, so it's back to the Champs Elysee. These pictures were taken about 1am - note the traffic.

Thierry & Christine live 18 Kilometres outside paris and took over two hours to drive in a meet us! Thank you !

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Olive Picking 2009
Our fourth harvest has brought a record crop!.
For the fourth year running, and towards the end of November we pick the Olives from our trees in the garden of Les Cypres and our own house Le Verger.

Geoff getting in the swing of things............

These trees date to the turn of the last century, a severe frost in the mid 1950s led to many of the trees being cut down. But you cannot kill an Olive tree, what was left grew back to these fine trees which we have cared for and nurtured to create highly productive trees.

Wendy , on her 50th birthday too, that's dedication!

My sister Gillian, looking relaxed at the start of picking.........

Neil, note the sun glasses, (in November)

Karen, in between preparing the pickers lunches finds time to pick....

And so the reward for two days of hard work, a hearty breakfast, a good lunch and fine supper.The warm Autumn sunshine means breakfast and lunch out doors.

Clearly not taking the job seriously!

It can be dangerous! a French hard hat is obligitory!

And this is what we picked, two days, 6 people and 90% from Les Cypres. Next year the trees at Le Verger will start producing more Olives so if you fancy an Autumn break with a difference......

And so its off to the Oil Mill in the village where the Olives will be pressed to produce superb Olive Oil.

And finally the result. 245 Kilos. In 2006 we had 19 Kilos, 43 in 2007 and 66 in 2008.To say we were elated is an understatement. We can actually sell the oil back to the mill. Its beats selling houses!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Provencal sun continues to shine, perfect conditions for our recently sewn grass seed. Autumn in Provence is special for lots of reasons with cold nights, clear skies but warm bright sun lit days.

Karen is still nurturing the petunias!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It is 1st November, the sun is still shining in Provence! Sunday morning and we took advantage of the warm Autumn weather to walk from our house into the hills behind where there are great views over the village and superb scenary , on our doorstep.