Sunday, 5 November 2017

Cottage features on UK national Sausage Week website

Its not often (if ever) that this tiny rural hamlet in the middle of France features on some national website but our Sausage fete held on the 14th Oct has done just that......famous at last.

Click on the link below to visit the site:



Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Halloween

The rural community in France has so many wonderful traditions its often hard to keep up. Today being Halloween = calèche ride for the children and soupe a la citrouille plus some wine for adults.

The calèche is provided by a couple of young people, the lady of whom is a blacksmith and the partner is a horse specialist.


As is the custom the children visit all the houses in the hamlet where they receive gifts that are sure to contain loads of sugar, they all dress up in Halloween costume.

This year I converted the sausage people I made for the 'Sausage fete' on the 14th oct into witches, its amazing what you can do with a sausage. These decorated the road passing the cottage.

OK its a weird witch but remember it used to be a sausage.
The calèche heads off to complete visits to all the remaining houses.


At 19.00 hours everyone is invited to the farmers house in the centre of the hamlet for pumpkin soup and drinks ( Maureen has also cooked some remaining sausages so all our French neigbours can enjoy more English Sausages during UK Sausage week)

Monday, 30 October 2017

Time for a haircut!

Yes its true, every seven or so years it is time for a tree haircut. The two 'Platanes' in the cottage garden that provide glorious shade during the warm summer days are in need of a trim. Fortunately we managed to locate a professional tree surgeon who has performed the task, although I have to say that is not a job for the faint hearted.


Looks easy but this guy is at least 50 ft from the ground and climbing on what I describe as 'twigs'
Job 60% complete, can you spot him in the middle?
We now have mountains of cuttings to be cleared away and burnt although some of the larger sections can be used on the fire in 2019.

The 'two 'Platanes' will grow quickly again next year and provide great shade but at least the height will be at least 15 ft shorter than before.

Tomorrow is Halloween and the village children will be touring the hamlet in the calèche (Horse drawn carriage) as they call at everyone's house. At the end of the tour the inhabitants of the hamlet meet up for 'soupe a la citroulle' , pumpkin soup to you and me plus some English sausages that we did not cook at the sausage fete on the 14th October.

 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Great British Sausage fete

Well that was a great success, a British sausage fete organised for all the inhabitants of our wonderful community here in Le Breuil aux Gittons. Here in rural France 'community' is everything and throughout the year a small number of social events are organised that brings together all 33 families that are spread out across our rural hamlet, and unlike some parts of France we are the only English. In August the hamlet held the annual 'Mechoui' and we offered to organise a 'British Sausage Fete' in October, of course everyone was enthusiastic. Unknown to all our French neighbours we had already bought 100 special sausages from our local butcher and sausage maker extraordinaire in Stafford UK. They were taking up a great chunk of our freezer. As is the norm for these events, many people contribute to the menu so we provided the 'plat principal' three sausage casseroles or 'Ragout' to the French and the coffee. In the days before the event we were informed of what would be arriving and the menu was assembled:



Apero : Marquiset / coke / orange juice



Entrée :



Pate Berrichon  / Taboulé / Cake aux jambon et olives/ quiche

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'Trou Berrichon' (pear sorbet with pear eau de vie /alcohol) 

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Plat principal – Ragoût de saucisse anglaise



·        Ragoût de saucisses et pommes aux boulettes de croutons aux herbes(dumplings)

·        Ragoût de saucisses Lincolnshire avec des champignons, des carottes et des oignons

·        Ragoût de saucisses Cumberland avec des oignons de poireaux et du vin rouge



Avec  Pommes de terre purėe



Veuillez revenir et essayer un autre Ragoût de saucisse

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 Fromage / salad

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Dessert


Compōte des pommes  / tarte aux pommes / Chocolate gateau

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Café / Thê / Tisane

 

Vin/wine  : Pinot Gris / Touraine Sauvignon / Rosé d’Alsace / St Nicolas du Borgeuil

The marquee was erected and a email sent upstairs for great weather for the days ahead.
 In the days before we erected the marquee on our small field, collected tables and chairs from the town store ( no charge), invented games for the children, made famous 'sausage' people to hang in the marquee such as:

Its the very famous Napoleon Sausage

Plus the one and only Mr Charles 'la mer' Sausage (I will leave you to do the research)
At noon on the 14th October people started to arrive bringing an abundance of food and wine for the other courses. It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid 20's so we all collected outside the marquee to enjoy the aperos and the marquiset (a local drink made with wine and lemons).
Blue skies and great sausage

Young and old together - two are over 90 years.

 We then sat down for the sausage lunch!!!


 
My long time friend Michel, neigbour Monique and at the end at more than 90 years is Leon.
After the 'entree' followed by a surprise 'trou Berrichon' provided by another neighbour Maureen brought out the 3 varieties of sausage casseroles.
And so we continued with some games followed by a walk around the neighbours carp lake then a cheese course and salad plus 4 desserts before finishing with coffee or tea at 17.45 hrs. 

Of course we had to take a photo as a memory of the day:

Nearly everyone in the hamlet including the two dogs
 

The original plan was to take the marquee down the following day but since it was dry 15 strong men and women offered to start then and there!!!!!

Young and old jumped into action

Packing going on apace
Fortunately we have younger guys as my 69 years was by now showing signs of fatigue!

By 19.30hrs it was done so all 15 in the packing team were rewarded with a nice malt whisky or a coca cola.

What a simply wonderful and rewarding day and all part of the reason we love France so much.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Cottage garden in early September


I thought a few photo's of the cottage garden in early September may be appreciated! You can 'click' on each photo and it will be seen as a larger picture. 

As you can see the tubs and baskets are still flowering well even after a warm summer

The terrace at the bottom of the cottage garden is a lovely place to sit in the evenings

The lawn has survived, mainly due to regular watering from the well water.

Wall tubs are starting to go back but still have a good show

Even the hanging baskets are putting on a late show!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Autumn update

Well any thought of winter is certainly not in our minds today as it's a lovely 26c in the cottage garden, beautiful blue skies and it looks like this weather is staying for a week at least. Our recent guests also enjoyed some glorious September weather so as we have said many times before there is no reason to just opt for high season at Les Deux Platanes.

In August the annual 'meshoui' went off well and as usual we were in the thick of it putting up tables and generally helping out

The two sheep were roasting nicely to feed nearly 100 people.
Maureen assists with the washing up
It's free so everyone attends!

The summer of 2017 will forever be remembered as 'The year of the fruit'. We have been inundated with tomatoes, courgettes and a vast quantity of plums from our trees. The jam supply has been well replenished.

A tiny selection of fruit from our garden
John has managed to collect nearly 300 litres of plums!!!! These are busy fermenting in 3 large plastic dustbins. After adding a little sugar and stored over the winter these will be taken to the distiller when he arrives in May 2018 and converted into alcohol, maybe 40 litres. 

Woodpecker visit: Our local green woodpecker has been visiting the cottage garden, we managed to snap a picture before he left for more wood pecking duties



The annual 2CV gathering took place during August. Visitors were welcome and as usual food and drink was on hand at all times!



The cottage garden has once again been entered into the regional flower competition. It's been a bit of an art this year, keeping them watered during the  hot weather we had in the middle of the year. Luckily John was able to move the tubs under the plane trees to take advantage of their shade. The well provides us with a very useful supply of free water which helps too.

The tubs and baskets were just starting to fill out when these pictures were taken.

Can we thank May and Mike who were guests all through August for their recent review on Cheznous:

A really lovely gite with an attention to detail and quality which we have never seen before - and we've stayed in 50 gites across France over the past 35 years.
The owners, Maureen & John, are helpful, friendly yet discreet.
The crowning glory is the garden which would be the envy of most English gardeners.


Lets hope the garden has an impression on the secret judges when they visit.

Well that's all for now, better go and stir the fermenting plums!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Strange goings on!

Apparently its that time of year again when we spot all manner of strangely dressed folks tending the fields....what more can be said?

Maybe its some ancient fertility celebration but no one appears to know - yes you have guessed it they are all men. Still non the wiser.